Care and Service Day at KIS – August 3, 2018
The students of Kodaikanal International School (KIS) do more than just learn about the environment in a classroom or laboratory. Every year, KIS, which has students from over 25 countries, organizes a Care and Service Day in which all school members actively engage with environmental and societal issues in Kodaikanal and other surrounding villages. The theme for this year’s KIS Care Day revolved around the over-use of plastics and the rampant illegal disposal of plastics by tourists and others.
Students in Grade 12 traveled down the ghat road to Shembaganur and Perumalmalai where they stopped tourist buses and vehicles coming up the hill with a cry of “plastics vendam!” to raise awareness about the use of plastics in an environmentally sensitive area. Raghav Suneja of Grade 12, opines, “We got to explore the locality and get to know the people. The shopkeepers themselves were sharing that they don’t use plastics in their shops, which is a good thing because it means they are aware of the damage done by plastic in these hills.
Students traded environmentally friendly paper and cloth bags for plastic bags, distributed posters that showed products that were helpful and harmful to the local ecosystem, and discussed issues of waste management and recycling with shopkeepers and others they encountered. Grade 12 student and Student Council Co-President, Nishant Bhakta, shares, “It was a transforming experience because we explored first-hand the issues facing the people and the environment in Kodai.”
In Grade 11, students trekked about 12 km from the school’s front gates in the center of Kodaikanal to the dump yard in Prakasapuram, picking up plastics, glass and refuse along the road. At the dump they received a lecture on waste stream analysis from Dr. Clarence Maloney (Class of 1952), a professor of Anthropology and an avid environmentalist.
Grade 9 and 10 students picked up trash around Kodai Lake and in the Bear Shola and Bombay Shola areas, and also handed out anti-plastic posters for shopkeepers in Naidupuram to display in their store windows. Grade 9 student Tanvi Tummalapalli was exasperated by her experience. “We picked up 20 bags of trash. There are so many garbage bins around the lake,” she exclaimed, “but no one seems to be using them!” Younger KIS students stayed closer to home, working on the school campus in the recycling center and taking part in an environmental art activity. Mumuksha Acharya, Grade 8 student, says, “It was hard work to take things from one place to another, cutting them up and loading them up on the truck. It is a difficult job if someone has to do it every day. We should help a little more!” They discovered that environmental work could be hard, educational, and fun in equal measures. “It was really fun!” exclaims Aditya Parikh of Grade 8, “but we realized that some of the trash is actually ours.”
“We are so proud of our students for their work ethic and their willingness to learn and understand about the underlying issues of waste management and plastic use in Kodaikanal. We not only served the community today, we also grew closer to the people of Kodaikanal as we work with them to find common solutions to the environmental degradation that affects us all,” says KIS Principal Mr. Corey Stixrud.