We are now in Chongqing, home of spicy hot pot, the most beautiful women in China (so they say), and as of right now, the worst flooding the city has seen in decades. Our group almost got caught in the water on the low side of town, escaping using the only transportation available to us — our feet! Now, safe and dry on high ground, I can reflect on what we’ve seen and learned these last few days.
I’m honored to be hosted by the oldest registered non-profit environmental organization in China, Green Volunteers Union of Chongqing. Its founder, Mr. Wu Hong, has been involved in the environmental movement in China since the 1980’s and started Green Volunteers to get college students interested in the environment. Their organization has fought against polluting chemical factories and dirty coal plants, and protected the city’s forest from developers. It was this forest we visited today, high up in the mountains overlooking the city. In many ways it reminded me of the hikes we take with our ELK youth, identifying trees and birds along the way and learning about the importance of the natural ecosystem. Chongqing has this great resource for learning within a half hour from the city, but they struggle with the same challenges we in Denver have — how can we get more kids out in nature?
For them, the same as ELK, it’s all about partnerships — partnering with other NGO’s, with the parks department, and with volunteers from the community. They work together to make sure that all kids have the right to enjoy and learn from nature, just as we do at ELK.
It seems that the further away I get from home, the more I realize the world is a small place!