Getting Involved in Fair Trade
( Volume 21, Number 4) By Angene Wilson
As I was beginning to develop this lesson plan, the doorbell rang and I went to the front door to find a box with my order from SERRV, one of a number of fair trade organizations. In the words of its CEO, Bob Chase, this is “the opportunity for you to have a direct impact on one of our global market’s great injustices: the inequality in income and quality of life for people living in developing countries. Buying our artisans’ work means you help to bring about real change for the better.”
Tomorrow night our church will begin its annual fair trade and alternative gift market. Besides SERRV merchandise, the market offers opportunities for alternative gifts. I will be sitting at our Malawi table where gifts range from an anti-malarial bednet for $5 to a scholarship for a girl to attend secondary school for a year for $175.
The following lesson plan aims to educate young people about how fair trade works and to inspire them to consider their own involvement. It could be used in an economics unit in a social studies class or in a business class or with a school club.
By the way, when I checked out the website of the Turkish organization described below, I discovered they had been in my hometown, Lexington, Kentucky, last May, along with the Turkish Ambassadors to the U.S. and UN. Small world!!
Students will learn about a Turkish woman involved in a fair trade organization and about Ugandan women working in BeadforLife, study the ten standards of fair trade, individually research fair trade organizations, share knowledge about the organizations, and in a small group write a proposal for involving a school club in selling fair trade items.
Materials and Resources:
- Winter 2008 WorldView magazine articles
- Websites of various alternative trading organizations
- Fair trade items
- Name tags
- Orange dots
If the teacher has access to the web, introduce the day with a video or pictures from the Anatolian Artisans website and the Bead for Life website. Then ask half the students to read the article “The Best Present Ever” about Yasemin Bilici in Turkey and the other half to read the article “The Millionth Bead” about Ugandan women. To begin discussion, ask students: How have Yasemin Bilici and the Ugandan women benefited from the organizations? What has enabled the women to be successful?
Explain that both Anatolian Artisans and Bead for Life are fair trade organizations. Put up on the screen the 10 Standards of Fair Trade. If the teacher can access the web in the classroom, he/she can use the www.ifat.org website to project the 10 standards or use the Fair Trade sidebar article as a handout. Go through the standards and ask students to use the article about Yasemin and the article about the Ugandan women to evaluate how Anatolian Artisans and Bead for Life fulfill the standards.
Before continuing to learn about more about fair trade, encourage students to share their practical, outside school knowledge of fair trade organizations. Perhaps a parent regularly buys Equal Exchange coffee, for example, or there is a local fair trade store that sells Ten Thousand Villages items.
Have a basket containing slips of paper, each with the name of one of the 25 alternative trading organizations from the list at the end of the Fair Trade sidebar, to pass around the room so each student can draw an organization. The teacher may want to include Anatolian Artisans and Bead for Life as well for further research. Give students time in class or for homework to research the organization on the web and write a brief written report which includes: name of organization, products, countries involved, special characteristics, own evaluation – would you buy and/or would people in your community buy products?
The next day or following club meeting organize a mock reception that might include some Divine Chocolate that students can eat and other fair trade items that the teacher can gather to check out. Students should wear name tags with the name of the organization they are representing and mingle to learn about other organizations. Give each student three orange dots. If a student can persuade another student to enthusiastically support his or her organization as a possibility for raising money for a school club, that student gets an orange dot on his/her name tag.
Use the number of dots to determine the most popular organizations, reducing the number of fair trade organizations to five or so. Next divide students into small groups to write proposals for a school club to utilize the organization’s products for fund raising. Suggest the students put their proposal in the form of a poster or a power point and use the opportunity to educate other students and the community about fair trade. If you are doing this as a class lesson plan, figure out a way to pass on these proposals to a club which is planning fund-raising.
Assessment: Individual written reports on fair trade organizations and small group proposal for utilizing fair trade in fund-raising.
Another teaching idea from WorldView Magazine:
Ask students to read “Is American Free Speech Worth South African Blood? Gangs in Capetown Named after 50 Cents Group, G Unit” and use it as the basis for a class discussion about the role and impact of rap groups on teens in the U.S. and South Africa.