By Femke Oldham
“Bye Bye Basura, Let’s Keep the Water Clean…” sang a class of fifth graders last month. Twenty two native Spanish-speakers carefully chirped this bilingual song on the closing day of The Watershed Project’s first ever international program, taught in the port city of Manzanillo on Mexico’s central Pacific coast.
Preparation for this unique program began more than a year ago, when the Sister City Committee of San Pablo, California partnered with The Watershed Project to address the issue of marine debris. The pilot program that developed from this partnership, Bye Bye Basura (the Spanish word for “trash”), is the first step in an ongoing pollution prevention program and educational exchange between San Pablo, California and Manzanillo, Colima in Mexico. The Watershed Project facilitated Bye Bye Basura in October 2010 by coordinating teacher trainings, curriculum delivery, and providing in-class assistance in both San Pablo and Manzanillo.
The program began with a set of class visits to Lake Elementary School in San Pablo. Ms. Kristyn Jones’ third grade class enjoyed hands-on watershed education activities, including making their own watershed models with paper, markers, and spray bottles as well as a clean up of the school’s playground. The students wrote postcards to their “sister class” in Mexico with drawings of what they learned in class that day. On the final day, each student created a page with their photo, and a letter about what they learned about watersheds and trash over the course of the week. These pages were combined to form a watershed yearbook to be sent to their sister class in Mexico.
The week following Bye Bye Basura’s start in San Pablo, The Watershed Project’s bilingual staff packed up their education materials and traveled to Manzanillo to teach the same activities, this time in Spanish. Again, the students participated in a week full of hands-on activities that culminated in the creation of a watershed yearbook. While in Mexico, The Watershed Project team partnered with Tommy Tomorrow, an American Singer/Songwriter who composed a song titled “Bye Bye Basura.” Accompanied by a local band, Tommy Tomorrow led the Mexican students in singing and recording the song on the final day of the program.
The program wraps this month when The Watershed Project returns to Lake Elementary to deliver the eagerly-awaited watershed yearbook created by the students of Escuela Manuel Antonio in Manzanillo to the students here in San Pablo. The Watershed Project looks forward to expanding this international pilot program over the coming year so that more students in both the United States and Mexico will sing “Bye Bye” to trash in our watersheds.
Photos (from top to bottom): Students in Manzanillo, Mexico wave “Bye Bye” to trash; Two students at Lake read postcards from their sister class in Mexico; Students at Lake Elementary after the schoolyard cleanup.
Special thanks to our partners:
San Pablo Sister City Committee
Genoveva Calloway, President
Sydney Metrick, Vice President
Manzanillo Sister City Committee
Luis Jorge Alvarez
Maria Pilar Siedel
If you are interested in joining the San Pablo Sister City Committee, please contact Lehny Corbin at .