“The store offers many things we can’t find in other grocery stores or supermarkets, like cloth sanitary pads. It also provides pre-used plastic and paper bags for consumers to use.”
Looking around Tzu Chi University’s cooperative store, Hualien Girls’ Senior High School students learned a lot. They understood the University has invited local consumers to make good choices in their daily lives to assist remote villages in enhancing their economic development and implementing environmental sustainability practices.
Students taking the course “Promoting Sustainable Development Goals by Inviting People to Work Together” were happy to come to Tzu Chi University for this visit. Hualien Girls’ Senior High School’s teachers and Tzu Chi University’s faculty members jointly taught this course.
Facing the widening gap between rich and poor, climate change, and social unrest worldwide, the United Nations has established seventeen sustainable development goals (SDGs) and led the world to cope with these challenges. These sustainable development goals include reduced inequalities, climate action, gender equality, etc. The UN wishes these goals can take root in everyone’s hearts and inspire more people to work together daily to achieve sustainable development goals.
The Tzu Chi University SDG Center will collaborate with Hualien Girls’ Senior High School to offer more elective courses related to the essence and practices of SDGs.
Tzu Chi University faculty members, Yie-Ru Chiu, Yun-Chih Chiang, Wan Hua Hsieh, Mei-Shiuan Yu, and Konstantin Weicht, will participate in this course.
Professor Yie-Ru Chiu led a tour of the cooperative store with the high school students. Compared with other grocery stores or supermarkets, the store is small, but full of magic for students. Many students saw cloth sanitary napkins for the first time and were curious about how to use them.
They also witnessed that eggs were not in boxes. Farmers do not put the eggs into boxes, due to their love for Nature. Selling eggs is one of the significant sources of income for elderly members of the Hongye tribal area. The store also provides “Asplenium nidus ice cream” made by Jiamin tribal area members and “sacha inchi oil” produced in Fengbin Township.
Professor Yie-Ru Chiu then invited students to share their feelings. Fan Yu-Jia said, “Most of the store products are from Hualien County, which reduces transportation and reduces carbon footprints.” Another student, Yan-Yu Huang stated, “I see a different channel of delivering products from producers to consumers that can create many local job opportunities.” She also mentioned that her family operates a small lodge in Hualien, and her parents chose environmentally friendly materials to build the lodge. She was touched by the visit and invited her peers to take action to maintain a sustainable environment.
The course provides various activities, starting with offering a board game related to the UN’s SDGs. The University’s faculty members wish to arouse students’ awareness of sustainable development worldwide and enhance their willingness and skills in carrying out the practices.
Students visited a local community that recently won the National Environmental Education Award. They learned firsthand how the community employed the Permaculture Principles to integrate the ecological design of long-term care facilities, community kitchens, water conservation systems, recycling hardware, and healing vegetable gardens.
With the teachers’ assistance, before the end of the semester, the students will complete their group SDGs projects addressing local issues. Moreover, they will present their SDGs projects in English and share their sustainable endeavors with youth overseas.
By working with local high schools, the University fulfills its university social responsibility (USR), enables SDGs education to take root in the hearts of local youth, and inspires local students to share their endeavors with other students overseas.