September the 10th, 2019 – Earlier this year, a small school from Baranja, the Popovac primary school, hosted 24 students and 8 teachers from Norway, Romania and Turkey as part of the international Erasmus+ project, ”Kids Against Plastic Pollution”.
Their days were filled with many activities and they did so much great work, but still had time to gather together and have a lot of fun. During the workshops, the students were very creative. By using recycled plastic
materials they made jewellery, fashion items, toys, pots for flowers, furniture for the school library and even bird houses. Cotton bags, made from recycled old sheets, were painted with eco-motifs and inspiring messages.
Liliana Solomon, a young educator from New York, taught the students about the importance of activism and shared her experiences from the USA. To bring their newfound knowledge into the real world, the Croatian students and their guests organised a silent march in Osijek where they warned the public about the huge problem of plastic bags and single use plastics. The media interest was high, and the student’s voices were heard far and wide, reaching long past this Drava river city.
The Baranja city of Beli Manastir hosted the “Plastic Horizont” exhibition, which featured the student’s photos. Their art highlighted the huge problem of plastic pollution not only in Croatia, but also in Norway’s fjords, in the Danube Delta in Romania, and and in the biggest Turkish summer resort in Antalya.
During their day-long trip to Zagreb, the students and their teachers admired the beauty of the Croatian capital city and had fun in the Museum of Illusions. Thanks to Petra Andrić from Greenpeace Croatia, the students learned about the problem of microplastic, which makes up 80 percent of all of the trash in the Mediterranean sea.
The students attended workshops where they used microscopes to analyse water samples from each country in the project, showing the problem of polluted water each place has. Afterwards, the pupils discussed the issue and suggested solutions for how each of them could solve this huge environmental problem in their own local communities. No stone was left unturned as all the students participated and lent their thoughts to the issue at hand.
An eighth grade Croatian student, Lana Herceg, said these are five days she’ll never forget. She added: ”So many cultures and customs from different countries was great to see in a small village like Popovac. We really connected in such a short time and formed some great friendships. I only wish it could last much longer. I’m really happy that we all have opened our eyes to plastic pollution and I truly wish others would realise how huge this eco problem is,”
”This first meeting between pupils from Norway, Romania, Turkey and Croatia fills us with a lot of hope for the future. The pupils did excellent work and were engaged in the workshops and discussions that happened during the week in Popovac. The problems related to plastic are vast, but the engagement and enthusiasm of these pupils shows that a solution can be found,” said one of the teachers from Norway, Maren Christine Fredriksen.
Lastly, the students planted a tree of friendship in the school’s yard as a nice reminder that they all have decided to choose the planet instead of plastic.
Next week, six students from Baranja are travelling to Romania where they will meet again with other kids and keep working on this important project.