Thursday, April 14, 2011

REFLECTION of NAIS Challenge 20/20- 7 years/ Poverty & Global Warming

From Turkey:
At the beginning of this school year, our students read the part about global warming in Rischard’s book: “High Noon: 20 Problems / 20 Years To Solve Them”, then they watched the documantery of Al Gore; “Inconvenient Truth” to have some idea about different opinions on the problem. During student club sessions they made researches about the effects of global warming, especially in our city. The most significant fact that they realized was the limited attempts to prevent global warming and diminish the effects of climate change. During these researches, they’ve found that the consumption of fossil fuels in our country is the most important reason of extreme climate events like floods and drought in our country. In this context, they made a survey in our school with teachers to find out some information about the percentage of motor vehicles used by teachers.

After the first Skype meeting with Salman, our students were excited about making a project about carbon footprint of our school, but unfortunately our resources were limited for the project. We have contacted some companies to help us but the prices they charged were too high for us. Therefore, we decided to get help from the department of Environmental Sciences of Middle East Technical University for the next school year.

Our school year ends on June, 17. Until this date we have plans to accomodate a guest speaker from UNDP (United Nations Developmental Projects) about carbon footprint. Our aim is to make our school one of the leading schools in our city that assimilated the importance of being an environmental friendly community. In this context, we are going to take part in a project called CLIMES which aims mentoring schools in Turkey about being green schools. During this project, some of our students and teachers will be educated in one of the European countries for a week and they will educate other teachers and students in our school to take steps in being a green school.

Our students raised some money by fairs and will use this money for their future projects about raising awareness about global warming in our community. They have started with preparing a powerpoint presentation about the problem and it’s effects on Turkey to educate primary school students in both private and public schools. They also started a campaign to encourage students in our school to involve in the “Tree Planting Fair” that is organized each year by Middle East Technical University. They are trying to raise awareness around school community about using public transport instead of using individual vehicles for transportation to and from school.

As being a private school, we have the opportunity to make changes in our curriculum so we have integrated the topic global warming in our Biology and Geography curriculums at each level in our high school. This topic was already being covered in national curriculum but we extended the hours of lessons that we talk about global warming and effects of climate change. During these lessons we make our students watch movies, documentaries and read articles about the topic to emphasize the importance of the problem. Also our Turkish Literature and Language department organizes debates to encourage our students to share ideas about environmental problems.

During this years partnership in Challenge 20/20, we had some Skype meetings but unfortunately it was diffucult to contact each week as we can come together once a week on Thursdays and because of time difference between two countries we were able to communicate for only 10-15 minutes.Therefore, we preffered to communicate via email which was more convenient for us. As our partnership progressed, we were amazed by the works done by Salman and greatly appreciated his efforts as being such an enthusiastic young person. I don’t know if Salman will still be in your school but we wish to continue our partnership with you for the next years Challenge 20 /20 project on the same topic.

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The history of Challenge 20/20 @ Casady School

In the school year 2010-2011 NAIS Challenge 20/20 became a path to peace for a freshman student.

Salman, a student who came from the only Oklahoma Green School in 2010, Deer Creek, stated that he wanted to create a Green Team for Casady School as his path to peace. He also had the goal of motivating other schools in our city and globally to LIVE GREEN.  He developed a partnerhip and applied to be a member of the Oklahoma Green Schools Pilot Program.  In the summer, Salman and Shiva will spend time as interns at the Department of Environmental Quality to learn more about recycling and provide the youth perspective to the Oklahoma Green Schools website.

NAIS Challenge 20/20 provided a school in Turkey as a partner for Salman this year.  The School in Turkey changed from reforestation to global warming to become Casady's partner school.

The teams communicated twice in 2010 and twice in 2011 via SKYPE. The sponsor in Turkey changed due to maternity leave of absence.  Salman offered Mr. Les Pace, energy expert from Oklahoma Green Schools and the Green School website, as resources for the Turkey program.

Salman read parts of the book, High Noon, and then concentrated in learning about the Green Schools Oklahoma program and helping them find a kids' friendly carbon footprint online calculator. He realized he had been led at Deer Creek, but he did not know enough to lead others with the tools provided by the Green Schools Pilot program.   During MLK Day, he organized a "train the trainer" workshop, where interested Casady students had the opportunity to help the Oklahoma Green Schoool  decide what kids and teacher friendly carbon footprint survey they were going to promote in their website. Experts from the Oklahoma Green Schools use this time with possible members of the Casady Green Team YES to demonstrate how to use energy audit tools also.

