I spoke with Jasmine and Daniel from Bangkok Pattana School (BPS) while we were riding through the high tides at Bangtaboon on June 22. Both are currently on their final high school year. Different on their own ways, but similar on their common causes for our environment, they are filled with hope that it is indeed possible to make a difference no matter how small.

 Youth Ecological Network (YEN)

daniel

Daniel is the president of Youth Ecological Network (YEN), a group that was established last year from Service Conference by nine members with a purpose to connect various leading international schools in Thailand with environmental initiatives. It started from International School of Bangkok (ISB), NIST International School (NIST), and Bangkok Pattana School (BPS), and is now extending its network to other schools including Ruamrudee International School (RIS) and Harrow.

As a group, they had recently successfully organized a concert called “A Call in the Wild” held at NIST, as a fundraising event to build enclosures for slow loris. They were able to raised 20,000 baht.

“They are animals that are illegally traded. Since there is a lot illegal trading of slow loris going on, there is enclosure for where these illegal animals are confiscated. They go to these enclosures, so basically it is their second habitat and the money just went to the building of that,” said Daniel.

The concert gives them hope for future causes because they can see how students from different international schools are interacting towards environmental initiatives. Youth Ecological Network will also continue its efforts to expand and recruit different representatives in various international schools with Service Conference to share their campaign ideas. It plans to work closely with Fin Free Thailand, by collaborating together to organize an art competition.

 Fin Free Thailand

jasmine

Jasmine is heavily involved with Fin Free Thailand, a nation-wide campaign on anti-shark finning against the consumption of shark fin as a delicacy. It is actively working with Shark Guardian to send letters to hotels to encourage them to stop providing shark-fin soup to all its clients, and so far 24 hotels have joined the cause of its Blue List.

“Shark finning is a problem that is very relevant to Asia, which I feel has been missed a lot because most of the NGOs are based in European countries, in America and overseas. So I’m so glad that it started here,” said Jasmine.

She believes the reason why shark finning still exists today is the fact that it is deeply embedded in our cultural values in Asia.

“Obviously, it is a cultural problem and goes beyond just the money or the profit; so a lot of it has to do with educating, fundraising and campaigning”

Fin Free Thailand had also recently organized a campaign and demonstration at Central World directed to Muji (which sells shark fin products abroad). But it was met with some opposition.

“I think the Muji people weren’t aware that it was a gift, not a protest – but I guess that’s the way it is with NGOs because it is probably difficult to establish your message, especially when everyone always pits NGOs against the big businesses although it doesn’t necessary have to be that way,”

“To this end, we are running an art competition and that will probably debut in September or October. We are hoping that it will be international, a Southeast Asia art competition that can be run online with themes running towards marine conservation,” she said.

Q&A with Jasmine and Daniel

 Our world today:

Jasmine: I think the world is at the turning point almost like on a hinge where it is a tipping point.

Daniel: If you don’t do anything, it can only get worse and you don’t know where the threshold is. Because everything is all becoming so much more obvious and that is why everyone is acting.

Jasmine: Everything is generating this environmental interest and hopefully it can become enough of a popular trend; because these things do have to become a trend. It’s not about the intent. Most people do not have the intent, but when it becomes cool and fashionable which it is beginning to, to become eco-friendly and to save the world, then we are here and we are ready to capitalize on that.

 Key success to being a good NGO?

 Daniel: Acting locally, thinking globally.

 Jasmine: In all honesty, I would say connection. It’s forging personal connections with people who can make a difference because no one can make a difference on their own.

 Have you seen whales/dolphins before?

Daniel: I’ve seen orcas in the zoos, in Taiwan where they have the performing shows.

Jasmine: I’ve also seen the ones with pink dolphins, but I mean when you watch them it gives you this perverse feeling almost because they are such big creatures, and the water looks dirty. And they are in such a small enclosure!

I mean, it’s really different because on one hand there is like the human control over these marine creatures; when you watch it gives you the feeling of pity and that’s what makes you admire them. But here it would be the majesty of them being in their own habitat that would make you admire them. Having a chance to see them is good enough. If they come that would be amazing and if they don’t, it is nice to hang out with friends.

About the author

Pairat Temphairojana (Pai) is working as a journalist in Thailand. It was in 2009 when he first saw blue whales in a whale-watching tour in Alaska – and upon hearing that such majestic creatures like the Bryde’s whales is populating in the gulf of Thailand, he did not hesitate to join as a whale-watching guide in Thailand. He believes that having proper standards and regulations for a safer whale watching activities in the gulf of Thailand is necessary and can lead to a more sustainable tourism for the locals living in the region. Pai will be regularly joining us on board as a field observer and a reporter on our frequent visits to the Gulf of Thailand.

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