By Zylfie Braha, YES 2017-2018, Albania, hosted by PAX in Three Rivers, MI
We all know our world is facing a lot of problems, and one of them is definitely pollution. During my exchange year, I met a lot of people who would do anything to make the world a better place to live in, and I always aspired to be one of them. I always wondered how it would be if, back in my country, people would get as involved in environment protection as everyone around me in the U.S. was.
With this in mind, when I learned about a project initiated by the Educational Department of my hometown, Kukes, and local NGO Instituti i Librit dhe Promocionit (Book and Promotion Institute), I talked with the organizers and YES alumni in Albania became partners and supporters of this initiative.
Together with 500 students from eight different high schools and middle schools, we spent two days collecting plastic waste along the Drin, the river that runs through our town. After we collected the waste, we divided it into recyclable and non-recyclable.
The clean-up was followed by an activity called Art Against Plastic Pollution. One hundred participants used the recyclable materials we had collected to create art pieces, which were later exhibited in the town square and viewed by more than 300 members of our community. This activity took place on the International Day of Drin.
Plastic waste is such a huge problem and members of my community do not generally see recycling as part of their lives. I really hope that this activity was an eye-opening experience not just for me and others who planned the project, but for every other person who took part in it and saw what we can do if we just collaborate with each other.