“They look like they are studying at Hogswarts,” a child commented after meeting students from St Ninian’s R.C. Primary School in Edinburgh Scotland online. It was a hilarious moment but understandable as the fictitious school of wizardry in the Harry Potter stories was in Scotland. 9 young people aged from 8 to 14 years old, are part of “In a New Light,” a 13-session project to sensitise participants to the crisis of climate change. The project designed by Imaginate Scotland brings together artists and young people in Scotland, Bangladesh and Singapore who face barriers accessing the arts.
As part of the Singapore International Foundation’s Arts for Good Projects, this partnership between The Artground (Singapore), Gidree Bawlee Foundation of Arts (Bangladesh) and Imaginate (Scotland) has given the young people involved a valuable experience in learning and working collaboratively with peers from a very different background. In a good way, the prominence of virtual meetings brought about by COVID-19 has influenced the design of this project.
When the young people from Bangladesh shared that there were always cows, goats and chicken near them, our children from Singapore replied that they were more familiar with cats, dogs, turtles, and birds. It did not take long for everyone to warm up to each other and those from Singapore were asking the rest if they had Tik Tok, what their school looked like and what delicious food their country offered.
The climate crisis was not a topic these young people had given much thought too. So, they were asked to speak to their grandparents or older persons in their families about the weather. Those from Bangladesh reported that their elders had told them that summer is now much hotter and weather conditions are more extreme. The exercise was effective in helping everyone to think further about the issue and the severity of the situation dawned on them.
However, the project is mindful that it does not leave participants despondent and pressured to act and so discussions were activated with reflective questions rather that directives. “What happens when we take action?” got participants to eventually believe that their voices do matter if things are not to get worse. Many were also able to reflect that planting more trees, using less electricity, and having less cars would be actions that gave them hope.
This project is now at its halfway mark and at the end, participants will record a performance which will be edited into a film to be released in early 2021 with captions in English, Mandarin, Malay, Tamil, and Bengali. Am quite sure, the young people will then see that their collective voices matter.
Wishing you, health and peace of mind.
One’s friends are that part of the human race with which one can be human.” — George Santayana