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SET 2008: Environmental Training Camp

“Young People Responding to the Challenge of Climate Justice”

 
SET 2008 participants posing on top of Jirisan Mountain, Korea.
SET participants posing on top of Jirisan Mountain, Korea.

August 19-24, 2008
Sun Cheon, Korea

The Student Empowerment for Transformation (SET) Programme was held from August 19-24, 2008 at Sun Cheon, Korea. The seven days training programme was hosted by the Jung–bu Church Presbyterian Church, and organized by the WSCF AP in collaboration with the Korean Student Christian Federation (KSCF). Twenty-five (25) students and senior friends representatives from the National SCMs participated in this program. They came from the following countries: Bangladesh, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Pakistan, Timor Lest, Myanmar, Australia, Taiwan, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Korea.

The goal of the SET program was to strengthen the Christian witness and response to the issues brought about by the growing destruction of the environment through an environmental training camp among youth and student in Asia and the Pacific. The objectives were:

  1. To raise the level of awareness of young people from the churches and schools in the Asia-Pacific on the issue of environmental protection and climate justice;
  2. To mobilize young people in the churches and their communities to implement at least three (3) affirmative actions and projects that will respond to concrete needs and problems in their local communities on climate change and environmental protection;
  3. To learn and experience eco-friendly practices during the Training Camp that would enable participants to understand theoretical concepts with actual practice and encourage young people to promote these practices in their own communities;
  4. To gather support from the churches, local communities, NGO’s and environmental groups to support and engage young people to protect the environment;

The training consisted of thematic input, bible studies, exposure, video presentation on environmental issues and presentation by the participants about the present environmental situation in their respective countries. Resource persons were invited to facilitate the above activities.

 
SET participants held its session at the Jung-bu Church, PROK, Sun Cheon City.
SET participants held its session at the Jung-bu Church,
PROK, Sun Cheon City.

The thematic input on the topic Global Environmental Situation was led by Ms. Theresa Conception, an environmental activist and the Regional Director for Earth Island Institute, Manila, Philippines. This session gave an overall scenario of the global environment and a systematic analysis of the degradation of eco system, direct and indirect drivers of ecosystem changes, and the its relationship to the historical development of human societies. In her presentation, she narrated that the historical developments of human society have changed from primitive communal to capitalism/ Industrial societies. The utilization of forest and natural resources has gone beyond human need to human greed, which has paved the way for the growing consumerist culture by exploiting our environment for economic profit. One of the indirect drivers of the destruction of the environment was greater extraction of raw materials from developing countries for sale or trade to richer countries (liberalization, deregulation, privatization), posing a threat to the global eco-system. This session helped the group to raise the level of awareness on the issue of environmental protection and climate justice and also helped them to critically analyze why today we have the threat of global warming.

During the workshop group sharing from countries on environmental issues—the participants shared and presented the challenging environmental issues from countries like Korea, Australia, Indonesia, Taiwan and Bangladesh. This session led to a deeper understanding of the interconnectedness of the issues, the challenges and the root causes of the problem.

The first Bible Study was conducted by Prof. Yani Yoo, faculty of the Methodist Theological University, Seoul on the theme “Water knows No Colour, No Boundary: Its for all” (John chapter 4). She said water is for all as Jesus the living water is for all. But today over 1 billion people still lack of access to safe water and nearly 2 billion lacks safe sanitation. The Bible study helped to reflect and share the problems and struggle related to water issues in our own countries, and how students and young people will respond this issue at home, Church, Community. The Bible Study 2 & 3 were conducted by Rev. Park, Sang Yong on the theme “The Holy Spirit’s cry among Creation’s Cries” (Romans 8:18-26) and” Look at the lilies of the field and birds of the air” (Matthew 6:25-34) Both the Bible studies were insightful—as Rev. Park interpreted the text as the crying of whole creation allows a new awakening of faith, i.e Paul feels the invisible crying of Spirit through the visible crying of creation. And the 2nd Bible study helped to recognize, experience the nature to empower us.

 
Participants picking red chilies at the Idraman Organic Farming Community.
Participants picking red chilies at the Idraman Organic
Farming Community.

The Exposure programme was a unique experience to most, as the group visited a community called Indramang. This is a community of people who decided to live life differently and returned from Seoul to build this community in this village. They do organic farming and share the resources among the community members. This community is resisting to the consumerist culture of life and has adopted the simple life style. The participants had an opportunity to work with the farmers in the farm. This was a live in experience training programme to learn and experience eco friendly practices in person and promote the concerns in the community.

Finally, the session on planning together to save and protect the environment helped the group to take affirmative actions to act as stewards for God’s creation and protect them. The participants planned specific ways in their movements and as individuals to help save the environment in many ways.