Perhaps one might ask: “What is the Fruit & Vegetable Planet? Are there only fruits and vegetables on this planet?” The answer lies in this simple conversation between a kindergarten teacher and her little charges:
“What can you find on the Fruit & Vegetable Planet?”
“If you want to go to this Planet, what must you do?”
“Eat vegetables; don’t eat meat.”
During the June school holidays this year, Tzu Chi Great Love PreSchool set in motion the “Fruit & Vegetable Planet” activity so as to encourage its young students to consume a healthy diet of fruits and vegetables, and to allow the imagination of the little ones to create their own Fruit & Vegetable Planet.
The Fruit & Vegetable Planet was made up of five different “factories”. Besides the little chefs who were in charge of making “space meals” on the Planet, there were also service staff, the family of fruits and vegetables, space technicians, and designers.
The Planet was inhabited by animals. Once the children boarded their space shuttle, and entered the Planet, they became members of the Planet, befriended the animals, and ate solely vegetarian meals. From the first day of the school holidays, the PreSchool’s teachers had encouraged the children to maintain a vegetarian diet for 90 days, until the completion of all the activities on the Planet at the end of August.
The roles of the “employees” of the five factories on the Planet were played by 60 children from N2, K1 & K2 classes respectively. Each child would choose three factories they wished to join based on their interests and wait for an interview.
After the interview results were released, every child was admitted into the position they had been allocated, to begin shaping the Fruit & Vegetable Planet of their hearts’ desires. To the children, this year’s June holidays were slightly different. Besides their student passes, each child also possessed an additional “work permit” for building the Fruit & Vegetable Planet.
“Which team is the service staff? Please raise your hands!”
On 7th June, the little chefs, service staff and designers were led by their teacher to Jing Si Books and Café along Sims Ave, where they purchased Jing Si food ingredients. At the same time, the service staff learned about service etiquette, while the designers learned about space design and layout.
“We are little chefs, and we want to prepare tasty food.”
“What factory are you from?”
“We are from the factory of service staff.”
The tranquil silence of the bookstore was momentarily broken by the lively conversations between teachers and students; the whole place was enlivened by the chirpy voices of excited children.
“What do the service staff need to do?”
“To carefully hold the food with both hands and ensure that nothing is spilled onto the floor,” chirped K2 student Zheng Jun Xi (picture below left). He was very eager to venture into the Fruit & Vegetable Planet. As a service staff, he understood the importance of protecting the animals on the Planet and keeping a vegetarian diet.
The factory manager of the Fruit and Vegetable Planet’s designer factory, Hu Qin Liu (picture below), a teacher from the PreSchool, remarked, “I discovered that after launching this activity, the kids are very happy as they come to school every day, as if they have a responsibility to do things well. They look forward to the day of landing on the planet.”
What was worth mentioning was that the space shuttle for their trip to the Fruit & Vegetable Planet, and their space uniforms and helmets were all fashioned out of recyclables that the children had gathered from an outing to the Tzu Chi Eco Awareness Centre. With their teacher’s vivid and lively teaching, the activity not only inspired the children’s imagination but also raised their awareness towards environmental protection.
On the day after the commencement of the Fruit & Vegetable Planet activity, the teachers first took the children to the Zoo, to allow them to learn about the various types of animals. In fact, animals and human beings are alike; they are living creatures made of flesh and blood just like us. Through the simple concept, “We are friends of the animals; animals are the same as us”, the Fruit & Vegetable Planet activity aimed to cultivate a heart of compassion in the children.
“I am a fruit and vegetable astronaut. I want to eat more fruits and vegetables, and drink more water and exercise. I eat 80% full and save the remaining 20% to help others in need. Vegetarians love the animals and save the earth. It is not difficult to be a vegetarian. We can do it!”
This was the declaration for entry into the Fruit and Vegetable Planet. The children were eagerly looking forward to 22nd June, the day where they got to travel to the Fruit and Vegetable Planet in their specially made space suits.