GAIA and Jisr az-Zarqa students work together on International Coastal Clean Up Day

GAIA Prague Trip 2014
by Abigail Morrison and Rebecca Loveland

September 21, 2014 started out like the beginning of any other week. It was also the start of a new and exciting long term partnership for GAIA students at the Walworth Barbour American International School in Even Yehuda and Makif High School students in Jisr az-Zarqa.

Collecting trash for data analysis

Collecting trash for data analysis

Global Awareness Investigation and Action (GAIA) students are always on the look out for community environmental challenges and partners that want to make the planet cleaner and more sustainable. When they were invited to join forces with the US Embassy and the Jisr az-Zarqa High School to pick up litter along the Mediterranean sea shore, they gratefully accepted. Right away, they decided to make the whole event more scientific by analyzing collected trash.

This year, the Coastal Clean Up coincided with the 30th Anniversary of the International Day of Peace. In Israel, with the support of the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Mishar Hof (Coastal Watch), the event was widened to a whole week of clean up activities throughout the country.

It brought together local and international students from many  countries for a common cause.

Ambassador Shapiro and his wife Julie Fischer

Ambassador Shapiro and his wife Julie Fischer

Approximately 40 GAIA students arrived at Makif High School in Jisr az-Zarqa at 10:00 am. They were met by roughly the same number of local students at Makif High School. There were brief introductions by the Mayor of Jisr az-Zarqa, the principal of Makif, Mr. Murad Ammash, as well as the Ambassador of the United States, Mr. Daniel Shapiro. Ambassador Shapiro reminded the students of the importance of working together and how the their clean-up efforts support the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s Call to Action to protect the world’s oceans and seas — and to build friendship. 

The next two hours were spent finding, and logging trash found af the beach for later analysis by the students. Ahmed, a student from Jisr az-Zarqa said, “I thought it was cool to meet new people and work on something together.” 

Makif and AIS high school students getting to know each other

Makif and AIS high school students getting to know each other

Indeed, many of the students found time to visit, and even snap a selfie or two together, during the activity. GAIA has collaborated with many other schools but something set this experience apart. Maya Peleg, who is an eleventh grader at WBAIS, said, “Working with this project has been better in some ways because they have a different culture and way of thinking. I think it’s sort of a culture shock for some of the WBAIS kids.” Odette from Austrailia agreed, “It’s great that we’re mixing with different communities. It’s a great way to build friendship that wouldn’t usually be built.” 

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