Sunghoon has seen the devastating effects of climate change first-hand on the South Korean island of Jeju.
Through the Climate Leaders Fellowship program he conducted research on climate change in his local community and set out to make change.
The online program is offered in a collaboration between the the Stanford University Deliberative Democracy Lab and the Rustic Pathways Foundation. It’s an incredible opportunity for students to unite and make a positive impact on the world!
Read Sunghoon’s impact story below!
My name is Sunghoon. I grew up in Korea and am currently a 16-year-old student at St. Johnsbury Academy Jeju, which is located in Jeju Island, an UNESCO Reserve.
This island is home to an array of species including plants, insects and animals, all of which never cease to amaze me with their natural beauty every day. Unfortunately, this beautiful island is feeling the effects of climate change too.
It is heartbreaking to witness the destruction of Jeju’s natural environment caused by tourists and commercial developments.The tourism industry is producing huge amounts of waste and filling up landfills. Real estate development is happening rapidly in the area as well. While a place may appear beautiful from afar, an up-close inspection might reveal a different truth – the high levels of pollution. I am especially worried about the amount of waste being dumped in the ocean and irresponsible tourist behavior that adds to it.
Through this program, I had the privilege to work with Danny – a student from Seoul Foreign School. Together, we collected photographs from students of both our schools; successfully hosted an online exhibition. The exhibited photos were intended to raise awareness of how waste is everywhere, even in the most natural places, and how it is destroying the environment.
We took measures to spread the word about our event by posting a poster on school SNS and both school’s campus corridors. Additionally, we offered prizes for the outstanding photos taken as part of the event which became an incentive for many people to take part in it.
Students showed their creativity by submitting photos taken from places all across Seoul and Jeju. It was truly heartwarming to see how many students submitted photos for our exhibition – with over 54 entries, it turned out to be a great success. Over 300 people of different ages visited our online exhibition to take a look at the amazing pictures.
The project has had a meaningful impact on the school by inspiring students to set up more eco-friendly clubs and projects. For example the Upcycling Club members increased the number of waste bins on campus and members of Walk-and-Pick Club organized an exhibition to highlight places they’ve cleared up.
Participating in the Climate Leaders Fellowship has made me realize the unspoken truth of the seriosity of climate change. After realizing it this made me feel horrified and led me to make more green decisions in life. I am very proud of my results as I could see my community changing and want to show others that each one of our actions can lead to a major change.
I feel genuinely fortunate and grateful for having the opportunity to be a part of such an incredible journey. I’m extremely thankful to Rustic Pathways, as well as Stanford Deliberative Democracy Lab for this amazing experience!
The upcoming fellowship cycle launches in March, and the application deadline is February 5. For more information, please visit our Climate Leaders Fellowship program page.