This year’s Green Apple Day of Service has seen many successes, with communities working together to positively affect schools and spread sustainability. Behind each impactful project is a leader coordinating and planning the ways to engage students and communities.
One of last year’s Green Apple Day of Service Award winners for project leader, Ibrahim Kronfol, has been an example of determination and success in leading change with students in the Middle East and India. Since Green Apple’s inception in 2012, Kronfol has worked tirelessly to spread awareness and positively change students’ behavior in India, Egypt, Lebanon and Jordan. In 2017, he led 77 volunteers to reach over 1,000 students. In 2018, his efforts were doubled, with over 200 volunteers working with 2,500 students.
We’re so impressed with his success that we asked Kronfol to share how he has positively affected students and communities:
How have your Green Apple Day of Service projects sparked other sustainability actions in communities?
Our projects have had significant impacts on the host schools and their communities. To widen outreach and spread our message, we target new schools each year, focusing on schools that would not have access to similar activities otherwise, such as schools serving underprivileged communities.
This collaboration with different schools each year has had far-reaching effects. We reach more teachers and see their commitment grow as they ask questions, take notes and give suggestions during our first meetings with them. Many schools from previous sustainability movement campaigns that we led have now started their own Green Apple Day projects. We’ve even inspired numerous schools to implement ongoing recycling programs. They are proof that we are making great strides toward a greener future.
Since you started in 2012, what types of projects have you found to be most impactful to student and school staff behavior?
To make an impact, context truly matters. For example, in 2015, Lebanon was plagued by a massive waste management problem that was affecting the entire country. So, we tailored our program accordingly: we capitalized on the elevated awareness and conducted extensive hands-on activities for a reduce-reuse-recycle campaign.
It had an incredibly significant impact, because we taught students how to tackle an issue they were personally suffering from. Generally, activities that allow students to both think and act are guaranteed to have notable impact. I’ve also found projects related to energy and water are usually favorites among students.
Do you have a favorite story of impact from working with schools and students?
As an environmental activist, there are several times I’ve been impressed by a student or a school. If I had to cite just one example, it would be a kick-off meeting we had with an orphanage in Beirut at the beginning of our recent sustainability movement project. After we decided to do a water audit activity for 30 students, the event coordinator told me she wanted to include students from five sister school orphanages as well.
Instead of having just one school benefit from the activity, this way, students from each school could participate so they could serve as ambassadors and lead the same activity in their schools. We even transformed the water audit activity into an inter-school competition in which teams competed to get accurate results and present their findings. With such initiative from the coordinator, we were able to have a much bigger impact than we hoped for.
What advice do you have for others for planning and implementing a successful project?
Always start your project with a briefing on sustainability. This could be a presentation or a story, but keep it simple, and keep your audience in mind. We’re dealing with young students, and they need to have fun to think and get inspired. Also, keep the student-to-volunteer ratio in the margins of 5 to 1, which will ensure that every student is able to engage, learn and ask questions. Finally, preparation is everything: make sure volunteers have rehearsed the presentations and activities beforehand, to make the most of your time with the students.