Salman helped recruit Mercy School as a pilot Green School and did a follow-up with Keystone Adventure School, an elementary school, which due to flooding, did not finish its certification as a green school last year.

Salman in collaboration with Mr. Les Pace also helped a Casady 7th grader do an energy audit of the 7th grade rooms as her project for the Casady MD science fair.  Katie's energy audit project won first place in the science competition regionals.

April, 5-9, 2011, Salman attended the National Service-Learning Conference in Atlanta, where he had a short presentation of his path to peace, Greening Oklahoma, one school and one person at a time to the Shinnyo-en fellows and participants interested in the stories of how 3 schools around the USA (Casady-OKC, Blake School-Minneapolis, and White Plains-New York) were Actualizing the Six Billion Paths to Peace Initiative of the Shinnyo-en Foundation

Upon Salman's return to Oklahoma City, Shiva joined the Casady Green Team and helped Salman work at the Planet Nichols Hills Earth Day Birthday Celebration. Salman and Shiva had a booth where they demonstrated the Green Schools Tool Kit and motivated people to take an online carbon footprint survey.  They are conducting energy audits of our LEED certified math building and have started a turn off lights and computers campaign in the Upper Division at the end of each school day.

Shiva and Mrs. Clay participated in the Environmental Club, Adopt a Street Clean-up to celebrate Earth Day.  The clean-up was part of a city initiative sponsored by OKC Beautiful called Litter Blitz.  As the article states, Casady students also found out that the majority of the litter comes from cigarrette buds.  Salman had intentions of asking Environmental Club students to take the carbon footprint survey before or after the clean-up, but due to illness, he was unable to attend. 

Mrs. Clay requested interested Environmental Club take the ecological footprint survey available at the the Green School website.  The few people who took the ecological footprint realized that it took at least 5 earths to allow us to live the way we live now.

In the area of poverty and hunger in the school year 2010-2011, Challenge 20/20 YAC was not assigned an NAIS partner school.  Casady YAC focused on working with two local non-profits fighting poverty, Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma and Habitat for Humanity. In collaboration with STUCO, the Casady YAC; intergenerational advisory council with one purpose, SERVE, helped raise awareness, funding and cans for the Food Bank in November. On May 29, 2011, a member of YAC will be faciliting our 7th Walk the World OKC in collaboration with the Food Bank and the United Nations of Greater Oklahoma.

Jasmine facilitated YAC's first Global Youth Service Day at the Food Bank where she promoted the walk. Jasmine, Shiva, and John attended the  UN annual lunch to promote the walk. The goal this year is to raise awareness and the number of walkers coming with at least a $10 donation for a lap around the lake. During Global Youth Service Day at the Food Bank, Jasmine motivated people to learn about the UN World Food Programme and child feeding programs at the Food Bank.

The Casady Student Council led the fundraising efforts for Habitat for Humanity and YAC member Cecil facilitated the construction of the first house Casady students partially build. STUCO in collaboration with YAC and winter sports athletes and coaches framed "our habitat house" on MLK day. We also helped place the rafters and did exterior and interior painting and touch up as well as being present at the dedication ceremony of the house. STUCO presented a check to the CEO of Habitat for close to $3,000 raised in various fundraising activities.

Due to the economic crisis, the global education service-learning program with Peru stayed dormant in the year 2010-2011.


Casady Challenge 20/20 was a roller coaster ride, worth the price of admission, of youth voice, choice, and process from its inception. Our Challenge 20/20 exploration started when Andrew Griffin’07 was a freshman. His idea was to import children’s art from remote villages, sell it and use the proceeds to meet educational needs. NAIS paired Andrew with a Ugandan high school and a museum youth board in Ollantaytambo, Peru. The relationship with the school was short, but the high school’s Headmaster has visited Oklahoma City and our campus several times. Our community has supported his school’s needs for several years. Andrew’s search for a local partner culminated with World Neighbors (WN). Andrew discovered that a relative of his was the founder of WN. WorldFest, their yearly fundraiser, sold imported goods from villages with proceeds supporting projects in those villages. This made World Neighbors a perfect Challenge 20/20 project for Andrew. He became a founding member of the WN Youth Board. In the two years that Andrew led the Board, they raised $20,000. Casady students still participate in World Neighbors WorldFest activities.

