Teach the SDGs: A student from Ukraine speaks out for the environment in this project based learning example
Poverty, the environment, health, energy, equality: these are just a few of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals for education. These problems will take global collaboration and teamwork to solve. Teaching the SDGs with global project based learning helps equip students with the skills they will need to help create a brighter, healthier future with peers around the world.
Today’s PenPal Star is Dariia from Ukraine. Dariia participated in Joining Forces for the Environment to learn about the biggest issues facing our planet and the actions that people are taking to protect it. Through global project based learning, Dariia was able to collaborate with students around the world and plan how she could take action to help our planet. Her school in Ukraine emphasizes project based learning to develop global citizenship.
"Teachers, students and parents at Taras Shevchenko Himnazia are proud of the pledge we have made to global citizenship education. With the help of projects like PenPal Schools we teach students to apply their knowledge in a meaningful way, to embrace diversity of our world and appreciate the views of others. Students learn to examine local, global and intercultural issues together with peers from all over the world. Through global connections students develop 21st century skills and learn to interact successfully with people from different cultures and backgrounds"
For her Showcase project, Dariia is speaking out to inform the world about the fashion industry’s impact on our environment. We caught up with her to learn more about her cause and and how her experience with PenPals has changed her thinking:
PenPal Schools: How did you feel when you found out you were going to be featured as a PenPal Star?
Dariia: I was quite surprised and excited. I've never participated in a project like this before, so all of this (including answering the questions for the PenPal Schools blog) is new for me.
Tell us about the final project you decided to publish in the showcase! What did you choose to create, and why? How did you come up with that idea?
Dariia: When I was reading the article on the project web space I noticed the information about the garment industry. It got me thinking, so I wanted to find out where my clothes come from. While I was searching for information, I learned that fashion industry is the second-largest polluter in the world behind the oil and gas industry. This really wowed me. So then I started to look for some advice on how I can protect the environment. In the showcase I shared all of the most interesting information I found.
What was the most important lesson you learned in this project?
Dariia: Before joining this project, I was like most people, who don't care much about the environment. A safe and healthy environment is an imperative, but here in Ukraine most people say: "We have nothing to do with this", "Ok, we have problems with environment, but everything will just work out somehow" and it's always someone else's fault. However, we're not innocent. In small towns there are no recycling bins for cans, paper and plastic. Forests are full of rubbish. I just never thought about this problem seriously before. In my opinion, “Joining Forces for the Environment” project has woken me up.
How has your project changed the way you think about the world?
Dariia: Taking part in the PenPal Schools project has changed me a lot. I feel that I became more mature, because I started thinking about serious global problems like environmental protection. Moreover, I feel empowered to change the world for better. The project has shown me that if you want to make positive changes, you should start with yourself but not wait until others come and do everything for you. Young age is not a problem. If you care about environment, there are some simple things that even a teenager can do, like being a responsible consumer or simply turning off the lights when you leave the room. Looking for the answers is better together. People may have different culture, religion, way of life, but still we have a lot in common.
What is the most interesting thing you learned from your PenPals?
Dariia: I enjoyed being engaged in a conversation with students from other countries. It is really great to see how others react to your opinion. Sometimes solution of serious problems, such as protecting the environment, can be rather simple, but you just don't see it. A dialogue with global pen pals can open your eyes. Together you can come up with some great ideas on how to make our world a better place.
Why do you think it's important to learn with other students from around the world?
Dariia: Technology makes our world a global village. Though we may live thousands of kilometers away, we can easily connect with each other. It is great to see that someone in another country shares your views. Also, it is interesting to learn about other people's culture, traditions and way of life
What advice do you have about being a great PenPal?
Dariia: I have really enjoyed working in the project. I think, you need to find something that you are passionate about. If you are not interested in the topic you are working on, if nothing inspires you, if work is just something that must be done, such work will seem too hard for you. So, I wish you best of luck finding your inspiration or passion project!
Check out Dariia’s work in this project based learning example:
- Textile waste is an unintended consequence of fast fashion, as more people buy more clothes and don’t keep them as long as they used to.
- The fashion industry is the second-largest polluter in the world behind the oil and gas industry.
- There is growing interest in organic cotton, with H&M and Inditex, the parent company of Zara, featuring among the world’s top five users of organic cotton by volume in 2016.
- It's really pleased to wear a cotton clothing, 'cause it's so soft and tender. What is more, harmful substances that kill people and our planet are not used [in] its creation.
- While cotton, especially organic cotton, might seem like a smart choice, it can still take more than 5,000 gallons of water to manufacture just a T-shirt and a pair of jeans.
- Real change in the garment industry will only come if the big, affordable brands find a way to make and sell eco-friendly clothing.
Dariia has inspired other students to pay attention to global issues like the environment with her passion and final project! The infographics and statistics she used in her project do a great job demonstrating how the fashion industry is impacting our environment. Through her work, she is contributing to a global discussion about the SDGs and is making a difference by educating the world about this problem! Hopefully, after reading this article people around the world will begin paying attention to the impact that the fashion industry has on the world and will take action to help create a better future!
"We are really proud that Taras Shevchenko Himnazia successfully demonstrates a strong commitment to educating children as global citizens. As a school, we understand the importance of critical competencies—knowledge and skills—that children need to be successful in today’s complex and interconnected world. By engaging our students in collaborative learning experiences and international projects, such as PenPal Schools, we move our school forward in this area."
We wanted to know even more about what drives this ambitious PenPal Sar, so we followed up with Dariia to learn about her other interests:
What is your favorite subject in school and why?
Dariia: I used to enjoy mostly humanities, such as World Literature, Ukrainian Language, English. Now I am really into Sciences. I am doing my best to master Math, Chemistry, Biology. The way our world is functioning is a true miracle! Learning about it makes me really excited.
If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?
Dariia: If I could travel anywhere in the world, I would visit every country, every city and every possible place. The world is so diverse! When I arrive to a new place, I try to learn as much as possible about it, not only popular tourist spots. However, if I were to choose just one place, I would choose Italy. As long as I can remember, this country has been my inspiration. Its culture, language, cinematography - all this excites me a lot.
What do you like to do after school or for fun? Are you in any clubs or activities?
Dariia: I attend music and drawing school for several years. Now I play the piano and draw pictures at home. I really take pleasure in creating something new. I also write short stories. In fact, I am working on one right now! My goal is to create something unexpected.
Congratulations, Dariia! You have been an inspiration to students around the world (and our team at PenPal Schools)! Your hard work has helped open people’s eyes to the threat that the fashion industry poses to our environment. We wish you luck on your mission to learn more and create something new!
Do you want your students to make a difference and help our environment? Joining Forces for the Environment is a great way to teach sustainable development goals and inspire your students to take action. Your students will join a global community hoping to make the world a better place!
Interested in teaching the SDGs to your students? Learn about how PenPal Schools supports the SDGs and explore more project based learning examples:
Global PBL Idea: Teach the SDGs with PenPal Schools
Students of the World Explore and Protect Coral Reefs
Students Discuss News About Gun Violence in America