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Experiencing The Urgency Of Sustainability

Experiencing The Urgency Of Sustainability

13.02.20

Mindfulness and sustainability are a central part of daily life at the international boarding school Ecole d’Humanité. Student Jennifer Xing reflects her change of consciousness during her time at the school:

I could finally breathe again. My lungs were free from the lethal air of vanity, my hands free from the weight of bags and accessories. I was revived by breathing in pure air, air that the concrete jungle of Hong Kong had never been able to offer.

I was way out of my element. “What is this materialistic city girl doing on the summit of the Galenstock glacier?” It was the type of glacier I used to admire from afar on the pages of a National Geographic magazine, the type of glacier a girl used to the comforts and luxuries of Hong Kong would never have dared to imagine stepping foot on.

When I arrived here in the rural heart of the Swiss Alps two years ago, I was surprised that it is mandatory for students to clean common spaces and that there are no maids to rely on, but I soon saw a gateway to earn my own self-respect by completing challenges this new culture of independence presented. I was delightfully surprised to find the satisfaction of cooking my own food, and I found that challenging myself to a 6-day hike on rough terrain was a much healthier and more inspiring way to reflect on personal struggles than the common culture of partying I was used to.

 

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After taking the AP Environmental Science course, I furthered my environmental interest by basing my Source Theme on sustainability within the fashion industry. Reading horrific statistics and discovering ugly truths made my fingers bash my keyboard with anger. I was enraged at myself for being the guilty culprit, responsible for the destruction of the earth, and promised myself that the truth behind everyone’s purchases should be revealed.

I recognise the paradox – my globalised habits have brought me opportunities to freely explore landscapes but have also brought those landscapes closer to ruin. Now the question remains: “How could we, as responsible global citizens, find compromise between the beauty of globalisation and the urgency of sustainability?” My simply attending international climate marches, changing to a vegetarian diet, thrift shopping, and upcycling old clothing won’t offset vast amounts of carbon emitted. I long for a shift in society as a whole towards sustainability, and people won’t understand the reason for it unless they see the severity of their impacts. What we need is a new conscious way of thinking!

If in a decade or less another girl from another world wishes to breathe the same air at the summit of the Galenstock glacier, she might not even have that option. I have been lucky enough to receive an education that has pulled me out of the dark, been given opportunities that have altered my view of the world, and acquired something which could never be taught: my eager desire to preserve such wonders after having personally experienced them. I have to make sure that the Galenstock glacier doesn’t melt into another distant memory.

https://www.ecole.ch/en/

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