The Abruzzi Higher Secondary School garden internship for 2013 was a six week volunteer experience that started in early June, and went through to end July. Six third year students from Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture in Karachi signed up to design/build the gardens kitchen and cafeteria, as part of their third year course work. One volunteer from Islamabad helped assist with computer classes as well as get all hardware kinks sorted and fixed.
We were looking for self motivated individuals eager to help augment the quality of education through the lens of agriculture, while helping design and construct the garden’s kitchen and cafeteria. This was a deeply creative experience that challenged the interns to not only design, create and establish sustainable processes but also teach the school children the process of design starting with basic mapping skills
The Shigar valley was our living canvas, where the interns learned to facilitate change from the ground up, i.e. creating spaces in the school garden that reflected the local vernacular, engaging the local community in the process of thinking the design through to enable all generations of Balti children to thrive in their school garden. We faced real problems head on rather than in theory. Together we developed new ways to understand curriculum, mentoring rural youth and building a strong sense of community. The team worked together and experienced the challenge of growth in the much needed skills of interdependence. Their focus was on creating a thriving school garden that will empower this rural community, while they themselves will be able to make change happen in any village or neighborhood on the planet as friends of the AHSS garden.
in the words of Rija Yusuf, one IVSA intern
“The first few days at the Abruzzi School were mostly about getting to know the children and their background; understanding the environment and society in which they were raised. Unlike the city life, these children have the fortunate atmosphere of living very close to nature and its roots – the application of ordinary school subjects could not be better explained than that with the relation to a garden. I taught class 5, 6 and 7 how to first and foremost orient themselves according to North/South/East/West directions, their relation to the sun and the shadows it makes correspondingly, and how to break down an intensive map into its simple elements. I made all of them read out all the different key labels written on the current school garden map and explained to each of them what it means. I taught them the concept of a plan and how it’s essentially the view of any space from a height, like being in a plane in the sky, and how it’s important to view spaces in this way to comprehend it better. Using simple and physical demonstrations with sticks, stones, the children’s own physical characteristics like their heights, I cleared their concepts about ratios and proportions that all vary from each other yet are connected through one common/mutual factor. In this process I realized that the children understand better while using physical objects to explain concepts, rather than drawing or writing on flat paper, which usually only caused confusion or low attention span (particularly the younger classes 5 and 6).”