By Femke Oldham
Have you heard the phrase, “Think globally, act locally”? Last year, The Watershed Project did both. We thought globally, and then acted locally AND globally with volunteers in Manzanillo, Mexico.
It began in 2008, when the Sister City Committee of San Pablo, California partnered with The Watershed Project to create a pilot educational exchange program with Manzanillo, its sister city, in the Mexican state of Colima. The pilot, called Bye Bye Basura, launched in October 2010.
“Basura” is the Spanish word for trash, and the program tackles the international problem of trash through watershed awareness and pollution prevention. It includes teacher trainings, bilingual curriculum delivery, and in-class assistance to elementary school classes in both San Pablo and Manzanillo. Each class in San Pablo is paired with a ‘sister’ class in Mexico. The students exchange notes, cards, and photos throughout the program to strengthen the power of the cultural and educational exchange.
Bye Bye Basura engages students with hands-on watershed education activities, beginning with cleaning up their school, and making their own watershed models with paper, markers, and spray bottles. The students learn to sing the “Bye Bye Basura” anthem, written by local singer/songwriter Tommy Tomorrow. On the final day of classes in San Pablo, students create a watershed yearbook full of photos and lessons learned, and send it to their sister class in Mexico. The following week, our bilingual staff travels to Mexico to teach similar activities, this time in Spanish. Bye Bye Basura connects children to their watershed and teaches them to recognize the impact of human actions on our precious planet.
Last year, more students wanted to participate than we had available space. This year, we’re determined to double the program’s size, to double our impact. We intend to work in four elementary schools in Manzanillo and San Pablo, reaching more than a hundred children. But we can’t do it without your help! To double the impact of Bye Bye Basura so more kids in the U.S. and Mexico are connected to their watersheds and develop a lifelong ethic of protecting our precious planet, we must raise $2,500 before the end of March.
With your support, I’m confident we can do it.
The City of San Pablo and The Watershed Project will acknowledge your donation in our electronic newsletters and additional program publicity.
If you’d like to learn more about the program, click here to watch a video.
The San Pablo-Manzanilo Sister City Committee is recruiting new members! If you are interested in joining, please contact Lehny Corbin at LehnyC@SanPabloCA.gov or 510.215.3005.