By Sofia Catalina

Student at The Bromfield School

HARVARD -- It was almost a week ago that I attended EF Tours' second annual Global Student Leaders Summit in Shanghai, China.

At this conference, what EF did best was to motivate students to make a change in the world around them.

As was best put by closing speaker Ankanksha Hazari, "The value of your life is determined by the effect you have."

Before the conference, I would have taken from this that I had to positively affect those in my community, to make a difference in the lives of those around me. But after, I have realized that my responsibility is so much larger than that.

I live in a connected and informed world; there are no longer barriers of geography, language or even culture. The globe has become a sort of melting pot, as we have all become interconnected not only in a global economy, but in a cultural sense, too.

As people, societies and even countries become wealthier, they must take up the cause of preserving the environment.

Perhaps most importantly, we are all inexorably linked by the fact that we all live in the same giant ecosystem. I think one of the most impressionistic things I heard was not at the Global Student Leaders Summit, but rather in the back of my tour bus in Beijing.

I had been worried about the pollution, but the tour guide was telling us how lucky we had been to arrive just after a very windy day, so the interminable gray had been whisked away.


As I looked outside the bus window at the clear blue skies, I was suddenly struck by the idea that this horrible pollution had not been removed, but rather just blown somewhere else. Instead of fixing the problem of air quality, in reality the rest of the world was just receiving it.

This is neither sustainable nor practical, for what happens when there is nowhere left to blow the pollution away to?

China produces the largest amount of carbon dioxide emissions in the entire world, almost twice that of the United States. This extreme amount of pollution is destroying both China's environmental resources and the health and safety of its citizens.

Environmental preservation is becoming more and more important not only for those living in polluted areas, but also for every citizen of the globe.

I hope to motivate my peers to take action by sharing my experiences in China and working to increase environmental interest in my school.