By Vivian Lung
Last month (yes, that’s how time flies), I learned from a partner organization’s Facebook post that our facilitator for last years’ East Asia Climate Leadership Camp (EACLC), passed away that morning. It was so sudden. It struck me hard, leaving me astounded.
My first instinct was that it was not true; to prove that it wasn’t true, I clicked into her profile page at once. What struck my eyes were tens of posts on her wall, all ending with RILs and RIPs.
In the crowded MRT car of Taipei city, I pulled the strap with one hand and covered my eyes with another, failing to stop my tears from seeping out from the gaps between my fingers. It was as if somebody carved a hole in my chest, and tons and tons of grief flooded into the hole. That weird feeling of hollowness and heaviness was pretty much what I’ve been experiencing in those usual days, just even stronger and more tormenting.
Actually, my physical interactions with the facilitator nearly stayed within those five days during EACLC#2. However, within the first few lines she said when we first met, I was deeply touched and moved by this tender lady.
Our first session together during EACLC#2 was storytelling. She told us a story:
It is about a Pacific country named Kiribati. In Kiribati, when big storms come, people will gather in their houses and wrap themselves together with their families, “so that if they’re taken away by the storm and the tide, they’d be taken away together.”
Upon hearing that, my tears fell without any reason. And they just wouldn’t stop falling.
Being taken away by storms and tides is never something I’d worry in my daily life. In Kiribati, this is their fear and worry every single second. And I am one of the villains. If we keep doing all these things that hurts our environment, we are going to have the same fear and worry very soon. Of course, we already have some different fear and worry: the air pollution problem in Taiwan makes me worry that if every single breath I take is a ticking toward death.
Sure, people can JUST move to Fiji, like what many from the developed countries say. Yeah, they can; however, the bond to one’s own land, one’s own heritage, one’s own culture cannot be cut off so easily.
You say they can move to Fiji, can you bring their land, their heritage, their culture there for them as well?
If you cannot, please stop destroying things.
I cried so many times during this year’s EACLC#3. However, the reason I cried this year is totally different from last year. Last year I was just so touched by the stories and so sad about seeing all the people suffering because of the ignorance of people building up coal power plants right nearby the neighborhood. This year I cried so many times because I’m so depressed about my incapabilities and helplessness. Organizing a camp is so much different from attending one. The excitement is the same, but the pressure and responsibilities were so heavy that I could barely breathe. I hope to bring everyone the best. I hope to let everyone see the best in Taiwan.
Although there were so many mistakes and faults during the camp, I was lucky enough to have a bunch of Taiwanese friends who helped me face all the challenges together, and solved problems with me when I was so helpless. I was so warmed up by people, and I believe that all of us wants to bring the best in Taiwan to our foreign friends.
There were so many occasions during which I felt like giving up. I wanted to say: I was wrong. I thought I could do this, but I can’t. However, all the encouragement and caring from people allowed me to persist. I think it would be you who make me less lonely on this difficult path and you would be my motivation to keep going on.
We had to write down our own vision when we got our certificates for EACLC#3. I thought for a while before writing down this: “At EACLC#3, I commit myself to never giving up even when things are so difficult, tiring and depressing.”
The same feeling of incapabilities and helplessness struck me million times since I started to commit myself into climate actions. It’s all so different from doing researches and writing articles. Why is everything like this? Can I really do this?What changes can I actually bring?
I’ve been heartbroken, I’ve questioned myself, I’ve felt so scared and I’ve felt so lost….., all these experiences, however, make me stronger than ever. I know I only cried because I’ve been brave for too long.
As I looked at the world’s biggest coal power plant sitting right there in Longjing, Taichung, with its chimneys painted in such bright colors that remind me of amusement parks, faking to look so innocent but raping people around the neighborhood in such a cruel way, the polluted, weird colored water smelling so awful and running towards the ocean……, I know we should do something more than shedding our tears. We should take actions to stop it. We need sentiments, but we also need solutions.
I would never forget her bright eyes, tender yet strong, “When I talk, I don’t want to stand up in front of you. I sit because we’re on the same level, and should be talking to you on the same level.”
On environmental topics, or so many others that concern the mankind and all species living in our mother nature, we should all be talking equally. From the public to the governments to the corporates; from the individuals to the communities to the nations and the supranations — we should all be on the same level.
Our strong Pacific Warrior went too out of a sudden, too astounded for me to take.
I would always remember you, Koreti, as that great and loving warrior against things that are wrong. As I keep walking on this path, I would remember the story you told us and tell it to others.
As long as we all remember, it’s like you’ve never really left us.