World Student Christian Federation - Asia-Pacific Region (WSCF-AP)
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Regional Programme

Asia-Pacific Student and Youth
Week Celebration 2006

Asia Pacific Student and Youth Writing Workshop

“Youth Protecting the Oikoumene”

Youth Protecting the Oikoumene
For more information on the APSYW
Celebrations, log on to the EASYNet
website at www.easynet.n3.net or
contact your National SCM for a copy
of the APSYW Resource Book.

April 1-7 2006
Chiangmai, Thailand

The theme for this Asia Pacific Student and Youth Writing Workshop (APSYW) is “Youth Protecting the Oikoumene”. This theme is most vital in this current era of globalisation where the emphasis on the free-market system influences quick-pace industralisation, heightened levels of consumption, resulting in economic policies that push aside the needs of sustaining the natural resources, indigenous living, coastal saving and looking at development process in a holistic perspective that should also take into account future needs. The wanton exploitation of natural resources to meet production demand depletes the earth’s resources mercilessly, and the human race invariably loses its connectedness and relationship with the whole ecosystem.

Hence, the objectives of this workshop are:

  1. To enable EASYNet to contribute to the on-going efforts of faith-based groups and environmental organisations to curb environmental destruction and promote sustainable development through awareness raising of the youth and students.
  2. To vigorously promote the APSYW 2006 celebration within the network churches and other partner organizations as a unique ecumenical endeavor of the students and youth.
  3. To gather students and youth to critically reflect on environmental crises and provide avenues for collective action.
  4. To motivate the EASYNet constituents to live a more responsible and sim- pler lifestyle.
  5. To provide a comprehensive analysis on the interrelatedness of present environmental crises to the dominant global capitalist system.

This workshop was participated by 6 students and youth from the 6 regional EasyNet partners of YMCA, YWCA, IMCS, IYCS, CCA and WSCF AP. The programme con- tent of the workshop includes daily morning worships, film showing, story telling on pressing ecological issues from the country of each participant, input on Ecology,

Bible Study on Environment and creative reflection. At the end of the workshop, the resource guide on the theme was developed and was disseminated to all National EasyNets to celebrate the Asia Pacific Student and Youth Week that falls on every first week of October.

The Creative Writing workshop was warmly hosted by the SCM Thailand at Doi Inthanon Chiangmai, Thailand. The programme included worships, film showing, story telling on some pressing ecological issues from the country of each participants, input on ecology, Bible study on environment and creative reflection.

Creative Time Process

Naris, resource person for the Creative Workshop explained on the process and conduct of "creative time" for the whole workshop. He gave the following outline as guideline for the participants to follow during the "creative time".

5 Steps for Creative Time

  1. Silent, walk, sit, pray
  2. Listen, feel, touch your heart
  3. Waiting for insight
  4. Transform your insights to image, picture, imagination
  5. Put it out [actual output from insights]

Story Telling

Each participant shared some pressing ecological issue from their country. The Indian participant shared on the current efforts and debates from her country about defenses on Tsunami and the cooperation among people of neighboring faiths towards rehabilitation. The Philippine participants shared the contamination of Boac River in Marinduque Island by mining tails/waste of Marcopper Mining Company which made the river biologically dead. The Boac River is a main source of fresh water and fish of the Local people. They also shared the Guinsaugon Mudslide brought by deforestation that buried a whole local village in a matter of minutes. The Japanese participant shared about the pollution in Japan and the recent garbage management program in Tokyo and the trend to use “eco-friendly” products. The Sri Lankan participant shared the garbage problem especially in Colombo which brings sickness and water and air pollution. The Myanmar participant shared the deforestation which is being blamed on the indigenous people by the government. The Thais shared about the floods that recently occurred in Chiangmai, the fear of another Tsunami and the extreme weather changes of drought and flood that destroys farming and loss of livelihood for many farmers. The Korean participant shared about the conversion of mudflats into industrial complexes.

Input on the Current Ecological Crisis

Dr. Lin Yi-Ren gave the first input on ecology, he highlighted that the ecology originated from the Greek word Oikos, meaning household, and that it is a study of our home that is the Earth. Ecology is not simply a study of natural science but more importantly it encompasses social concerns. In the study of ecology, it is important to be aware of social and political structures as well as the need to understand other peoples’ culture. The current ecological problem of the world is directly intertwined to the economic system of ones’ country and to the dominant free market economic system in the world. There is a need for organizing and organisation in the face of overwhelming dominant structures such as WTO that violate the natural laws of the ecosystem, in addition, there is also a need for global networking so that we may learn from and support each other's struggles in living in harmony with nature. We need the skills for empowering ourselves and the people, and especially the form of education and consciousness-raising is an important element in empowerment and giving voice to the voiceless.

Exposure

The first exposure visit was the Royal Project Center. The Royal Project Center's purpose is to help hill tribes improve their living standard and to enable them to grow useful crops that will earn them good income, and for the hill tribes to abandon poppy (opium) cultivation which, in turn, would enhance Thailand's policy of stopping the trading and smoking of opium. The Royal Project buys all produce from hill farmers, and then selects, packages and markets them locally as well as export them under the trademark of ‘Doi Kham’. There are more than 300 products consisting of flowers, coffee and some fruits. The participants visited the flower farm were new seeds coming from other countries are being observed for research.

The second exposure visit was to an independent ecology village of the Karen hill tribe. The tribe leader informed us that the government thinks the indigenous people destroy the environment by illegally cutting trees. The villagers have initiated building their own eco-village so that Nature and tourism can be in harmony, instead of tourism displacing the tribe’s people. Most villagers don’t like ecotourism because they felt they will lose something sacred to their life as a tribe.

Theological Reflection on Ecology

Dr. Rev. Salvatore Martinez facilitated the Bible Study and he highlighted that in the midst of an alarming environmental crisis, the Sabbath and the Jubilee finds a strong significance. Sabbath and Jubilee provides framework and guidelines on how we could renew and restore the Earth. In Leviticus it said “The fiftieth year shall be a Jubilee for you, you shall not sow, or reap the after growth or harvest the unpruned vines. For it is a jubilee; it shall be holy to you, you shall eat only what the field itself produces.” While Sabbatical law states “the land shall observe a Sabbath for the Lord. Six years you shall sow your field, and six years you shall prune your vineyard, and gather in their yield, but in the seventh year, there shall be a Sabbath of complete rest for the land.”

The Sabbath and Jubilee is actually a call for REST and HALT of all production. This is very significant, at this time in the midst of untiring production for profit despite the fact that there are already a lot of surplus goods and products enough to meet the needs of humanity, yet there is an overwhelming poverty of majority of people in the world. Jubilee is significant for the poor of this world to get a just share of the world's resources. Sabbath is significant, most especially to earth's resources which have been terribly exhausted by humanity.