Posted by: EcoPeace Middle East | August 24, 2013

2013 GWN Regional Teachers Seminar

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The Good Water Neighbors Regional Teachers Seminar was held this year in Aqaba with over 70 participants. FoEME staff, Community Coordinators, teachers, and members of national governments were present for the seminar that sought to coordinate and develop environmental communication and teaching methods. The seminar also introduced the FoEME Teachers Resource Guide in order to introduce educators to the activities and concepts in the book. The seminar was held over the course of 3 days, and in between serious discussions and trainings, attendees from Palestine, Israel, and Jordan socialized, connected discussed environmental affairs to better understand the raised concerns in each country.  The Regional Teachers Seminar is held each year to promote environmental ideas and to build teacher’s capacity for relaying these ideas to their students. A diverse array of attendees helped make the group dynamic and displayed a wide range of opinions and approaches to teaching about environmental issues in the region. High school teachers, staff members and representatives contributed greatly through proposing techniques and teaching methodologies that can enhance students understanding to issues related to the environment in general and to water in particular.

The first day of the seminar saw the arrival of all the attendees from neighboring countries. The directors of FoEME opened the seminar with valuable remarks. Munqeth Meyhar, the Jordanian director, addressed the GWN project. He traced the development of the idea, elaborated on the impact it has on communities, and listed the different schools participating in the seminar.

Israeli director Gidon Bromberg spoke about educational values of FoEME in relation to GWN, and Palestinian director Nader Khateb spoke about projects expanding in the future. Lisa Kawar, Jordanian project manager for GWN, described the multi-faceted approach of the GWN through regional level knowledge building, national cooperation and development, and finally regional cooperation. She also presented some of the outcomes of recent projects like the regional youth camp.

Participants were then asked to write their expectations for the conference and stick them to sheets of paper labeled with categories such as: leadership and cooperation, learning/action, self-development-ideas and reflection, history/sense of belonging, personal/emotional connections.

During the second day, participants were split into six groups that focused on the scientific side of environmental issues. Topics varied and included technologies for sustainability, development versus conservation, the cycle of environmental degradation, agriculture policy in the Jordan Valley, ecotourism, and groundwater. Leaders of each group presented a lecture which was facilitated by Community Coordinator. The groups were then led in a teaching project that demonstrated some of the main ideas of their topic, taken from the —activities like painting their interpretation of a water issue, creating a mini model of groundwater percolation, and creating a poster about environmental communication.

The groups were split into topics during the second session that focused on environmental activism, such as the human right to water, conducting independent research, transforming conflict into opportunity, think global, act local, competition versus cooperation, and the tragedy of the commons. This session was more discussion-based and culminated in activities from the Resource Guide. Afterwards, each representative discussed the integration of environmental issues in school curriculums to exchange experiences. The session concluded with members of each country grouping to reflect on ideas proposed and creating strategies for implementation in their respective countries.

The final day of the seminar was a time for reflection and wrapping up ideas and experiences participants expectations mentioned earlier in seminar were grouped into a pyramid of environmental thought, with the following sections: leadership and cooperation, learning/action, self-development-ideas and reflection, history/sense of belonging, personal/emotional connection.

The final pyramid of expectations as they fit into our environmental pyramid!

The final pyramid of expectations as they fit into our environmental pyramid!

The seminar formulated an excellent opportunity to exchange experiences and teaching methodologies. It deepened understanding to environmental concerns in three neighboring countries.

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This post was contributed by FoEME’s intern Laurel Wolf at the Amman office.

Revised and edited by FoEME’s Media Officer & Project Coordinator Samar M. Salma at the Amman Office.

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