Andrew found fertile ground for his vision in two younger creative students, Leann Farha’08 and Ankita Prasad’08. Leann organized a grassroots Walk the World OKC’05 benefiting the United Nations World Food Programme, School Feeding. She participated in Walk the World 2005 debriefing in Rome, Italy. Upon her return from Italy, Leann led Walk the World OKC’2006-2008 raising $25,000. Leann’s efforts led to an increased number of walkers every year and became a citywide outreach. She was also an active WN Youth Board member. Her work continued in June 2009 when a group of freshmen boys led by Graham Bennett’12 had their first Walk the World OKC 2009. Leann believes that four years with the project enabled her to overcome insecurities and transformed a shy girl, terrified of public speaking into a confident leader, an effective communicator, and organizer. She stated, “I received more than I gave fighting to eradicate childhood hunger.”

Our relationship with the museum youth board in Peru started very simply with their bilingual exposure to the book High Noon. The museum’s youth board sought collaboration with a local elementary school of Ollantaytambo, Peru. They joined Leann to raise awareness of global hunger. They hosted a Walk the World,Ollantaytambo’06. Manco Inca Elementary School became our Global Service-Learning Education partner after the walk. In June 2008, the first group of Casady Service-learning students arrived in Ollantaytambo. In June 2009, the second group followed. Fifteen Casady students and three faculty members traveled to Peru to participate in a combined service, language immersion, and homestay experience managed by World Leadership School. In collaboration with other independent schools such as Lakeside of Seattle (in its 8th year in Ollantaytambo) and Groton School of Boston, Casady students are transforming a pile of rubble into the ecological playground –“LAND OF CHILDREN”- designed and maintained by the children. The children with guidance from US teens have also developed a full recycling program for their school and are expanding the program to their homes and town. The teens from the United States have gained knowledge of the Quechua language, enhanced understanding of fair trade practices, and an appreciation of a slow pace of life that reverances nature. The Ollantaytambo “Land of Children” is being documented via donated digital cameras and blogs. In June 2009, Casady students presented their experience in Ollantaytambo at the Second International Service-Learning Conference in Teacher Education in Galway, Ireland. Casady students will return to Ollantaytambo in June, 2010 when they will promote the creation of a trilingual picture book of the Ollantaytambo, Land of Children experience. The faculty leader of the second Ollantaytambo trip, Kari Bornhoft, stated, “When asked to take a group of students to Peru, I had mixed emotions. I would have the chance to see one of the great wonders of the world (Machu Picchu), to experience another Latin culture, to spend time with a group of students in a way no other educator can in normal conditions… The two weeks I spent in Peru were exhausting. It was an incredible learning experience for both the students and faculty. We grew as a team and did equally as individuals. All of us had our highs and lows and as we were stretched found our capabilities mentally, physically, and emotionally.”

During her freshman year, Ankita Prasad’08 wore a “can costume” to motivate lower division students to donate for our canned food drive. As Ankita learned about related global issues of poverty and the problems with consistent communication with our partners, she realized that perhaps the best focus was the creation of global issues youth councils following the guidelines for Global Issues Networks described in High Noon. She promoted the idea with our partners in Uganda and Peru without success. Ankita attended the Challenge 20/20 leaders’ conference in Boston and became a member of the Students against Hunger Youth Board at the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma and of the World Neighbors Youth Board. She was also a “priceless” summer intern at World Neighbors and she became the preferred youth advisor when organizations explored youth board possibilities for their institutions. As the leader of Challenge 20/20, the canned food drive became the Casady Cans Do Project. Casady Cans Do quadrupled our whole school contribution to the Food Bank during Ankita’s tenure. She added learning components such as categorization games and canned sculpture competitions. She promoted “Food Bank Lunches” to raise awareness of what meals the Food Bank provides from donations and inspired ceramics classes to make bowls for auction during the Food Bank lunch as a reminder of the kids whose bowls would be empty in the evening. Proceeds of the Empty Bowls Silent Auction went to the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma Food-4-Kids Program. She was also part of Walk the World, but her goal was to seek funding and awareness of the hunger problem in Oklahoma City. Ankita presented Casady's NAIS Challenge 20/20 at the First International Service-Learning Conference in Teacher Education in Brussels and developed an informal partnership with one of the conference participants, a history teacher, from the American School in Brussels. She also presented the NAIS Challenge 20/20 opportunity at the Department of Environmental Quality-Earth Day 2008 Celebration at the Oklahoma City Zoo. Ankita stated, “Service Learning is a great way for Casady students to give back to their community. I believe that participating in service learning not only benefits our community but also broadens student’s outlook on life. Service Learning has given me so many opportunities to change my school, my community and finally my world. Projects like Challenge 20/20 help Casady students become connected to schools across the world and discuss local problems in a global setting. The Casady Cans Do project has raised awareness and collected funds to help eradicate hunger in Oklahoma. No matter what your passion is, you can find a service learning project that is right for you.”

