What’s the first thing you think of when you hear “Geography Workshop?” Most likely you would not imagine making pyramids with toothpicks and marshmallows, would it? I didn’t know what to expect when we walked into the John Armstrong Hall to attend The Christian Aid Geography Workshop. There was the deafening sound of fifty teenagers, rumbling away like Mount Krakatoa on a bad day.
A few minutes later, a man walked in and explained that he represented Christian Aid, who specialises in helping developing countries who have a high degree of poverty. He then told us a very interesting story of a man who had been trapped in a collapsed office building for 2 HOURS after an earthquake hit his city. His resilience to survive was incredible. After this, the marshmallows and toothpicks came into play. He laid them out irregularly around the tables and challenged us to construct an earthquake- resistant structure with it. Our group decided to make a pyramid, which seemed like a good idea, as the pyramids at Giza seemed to have withstood the test of time pretty well. We were quite pleased when it survived the simulated earthquake (a shake of the table), without collapsing.
Next we were instructed to plot our hospitals and schools on appropriate places on a map, to make an area easier to manage in the event of a natural disaster. We learned that careful planning before something goes wrong can be just as effective as trying to fix damage after the fact.
It is always good to do something practical with what we learn in school; I can highly recommend this workshop to anyone. It had a good balance of facts and activities and I really enjoyed eating the marshmallows (instead of following the official advice to put them in the bin!).
I think Christian Aid does valuable work around the world and I’m glad they took the time to come and speak to us. I hope many people in need benefit from their help.
Reuben Ackermann 8S