Two weeks ago, the Skateistan Cambodia team started a DIY Gardening curriculum! After their skate sessions, students learned to prepare the right soil, plant seeds and care for their plants. It was all made possible with the help of Shannon Koropchak, the English Faculty sponsor at John Burroughs School in Missouri, USA, who prepped and trained the local staff to get it going. Shannon holds a bachelor's degree from the University of Illinois at Champaign/Urbana and a master's and doctorate in English and American literature from Washington University. Before training our staff at Skateistan Cambodia, Shannon first met our Skateistan youth leaders from Kabul, Afghanistan with her own students at the THIMUN (Model UN) Youth Conference in Qatar earlier this year!
Many Skateistan Cambodia students have lived in Phnom Penh city their whole lives, where gardens are few and far between. Right now, the mini garden is growing and the students are so excited to see the difference a few days or a week can make in the life of a plant. This is one of the best Skate and Create curriculums we've had so far! (Other top contenders include the DIY skateboard curriculum and the Storytelling curriculum).
Gardening in the skatepark
It all started by breaking down the dirt to make our DIY soil.
The students found some creative solutions - anything can become a tool!
Excited to be trying something new!
Lots of great teamwork all around.
Getting our hands dirty was half the fun!
The first week of the gardening was really good. We explained to the students very clearly about this project and they understood well. They enjoyed choosing the seeds, growing the plants, choosing the spots to grow them and preparing all the supplies. A few of the plants are growing so fast but some of them haven’t sprouted yet. It depends on the type of seed. We also spoke with the students about how they imagine their garden to look like in the future. They all had different ideas. This project refreshes their minds a lot to love nature and the environment. Now they want a clean city.
- Rattanak, Skate and Classroom Teacher
Next, choosing seeds to plant.
We have basil, corriander, cucumber, tomato, carrot and eggplant seeds!
Once the seeds were planted and garden beds watered, it was time to wait...
One girl in the class told me that she’s really happy about the garden. She took 3 plants home. Those plants she grew by herself. A few days ago, the plants were growing really well but unfortunately one plant died. She was really sad and she came to the skatepark and told me about it. I replied back with a positive smile and also encouraged her by saying, ‘please don’t give up’ and start again by planting another seed with the hope of growing a new plant.
- Tin, Education Coordinator
After one week, some of the plants began to grow!
We also experimented with different mixtures of mud and water to keep plants alive.
And recycled plastic water bottles so students could take a small plant home with them to care for!
A note from all the teachers and youth leaders at Skateistan Cambodia
The Gardening training with Shannon is a really amazing project that we’ve never done before at Skateistan Cambodia. The students are really interested in it. They say it feels fresh and they are happy because before they were learning about art, music and dancing... but this is something different. Shannon trained us really with really important skills, like how to be a good role model and patient teacher. She’s such an awesome teacher who has had a lot of experience, technique and good communication. While she was training us, we learned a lot about what we’re good at and what we need to improve. Before she left, she also gave us some advice and some documents about how to brainstorm, use a lesson plan for teaching and everything that teachers have to be prepared with before teaching the student. This is an amazing thing and we would like to thank to her for spending time with us, sharing, training and working so hard with us. Thank you Shannon from Skateistan Cambodia.
Shannon and the Skateistan Cambodia team saying farewell.
Here's a sneak peak of DIY garden activities coming soon...