Youth making change. Engaging organisations and people in a sustainability project_vermicomposting

It is surprising that worms, being so small, can transform organic waste and have a huge positive impact in the environment. The amount of money that one can benefit from using those worms can be about millions in a year in Turkish Lira…” Utku, Hande, Cagla, Burgra, and Dicle

The above is what 5 students (16-18 years old) in Istanbul, Turkey found with their YMP project. They created an organic waste collection system based on vermicomposting.  They managed to engage two local municipalities, 5 schools, local markets, and other organisations. Read about the project here.

Below is their interview with the YMP Team. They told us how the project started, about reaching people, and the change they are making!

YMP Team “Hello, I am sitting at the YMP. I am Paola Mendoza. 

Q. Can you tell us your names?

Hello, I am Bugra, I am Utku, I am Hande, and I am Cagla.”

YMP Team  “Just Dicle is missing. But, Thank you for being here.”

Q. What is the name of your project?

“Using vermicompost to recycle organic waste in Turkey”

Q. Tell us about your project. How did you get started?

Bugra – We went first to Meltepé Municipality to get in contact with the people there and talked with them about using vermicoposting in the area of the municipality. With this we could identify more people who would like to do the vermicomposting.

We also went to the organic bazaar, because we wanted to learn about people´s reaction, and also if they knew about vermicomposting or not. We found that there are not a lot of people who know about vermicomposting. So we started to introduce our project,  vermicomposting, because we wanted to teach people about it.

Utku – “They didn´t have a lot of information about vermicomposting, they started to get some information from us. The municipality assigned an area for vermicompositing, and we helped them to improve this area. We gave them some worms that we obtained from a vermicompost company. The municipality keeps promoting this. They are also helping us to contact people.“

So, the first step was education, the second step was applying vermicomposting.

Q. How was it to contact people? Were they open to listen? Was it easy to get them interested (engage them) in your project?

Hande – “It was not easy(laughter)

YMP Team – “Tell us about it!

Utku –Ah, actually, there are a lot of people who don´t like worms. When we showed them the worms they started shouting”.


Q. And the Municipalities?

Bugra –  “The Municipality was engaged. They realised that they could get a lot of advantage, like the money, they can save a lot of money by recycling organic waste. Today, they have to use some trucks to collect the organic waste, if every household used vermicomposting, the Municipality would’t need to collect these waste. So expenses would decrease.”

Q. Here in your report you I see that you are continuing. You continue having informative presentations. With who are you having these?

Bugra- “In our neighbourhoods. Each of our group members presents the project to their neighbours or organisations around where they live.”

YMP Team-Its fantastic. Making the time and the space to work with people around shows leadership. Also the fact that you are reaching people of different ages is wonderful. That is actually a key aspect in attaining more sustainable societies.”

Q. So, how do you think that your project contributed in making a change toward sustainable development? Or did it? Has there been change?

Bugra – “Well, since we were able to reach two Municipalities, Kartal and Meltepé, with a total of 800 inhabitants, we believe that we made a real change in those districts. To be honest it is not a big deal since it is not nationally implemented. However, we have just received news from Kartal Municipality that they will start vermicomposting. So we believe that our project is in a small area, but affects the whole nation. Therefore, we can consider it as a real change. Also since this area is expanding everyday. We are really happy to see the news from Kartal Municipality, which is very far from Istanbul. So, we think that we have made a real change. Or a move to a real change.”

YMP Team – “Yes, we think so too. You reached and engaged so many people.”


To get a better idea about the project read the report in the YMP News.

This is just an example of what Youth can do!

Do you feel inspired? Do you want to learn more about Sustainable development and make a change in the world?  Join a Smarter World! Join the YMP for free.

In our next post at the YMP blog: A conversation with Belgin Arusoglu, the teacher behind this project, the one leading these students. Belgin is currently teaching at high school level at School Ozel Fen Bilimleri Anadolu Lisesi. Istanbul, Turkey. She will tell us why she is in the YMP and what it has brought to her.

