In a new SCA program initiative, eight college students from International Christian University (ICU), a prestigious liberal arts college in Tokyo, are spending the summer working as SCA Interns at Yellowstone, Yosemite, Lassen, and Pinnacles National Parks building trails, learning about resource management, removing invasive species and revegetating cleared areas.
This is huge wilderness to them. They are aware of America’s parks, but this is very foreign to them,” said Program Manager Rick Zamore who interviewed the students and then met them in Seattle for two days of briefing. Rick then accompanied four of them on the trip to Yellowstone National Park. “They are quite mature, friendly, and serious about the experience,” Rick added, “and not all that different from American college students we place as interns.”
Like many other SCA volunteers, they hope to make the world a better place. Mitsuhiro Hidaka who is serving at Yellowstone wrote in his application essay. “As Japan subscribes to the Kyoto Protocol, Japan has to cooperate with other countries to conserve the world natural environment. The reason for it is that we have to think about the environmental problem as a world-wide problem.” And speaking of a more immediate concern Mitsuhiro later added, “I am afraid of being eaten by bears.”
Koji Hattori, also serving at Yellowstone wrote, “What Japan should do first is to make the people respect nature. For this purpose, education must take a great role in cultivation of the respect for nature... there is one thing we can be proud of about the nature in this country: the sea. As a Japanese citizen, I feel myself responsible for conserving our sea and marine resources. All I could do is just make an effort not to pollute the sea any more, so I do it, however small it is.”
And another Yellowstone intern, Hiroto Sakakibara, wrote: “I want to know how national park in America tries to keep its environment. I also want to participate in the work in national park and experience how national park in Ameraca is operated every day. These kinds of things will be very valuable for me because I plan to work in the national park in Japan in the future.”
“It is this shared commitment to service and focus on developing the next generation of leaders that brings SCA and ICU together,” explained SCA Senior Director for Partnership Development Don Hunger. He and long-time friend Ken Enochs, a Professor of English at ICU, have worked together for several years to launch this pilot program with the expectation that it would grow over time. Of this anticipated growth, one of the current interns said, “I’m glad I applied for this summer because next year, it will be hard to get in, lots more will apply.”
At the end of the assignment, the group will gather once again in Seattle before returning to Japan to share stories and reflections with Don Hunger and Conservation Intern Assistant Director Rita Corliss. We’ll let you know what they find out.
To read about another relatively new SCA initiative, please visit the Dallas commuter crew page.
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