This is a guest post by Brandon Kee, student at Newton South in New England.
When I was in fourth grade, I heard about global warming for the very first time. I didn’t know how it occurred, or why it occurred, but I knew that eventually the increasing temperature would lead to the deaths of many animals such as polar bears, whose habitats are being altered each day.
Fast forward to Fall 2011. At the beginning of the school year I envisioned myself being captain of the hockey and lacrosse teams, going to parties every other night with my friends, and getting straight A’s in all of my classes. I had big expectations for myself, and none of those plans worked out, but something else happened that fall that I never predicted.
I joined the Enviro Club, not necessarily to support the environment, but because it gave me an excuse to spend time with a girl I liked. I later found that she wasn’t even in the club, but by that point I had become absorbed with the idea of saving the environment. I made new friends and explored a topic that I hadn’t looked at before.
If joining the Enviro Club in hopes of spending time with a girl wasn’t shallow enough, when I found out that she was attending an ACE (Alliance for Climate Education) Leadership Training, I jumped on the opportunity to spend time with her. Thankfully, this plan worked out. I boarded the train with her and another friend of ours, not knowing what to expect from this Leadership Training.
After a long journey on the T, and a venture through Harvard Square, we finally found the location. I was pleasantly surprised when Brian, an ACE Educator and one of the most charismatic people I have ever met, greeted us. “Hey guys! What’s going on? You can grab a water bottle, and make yourself a name tag right over there!” I can still vividly remember his first words.
The first thing we did was play some get-to-know-you games in the living room, and after a couple rounds of playing, we were seated in the main room, in groups with people that we didn’t know yet. I’ll admit, I was disappointed that I didn’t get to sit next to my friend, but I made the best of it and met new people from schools that I hadn’t even heard of. Luckily, being social and meeting new people are two of my favorite hobbies.
The first assignment we were given was to draw a diagram of where electricity came from. As much as I wished I could’ve helped, I knew nothing in regards to the source of electricity, but, boy I learned a lot! Brian’s presentation taught me how electricity travels, and how we can help reduce it. When he asked questions, I tried to answer them (in an attempt to impress my girl friend), but I got everything wrong. At least I tried!
Next we took a break and went outside, across the street to play some games; recess if you will. My favorite activity the entire day was the “WAA!” game, in which we pretended to be samurais in a game, which is far too unusual to describe here. (Hopefully we will play this with our school’s Enviro Club sometime!) My friend was the first to be out, and I was the second (clearly Newton South lacks ninja/samurai skills), but on the bright side, it gave me a chance to talk to her!
After taking group pictures we came back inside, and we were introduced to a little device that helped track the wattage of plug-in devices. This was one of my favorite learning activities because we got to try all sorts of different devices throughout the room, recording the amount of electricity that they use. I was astonished at the amounts of electricity that I use in my own room. And yes, my laptop is not plugged in right now (winning!).
For a while we went over the packets given to us, and how the Biggest Loser challenge would work (guess what we all have in common? We’re all losers!), and then we got to the most entertaining part of the day: the climate change raps. We each composed a couple rap lyrics relating to climate change, and we presented them to not just our own group, but another ACE group in California via Skype. Everyone had a blast.
To close the Training we worked on our starter grant applications, danced to music, and did a closing activity, in which we all held a piece of rope, which was then cut and made into memory-bracelets for everyone before we left to go home.
At the beginning of my senior year I was working on college applications, trying to figure out what I would be doing with my life after high school. I wanted to be an engineer with a minor in sales, so I could create a product and sell it myself. The Enviro Club and the ACE meeting threw a big twist in my plans, for the better. Now I plan on attending Stony Brook University, majoring in Marine Biology with a minor in environmental engineering; I want to discover and market a technology that will help us preserve the environment.
In the end, I can look back and laugh at my shallow reasons for doing what I did. Joining the Enviro Club and attending the ACE meeting were two of the best mistakes in my life, and even though I never got the girl, I discovered a new mantra to live by and preach: Lower your emissions. Raise your voice!