On the 17th of December, I visited Lod high school with Ohad. He had prepared an activity and a presentation to share with the class to introduce YEEPI to the students and to help them understand the importance of such a class. His activity was a group challenge where the students had to figure out how to work together. The idea was that there were chairs on one side of the classroom, and together the students all had to cross the river of lava using the chairs so they would not touch the floor. The catch was that there was one less chair than there were students, so the students had to communicate and figure out a way to get everyone across – not just every man for himself!
The class was divided into two groups, boys and girls. The group that went first would receive no instruction from Ohad on how to cross. The second group would receive advice from Ohad on how to progress. This activity represented the theory behind YEEPI classes – that by bringing the students from both schools together, introducing them to each other, and teaching them the skills they needed to communicate and save the environment, YEEPI could have a positive impact on the students’ future peace and environmental activities.
The River of Lava
The boys went first, and, without prior discussion, they initiated their “crossing” by following the lead of one boy who had figured out he could take his chair and “bunny hop” across the classroom. Of course, there was one fewer chair than students, and, additionally, many of the boys did not succeed in getting the whole way across, so they had many “deaths”.
Next came the girls, who, after being advised by Ohad, took a moment to discuss the best way to proceed. By taking the time to think about the challenge and how to complete it, the girls successfully developed a method for crossing. The first girl took two chairs. Standing on one chair, she placed the other one further out. Next, she stepped to the further chair and another girl stepped on the first chair. The second girl then passed another chair to the first girl, who again placed it further out. Using the method of fire-bucketing the chairs so that they were evenly spread out across the “river of lava” meant that all the girls had to do was step from one chair to the next to cross.
The impact of Ohad speaking to the girls’ group and encouraging them to discuss their plans before acting, as well as the girls’ own group discussion before proceeding, meant that the second group was successful whereas the first was not. Having seen this in action, students could visually understand the importance of their classes with YEEPI. Through this simple activity, the students were able to put the theory to the test and see that communication and teamwork really do make a difference.
After the activity, Ohad prepared a presentation about how nature knows no boundaries. As an example of this, he used the Mississippi river in the United States that flows through several states, as well as Canada, before emptying into the Gulf of Mexico. During and after the presentation, the students gave their feedback and the topic.
Ultimately the students, who spent an hour of their time after classes had finished to participate in YEEPI, appeared slightly reticent, but overall interested in the class and what the program had to offer.