Think globally, act locally” is a goal I have for my students. Traveling to Malawi on a field study with Concern Worldwide have made these words mean so much more to me personally and professionally as a Social Studies teacher. Our field visits provided our group the opportunity to experience programs that develop sustainability, instill empowerment, address malnutrition, and change cultural beliefs.
The final field visit, during our incredible week-long journey, took us to a village in the Mangochi District to learn about Concern’s “Emergency Response and Early Recovery Program”. With monetary assistance through Concern, the citizens of the village planted numerous fields containing mustard greens, Chinese cabbage, tomatoes, sugar cane, cassava and fruit trees. They had constructed an elaborate network of shallow trenches to provide irrigation to the plants. The sloped land became a lush green network of fields providing a variety of foods improving their diet and extra produce to sell positively impacting their local economy.
The farmers extensively explained the agricultural techniques used to plant crops with minimal disturbance of the soil, companion planting to maximize the growing season and the irrigation system bringing water to the delicate plants to ensure full production. Proudly one farmer demonstrated how a natural pesticide is used to protect the maize crop from insect destruction. It was explained the pesticide was made from the leaves of the Neem tree. The leaves are dried then ground into a powder and mixed with water. The mixture is then dripped in the center of individual plants using a recycled plastic bottle with small holes punched in the lid. I found it very interesting how they are using a native plant to protect their crops of insect destruction and want to try similar concepts in my own gardens.
The field study with Concern Worldwide was a life changing experience for me. Spending the week learning about the work of the dedicated Concern staff opened my eyes to the needs of the citizens in Malawi. I cannot stop thinking about the week-long journey through the Malawi countryside. “Think globally, act locally”. What can my students and I do to improve the lives of so many people who live their daily with so little?
Karen Kelly is a Social Studies Teacher at Scales Mound High School. To read more about her and her students’ experiences in Malawi, read her blog here.