Builders or destructors of the upcoming generations

My YMP-Story: Mandar Shah – St Kabir School, Gujarat, India

I would like to thank you all for bringing up such a wonderful course or rather I would say Experience.

YMP or the Young Masters Programme on Sustainable Development proved to be a significant headway in my life. YMP platform made me present my perception on a global platform. In the beginning of the programme I thought continuously about the Diploma but later my thinking changed and I involved more in learning rather than recognition. It changed the course of my thoughts and aligned them the way it should be. It has brought me up to feel the joy even of the smallest butterfly fluttering around me and even made me feel sorry about the problems faced by our planet.

This course gave me such kind of knowledge which will remain with me throughout life and also granted me a space to express my views freely. It changed my perspective about everything around me and also made me to learn about what I see. It made me think more and act whenever needed. I am glad that the YMP course has some difficult missions which proved to be challenging, but these challenges finally led to new learning. It made me realise that either we are the builders or we are the destructors of the upcoming generations and also gave me courage to express myself.

All in all, my YMP experience was remarkable and I assure the team that i will pass my knowledge to others.

Yours Truly,

Mandar Shah, Gujarat, India

Student group 12:184 – Project group 13:2

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Do you wonder what bioenergy is all about?

“Bioenergy is booming around the world and with the expansion comes exciting opportunities and some disturbing risks. Learning about bioenergy – from technologies, to resources, to policies – is important to the success and sustainability of the advanced bioeconomy.” Kes McCormick and Karin Willquist

What is bionergy all about? Can we create a more sustainable planet with it? Find out what  bioenergy is and get some ideas on its sustainability in It´s the bioeconomy, stupid! an interactive introductory book to the world of bioenergy (access it for free!) You will also find out why the “stupid” in the title!

This e-book is an interactive guide for school students (16-18) and teachers, which opens the door to understand and engage in the transition from the fossil-based economy to a bio-based economy. Through research based content, maps, pictures, charts, graphs, cartoons, news, discussions, experiments, and activities this book takes you through an easy and interesting learning journey.

Find in it experiences with bioenergy in different countries, including Sweden, Canada, Brazil, Australia, China, USA, and Ethiopia.

The authors Kes McCormick and Karin Willquist are researchers at Lund University, Sweden. For those in the YMP, Kes McCormick is a close YMP collaborator and author of the Energy sections in the course material. Find more about the authors in the e-book!

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What can YMP add to the school´s curriculum on sustainable development? YMP teacher experience

My name is Kyle Clark and I am a teacher from Orillia, Ontario, Canada.  For the past 4 years I have been living in Shenyang, China and teaching at the Sino-Canadian Program of Shenyang No.2 High School.  This is a Canadian curriculum High School program designed for Chinese students who are interested in studying abroad for University.

 I became aware of the Young Masters Programme (YMP) when it was introduced to me by a friend who is currently working for the program.  After a few minutes of reading through the website I became very excited to try to the program with my Grade 12 students.  One of the key concepts of the Canadian Grade 12 Global Geography course is the importance of sustainable development practices for the future health of the Earth.   I decided that including the YMP as a part of my Grade 12 course would be an exciting and unique way of teaching students about sustainable development.

            To me, the YMP program is a great way to introduce students to the topic of sustainable development.  Given what we now know about the environment and the Earth’s resources, the issue of sustainable development will continue to become a more and more important topic across the world. So far most of my students are around mission 8 in the YMP and the responses I have received from them have been very positive.  The YMP provides a range of missions and activities to engage students in learning, as well as providing a global classroom for collaboration and discussion between groups.  The program not only does a great job of bringing awareness to many of the environmental issues that are happening around the world, but it also encourages students to think more locally either about their country or even their city.    Another benefit of the Young Masters Programme is that it requires students and teachers to reflect on their everyday practices.  This is an important feature because oftentimes people do not consider the impact of their own actions.

