However, not everyone notices all these gifts, because we’re just too caught up in our own worlds. Even fewer people actually do something for nature, while most of us add to the pollution, waste, and water crises.
At our school, we gain an understanding of how to be a better citizen and give back to society in many ways, such as a recent project. The owner of JB Flavours and Fragrances offered us an opportunity. He had a garden, but it was totally empty except for green grass and a few trees. He asked us to gather a list of fragrant plants that we were to plant in this garden. All of us started enthusiastically by preparing a quote, designing the garden layout, and shopping. When we were all asked to do research, we learned so many amazing facts about not only these plants, but nature, too, which would surely help us when it was time for the manual work of planting. We got to know about the endless varieties in which these plants were available and many other things about their characteristics. We had to search for the best conditions, perfect fertilizers, the just right surroundings, and appropriate tools for the work. Altogether, this got us even more excited and we were looking forward to the final planting process.
While we were doing all of this, we realized that we had been leaving the lights and fan on, even when we were not in class. We decided to stop our work for a while and concluded that it was not right that we wasted so much electricity while talking about giving back to mother earth. After this discussion, we kept the lights, fans, and air conditioners off for a week. This helped us understand the importance of resources and how we should be handling them with respect and taking full responsibility for what we use. Now, we keep on only as many lights and fans on as we need, because having around nine tube lights in a classroom is completely unnecessary.
Finally, once we were finished preparing quotes and designs, we voted for one plan out of five final designs. This was based on the proper placement of plants and a lot of other aspects, such as which plants were used and their fragrance, as the owner needed samples for his fragrance company. We also had to keep in mind the trees and plants that were already there. Now came the last part of this client project, which brought us closest to nature. The planting lasted for four days. Every day we would come to the garden, do the labour, and go home after six hours. We did the marking, the ploughing, the digging, and the planting all by ourselves. In total, 28 students dug 278 holes with two teachers’ help.
The whole school encourages us to faithfully believe in ourselves and that everything is possible. Importantly, we always say, “I can." I think this work was totally worthwhile, because of the stories of change that came out of it. One extraordinary moment was when we sat down to have our lunch; there was so much gratitude for the food and it completely felt like we had earned it through the work. There was no useless talk or cribbing about not finishing it. There were so many people in the class who said that you could usually find them in their room, with the air conditioner on and electronics in their hands, but this project gave them a chance to come out in the heat and experience the beauty of nature while working. In our school we have many experiences that help us learn better habits, but often we are mindful for a few days, and then go back to normal. This time, we continued the experience until we actually felt the importance at heart. We realised the actual problem and understood the situation.
Now we can proudly look at this ecosystem that we improved, where insects come, flowers bloom, and you can hear the sweet voices of the birds and smell the fragrance of the flowers. Whereas earlier it was just a boring and normal patch of grass, it looks totally different from before. Now you can clearly feel the garden come alive as a whole body itself. Seeing this garden transformation made each and everyone of us feel proud, as we had put in our full efforts to make this happen and finally got the fruit, quite literally! This project not only brought a change in the garden, but a beautiful change in our hearts that you couldn’t touch. It will stay with us forever because what we had learnt was of value: the stories of changed lifestyles, a change in heart and a change in thinking.
Aayreen Baagwala is a 12-year-old seventh grader at The Riverside School in India. She is an avid reader and plays basketball. She often expresses her understanding of the world around her through sketching and painting.
Fatima Perez is a sixth-grade student. She is 11 years old and likes fiction stories, horror stories, and comics. She likes writing fiction stories and playing the flute. Fatima hopes she can also get better at poetry/writing.
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