Written by Chloe Cui, Jintao Lin, Yu Shi, and Kevin Yu from the AAFE Immigrant Youth Leadership Program at Flushing High School

We have been planning our service-learning project on recycling since September.  After we decided on the topic of the environment, we visited two environmental nonprofits, Lower East Side Ecology Center and Build It Green! NYC, to gain a deeper understanding on environmental issues. The Lower East Side Ecology Center has a composting area where fruits and vegetable are turned into fertilizer and soil, and they try to find a way to clean water and save land.  Build It Green! NYC is an organization which collects different old furnishings and sells them in order to reduce the amount of waste.

Recycling is very important for us, because all resources are limited, so we decided to focus on recycling.  We wanted to spread the idea of recycling to children. We hope that they will remember the significance of recycling and tell the people around them.  To make it fun, we taught the kids how to make a piggy bank out of an old soda bottle.  For the next few weeks, we collected bottles and washed them.  We practiced what we would say to the children.  We prepared all the materials we will use.

Our Immigrant Youth Leadership Program split into 2 groups.  In early March, some of us went to the YMCA and some went to the Queens Library to teach the children.  We taught 15 young children at YMCA and 25 young children at the Queens Library.  During the events, the kids chose the bottles by themselves.  Then, we taught them to make different parts of the piggy bank.  For the safety of those kids, we helped them cut paper with scissors.  The children were excited and happy.  When we were watching the other groups, they seemed to be having really interesting conversations with their little kids, too.

This activity is meaningful because we could teach those kids how recycling is important when they are young.  Then, they can keep doing this when they grow up.  Also, the kids could tell their parents to recycle.  They might affect more people in the future.