THERE WAS a girl who went on a picnic at the stream near her house. She was so elated with expectations at first, but soon shocked by the rotten and stinky river where even water does not flow. To make it a live area again, she began to pick up trashes with her own hands, and finally, she became a student environmentalist. Her name is Ji Min-seo (Soph., Dept. of Nursing), who was awarded “Superior Talent Leading 21st Century” by Minister of Education, Science and Technology last year for diverse activities relating to saving our natural environment.
Annals: When did you first have interest in protecting the natural environment?
Ji: I cannot recall the exact time because my mother’s lifestyle gradually allowed me to become more aware of the environment. She always used shopping baskets instead of plastic bags and recycled the used-up garments, pursuing the coexistence of human and nature. One day when I was a third grader in middle school, she introduced the Incheon Teenagers Green Volunteers, the local environmental group which I work for until now. I joined the group right away and started the environmental movement.
Tell us your environmental movements in the Incheon Teenagers Green Volunteers.
Incheon Teenagers Green Volunteers works for the ecological development of Incheon-si, led by middle school and high school students. On every other weekend, all members of the group get together and work at nearby streams such as Gulpocheon and Jangsucheon for their recovery. We inspect the water qualities, water temperature, and surroundings like illegal farmlands and factories there, and report them to Incheon-si. As a senior who leads many teenage members, my work is mainly to teach them how to examine the chemical oxygen demand (COD) with certain instruments. Through these professional works, we can contribute to our environment on a more practical level since more and more residents and public officials give ear to our voices, reflecting on their living and policies. Besides, we took part in the campaigns against constructing golf courses at Mt. Gyeyang and covered up the protruding roots of trees to help their healthy growth.
When do you find your activities worth doing?
The most delightful moment participating in these voluntary works is when I can see the improvement of water quality and its natural environment which I have monitored. For example, illegal farmlands result in the loss of soil and vegetation, having a bad influence upon our environment. For about seven years, however, the number of this illegal farmlands has been sharply decreased through our efforts. The members of Incheon Teenagers Green Volunteers are also very pleased about it. Moreover, I feel happy when people around me show interests in my works and even participate in.
What would you like to do in the future concerning the environment?
After graduation, I would like to study Social Medicine, which may sound unfamiliar to many people. My activities up to now are all related to Social Medicine. It is a specific area of medicine which focuses on improving the external environment surrounding us, which can consequently make people healthier. Those who are engaged in this area work in various ways to curb environmental pollution which endangers public health today. Above all, my ultimate dream is to be an official of WHO and to work for preventing ecological destruction all over the world.
What are your wishes for Yonsei Univ. and its students?
I hope Yonsei Univ. has more interests over making a “Green Campus,” meaning eco-friendly and sustainable campus, by living up to action like reducing carbon dioxide emissions or saving water usage. There should be more support for clubs related with environmental protection in order to arouse students’ environmental awareness. Students also should have a strong sense of responsibility for preserving our nature from the little tasks such as picking up one’s own trashes in Akaraka and Yon-ko Athletic Meet.