Outstanding Volunteers Summer Camp 2011
Outstanding Volunteers’ Summer Camp
Authors: Wu Kefei, Zhou Yifan, Qiao Tian
On the morning of July 11, 2011, twenty-five volunteers came together at Sichuan Chengdu to carry out a 7-day-long Outstanding Volunteers’ Summer Camp. The volunteers included: three staff members from Shanghai Applied Materials, two from Shanghai City Spirit Civilization Bureau, fifteen outstanding Roots and Shoots volunteers, and five of us from Shanghai R&S office.
During the 30 hours train ride, us volunteers got to know each other through jokes and snacks. We also occupied ourselves by dividing into smaller groups and assigning tasks for the conference to each group. Finally, on the afternoon of July 12, we arrived in Chengdu and were able to get some rest at the Dream of Chengdu Youth Hostel.
On the morning of the next day, we paid a visit to the Chengdu Giant Pandas’ Reproduction Research Center. We stood and watched the pandas for quite a while, and managed to get many pictures of the beautiful creatures.
Soon after that, we drove to Dujiang Weir to visit China’s greatest water conservatory project. The river in Dujiang Weir splits into two at the “Fish Mouth” of Dujing Weir, and then continues to flow into Sichuan through “Treasure Vase Mouth”, irrigating the soil. This project is the reason why Sichuan has enjoyed the reputation of being Heaven on Earth for thousands of years. Needless to say, the water project impressed all.
That evening, we ate some authentic Chengdu hotpot. Although it numbed our tongues, the taste was so delicious that it left us all in awe.
On the second day, we headed for Bifeng Gorge Scenic Spot in Ya’an.
After two hours of driving, we finally got away from the busy city and onto a winding mountain road. Forests of skyscrapers faded into real trees and rivers, and the roars of engines became the songs of birds and springs. The change of scenery was so impressive that we quickly forgot about our exhaustion from traveling.
In the mountain, we descended 99 meters on a lift and found ourselves at the bottom Bifeng Gorge, where a gentle waterfall welcomed us. In fact, inside the Gorge there are many waterfalls, all flowing in unique forms and at different speeds. Along the walk, the rocks, mountains, clouds, and springs truly purified our hearts. Though the road ahead was long and bumpy, we had a spectacular time getting there.
Walking through the gorge, we reached the China Giant Pandas Protection Research Center. Although we have already visited the Giant Pandas Reproduction Research Center, our love for pandas is boundless! We wanted to see more. Our timing was perfect; we arrived just in time to watch the pandas eat their meals and play around with each other. The cuteness was almost unbearable!
That night, we dined at the “Zhongshui Ravioli” restaurant nearby. The dinner was very special – we were given about a dozen small plates, each serving a different local specialty. Everyone was content.
That night was the busiest night for us. We had a concluding report the next day, so everyone was working to perfect their presentation. On the terrace, in the hall, in the rooms, group members were everywhere, all in preparation for the next day. Since our tasks were very appealing and diverse, everyone was excited.
The next day, we headed for Black Bear Help Center, established by Animals Asia Foundation. Animals Asia Foundation is an organization with a goal of ending animal abuse in Asian regions. The organization calls for an end to slaughtering and eating pets, such as dogs and cat, advocates against bile extraction of bears, and hopes to substitute the use of animal organs as raw materials with pharmaceuticals, in order to save black bears in China and Vietnam.
That day was the one we had all prepared for; everyone’s expectations were very high. Founder Ms. Jill Robinson commenced the day’s events with an update of the severe conditions in the treatments of black bears. We learned that China has over ten thousand of black bears locked up in small cages and have their biles ruthlessly extracted. Despite the relentless hard work of Animals Asia Foundation, the reserve can only hold up to several hundreds of black bears. Ms. Robinson told us that only 4 out of every 28 black bears saved in 2010 survived. She urged us that in order to change their circumstances, everyone needs to boycott products made of bile and advocate against animal abuse.
We were led to the graveyard for black bears. This morbid scene contrasted against the beautiful scenes of mountains and rivers we had seen a few days prior, and deeply shook us all. Walking through the graveyard we were all silent. We were ashamed of the acts of our own kind, and sympathized with the bears in danger. We knew the way ahead would be long and bumpy but we needed to shoulder the responsibility. The epitaph of a bear named Andrew read, “We are not weaker without you, but stronger because of you.” Indeed, the efforts of many people will accumulate and make a difference eventually.
When we returned that afternoon, team members presented the concluding report for this event, and then visited the Temple of Marquis and Jinli Street. In the evening, three groups named “Hope”, “Care”, and “Safe” presented their reports. These reports included in-depth research on animals and vegetables, new ideas on environmental and animal issues, as well as a talent show of the team members. Finally, Megan from Shanghai R&S, colleagues in Chengdu, teachers from Shanghai City Spirit Civilization Bureau, and representatives from sponsoring company Shanghai Applied Materials gave concluding remarks, bringing the journey to an end.
(Translated by WFLMS Crunchy Zoo Language Club)