By Leo Guen
Last year, my fiancée, Sherry Ma, thought about moving to China, but I didn’t want to go because of the pollution – the air pollution, water pollution and land pollution, all of which ends up in the food. With such a breadth of pollution problems, is there any hope for China’s environment?
Yes, there is.
My nephew, Jack Guen-Murray, is on a 27-month Peace Corps mission in Chongqing province, teaching young people English, environmental dynamics, ecological sustainability and leadership. This is his first job after graduating from college, so he has the youth and stamina to handle the hardships, uncertainty and isolation of remote, poor, rural Western China.
Mainland Chinese despair over their environmental situation, but lack the knowledge or resources to change it. Jack’s efforts to prepare Chinese youth to lead their generation to improve China’s environment may seem like a drop in the ocean. Yet the Chinese know that such efforts are not wasted according to the philosophy of the Way, or the Tao.
In the Tao, we are each just “one of 10,000 things.” We are all connected to each other, and connected to Jack’s efforts to transform China’s environment, which affects the global environment.
So what can we do to help China’s enduring environment issues?
Each year, Peace Corps China (PC China) hosts an “English Eco Leadership Camp” on an organic farm a few hours outside Chengdu, Sichuan. For 13 days, 72 Chinese students from Sichuan, Chongqing, Guizhou and Gansu provinces will be taught by 24 PC China volunteers. The bilingual camp logo is “和 Supporting Nature, Supporting Development.”
The goal is to prepare the students to create eco clubs at their universities. At this camp, through discussion and writing in English, and hands-on activities such as recycling, organic farming and observing a biogas digester, the students will learn about and synthesize knowledge regarding air pollution, noise pollution, environmental protection, recycling and ecology. Then, using the English and leadership skills they gain at camp, they can then help their fellow students become more aware of China’s pollution problems and create a “greener” China.
Unfortunately, the cost of running this camp runs to $25,000, a third of which goes toward food, activities, and transportation. A Peace Corp grant provides $3,000, while locals contribute $12,500 of labor. Despite these funds, Jack and his fellow PC China volunteers still need to raise $5,400 to reach their monetary goal.
To donate to PC China, please visit
To visit Jack’s blog, where he posts photos of life on the farm including rapeseed harvesting and the biogas digester, go to
If you’d like to learn more about English Eco Leadership Camp, please e-mail Leo Guen at LeoTGuen@gmail.com.
This post is also available in: Chinese