Chloe Hall, 2011, Religion

Summer of Service is a program sponsored by Princeton in Asia that sends12 Princeton undergraduates to Jishou, a small city in Hunan Province, China. For six weeks every summer, Princeton students teach an intensive English immersion course to Chinese college students on the campus of Jishou Teacher’s College. Most of our students are from the surrounding countryside, and almost all of them are studying to be English teachers. For many of the students, their Princeton teachers are the first native English speakers with whom they have had an opportunity to converse. This summer, with help from PEI, the teachers sponsored a “Jishou Earth Day”, during which each class gave a presentation on the environment, ranging from local water pollution to art projects made of trash to songs about the environment (inspired by a lesson on Joni Mitchell’s “Big Yellow Taxi”).

On Earth Day, we also gave each student a tote bag made from recycled materials. In the classroom throughout the summer, the students also learned about environmental issues ranging from Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring” and the dawning of the American environmental movement to the dangers and benefits of ecotourism. Midway through the program, building on the work of Lisa Kelley (last year’s SOS student leader), we administered an environmental survey that helped us learn more about our students’ attitudes toward the environment in Jishou and China as a whole. Finally, we also offered a handful of students environmental scholarships that will allow them to carry out an environmentally-themed project in Jishou or their hometown during the coming months.