Award dinner in which former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright received Edward R. Stettinius Jr. Prize for Global Leadership, Charlottesville 2016
(This is modified from my speech as a panelist on the Climate Change and Sustainable Resource Management at the Global Leadership Forum, Charlottesville 2016):
I am devoted to social and environmental issues. In March 2015, I was the leader of Eco(no)parking, a team of Duke graduate students and professors, which entered the “Unpark Yourself” Competition aimed at using alternative transportation by travelling more eco-friendly to cut carbon emissions. Among 1,990 participants and 122 teams, we finished the competition in second place. As the team leader, I organized all team activities and made sure that all members had completed their duties.
Sustainability has three branches: environment, economy, and needs of society. After joining the “Unpark Yourself Competition”, our first mission was to encourage our friends to use sustainable commuter options to save the environment. Using these options decreases the money spent on gasoline and decreases the carbon emission per person.
The competition took a month. To increase the awareness of using alternative transportation rather than driving individually to campus, I organized many events with my colleagues on the team. Throughout the competition we stayed active on social media, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, and shared our experiences while using more eco-friendly transportation. We faced many challenges that encouraged sustainable behavior such as walking to campus, riding bikes, taking the bus or carpooling.
The “Unpark Yourself Competition” was recognized by the Southeast Chapter of the Association for Commuter Transportation in 2016. Although ostensibly a local competition, it is easy to organize such an event in other places with different concepts, as well. For example, at Duke, the competition was for Duke faculty, staff and graduate students, but, it is possible to organize such an event with nonprofit organization leaders and the public. Each city, county and state can organize their own events and can compete with other cities, counties and states nationwide. I believe these kinds of competitions not only introduce people to more options to protect the environment but also increase their awareness.