Chengdu Kanghua Community Development Center internship, Summer 2016, Chengdu City, China

Xiaolan Wang - October 17, 2015

When I was young, one of my favorite memories was to look up at the stars in my hometown of Chengdu. Unfortunately, I cannot see stars now so I want to learn environmental knowledge to deal with Chengdu’s atmospheric pollution and protect the ecosystem, like protecting wildlife, forest and wetlands. After studying at St. Lawrence University, I chose environmental classes and joined some environmental protection activities. Thus, I was excited when I heard about the sustainability semester intern position in Chengdu Kanghua Community Development Center from Helen Huang. This was a best chance for me to put knowledge into practice and learn environmental problems in Chengdu. I was honored to work for Non-Government Organization that is willing to bring about awareness to protect the wetlands. I did two aspects of jobs within two months, knowing more knowledge about Yunqiao wetlands and brought citizens’ awareness to protect wetlands through some activities.

Yunqiao wetland is located in Pixian County, Chengdu City. It is the narrowest area where two key rivers of Chengdu parallel so it can protect the biodiversity and purify water resources. Sara Ashpole, an environmental professor at St. Lawrence University, came to Yunqiao wetland to help us learn more about wetlands. We observed flowers, insects and birds with the help of magnifying lens and telescope. Rather getting knowledge from books, we used our own eyes to discover the nature. At that time, I thought that everyone could be an environmentalist and be knowledgeable about nature as long as they are curious about nature and like to discover the scientific truth by themselves. If people are interested in observing nature, they are more likely to protect environment. Thus, Kanghua Community Development Center focuses on environment protection education and let more people have awareness to protect the environment.

We did three activities related to environment protection education. For the first activity, we invited Intel staffs to come to Yun Qiao wetland to help local people clean alligator herbs, which is an invasive species and can affect growth of other plants. When people know the difficulty of improving environment, they will not do harmful actions towards nature. In addition, those people are all white collars so they have ability to buy environmental- friendly products to reduce chemical wastes when they have the awareness of protecting environment. For the second activity, we found some students to help us teach the environmental knowledge to citizens. Citizens might more likely to believe students’ words because children represent honesty and pureness. We also asked some environmental questions to citizens. If they answered questions correctly, we sent a book as a gift, which talked about some stories that happened in Yunqiao Wetland. Finally, citizens can learn more about the benefits of protecting environment. For the third activity, we tried to help a three- year- old children to be curious about nature and have an awareness of protecting environment. We hold this activity with a kindergarten in Guanghan city. We organized children to observe birds, painted from life and sang songs which are related to nature. We want those children can love and be curious about nature because children will form the world value during this age. When they grow up, they will have awareness of protecting environment and also influence their families or friends on protecting environment.

During two months, I realized that the most importance of improving environment is to let people have awareness of protecting environment rather than inventing new technologies by using clean resources. If people cannot realize the harmful consequences of polluting environment, they would think that it is unnecessary to use environmental-friendly products since those products are more expensive.