Almost all of us are aware of the importance of saving the environment. However, not many of us are aware of the specific ways to contribute to such a goal. At Korea University (KU), there is a group of students who gather to discuss ways to achieve a world where human beings and nature peacefully coexist.
The Korea University Saving Environment Project (KUSEP) is the one and only group at KU focused on the environment. It was founded by the 10th student association of the Department of Environmental Science and Ecological Engineering and was a group that was managed within the department. However, in June 2012, it expanded its organization to become open to every student at KU regardless of age, gender, or major. Currently, it is waiting for the admission to become one of the central student clubs.
Current leader of KUSEP Jo Jung Woon (’11, Environmental Science and Ecological Engineering), introduces their philosophy with great passion. “Nature and human beings continuously influence each other like shoe laces that are laced up in cross pattern. We believe that it is important to act out instead of merely staying in front of our desks,” says Jo. Their strenuous efforts to seek the means for humanbeings to coexist with nature were successfully noticed by the school such that they were asked to take part in Green Campus projects last year. Also it is currently a member of the Korea Green Campus Association of University Students (KGCAUS). Moreover, it succeeded in obtaining a gold prize in Creative Technology Competitive Exhibition.
▲ 1. KUSEP cooking with children using vegetable. Provided by http://kusep.tistory.com
One particular characteristic of KUSEP is that it is divided into seven teams including teams that has a particular responsibility for reporting news, making music regarding environment, volunteer activities, education, exploring nature, and studying. Being operated quite independently, they are each responsible for different areas. For instance, the division of education periodically visits Imun Elementary School and moderates a debate about the environment with the students. They also take time to make reusable products together in order to provide students with the hands-on knowledge about it. Volunteering team mainly focuses on educational service activities, visiting Dongdaemun Community Center. Each team has both own plans to hold meetings and schedules for their activities.
Such a division of responsibilities enables KUSEP to specialize in each area more in depth from different angles. Each team consists of about five to ten members, each having its own leader. Members normally act independently within their own sectors, but also have the time to gather once a month as a whole in order to have the opportunity to all spend time together. Information about their activities is further introduced in their blog (http://kusep.tistory.com) along with the pictures and records of their precious memories.
KUSEP never stops challenging itself in taking a creative approach toward saving the environment. Jo clearly remembers last Ipselenti; JiyaHamsung, when numerous people visited their booth. “When people brought empty plastic cups, we returned them with plants planted in them,” says Jo. It brought greater success than expected, due to its creative means to appeal to the students. As a result, the great amount of ingredients that they had prepared were completely used up in a short time.
Their efforts and challenges do not end here. Last year, KUSEP placed boxes within the campus in which students could feel free to deposit reusable papers . Members of KUSEP then collected the papers and made eco-notebooks. During the exam period, the notebooks were placed in Central Plaza and Hanasquare so that students could freely access them. It was a project that satisfied the students, at the same time informing them of the value of reusable paper.
KUSEP does not restrict itself to being a group merely studying the environment, for they also have annual events for the members to build stronger bonds with each other. Although it mainly focuses on studying together about the environment, it is hard to find rigidness in the organization compared with many academie in KU. After meetings or seminars, there are wrap up parties to offer time for relief after the hard work. Twice a year, they go on membership training where they get to know each other better. Last membership training took place in April, where they never forgot their duty to save the environment. In fact, under the name “Eco-MT”, they aimed to not use any disposable products. Instead of using wooden chopsticks and paper cups, members brought their own utensils.
KUSEP recruits their members at the beginning of the first semester. However, when more members are needed they recruit additional people in the second semester. After submitting the application sheet, there is an interview used to determine the applicant's passion and willingness. Once becoming a member of KUSEP, it is recommended to stay at least one year. As a member gains more and more experience, it is possible to be promoted to a team leader, club’s vice-captain, then club’s captain, in that order. “It is not necessary to major in environmental science and ecological engineering in order to join us. As we are open to everyone, I hope that people do not hesitate to be part of us,” says Jo.