Ni hao! Hello from China!

This is Cindy Chang, Resource Development Associate Director at Environmental Learning for Kids. I’m here in Beijing as part of the U.S. – China Environmental Justice Young Fellows Program, a cultural exchange program with environmental justice professionals from China. Our Chinese counterparts spent three weeks in the U.S. last month, and now here we are, learning about environmental issues in China.

The Olympic buildings in Beijing. The smog was normal for a summer day.

What is environmental justice?  A short definition: “The right to a clean and healthy environment where we live, work, and play.”  This is easier said than done, of course, and many people across the world struggle everyday for these basic rights.  Here in China, the impact of a big country growing fast can be seen everywhere you turn: in the air, where smog is as thick as fog, and in the water, which is generally unsafe to drink or play in.

But there are many people in China working on this important issue, including the Center for Legal Assistance to Pollution Victims, and Friends of Nature, both of which we’ve visited here in Beijing.  They are working hard to ensure that China can protect its people’s health and its environment at the same time.

In the United States, environmental justice takes similar forms.  At Environmental Learning for Kids, we work to teach our youth of the importance of conservation and environmental protection, so that they can be the environmental leaders of today and tomorrow.  It gives me great pleasure to see our kids leading trash pickups, learning about wildlife habitat, and testing the water in their neighborhoods.

Q: What are the contraptions on top of the roofs? A: Solar water heaters!

I look forward to learning more in my time in Beijing, and connecting it to the work we do at ELK.  Talk to you soon!