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Changing the Baltic for better: from schools to entrepreneurial action

Hub Helsinki’s recent announcement of support to the Service of the Sea initiative reminded me about a life-change experience I had five years ago. I was in Northern Poland volunteering on public high schools, giving out workshops on socially sensible matters, and one of them was ecology.

The briefing I had received was was quite broad: together with the other five facilitators, I was supposed to design and roll-out a workshop that would sensitize and call the teenagers to action.

The decision was to take profit of the international background of the facilitators and start the workshop with a line to catch students’ attention: “In the country I live…” and end the sentence with several examples of environmental disasters. Examples went from “65% of the rivers are so contaminated that can corrode metal”, to “12,000 hectares of land are unsuitable for agriculture due to industrial waste deposition”.

As I would cite my examples, the other facilitator would write them down on the blackboard, and vice-versa. Students would be mostly quite apathetic to the examples, until we would come with the question: “You know the country I live, don’t you?” and they would quickly come up with an answer: “Brazil!”, “India!”, “China!”. Our response: “These are the countries we come from, but the country we live in is Poland.”

All students would inevitably turn to the blackboard and re-check all that had been said. Their reaction was unmistakably of shock and discomfort. “Are all these examples really from Poland?” some would ask. “Yes.”, I would answer.

The tragical environmental examples we gave were mainly from the Upper Silesia region in Southwestern Poland or the Vistula river. But the most shocking facts came from the same Baltic Sea that Service for the Sea now aims at saving. The action plan at that time: many students got engaged in the Baltic Sea Project, helping set up a network of schools in order to create and develop international joint programmes for environmental education.

As if all actions had been planned by a major force, Service for the Sea now proposes a natural next step to those students’ initiative five years back: save the Baltic Sea by entrepreneurial action – enabling this next generation to step up and show their capability.

Why not helping Service for the Sea before someone has to show you that environmental catastrophes are not some other country’s problem? Service for the Sea welcomes your support either as a business partner, juror, investor, student, or university partner. Click here to know more!