            Based on my experience I would highly recommend the YMP program to any teachers who are covering courses related to world issues.  Many high school students do not have much international experience, so the opportunity to read missions, critique missions, and work alongside students from other countries is a great way to increase student awareness and knowledge about the types of issues that other countries are facing.  Many of my students have commented that they enjoy the opportunity to read responses from students in other parts of the world and are interested in how the issues or perspectives are different from their own.  Furthermore, the missions and activities provided through the YMP are a good mix of reading and research with practical application.  The opportunity to go into the community and complete a mission or try something related to the mission is something that my students have really enjoyed.  Many of my students have commented on how much they enjoy going to location in their city, taking some pictures, and thinking about that area in a way that may not have considered before.

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5 tips to engage yourself in meaningful conversations


Last week I wrote about making the connection between topics that you learn and your daily life, and using that as a conversation topic. Such practice can make any learning received long lasting. Have you tried it?

Today I have 5 tips to engage in richer spoken or written conversations. You can apply these in the YMP and in any other learning context, or social network structure.

1)   DARE to communicate. Dare to be the first one saying something or posting an idea, comment or question. Rich conversations will not just come to you. Someone has to break the ice, to start the conversation. Either you wait, and may wait forever, or you can take the initiative.

Once a Chinese student explained to me that he did not comment on the YMP site because he was afraid of being wrong. He is a great student, but had an unconfident approach! In the worst case your ideas may not fit the conversation if you do not listen or read carefully. Ideas are just ideas, some are useful, some are incomplete, some show a totally different approach, some are out of context, and others are just bad ideas. So what? You are learning! But, how could you know if you don’t dare to share what you think? The person listening will likely tell you with her/his response. We do not need to be right all the time, unless you are writing answers on an exam!  We gain a sense of what can be more adequate or reasonable through engaging in richer conversations.

2)   ASK! Ask for clarification, for examples, for suggestions, ask why, why not. Use all the other “wh” questions (who, what, where, which, when, how).  The key to asking is involvement and curiosity.  Listening and reading carefully will likely result in questions. Many times there is a deeper message behind what people write and say. Sometimes people´s ideas are unclear, or do not make sense to you. You notice that when you pay attention. That gives you opportunity to ask.

3)   MAKE SURE YOU UNDERSTAND THE MESSAGE. Sometimes we think we understand what someone else wrote or said, but we don´t.  Because we are using our own expectations, beliefs, and our own understanding of the world instead of seeing things through the other person’s perspective and context. A word may mean something different to two different people, even if they share the same culture and background. Always ask what the other means with any specific word if the message is unclear.

It is helpful to confirm whether you understood correctly. For example, ask- “are you saying that … ?” This will also help the other person clarify her/his message and a richer conversation can begin!

4)   GO BEYOND “JUDGING”. There is no conversation invite in comments such as “good work”, “it is not clear”, “there´s lack of effort”. Go beyond; explain why you think that a comment, or assignment if you are in the YMP, is good or poor, in your opinion. Be specific on what is not clear to you, why you think there was no effort.  Identifying strengths and weaknesses, and being able to elaborate on them are valuable skills to develop. Take it even further and suggest how to improve. That is very constructive and trains your creativity!

5)   FOCUS ON THE IDEA NOT ON THE PERSON. There is a distinction between the message and the messenger. Different ideas and comments (messages) help us see different angles of a subject. By focusing on the message and commenting on it we can better understand the suggested angle. Whereas, focusing on the person (messenger) puts the idea in second place and distracts us. So you can tell someone “what you said does not apply to the problem because of … have you thought about … ?” instead of  “you are wrong”. Do you see the difference? The first suggestion focuses on the message and gives place for the idea to evolve. The second one, focuses on the person and can mislead the conversation.

In a nutshell, what I am saying is that courage, curiosity, understanding of the other person´s  perspective, going beyond judgement, and focusing on the message can lead you to richer conversations.

What was your last most engaging conversation and what made it so interesting? Share with us!

Practice these tips: If you are in the YMP find a “share and learn” post every Friday on your YMP global classroom, comment on it, use the ideas in this article, engage in rich conversations, and get some credits doing so!

What is coming? Next week we will have a guest YMP teacher blogger. He will tell us about being a YMP teacher in a foreign country.

Do you have a comment to this article? Share with us, just click on “Leave a reply

Written by: Paola Mendoza at YMP Team

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