Well done to the students of Oficina - Professional School of Instituto Nun'Alvres in Santo Tirso, Portugal! This year the theme is ‘Blue Home’ which refers to the protection of our oceans. There is an energy in this event. It is plain that the students themselves enjoy it. Otherwise, it would not continue year after year. It is also clear that at least one member of the teaching staff of that particular school has been putting a lot of hard work into the Bgreen video festival down the years. We all know enough about schools to know that really good things don’t just happen. So, whoever you are who keeps the Bgreen Video Festival on the road year after year, take a bow!

There is always a lot of hard work, real learning and sheer fun in a venture like this. Those involved will remember it all their lives and it will be a very happy memory. There will be prizes, and only a few can win them, but no one will regret taking part. The effort and the fun will be worth it for all and, not only will everyone learn, it will be a new way of learning. Their lives will be enriched.

Dramatic and artistic productions have played a part in Jesuit schools literally for centuries and everyone, who has taken part in such an exercise, will know how exciting it all can be. It is more than exciting. It makes you stop and think about things you might never before have been aware of. It also leaves you with a deep sense of gratitude to the teacher who has made it all possible.

The fact that this kind of exercise, which is so much a part of Jesuit education, is being focused on the environment adds a whole new dimension. Making a video is an ideal way of learning about ecological issues because the learning happens in a context in which the learners are trying to do something. They have to solve problems when this or that technical snag is solved – and when is that not a part of filmmaking? There is a sense of satisfaction and achievement. There is an underlying attitude of problem-solving and the whole purpose of the exercise is to do something of which you can be proud of.

The video makers learn about issues such as climate change, CO2 levels and disappearing species not as an isolated individual, but as part of a story in which those involved are determined to do something. We cannot give ourselves hope if we are all alone. Those students are learning about the ecological challenge in a situation in which hope is infectious and, with it, a determination to do things with others. Pope Francis talks about ecological conversion as ‘a community conversion.’

He also talks about the importance of good aesthetic education and a healthy environment. It would be hard to make a video about anything without heightening your awareness of beauty. Most importantly, those involved in the Bgreen Video Festival will have come to see ecological issues through an experience of gratitude. Without this experience, it is impossible for anyone to have what Pope Francis calls ‘that generous and worthy creativity’ needed to face the challenge ahead. So, once again, well done to the students of Oficina, Santo Tirso! And, if there are any similar projects happening in Jesuit schools around Europe, let’s hear about them.

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