Celebrate the Trees: Collaboration between Malta and Israel
The collaboration between Gozo (Malta) and Israel brought together students, teachers and representatives from U.S. Embassy and The GLOBE Program. It provided a unique learning experience where students and teachers are not only contributing to the scientific discovery but they are being exposed to different cultures, languages and traditions.
“It surely was an enriching learning experience and students are looking forward to meet online again to exchange news about their newly planted trees”, reflects Ms. Ramona Mercieca, GLOBE Deputy Coordinator of Malta, on the collaboration project that she started together with GLOBE Coordinator of Israel, Ms. Refaela Babish. Four schools from Malta and Israel are part of the initiative: Gozo College Rabat Primary School, Victoria, Gozo, Malta, Begin Elementary School, Dimona, Israel, Gozo College Middle School, Victoria, Gozo, Malta and Mosenson Youth Village High School, Hod Hasharon, Israel.
The students’ enthusiasm about traditions and the significance of trees in their countries’ cultures led to a video call between schools, organized on February 11th. Students sang a song about trees in their own language and read a tree blessing in Maltese, Hebrew and English. Two trees, a fig tree and an olive tree, symbolizing peace, were planted on the school grounds of each of the schools in honour of this international friendship.
What was at the beginning of the collaboration?
Ramona says: “The collaboration between Malta and Israel started in Trieste during GLOBE Regional Meeting where I met a new CC for Israel, Refaela.” To that Refaela adds more: “The team from Malta gave me a warm welcome and invited me to learn from their experience in GLOBE. The idea to collaborate started when I told Ramona about a national holiday called Tu Bishvat that we celebrate in Israel for thousand years. We celebrate the existence and benefits of trees. On that day we eat only fruits and we plant new trees. Therefore, Ramona and I thought it would be nice to integrate our cultures and the values of the environment around this holiday.”
After several online meetings Refaela and Ramona got into action. They found the schools to be involved in the project - the teachers eagerly accepted the invitation. In December, teachers from the 4 schools introduced themselves via e-mail and planned first call. In January, there was one more call, this time with students as well. Important fact is that each of four school headmasters, be it from Malta or Israel encouraged this collaboration. The date for the online celebration was set on February 11th. The students were all very excited. They prepared charts with research on Tu Bishvat, learnt songs, wrote poems and bought tree seedlings.
Day D: A videocall brings a unique experience for students
In Israel, the climax was held on Tu B'Shvat. Mossenson School students invited the school community to learn about the environmental importance of trees, food sustainability, energy saving and climate change. Deputy Mayer of Hod Hasharon, Mr. Naor Shiri and representatives of the U.S. Embassy, Ms. Ellen Schnitser, Public Diplomacy Specialist in Israel were also invited to join the event. Students prepared a live stream of the tree planting during the call. A talk was held, songs were performed and students and guests planted an olive tree, symbolizing our quest for peace, and a fig tree, symbolizing the importance of civil science.
Students from Gozo, Malta, contributed with the songs and prayers that they prepared and announced that they would plant the tree right after the videocall. They also shared this experience with their schoolmates during morning assemblies: They talked about Tu Bishvat and Israel as well as about newly planted trees and how the trees will be monitored during the GLOBE Phenology Campaign. The campaign focus on monitoring the seasonal change of trees in spring and autumn and it is organized by the Europe and Eurasia Region Coordination Office. Office representatives also joined the call and expressed their appreciation of everyone involved.
Collaboration goes on
After the call there was a great sense of satisfaction from everyone, students and educators as well. It surely was an enriching learning experience and they are all looking forward to meet online again to exchange news about their newly planted trees.
The trees are part of the study of phenology in the European Phenology Campaign, however the onset of the coronavirus pandemic slightly changed the plans. Since students are not allowed to go to schools to monitor the trees they planted, some of them started to observe trees in their backyards. There are also other creative ideas in place already: Students can exchange photos or drawings of the trees as well as recipes on what delights can be prepared from the fruits of fig or olive tree.
As you can see, this collaboration keeps on raising environmental awareness amongst the whole school communities.
Special thanks go to:
Israel: Head of school of Mossenson, Mr. Rami Egozi, The Mosenson Youth Village principle Ms. Israel Hilo, the Deputy Mayer of Hod Hasharon, Mr. Naor Shiri and Ms. Ellen Schnitser, U.S. Embassy Public Diplomacy Specialist in Israel.
Malta: Head of school of GC Middle School, Ms Tereza Camilleri, and Head of School of GC Rabat Primary School, Mr Lelio Spiteri
News origin: Europe and Eurasia