A week long, residential, experiential learning workshop at Tieedi Forest Garden for Salesian College students. A workshop that aims to reconnect them to nature and the community through socio-ecological outreach programmes. For one week, an open blue sky, rustle of the fallen leaves and old sprawling trees will vie with each other to catch their roving imagination. And lastly, they are also here to befriend and heal an ailing river.
Highlights of Day 1:
- Ecological survey of the 8 Mile village.
- Setting up of a fire-place and foraging for deadwood for the wood-fire to cook our meals.
- Grocery shopping for the week long programme.
- Cooking outdoors team activity.
- Sharing the learnings from the protracted observation during the ecological survey.
After spending the first day in getting acquainted with the ecological factors of the focus area, today the students put up their brightest smile and reached out to the community with an extensive questionnaire to understand the social influencing factors. A community outreach program to sensitise themselves with the issues faced by the folks living in the 8 Mile community.
A day of deep introspection on the interlinking of the problems related to society and the ecological impact on it. We started with a fruitful brainstorming session on the problems highlighted during the community survey. This was followed by an equally invigorating session where ingenious solutions were identified by the students themselves.
The fourth day of our programme and what a day it was today!!! A day where the students discovered the simple yet such an impactful art of composting and sheet mulching. A day where they collected organic waste from the entire 8 Mile village and in the process also spread awareness about waste segregation and importance of composting. A day where they connected back to their roots by discovering the brilliant design of a ‘Doko’. An indigenous bamboo baskets of the hills that makes it possible for you to carry almost twice your weight on your back! A day where they ‘grounded’ themselves and delved deep into the mysteries of the soil and had a blast of time while doing so. It was a day of #Soilstry!
During the brainstorming session on what we could do to #BeTheChangeYouWishToSee one of the foremost thing identified by the students was to transform Salesian College into a ‘Green College’. Hence, today we went review the green meter of the college so that the students could take forward and implement some of their learnings of the week. In the afternoon, it was hike in the pristine forest trails of Senchel Wildlife Reserve above the college with session on personal wellbeing and fitness being thrown as one of the conversation topics. Whilst on the way back, the students cleaned-up picked all the trash along the way in the Old Military Road and Rajahatta village. The day finally ended with a musical evening with bonfire at Dzomsa – the meeting place in the forest at Tieedi. But well, a day like this couldn’t have been possible without Shivi, the fairy staying at #TieediEarthyDwelling, cooking a sumptuous brunch for the students as her contribution to the cause!
Today was the Ideas Execution Day! In the morning session the students had a meeting to bring forth all the ideas that were brought to the table after the socio-ecological survey of 8 Mile. Post that, it was intensive day of executing some of those ideas that could be implemented instantly. They have also recycled some of their own waste accumulated during the last 7 days to create an innovative solution for solving the plastic problem in 8 Mile Village. The day ended with the making and the launch of their song – ‘Hamro Darjeeling’ – a deeply heartfelt shout-out to all Darjeeling lovers to unite and save our hills!
The last and final day was the Implementation Day! Here’s a short summary of how the students have looked to do their bit in tackling the problems they came to know about during their socio-ecological survey:
- To go back to all shops and houses where they interviewed the folks and spread awareness about waste segregation and the benefits of composting.
- To up-cycle the waste they have generated during the 7 day programme and to use it creatively.
- To come up with lively and interesting slogans for placards targeting the locals (in Nepali) and tourists (in Hindi, English and Bengali). Also, a special set of pictorial placards targeting the children using popular cartoon characters.
- Take forward the innovative idea of a ‘Plastic Poker’, which they learnt from one of the village elders on Day 6 and enhance it to be implemented across the 8 Mile village.
- To perform their song ‘Hamro Darjeeling’ for the locals near the river. This turned out to be an excellent idea as music sometimes does a greater job of driving home the message than just mere conversations.
- To prepare an extensive project plan within two weeks and submit it to their college so that : i) Salesian College can be transformed into a ‘Green College’. ii) Their work at 8 Mile doesn’t just be a one time fling but a continuous social responsibility act performed by the students year after year. And lastly, yes there were tears that flowed when the 7 day socio-ecological workshop finally came to an end.