This is the first major project I got involved, since determined to write about sustainable development in China. A one-month long course organized by the collaboration between Global Eco-village Network (an international NGO), China Eco-village Alliance (a local NGO) and Sunshine Ecovillage Network (a local social enterprise). The course will cover a comprehensive knowledge framework that approaches the development of an eco-village from social, culture, ecology and economy dimensions. At the end of the course, certificates will be awarded to students.
I applied for a full scholarship and was fortunately admitted to the course. In the following month, I will report my daily experience in blogs, taking it as a case study on how local organizations partner with international organizations to make a difference, and how the thoughtful citizens here strive to make positive impact on the society.
I arrived at this UNESCO Research and Training Center for Rural Education in the evening. It is a traditional style Chinese complex with a lovely quad yard in the middle.
The building was built and completed in 2011, but has been very sparsely used since then. There are 4 meetings rooms of various sizes and a few dorm rooms on first floor. The second floor is mainly bunk-bed dorm rooms. I was assigned to a 4 ppl dorm room (2 bunk beds)
I had been trying to get a single room since I applied for the scholarship, because my super early-bird morning work habit would make it inconvenient for both myself and my roommates. And I dreaded about going back to my undergraduate days of sharing a room with 9 other girls and not much privacy. Unfortunately, a 4ppl bunkbed bedroom is the only thing that I can get. When negotiating with the head of organizer, it occured to me that it’s part of the idea of developing collaboration and coordinating with others by sharing communal resources, besides the actual lack of single rooms. Well, I will take that. An eco-village isn’t to be built in a comfortable and well-set up place anyway.
When I arrived, the rooms were just barely provisioned with new sleepers, toilet paper, some clothes hangers and a hair dryer. They said an electronic water kettle will be provided later.
3 male volunteers were helping arriving students check in and settle in rooms. They were constantly requested by newcomers but they were super patient and helpful. One was having dinner when I arrived (it was already late). An hour later when I saw him again, he was still finishing food in a bowl. Likely his dinner was interrupted a lot. Later that evening, they covered the floor of the main classroom with grass mats. It’s of course dry mats but they smells similar to a freshly mowed lawn.
It was a little surprising that the place wasn’t set up ready in advance but had to be prepared till last minute. However I sensed the can-do spirit that makes things happen. I grew more curious about the class.