BSB students showed great courage, resilience, and environmental awareness as they presented their work on ocean pollution at a prestigious United Nations event in Brussels to mark World Environment Day on 5 June.
As educators, BSB staff have embraced the responsibility of sustainability education with a focus on producing eco-conscious, self-sufficient world citizens who understand the immediacy of the challenges they and their planet face.
Sustainability is the key to a better future, a future our students will be expected to live in. It is a topic they are keen to be involved in and take responsibility for. As such, sustainability is an important topic to study even if you are not an environmental science student, which is why it has become embedded in the BSB curriculum. Our approach to sustainability education is based on the fact that it encompasses all school subjects and extends far beyond the classroom.
With this in mind, Year 8 Geography students were asked to create art installations, speeches, or poems on the theme of ‘Plastic Oceans’ as part of their Coastal Unit of learning. The objective was to highlight the effects of waste on marine life and raise awareness of ocean issues.
Students were given the opportunity to submit their creative efforts with the chosen projects being put forward for inclusion in the World Environment Day event, organised by the Brussels office of the UN Environment Programme’s (UNEP), on 5 June. The invitation to do so came after a visit from a delegation from the UNEP attended an exhibition on the Amazon Rainforest curated by BSB students in January.
The results of the call for projects were amazing with some incredible installations ranging from self-built aquariums to life-like plastic turtles and fish made from household waste.
From the many wonderfully powerful and inspiring texts received, it was decided that Samara, a student from 8T, would represent BSB at the UN event on the Grand Place and deliver her emotionally charged poem ‘The Ocean’s Plea’ (an excerpt of which can be seen below) to an audience of dignitaries from the United Nations and the European Union who had gathered for the celebration of environmental action.
Acting as an ambassador for youth and a voice for the future, Samara showed amazing resilience and courage to stand and present her work with such confidence at such a prestigious and important event. Her compelling recital was just one of the many passionate addresses designed to inspire and energise the audience and deliver messages of hope that solutions to the ocean pollution crisis are at hand.
Do you hear?
The hopeful plea,
To reduce and embrace simplicity,
To reuse and live sustainably,
To recycle and let debris transform.
Do you hear?
The voices rising above the tide,
To fix the problem we have caused,
To live in harmony with all creation.
“I love the use of sound in the poem through the repetition of the rhetorical questions that frame each stanza,” said Richard Long, Key Stage 3 English Coordinator, who worked with Samara on her poem. “The first section focuses on the damage we have done to the oceans through plastic pollution, using carefully chosen language to communicate the devastation. Samara then cleverly contrasts this with a more positive view of humanity and the power individuals have to make a difference. I find it a hopeful poem, summed up in the significance of the final line: ‘To live in harmony with all creation’.”
After the speeches and presentations at the City Hall on the Grand Place, the attending dignitaries moved on to an official reception at the Salle Ogivale where they could view the artefacts from BSB students while enjoying their refreshments.
“BSB students never fail to amaze me with the work that they produce,” said BSB Geography teacher Charlotte Lemaitre. “They really care about their planet, and they have certainly injected this passion into their courageous and creative models.
The students were highly motivated to produce beautiful work as they knew their work mattered. They also knew that they had an authentic audience and that the best work would be displayed at the UN’s World Day reception at the City Hall Brussels.”
“Ron Berger author of ‘An Ethic of Excellence’ argues that ‘anytime you make work public, set the bar high and are transparent about the steps to make high quality products, kids will deliver’. I agree with this. When students produce work for an authentic audience and account for them, work is lifted from an exercise book and given greater meaning and importance.”
Melanie Warnes, Principal at BSB, said: “I am extremely proud of Samara and all our students who have produced work of a superlative standard for this prestigious event. Engaging actively, ethically and purposefully with the world around us is a core principle at BSB and to see our students in this context is remarkable indeed.”