My recent trip to Xi’an was an incredibly captivating and inspiring experience. Perhaps one of the most exciting moments was my visit to the fertile, plush green farms of the villages just north of this ancient city with our exchange students at Xi’an Middle School. These compounds were composed of museums, immaculate gardens and greenhouses, capturing my eye at every corner. Flowerpots without the use of real soil, as well as reviving ancient plants were some of the technological advancements made at these sites. The students collaborate with biologic and ecologic organizations to research, study and learn how to integrate their work in the classroom into their community.
Upon returning from our journey and reflecting on these environmental efforts, I was motivated to learn of other areas in China that embrace this same passion of sustainability and protecting the environment. In my research, I came across a fascinating August 2017 article from The Wall Street Journal entitled Model Helps Make Desert Green Again, discussing the immense challenges of desertification in Northern China and the efforts to reverse the deterioration. Desertification is a natural process where a relatively dry area of land becomes increasingly arid, losing its bodies of water as well as vegetation and wildlife. Within the last thirty years, a “reforestation” project has unfolded in the Kubuqi Desert, helping to restore its natural beauty. Examples of these efforts include planting of crops and herbs used in traditional Chinese medicine by local farmers to improve the soil quality and also building solar power plants. The impact of these projects has resulted in a “green forest” expanding more than 2300 square miles in the last thirty years. This “Kubuqi model” was recently discussed in July 2017 at a forum in the autonomous region of Inner Mongolia, attended by 250 heads of state, leaders in global business and diplomats from over 35 countries around the world. In addition to the reversing the desertification effects, this new plan has lifted more than 100,000 people out of poverty in this area. President Xi Jinping and Vice-Premier Ma Kai discussed how China has made great progress in this fight against desertification. “China has played a big role in global ecological improvements” added Jiang Nanqing, a representative in China for the United Nations Environment Program. This experience of “greening of the Kubuqi Desert” is a significant model for other countries creating jobs, promoting the economy and helping the environment.
On one of our last days in Xi’an, Jericho and Xi’an Administrators as well both student bodies sat together in a forum as global advocates of our environment. Although we live thousands of miles apart and speak different languages, we bridged our differences and became partners as we addressed the future of our planet and what we can do as students and leaders to come up with solutions to improve the world. Through efforts such as recycling, conserving, preserving and educating the public, we can come together to empower our neighbors to make a difference and protect our planet for the next generation.
Some of the information in this article came from the following sources:
Hui, Yuan, and Zheng Jinran. “Model Helps Make Desert Green Again.” The Wall Street Journal [New York], 18 Aug. 2017.