Interview with Dennis Barbion, Director-Chairman- Compassion Activism Charity
1) how important is the environmental issue to you personally ?
The environmental issue is very close to my heart. It is a subject for which we can not close our eyes, because this is too serious and it effects the world population and the whole planet.
Out of a feeling of care and responsibility for not only human beings but also for nature, animals, or let’s say all sentient beings, we should investigate this subject well, see what we personally can do, and contribute in our own way, and inspire and being inspired by others. The environmental issue has reached a critical point, and taking action now is essential for the future. Everyone can do something, and also should do something, to prevent further environmental disasters and to protect nature and the environment in general, because we have to look not only to our present generation but on the long run, and to the further existence, survival and evolution of our planet, and all living beings.
2) what role do you think teachers globally can play in developing environmental consciousness ?
Parents, or familly, and schools, through education, play a crucial role in raising awareness about different topics, also about the envirionmental problems. Not to put this subject aside, and bringing and keeping this issue in the attention is very beneficial. A means to raise awareness is to explain the importance on one hand, and for example using examples on the other hand, like teaching the influence of global warming when there are major natural disasters such as floods, or to show documentaries on that subject.Of course, setting examples themselves, and providing examples, so to bring that in practice, probably has most effect, like not using disposable cups, or to dissuade the use of disposable products.
3) how do you think educational institutions can contribute to securing an environmentally sustainable future ?
First of all by a global approach, worldwide, so without fragmentation but an approach on a large scale. Secondly by teaching about the environment on the different aspects, without exceptions, to see or to show the whole picture. One example is the huge impact of eating meat on the environment, something that is often vastly underestimated. Thirdly, which might have most effect, by setting an example themselves, in a concrete way. In that way, a change in behavior or habits can be accomplished.
4) what do you think about this new essay cup initiative by Arachneed Journal and CAC and how literary activities can contribute to resolving the environmental crisis?
I think that this Essay Competition set up by Compassion Activism Charity and The Arachneed Journal can contribute in different kind of ways. Young people are addressed on this subject, and asked to think about the environmental issue. Youngsters who don’t have so much interest in this issue can be asked to investigate about the environmental problems, or a bit more, and I’m sure they will discover more aspects about the subject, through their school, or parents, or maybe friends… Another thing is that in some way it is a kind of self-reflection, for example on habits, things that they are used to do, and that is linked with ideas, facts, that can be done in order to help the environment more. Asking children from different corners of the world, from different cultures and religions, to write about the environment, that forges a bond. Even if they are on the other side of the world, or maybe more close to each other, in some way they are connected, and they share the same interest and care for the environment, and our planet. I also believe that through writing and sharing ideas, children and even adults can be inspired. One child in the East for example can share ideas that can be new for a child in the West, and even beneficial and useful for people everywhere, especially because the essays are going to be published internationally. The essay cup can give a fresh look on the environmental issue through the eyes of children from different corners in the world.
5) According to your own experience, how conscious are the teachers of today as far as environmental issues are concerned ?
In general, I think that the majority of the teachers are well aware of the environmental problems. In these modern times, we have access to information in so many different ways, not only through television or radio like in the past, but through the internet, and also by the release of special documentaries on that subject. Of course, there are always differences, one who has much more interest about the environment than another, and taking it seriously or not, but this is also the case with interest in for example sports or politics. But this also depends on the place where people live, for example near places or in countries that suffered from natural disasters already, and on which specific subjects the teachers or a school teach. On the other hand, a more green implementation in the different education systems, literally and figuratively, could be encouraged.
6) what key points should the students consider while writing the essays ?
CAC and The Arachneed have discussed this in advance, before the start of the Essay Competition, and instead of asking to write about the environment in general, for children it is good to give some suggestions of topics by a few questions, so that it’s more easy to write. Therefore, we have suggested the following three topics:
1) How close is the environmental issue to your heart?
2) What can we do to help the environment and to save the planet?
3) How do you personally contribute to the environmental issue?
In that way, the children can make their essay much more personal and write from their own
experience, and this is always more interesting than some general essay on the subject, as it is more
7) what aspects should teachers focus on while guiding the students on writing the essay for
the essay cup?
I think it would be great that the children write from their heart, and from their own experience, and their concern. And the teachers may guide them in a way that the children are creative, or more creative, so that they combine their knowledge and their creativity on that subject. And even when a child has limited knowledge on the environmental issue, teachers may help them a bit on that, and I’m sure that children with a less knowledge can definitely write an excellent essay, using their creativity and their writing talent. I wish all the participants very good luck, and we are looking forward to read the essays. With lots of thanks to everyone who is involved in this Essay Competition, of course the children participating in the first place, and also the parents, teachers, schools…
Dennis Barbion is the Director and the Chairman of Compassion Activism Charity vzw Belgium. He is a renowned philanthropist, activist, spiritual environmentalist and a counselor based in Belgium.