RCE Hangzhou Leads Students on SDG Discovery Tour in Cheongju, South Korea

Reported by Katherine Olson

Last month RCE Hangzhou led a group of students on an SDG-themed tour of the city of Cheongju, South Korea, to learn about South Korean culture and ecology. Throughout the tour, from 8 February – 15 February, 2019, students experienced a range of activities such as a visit to a local reptile and amphibian protection centre, a tour of the recovered remains of an ancient village submerged by a reservoir, and even a meeting with the mayor of Cheongju.

Camps such as this are an example of RCE Hangzhou’s brand-name project, ‘Earth Successor’ Discovery Tours, often held during winter and summer breaks. The project aims to help students become earth successors and SDG-advocating global citizens.

Participants of the Korean ‘Earth Successor’ SDG Discovery Tour stayed at a local ecology centre built on what was once a landfill, but has now been converted into a beautiful park, wetland, and interactive environmental learning centre for students of all ages. At the ecology centre, students were able to view the eco-friendly floor warming system (which is heated by natural warm gas deep beneath the earth) and learned about a local endangered fish species (and even made their own out of clay!).

Cheongju’s government and citizens are dedicated to keeping the local environment and ecology thriving, and it shows – in addition to the ecology centre, RCE Hangzhou’s campers also visited a toad protection centre built to educate the local public about a species of toad that resides in the mountains surrounding a residential area. When locals discovered that the toads were travelling through their neighbourhood to reach their mating ponds, they built protective infrastructure such as tunnels to keep the toads from being crushed on the road during their journey. The woods and ponds around the toad centre are actually home to many different types of amphibians and reptiles, which students got a chance to learn about during their visit. However, as this was an SDG Discovery Tour, not just an ecology tour, in addition to learning background information about animal and plants, students also learned the importance of protecting them and why maintaining ecological balance is necessary for a healthy, sustainable planet.

In addition to other exciting activities such as a visit to the national Ecorium, where students explored biomes such as ‘rainforest’, ‘polar regions’, and ‘desert’, and a trip to Wenyi Village, which preserves the lifestyle of South Koreans from hundreds of years ago for modern visitors to see, students were extremely fortunate to get an opportunity to meet with the mayor of Cheongju, who talked about his efforts to make Cheongju a green city. Students told the mayor about the impressions the city left on them and were given the opportunity to ask questions. This wasn’t just a simple meeting between individuals – it was small-scale SDG diplomacy between South Korea and China, and the campers were proud and excited to be a part of it.

Campers stayed busy every day exploring the city and outlying areas, including its beautiful river, museums, temples, and vibrant street market. At night, they learned about SDGs (including an interactive board game to test each others’ knowledge on each SDG category) and worked on their ‘nature notebook’, in which they wrote and drew about what they learned about each day so they could keep their knowledge and insights preserved to share with others and remember far into the future.

This was an invaluable opportunity for students to learn and discuss SDGs in a new environment and take lessons from South Korea back home to make their own lives, neighbourhoods, and cities more sustainable. Through trips such as these, RCE Hangzhou is educating students, facilitating international collaboration, and igniting the passion of the next generation for protecting our planet and humanity itself.

(Photo credits: RCE Hangzhou)

South Korea