World Water Week

For the past three years I have been coordinating a school-wide project called World Water Week. The theme of last year's WWW festival was global food security, which paralleled the theme of last year’s UN World Water Day (March 22). There were approximately 50 students and 10 teachers involved in the project. There were several different components:

  • An all-school lesson during which all students in the school engaged in the same lesson on global food security. The lesson was developed by a social studies teacher and a language arts teacher with the support of a team of student leaders.
  • A community-wide basketball tournament that generated funds for famine relief in East Africa. I worked with a group of students who planned the event. Money was donated to Doctors Without Borders.
  • During an evening multicultural family program at our school, a team of students with a faculty advisor organized tables that supplement ed international foods with educational information. For example, next to the East African food that is served for dinner, there was information about the current famine in the Horn of Africa. Tables with food had calculated the water footprint of the food being served. Students also conducted a tap water taste test to raise awareness about the environmental costs of bottled water.
  • There was an all-school assembly that featured spoken word, music, and local youth who are part of a program called FEEST. These students taught our student body about local food issues (food deserts, urban farming, etc.)
  • On Friday of World Water Week we held a teach-in in place of regular classes. I arranged approximately 25 different workshops for students and teachers. Some were keynote presentations in the auditorium, while others were hands-on workshops in classrooms. All students passed through a “Food Walk” session outside at our track. Students simulated a walk from a food scare village in Somalia to a refugee camp in Kenya. During the journey, they wil stopped at 4 stations (water quality testing, soil quality, rice, and agricultural water use). The Food Walk was planned by a group of students with the support of a faculty advisor.
  • I also set up a short PD session for our faculty, which took place 2 weeks before World Water Week. Teachers learned about systems thinking and about global food security so that they were prepared to teach the all-school lesson during the festival.

In 2011, Chief Sealth International High School held its first ever World Water Week, a youth-led festival that engaged the entire student body and faculty in learning about a critical global issue. The highlight of the week was a full day of workshops for students and teachers. Guest presenters led sessions on how to assemble water filters, green building, King County’s wastewater system, and many other topics. Students led their peers in a water taste test and a school-wide art project in which 600 individually tiles were painted and assembled to create a scene of three women carrying water. Every student also participated in a Walk for Water, carrying 5 gallon jugs around the track for 45 minutes to simulate what over a billion people do every day around the world to gather fresh water for their families. Students also raised over $4,000 for Water 1st International as part of the Walk. Throughout the week were all-school assemblies, a public keynote lecture, and a synchronous all-school lesson on global water scarcity. 

World Water Week is happening again in 2013 and is organized by a team of over 50 student leaders who are excited about increasing global awareness at their school. The theme of the 2012 festival is global health.

For highlights of the 2011 festival please see these links:

Noah Zeichner,
Sep 16, 2012, 1:27 PM
Noah Zeichner,
Sep 16, 2012, 1:18 PM
Noah Zeichner,
Sep 16, 2012, 1:29 PM