[Letters] Foreign residents initiate environmental group

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[Letters] Foreign residents initiate environmental group

A group of about 30 foreigners have launched what may be the first foreigner-initiated organization related to environmental and renewable-energy issues. The group, Global Green Stewards, is aimed at assisting foreigners particularly from developing nations in learning from their experiences in Korea so that they may be agents of change and development when they return to their countries. The group was officially launched last week in a ceremony attended by Busan city officials, representatives of various environmental and alternative-energy nongovernmental organizations, teachers, journalists and students, among others. Koo Ja-sang, CEO of the Energy Natura, and Ok Seong-ae, executive director of the People to Green Energy, were guest speakers. They also currently assist the group with training and information.

Already, the group has attracted over 50 members from Africa (Kenya, Uganda, Burundi), Asia (Korea, the Philippines), Oceania (Fiji) and the United States. These enthusiastic foreigners have seen serious lectures and undergone project evaluations regarding environmental protection and adoption of renewable energy technologies. The lectures are given voluntarily by experienced environmentalists in the city, including leaders of nongovernmental organizations such as Climate Change and the Alternative Energy Center.

Indeed, Korea has also considered environmental health and appropriate agricultural practices to achieve greater growth within a short span. GGS is seemingly born out of the conviction that socioeconomic development cannot be separated from environmental health. Environmental protection and the use of cleaner energy have become serious subjects among individuals, communities and countries across the globe. Following global concern over environmental issues and climate change, everyone ought to be inspired to be caretakers of the earth’s resources because a healthy ecology is fundamental for a healthy economy.

While at the launching ceremony, which was attended by some 40 guests, I wondered how a group like GGS can effectively change the world when the problem needs to be addressed collectively. This led to my experience at an energy-saving family camp in Changnyeong, South Gyeongsang, about three weeks ago. The camp was organized by a Busan-based NGO, Climate Change and Alternative Energy Center in collaboration with the city government. While at the camp with members of GGS, we were trained on, among other skills, how to save energy as individuals and as a family.

For instance, we were required to brush our teeth using a cup instead of continuously running water. We were even supposed to generate electricity by cycling a bicycle fitted with a motor and instructed never to serve more food than one could finish. Many families that have gone through the camping experience with their children have professed a certain degree of transformation. This, I suppose, is one of the best learning experiences a family can have. At some point, each family was asked to bring their electricity, water and gas bills and was shown how to evaluate energy use, waste and saving. This equips the entire family with stewardship skills on energy usage at home.

As Busan foreign residents ponder beating new paths, many may find encouragement amid the pressures and challenges inevitably associated with being pioneers. And who knows? This small group of thoughtful, committed foreigners from the coastal city of Busan could change the globe.

Ma Lourdes Grace Ga,
a staff member at the Philippine-Korean Culture Center in Busan
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