Written by Burcu ÖNDER GÜRPINAR, Global Schools Advocate, and Abigail Chifusa, Global Schools Project Officer
Global Schools Program (GSP) Advocate Burcu Önder Gürpinar is a teacher trainer and has been working as a team leader and coordinator for more than ten years in various schools in Turkey.
Her first introduction to the Global Schools Program was two years ago when she was searching online for a school project, and she got inspired by the activities carried out by different Advocates.
Burcu thought she should contribute to the Global Schools’ Program Agenda. Her journey started before she became an Advocate when she took the step of signing the pledge on behalf of her school and using the provided lesson plans on the website.
Moving forward, Burcu became a GSP Advocate in August 2022. Since then, she has been coordinating the GSP at Vizyon College in Istanbul and integrating the SDGs into the school's curriculum in every subject.
After providing the teachers with training about the Global Schools Program, her school looked for ways to integrate SDGs into their current curriculum. Every department hosted workshops to decide which SDGs would match their subject curriculum in the first quarter. Furthermore, Burcu’s school dove into detailed planning and looked at the yearly plans in their subject areas.
Following a monthly schedule, the teachers at the school run the SDG activities in collaboration with each other. Over the month of October, as a GSP Advocate, Burcu led several activities.
Below are some examples so far carried out by the outstanding team of educators at Vizyon College:
First, the primary and high school ecology club students created global warming posters in their English lessons to raise awareness about climate change in parallel to what they studied in their lessons. Before creating posters, the English teachers mentored the students and prompted them to think about world issues that would be fit for raising awareness about global warming. The students created mind maps and solution bubbles on the board by using keywords related to global warming. In light of these keywords, the students started creating their posters. After the posters were created, the students presented their work to the school’s Ecology Club together with their mentor Biology teachers. Finally, they used the posters to raise awareness in the whole school.
The second activity followed the tradition of the Vizyon College English Department, which organizes an annual exhibition to raise awareness about recycling. The exhibition took place in the lobbies of Vizyon College campuses. The opening ceremony was held by the campus managers where students and teachers visited the exhibition while the students presented their projects.
High school students started a campaign by collecting plastic bottle tops that were in turn donated to a community organization that would provide wheelchairs for persons with disabilities. This was a national social responsibility project organized by The Spinal Cord Paralytics Association of Turkey, which began in 2010 and became widespread across Turkey for supplying wheelchairs in exchange for plastic bottle tops. The bottle tops were gathered and transported to the recycling plants, and wheelchairs were provided in exchange for the lids.
The kindergarten students celebrated World Smile Day by marching in the corridors with posters to convince everyone to smile. The homeroom teachers and English teachers mentored the students during the day, and everyone was convinced to smile to raise awareness about Good Health and Well-being, Quality Education, Reduced Inequalities, and Partnerships for the Goals.
Next, Vizyon College celebrated World Urbanism Day with its middle school students’ own design of sustainable cities; students created Minecraft worlds together during ESRI Turkey’s seminar on GIS for sustainable cities.
Finally, the school has a Global Affairs Parliament which will organize a regional event where delegates from other schools in the same region will come and discuss the 2030 Agenda.
“It is great to observe this positive atmosphere in the school from students to principals. The magic touch of a teacher and the inspiration sparkles on the students make us believe that a better world is possible, and it is mesmerizing that the students and the teachers are so keen on not leaving anyone behind,” said the GSP Advocate, Burcu Önder Gürpinar.