by Jessica Schrader
edited by Tina Norland
On Saturday, April 20th, 2013, many Greater Pittsburgh Literacy Council (GPLC) students in Prospect Park celebrated their first Earth Day. The week before, we discussed things like recycling and air pollution in class, and on Saturday morning at nine o’clock fifteen students from Bhutan and Burma gathered in Wallace Park, down the street from the English classrooms. When they arrived, they were met with middle school and high school students from the South Hills Interfaith Ministries (SHIM) mentoring program as well as someone very important – the “president” (mayor) of Whitehall, James Nowalk.
This was not the first year Mayor Nowalk’s office organized an Earth Day cleanup in this part of Whitehall, but it was the first year in which GPLC students participated. They were all very excited to help out, and many students expressed in class that they would have liked to join the cleanup effort but were unable to for various reasons.
After a short speech from the mayor, students split into two groups which spread out into the park and along Maple Drive, the road where GPLC’s classrooms are located. After an hour or so of picking up garbage (and the disposal of at least one thirteen-gallon bag per person) everyone reconvened in the park for a quick thank you before heading home.
Talking to the students in class two days later, we found that they all had a great time and loved the opportunity to give back to the community. Many are even interested in doing another clean up this summer!