Two young Vietnamese middle schoolers have recently won an award with their processing strategy for unsorted waste.
Khang Hung and Nhat Linh, both seventh graders of the Hanoi-based Alfred Nobel School, won a prize at the “Incorporating ourselves into nature” competition sponsored by Learning Across Borders (LAB),a non-government organization, with their project named “Hanoians and Unsorted Waste.”
The project provides solutions to the current situation of unsorted household waste of local residents in Hanoi, especially those living in the area near Nam Son landfill site.
To prepare for the competition, Hung and Linh spent as many as seven weeks gaining understanding of the matter including learning information, gathering statistical numbers, and interviewing environment specialists.
Moreover, the two young and inexperienced students also had to prepare their presentation, edit the articles, and design mind maps to prepare for the competition.
Even though it has not been an easy journey, both students admitted they improved considerably and learned a lot.
While conducting the project, the two seven-graders talked to people living and working at Nam Son garbage dump so as to collect data and information for the project.
Every day, Hanoi disposes 6,500 metric tons of waste, in which 70 percent is recyclable, according to the students.
However, the city still turns to burying the garbage, which causes severe pollution, affecting lives of people, and seriously damaging the environment.
While Hung and Linh were already aware of the matter, the project increased their understanding and concerns regarding the environment pollution and waste management of the Vietnamese capital.
The idea came to the two students after they attended a course on living green and a field trip to Nam Son garbage dump, where they were shocked by how smelly the garbage was even though they both wore two surgical masks.
Hung and Linh’s project is not only designed for a competition.
The two students, with the help from their families, continue to spread awareness in their neighborhood and school.
Moreover, in the last September, Khang Hung and Nhat linh were invited to present their project at the Japanese International School in Hanoi.
Even though most students at 12 years old are still consumed in their own lives and care little about what is going on in the society, it is apparent that these two students are nothing like that, credited to their families.
Many years ago, Hung’s family went to Sweden and spent a month there. During their stay, the family was very impressed with the waste sorting system implemented there and was determined to learn more about it.
According to Hung’s mother Nguyen Hong Cam, instead of being impatient and worried about the society that does not care about the environment, it is better to make a change beginning with her own children.
“Thanks to the discussion with a Swedish architect, we learnt that since the Swedish started caring about waste sorting, it took ten years for the system to be implemented.
“If it takes such a developed country ten years, it must take us much longer, but if we do not do anything now than we will not be able to ever do it.
“We believe that our children have a great impact on children and housewives, who play a vital role in making a change,” Cam said.
Nhat Linh’s mother, Minh Thu, on the other hand, always refers to Japanese way of waste sorting.
“In Japan where I once lived, the garbage will be gathered at our houses twice a week.
“All the bottles need to be cleaned and separated making it a lot easier for collecting.
“Sorted garbage will be recycled, saving the expanses and protecting the environment.
“Back then I wished one day Vietnam would be able to do the same,” Minh Thu said.
Whenever Nhat Linh and Khanh Hung had an opportunity to travel with their families, they could witness that littering, waste, and garbage is not just a problem of Hanoi, but also other cities, provinces, and areas of Vietnam.
For instance, when Hung’s family went for a walk to Cu Lao Xanh lighthouse in Quy Nhon, the family witnessed such a serious littering issue that the trip quickly turned from “exploration” to “garbage collecting” as the family started cleaning up as much as they could on their path to and from the lighthouse.
Nhat Linh’s family implements a strict waste sorting system in the house where each family member has the responsibility to separate the waste into organic, paper, and plastic.
The organic waste of the family is used as fertilizers for trees grown in the house.
In addition to attending the competition, both students have many other achievements up their sleeves despite being only 12 years old.
Khang Hung and Nhat Linh are both outstanding students of class 7A2 and electric waste ambassadors at Alfred Nobel School in Hanoi.
Khang Hung is not only a member of environmentally themed project of Asian Institute of Technology, he is also the youngest member at Vietnamese Youth and Sustainable Development Summit (VYS) 2018.
He is also researching the trees that are most beneficial to the environment and intends to write a book on this subject.
Regarding other interests, the young student achieved blue belt in karate, which is the sixth level in the system of ten belts implemented in this form of martial art.
Nhat Linh has gotten gold medal in Wushu, also known as Chinese Kungfu, at Phu Dong Health Club in Hanoi.
Regarding the academic achievements, the 12-year-old girl has received a gold medal for her English writing skills at World Scholar’s Cup competition.
“Khang Hung and Nhat Linh are outstanding, proactive, and enthusiastic students of the class,” Ha Phuong, a teacher at Alfred Nobel School, said.
“Nhat Linh especially excels at sports activities. In addition to Wushu, she also takes part in football and basketball team, in which sometimes she outperforms her male team members. Khang Hung loves the environment and nature. He inspires many other students in class.”