During Ankita’s senior year, members of the Class of 2011 shifted the focus of the Challenge 20/20 project to awareness of the human print in global warming and climate change. Rebecca Roach’11 and Josh Ou’11 are the current Challenge 20/20 leaders at Casady School. In the past two years, they have read High Noon, have seen The Inconvenient Truth, contacted Sierra Club representatives and Casady faculty to raise awareness and help promote recycling in our school. Josh and Rebecca wrote and were awarded a Facing the Future grant to provide cameras to document climate change in OKC and Peru. Our international discussion collaborators in the area of Global Warming/Climate Change challenge were the school in Brussels, Mount Saint Mary School of Pennsylvania, and the Cloud Forest School in Costa Rica. These efforts were not very successful, yet Josh created a website and we learned how to have SKYPE teleconferences with Costa Rican students.

Rebecca and Josh focused on recyling and awareness and reduction of carbon footprint and water conservation. One of the adult sponsors of this project is also interested in awareness of ecological footprint and energy conservation. Thanks to an "informal partnership" with the Oklahoma Green Schools Pilot Program, Josh has obtained recycling bins to promote recycling of cans and plastic and he is in the process of developing a stronger collaboration with the Casady Environmental Club and the Casady administrative efforts in turning our school greener. Josh stated, When I first joined the Challenge 20/20 group my freshmen year, I was completely oblivious that I would become the president of this group my junior year. During the early stages, we would have only dreamt of having a cans and plastic recycling on a regular bases; we are also in the process of constructing two new LEED buildings on our campus.”

Our new partners in 2009-2010 were a school in China and a school in New York. The Casady group tried to communicate with the school in China with no response.  We managed to communicate with the school in New York a couple of times. They were active in promoting awareness of carbon footprint in younger students and we were told that they created a manual for that purpose.  We asked them to send the information to be shared with our MD and LD, but the exchanged did not happened.  Internally, the NAIS Challenge 20/20 work continued  its focus on Global Warming.  Following the leadership of the school in New York, Casady's Challenge 20/20 became more proactive at mentoring the Middle Division Environmental Club.  On Earth Day, we planted 10 trees in collaboration with the Middle Division.  The Green Schools Committee helped us get the trees.  They also linked us to an architectural firm that enhanced our understanding of LEED constructions, since our school was building the first LEED certified building on campus.  The Challenge 20/20 team promoted the usage of alluminum water bottles to replace the plastic that is polluting our oceans due to our love for convenience.  NAIS Challenge 20/20 leaders, as a result of being part of the pilot green school program unoficially, received recycling containers to increase our Environmental Club recycling program from paper only to plastic and cans.  During Earth Day 2010, Challenge 20/20 brought alternative energy cars on campus.  Upper, Middle, and Lower Division students were introduced to electric cars.  Josh, the leader of Challenge 20/20 received an award in the form of funding to attend the Six Billion Paths to Peace Retreat in San Francisco based on his work from freshmen to junior year as a Challenge 20/20 YAC member and leader.

Josh continues to be part of the Environmental Club in 2010-2011. He has provided guidance to the new leader, freshman, Salman, from time to time.

In the  area of hunger, Casady YAC continued its commitment to helping end childhoood hunger by the year 2015, millennium goal of the United Nations. We had a record year of can donations to the Casady Cans Do Food Drive in the month of November 2009 under the leadership of STUCO and YAC leaders like Aamina. NAIS Challenge 20/20 Global Warming leaders, Josh and Sarah facilitated the Walk the World 2010 around the State Capitol.  Freshman Shiva, became a great supporter of this walk.  It was a small walk which raised about $1,000 for the United Nations World Food Programme and the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma Food-4-Kids Program and promoted ZUMBA as an alternative way to be active and have fun. 

For 2010-2011...see first part of this reflection.

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