School students from Japan, Australia and New Zealand shared actions they are taking to protect our planet plus personal experiences from natural disasters that struck their countries in 2011.
The exchange took place on 26 October 2011 via live video conference between Milton State School in the Australian city of Brisbane, Cashmere Primary School in Christchurch, New Zealand, and Japan’s Yasawa Elementary School, in Minami-Soma city, Fukushima.
Each school has participated in the Green Lane Diary program and experienced severe natural disasters this year with Japan’s earthquake, tsunami and nuclear power plant emergencies, flooding in Australia’s state of Queensland, and earthquakes in New Zealand. Green Cross Australia and Green Cross Japan co-organized the schools link-up, which was supported by videoconference system providers Polycom.
“This was a truly joyous occasion,” said videoconference facilitator Miranda Mason from Green Cross Australia. “Linking Green Lane Diary students to talk about their common experiences and share their ideas was incredibly enriching for all involved. We look forward to supporting more events like this. Students, teachers and parents are still telling us how valuable the session was to open our eyes to how connected we really are.”
Students shared actions they have taken to reduce their environmental impacts and promote sustainability. Cashmere Primary of New Zealand spoke about their “edible school garden,” worm farm and efforts to walk to school instead of using cars.
In Japan, students from Yasawa school shared their “Green Curtain” project that uses planted vines to make cooling shade over their classroom windows to cut down on electricity use. They also introduced their “Eco Cap campaign” in which they collect used plastic bottle caps to buy measles and polio vaccines to help immunize children in developing countries.
Australia’s Milton State School students stressed the importance of turning off electric appliances when not in use, buying locally produced food and walking or riding a scooter to school.
Students also shared experiences from the respective disasters they witnessed. Milton State School students told of how, during the 2010-2011 floods, they moved temporarily to another campus after their school grounds were inundated by rising waters. Thanks to community support, Milton State School has been restored and students returned to classes after the emergency.
In March 2011, the tsunami that struck Japan came extremely close to the Yasawa School. Due to the explosion at the nearby Fukushima nuclear power plant, five other surrounding schools were forced to evacuate and their students were sent to Yasawa School.
Cashmere Primary School was luckily unscathed by the February 2011 earthquake that struck the New Zealand city of Christchurch, but many homes and businesses were damaged.
From these terrible natural disasters, the students were able to learn important lessons from their experiences and appreciate the need to adopt sustainable lifestyles and principles to prevent or reduce the impact of similar events in the future.
The students were also treated to a special visit from Australian kids TV host Ranger Stacey and some reptilian friends from David Fleay’s Wildlife Park in Queensland. Ranger Stacey spoke about the incredible resilience of animals during natural disasters.
The conference ended with the students making plans to become pen pals. The event was closed with a traditional Japanese ‘Sanbon-jime’ lead by the Principal of Yasawa Primary School.
Ryuji Kuwahara from Green Cross Japan said: “I was so lucky to witness this wonderful event as an organizer and interpreter in which students from three nations shared their experiences of the Green Lane Diary. I hope, in the near future that students from more countries can join such videoconferences with their common Green Lane Diary background.”
Green Cross International, founded by Mikhail Gorbachev, is an independent non-profit and nongovernmental organization working to address the inter-connected global challenges of security, poverty eradication and environmental degradation through a combination of high-level advocacy and local projects. GCI is headquartered in Geneva and has a growing network of national organisations in over 30 countries.