As an experiential education company that offers tailored school trips for students of all ages, sustainable education is always at the forefront of our minds. Sustainable education is becoming increasingly relevant as the world faces a continuing environmental crisis.
Making sure every student understands the challenges our planet faces and the things that must be done to alleviate those challenges is at the core of our values. Through our experiential learning school trips in China, we hope to enable both personal and societal change.
What is Sustainability in Education?
Sustainability in education, aka Education for Sustainable Development (ESD), refers to creating awareness surrounding our planet’s environmental, social, and economic systems. A sustainable education curriculum allows students to “acquire the knowledge, skills, attitudes and values necessary to shape a sustainable future.”
ESD also includes challenging our current systems and learning how to come up with solutions. The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are the pillars of the future of sustainability. As interrelated concepts, all of the goals affect one another. UNESCO has similar education programs that aim to address sustainability issues in a holistic way.
Why is sustainability education important?
Well, 47% of national curriculum frameworks make no reference to climate change, meaning there is still a gap between the intended outcome and the actual implementation of ESD. Additionally, 40% of teachers are confident in teaching cognitive dimensions of climate change, but only 20% can efficiently explain how to take action.
WCE’s Approach to Sustainability Education
Implanting an awareness of sustainability in students’ educational experiences is a concept that WildChina Education has been practicing since its inception. Our work encompasses environmental sustainability, human sustainability, cultural sustainability, and educational sustainability.
We hope that in our experiential education programs, students can learn outside of the classroom while acquiring the ability to care for and respect their surrounding environment.
The four pillars of sustainability that we uphold at WildChina Education are:
- A more sustainable lifestyle
- A more sustainable community
- A more sustainable environment
- A more sustainable society
WildChina Education incorporates the UNSDGs into all our program design processes. Interacting with locals, having discussions about real-world problems, and thinking about how to spread positive influence is where personal growth intersects with world development.
If you are interested in incorporating a school trip to China into the sustainable development aspect of your curriculum, we welcome you to join us for our new summer school trips in July and August.
Community Service in A Remote Village Near Yangshuo
According to our educational model, students are taught the importance of the work they do before starting a service learning project. In one of our past programs, 100 high school students from Beijing DeWey International School traveled to a remote village near Yangshuo (阳朔, yáng shuò) to engage in community service. An unresolved garbage issue had been causing both environmental and health problems in the village.
Being provided with the implications of this issue enriched the students’ understanding as they built an incinerator out of cement and bricks—a project that took almost two days to complete. As they built the incinerator, students learned about the village’s waste management system, recycling system, economic conditions, and population issues. Once the incinerator was completed, students reflected on the positive changes it would bring to the village’s environment.
Community Service in Guangxi
Another remote village in need that WildChina Education discovered and incorporated into experiential education programs is a village in Guangxi (广西, guâng xī). On a school trip to China, 40-50 American students constructed a road between a village and a community for elderly widows, making it easier to travel between the two locations.
In another program in the same location, 4th and 5th-grade students painted the walls of a school for abandoned children in the village. While working on this service-learning project, students experienced the living conditions of abandoned children. This project allowed young students to understand the world around them while expressing themselves creatively.
WCE’s Aspirations for Sustainability Education
Last summer, our “Art Responding to Rural Life” program during the Stone Mortar Lake Art Season (白臼湖艺术季, bái jìu hú yì shù jì) celebrated the combination of community-oriented values and artistic expression. The art exhibition, which included permanent art installations and interactive thematic activities, ran for four months.
A month before the art exhibition began, thirty-seven students from Nanjing International School (NIS) participated in the curatorial co-creation of this event with WildChina Education. As part of their preparation, students used local materials such as wood and bamboo to create works of art. They co-created an indoor art exhibit titled “The Eternal Pulse of the Lake” in addition to an outdoor public art installation and mortise and tenon structured furniture for forum-sharing sessions.
Students also took inspiration from old houses in Zhujia Village (朱家村, zhū jiā cūn), Lishui District (溧水县, lì shuî xiàn), Nanjing (南京, nán jīng). During reconstruction, many of the old village houses were taken down while preserving the original structures.
These wooden beams were transformed into a public art installation by the students. The central theme of the students’ paintings can be recognized as an effort to display the village’s historical background as a lakeside fishing village.
In addition to facilitating the art event, students also visited the village’s ancestral hall, got to know the villagers, and partook in agricultural activities during their school trip to China. Learning about the real world through hands-on experiences made the revitalization of rural development and village rejuvenation that much more meaningful.
In 2013, WildChina Education brought international students in Shanghai to Baibi village (白璧村, bái bì cūn). As part of a service-learning component, students built a well for the villagers and it is still in use today.
In one of our past school trips to China, a student enjoyed his experience so much that he asked us if he could intern at WildChina Education. Our hope is that we can continue to inspire students this way through our values and educational programs.
A parting word from WildChina Education
At WildChina Education, we firmly believe in the power of experiential learning and the positive impact it can have on students’ lives. Our experiential school trips to China not only provide an immersive educational experience but also foster a sense of global citizenship.
Through these school trips to China, students not only gain knowledge about Chinese culture, history, and language but also develop a deep appreciation for the importance of environmental conservation and community service. We are proud to be part of a movement that aims to create positive change through education.
Our team is dedicated to curating unique and meaningful experiences that inspire students to become lifelong learners and responsible global citizens. If you are interested in booking a trip with us or learning more about our programs, please reach out to our Academic Managers. We would be delighted to assist you in creating an unforgettable educational journey for your students.
– What is the connection between the person cycling around the village and SDGs?
– Nine years ago, we built a well together with the villagers, and it is still in use to
– Transforming a Village into an Exhibition Hall: Students Engage in Artistic Collaboration for Rural Revitalization