Split Students Want to Map Marjan Paths, Organise Kids’ Zoo Workshop

Lauren Simmonds

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As Poslovni Dnevnik/Lucija Spiljak writes, ”For a better Marjan/Za bolji Marjan” is the name of the project that Split students Nikolina Musa, Mia Rosic and Ariana Kecic applied for a UPSHIFT three-day workshop within a unique UNICEF programme (ZABUM/Za buducnost mladih/For the future of young people), from which they returned as one of the winning teams/projects.

As the name suggests, this group of Split students focused on arranging unmaintained existing areas and creating new recreational facilities in the Marjan Forest Park in the heart of Split.

Nikolina, Mia and Ariana explained how they heard from their school psychologist Hana Paver about the three-day workshop for UPSHIFT, which is jointly conducted by the UNICEF Office for Croatia and the Croatian Office for Creativity and Innovation (HUKI).

It was, as these Split students say, a great opportunity for them to try something new, something different and get out of their comfort zones. Before the beginning of the workshop, they conducted a survey with 200 respondents for the reported topic of PS Marjan in order to determine what is bothering Split’s citizens about the area the most.

“Based on that, we devised a plan that we first presented to the school psychologist because she was our biggest support in the beginning. We prepared the project for realisation at the workshop with the guidance of our mentor Nikola Jamicic,” explained Nikolina.

For the first project, the Split students chose a photo competition with the main theme of natural beauty and cultural heritage of Marjan in order to take small steps to bring young people closer to the beloved forest park.

“We’ve noticed that people neglect it and don’t appreciate it as much as they should. As individuals, we couldn’t organise the photo contest on our own, so we turned to HPD Mosor for help, and at the meeting we presented our finished idea to the President, Ivana and the head of the photo section, Zana. They were delighted with our plan and we immediately started cooperating. The competition was open from June the 1st to July the 4th, and the awards ceremony was held on July the 12th at the First Viewpoint on Marjan, followed by the opening of the exhibition in the HPD Mosor, where the photos will be exhibited until the end of September,” explained Mia.

As part of the initiative, they say, they want to raise awareness, as well as educate and motivate young people and initiate volunteer actions.

“Our next plan is to complete the project from Upshift and we’re preparing leaflets with QR codes that lead to the All trails programme where Marjan’s thematic trails will be mapped out with bilingual descriptions and photos. In addition, we’ve established cooperation with the zoo on Marjan and together we will organise fun and educational workshops for children,” announced Nikolina.

Despite this truly commendable idea, the Split students say it wasn’t at all easy for them at first because the environment was uninspiring and their peers underestimated their project and the effort and work they’d put in. However, Nikolina, Mia and Adriana say that this was just an additional incentive for them to prove that with perseverance, everything can be achieved.

“As we worked, so many doors began to open for us and we just caught the opportunities that came our way. Of course, our biggest support lay with our parents, the school psychologist and our class teacher. We’ve cooperated with: HPD Mosor, the Marjan Association, the Public Institution for the Management of PS Marjan, and Zoo Split,” stated Nikolina.

Given that they tried something new in a somewhat uninspiring environment, just how do these promising high school students view the Croatian education system, and what are their plans are in the future? Do they want to stay here in Croatia or would they prefer to build a career abroad.

“The Croatian education system, despite the reforms, is a bit behind. Not all parts of Croatia are equally equipped for normal operation, and defective parts can often be found. But the biggest problem is the professors’ attitudes, which hasn’t changed to keep up with the reforms.

In my opinion, more educational programmes should be introduced in which, in addition to students, professors will also be educated. In addition, the material should be reduced by eliminating excess unnecessary information. Special attention should be paid to making presentations, and especially to the way these works are presented,” said Ariana.

Although it was not easy for the Split students back at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic due to online classes and having to keep a distance from their classmates and friends, they believe that the schools did well.

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