September is here and it is finally starting to cool off a bit in Sacramento! While my issue with crazy hot weather has bothered me like a persistent fly this summer, it pales in comparison to what is happening in our world. My heart goes out as I see devastation across our continent from raging fires to catastrophic hurricanes, to an 8+ earthquake. Reading through the front section of the New York Times yesterday and today, it felt like the world was coming to an end. Then, drop in the latest humanitarian focus on the Myanmar Rohingya, and the famine in northeastern Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen was enough to make me want to cry and crawl under a blanket. It felt beyond bleak.
But then I remembered what happened on Friday at my school.
I am piloting a year-long service learning project with my fifth graders this year. Our foci are the environment and hunger. While I am bringing in quite a few speakers to help inspire my students over the course of this year, the first was a representative from the Climate Reality Project; this is Al Gore’s NGO that is working very hard to spread the belief that climate change is a reality and there are things each and every one of us can do to make a change – today. Christine Flowers was our presenter and she spoke to about 90 third through fifth graders. She used big concepts, but brought them down to a level that our curious young students could relate too. We ended with a drawing project on how they could each make a change to help the planet.
My students returned to class jazzed to work on developing our plans to make a difference.
Then, last night, I had the great pleasure of attending a fundraising event for the Red Sweater Project. Ashley Holmer is the founder of this amazing organization that is transforming education in rural Tanzania. With only 27% of Tanzanian students passing the exam to graduate from high school across the country, the Mungere school started by the Red Sweater Project has a pass rate of 100%. These kids are the rural poor with little chance for an education. But because this young woman is dedicated to making a change, they now have a chance to make a change.
So, while the world is in upheaval and I find myself heavy and feeling stuck with where and how to help, I am determined to remember (and to not stand idle) that there is good in this world and good people working to make positive strides for a better, more supportive and caring world.
Here’s to action and hope!