For my K2A, I decided to work with the youth of Minnesota at Nova Classical Academy and educate them on the importance of bringing awareness towards the issue of environmental refugees and how contributing to climate change is affects the lives of others.
During my stay at JAAGO (a school in the slums of Rayer Bazaar) I had the to interview residents of different slums who told me plenty of stories of how they were displaced due to natural disasters. They spoke of how they lost everything: their land, their animals, and even their family members. Environmental refugees are not recognized or supported by the United Nations since the purpose of them leaving their homes was not a cause of war or dangerous conflicts. After learning this fact and conducting research on the issue, I felt I had the responsibility to share the stories of my interviewees and let their voices reach others.
I was inspired to promote awareness on the issue, and teach others about the small things they could do to support my Knowledge to Action workshops, the environmental refugees, and other people that are being affected by climate change around the world.
Some problems I faced while conducting my Knowledge to Action workshops were:
Arranging dates and times for my Knowledge to Action plan and staying on schedule with teachers that were constantly busy.
Creating fun, engaging, and informative criteria/activities for my workshops for middle school students ages 11 to 14.
Getting money to buy supplies that students would use for the arts and crafts portion of my workshops.
Maintaining the number of students attend my workshops since I separated three workshops over two weeks.
I got through these problems by not being afraid to ask for help from the people in my support network. I made checklists and kept a calendar with important dates that would remind me of anything that I had to do in order to prepare for my workshops. I had help from my younger sister who is a middle school student herself. Her input was important because she knew what her peers would and would not be interested in. I also got help from my sister who went through the whole K2A process last year and got good suggestions from my mentor on activities to do for one of my workshops. To encourage the students to attend all three workshops, I had to offer them things the students would come back for including: food, fun activities, and arts and crafts. I was able to maintain a minimum of 15 students at each of my workshops.
I will continue to do this kind of work because there is a lot I learned in Bangladesh that I could continue to inform people of everywhere I go. What I saw and experienced still impact my everyday life. I am always promoting awareness on various issues such as climate change and environmental refugees. For example, in my biology class, I got to speak about climate change, its effects on Bangladeshi citizens over the years, and how it has affected areas such as the Sundurban forest. In philosophy class, I lead a class discussion/debate on environmental refugees for extra credit. We discussed whether or not it was the responsibility of the United Nations to provide affected citizens with aid. at a Human Trafficking event at my high school I performed a spoken word piece about the injustice that exists in some factories in Bangladesh. Even though human trafficking isn’t directly related to climate change, the Bangladesh climate change trip gave me experiences that have helped me become more involved in promoting awareness about human trafficking. I have had the honor to embark on this amazing trip and I feel a sense of responsibility to continue educating others on everything I have learned. I have learned that I cannot change the world or combat climate change alone. Taking my knowledge and turning it into action will create a domino effect. The amount of people this knowledge can reach is limitless.