This story originally appeared in the spring 2014 Harker Quarterly.
The global water and pollution crisis was the subject of an informative talk jointly hosted by the upper school’s Clean Tech Club and Venezia Wee, a visiting student from the World Foreign Language Middle School (WFLMS), Harker’s sister school in Shanghai, China.
Held at the end of January during a long lunch in the Nichols Hall auditorium, the collaborative effort promoted the use of clean technology and importance of water conservation.
Steven Wang, a grade 11 student and president of the Clean Tech Club, opened the seminar, which attracted nearly two dozen students. He introduced Wee, noting that the WFLMS junior was using her winter break to go on a self-funded, self-organized worldwide tour to bring attention to the global water crisis.
“I’m super excited the two of us connected,” said Wang, adding that Wee contacted him about doing the talk together. Each year the Clean Tech Club chooses a new theme; this year’s theme was “A Solution to Pollution,” Wang explained. During his address, he noted that air pollution was the basis for global warming and stressed that there is an urgent need to develop new technologies to combat air pollution.
“I’m honored to be joining hands with the Clean Tech Club,” said Wee from the podium. She discussed her work as founder of the Global Water Crisis Awareness (GWA) international movement, of which Harker is now an ambassador.
“In the past I used water like it was nobody’s business. Why? Because I took it for granted,” said Wee, who later learned about the lack of safe drinking water worldwide, including the shocking statistic that a child dies every 21 seconds from a water-related illness. That, and other findings, prompted her to take on the global water crisis as her “personal project.”
She kicked off her talk by showing a powerful video about the international water shortage, citing it as particularly relevant to Harker students currently impacted by California’s drought, which has been declared a statewide emergency. “We are going to run out of water before we run out of oil,” said Wee, who ended her talk by offering practical water conservation tips.
Back at WFLMS, Wee launched a five-day GWA exhibition about her movement, which works to both increase awareness and raise money to help impoverished schools in Africa, Latin America and Asia improve their water hygiene. She said she used her own scholarship money to help finance her recent speaking tours at schools and other locations throughout Asia, the United States and Europe.
“I was thrilled that this took place!” enthused Jennifer Walrod, Harker’s director of global education, who has encouraged such global student-to-student collaborations.