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Environmental internship – my favorite tasks

Category: Programs, Russia

I requested ProfIntern to find me an internship in Russia and I was placed in Saint-Petersburg in the field of ecology and communications. Among numerous different tasks my favorite is teaching ecological issues at Russian schools for pupils. And here is a story how it goes. 

On 3-4 May I had the unique opportunity to expose at the School number 530 in Pushkin a theme of special interest to me: the respect for the environment. 
My first aim was increasing their ecological awareness, providing them relevant information and effective photos, which could help their own environmental sensibility and critical thought. This is why I composed a lesson which could involve them, by alternating theoretical parts and educational games, and this has proven to be the best way to make them interested. I wished they could understand how each of us is responsible for our planet Earth; if we all do eco-friendly acts every day, embracing an eco-friendly lifestyle, we can create a huge reduction in our ecological footprint. 

The authentic smiles and the real interest of the young students touched my heart and exceeded all expectations. My lessons proved to be an opportunity of fruitful and productive debates: they asked questions, exposed their point of view, raised their hands before speaking, every educational game was an excuse to be more involved. 
I have been pleasantly surprised by their education and greatest respect, their good English, the human warmth when they hugged me, asked for a photo together, gave me their drawings, asked me to come again. How could I not mention the kindness of the teachers, who treated me with extraordinary respect and genuine smiles; one of them, Julia, even showed me her loved Pushkin in the afternoon, making me feel at home.

The first rule is to be passionate about what we do and how we do it, thanks to a positive and smiling professor the scholars can appreciate and actively participate.
This experience was much more than a lesson: the young students could realize the importance of the separate collection and of the recycling of waste, they understood the fundamental principles, they reflected on the ethical reasons and on some practical tips in order to save energy. But here is more: they were curious to know about the recycling system in my Italy, how it works, if the Italians care about the environment, our rules to protect it, our types of flora and fauna, the level of pollution in our cities and so forth. Because of this reason, it was also an amazing meeting between two cultures, both of them loving Mother Nature.
At the end of each class, when I invited them to cooperate to preserve the beauty of the Earth, it’s impossible to forget their sincere thanks. I learnt something too: the relevance of saying thank you, of making somebody feel appreciated, of expressing gratitude. 

New generations must be taught about respecting the environment as soon as possible, not as a constraint but as a natural thing. The kids and the teenagers are much more sensitive than the grown persons and, pressing the right buttons, they will quickly understand that also the small daily acts are important. We have the big responsibility of growing the adults of the future up, and the respect for nature is one of the most important teaching we have to transmit.

Author: Lara Marelli, Italy

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