SAFEA Magazine Article Regarding the Poyang Lake Youth Project
On May 16, 2008 I formally presented my idea for a proposal to the Jiangxi Provincial Leadership in Nanchang, Jiangxi, for a project I call “The Poyang Lake Youth Project.” The purpose of my project is to raise the level of awareness of environmental issues around the youth, particularly of those in their own backyard, which could be critical for future protection and sustainable development for the Poyang Lake.
Our leaders wanting to do their best to make our province better and more comfortable for the foreigners, as well as it’s citizens, encouraged all foreigners working in Jiangxi Province to make suggestions regarding the improvement and possible ideas that we had to help improve our province and it’s further forward movement.
Upon hearing about their open request for suggestions of improvement, I created a plan or idea that I believe will draw the youth of our province into greater ecological awareness and knowledge as well as encouraging them to do their part, by motivating them with a desire to do what they can, at a grassroots level, to help as well as feel a part of the special project needs of Poyang Lake. I presented my proposal and it was accepted and approved by the provincial leaders who made the request for our suggestions.
On March 30, 2009 one of the provincial leaders along with two assistants and the Foreign Affairs Office from Jiangxi Normal University (the university that I have served for almost 9 years now), came to my home and presented me with the second place award for my proposal. I was very honored that they thought that highly of my suggestions.
I proposed a joint project with the leadership of Jiangxi Province, the Education Department, the Environmental Department, the newly formed department that is working on making the plans and creating the support for the “Special Zone” being created in Jiangxi Province that includes the surrounding cities of Poyang Lake, as well as any other organization that might have an acute interest in that project.
My idea was to recommend that the province provide basic information and knowledge about both the past history and current situation/status regarding Poyang Lake. This would be done by making and providing simple brochures for the students and maybe even videos, with information that would be simple enough for the students of our province to understand. Once all of the information has been disseminated throughout the student population through the brochures and videos we will hold both English and Chinese speech competitions. The student’s topics will relate to this subject. We will also have students write compositions for various writing contests held on every level of the educational system throughout the province. We would encourage the students, even the littlest children, to draw pictures of the Lake and it’s bird population, using various art forms to get all students involved from the bottom up.
My suggestion is to hold contests in every class, school and division. When the results are out we will take the very top students in each category of competition and award them with donated books for their school libraries, possibly donated by local publishing houses. Also we will then take the higher-level student (high school and university) winners on a two-day trip to Poyang Lake at the end to actually see first hand what the lake is like and the problems that it has. When we are there with the students, we would have top scientists come to speak to these top-winning students with television, radio, newspaper, magazine journalists and cameramen to do the coverage of the event. Using the raw material or footage from the activity the province would make yet another video further showing the lakes needs and how our young people are greatly interested and willing to help make any improvements to the lake and increase the sustainability of it’s environment and quality for their future and that of future generations.
Upon returning from the two-day visit to the lake and hearing the updated information from scientists such as Prof. Dr. ZhongPing Lai, QingHai Institute of Salt Lakes, Chinese Academy of Sciences and other scientists that he would recommend, along with other experts suggested by the Mountain, River, Lake Project directors. Then our students would have a much better understanding of the Lake’s needs and what they might be able to do to help both now and in future years to come.
I have talked to Prof. Dr. ZhongPing Lai about this project and have met with him in person. He is excited about what I have proposed and am trying to do. He is willing to help and find other scientists to help, both with information and coming to speak to our students for this special project and prize to encourage the students of Jiangxi to “get-involved” in the environmental issues of our province.
Between May 6th and 13th of this year 2009, I had the wonderful opportunity to be in Xining, both to speak at various universities and schools, and to be accompanied by Dr. Lai to visit Qinghai Lake. Our two provinces share the fact that we both hold one of two of the largest lakes in China: theirs the largest salt-water lake and ours (Jiangxi) the largest fresh water lake. Both also have areas designated for wildlife sanctuaries. I had the great experience of seeing their lake first hand and what they have done to make it a wonderful place for people to visit. They have provided protection for the birds and other wildlife so that they are not destroyed by various threats, while still allowing the visitors to ‘come up close’ and see them without disturbing them. It was a joy for me to be there! It gave me ideas for our own project in Jiangxi.
I know that our provincial leaders have been working hard over these last few years to discover the best ways to try and deal with the issues that face our province, just like world leaders and concerned citizens are trying to study and discover the best ways to help humans live in harmony with nature, while still having to develop and provide jobs and livelihoods for it’s people. It’s not an easy job but we have to do it and our best resource for the future is our children, our youth.
The first and most important need is to help our students learn and accept personal responsibility: helping them to have a good understanding of their own physical, moral and spiritual needs are where it all starts. Then we, teachers and leaders, need to help them have a better understanding of the world around them, particularly the environment, which is one of the most critical issues for them to know about. I believe we have to start now, and I believe my proposal of “The Poyang Lake Youth Project” is a way to begin with encouraging their environmental awareness.
When we have conducted all of the various contests and awarded all of the final prizes that are to be given, I want to bring the students back to Nanchang and have them all sign a suggestion list giving the concerns of the youth of Jiangxi for this project. Then we will send our suggestion list around to every single school in the province from elementary schools up to universities and have all the students sign the suggestion list. The leadership of Jiangxi province will then take our suggestions with some representatives of our youth (some of the winners of the various contests) to the Central Government in Beijing to plead the case of our youth for this project for getting the “Special Zone” approved and funded.
What a joy it is for me to be able to create this project and use it as a way to help bring a new awareness of environmental issues and concerns to the youth of Jiangxi so that they can learn to start taking more responsibility not only for taking tests but for their lives and the world around them.
Thank you for asking me to share my project and my thoughts on it with you.
Professor Connie Gibson
Jiangxi Normal University
Nanchang, Jiangxi Province
Connie Gibson 教授