The Office for Sustainability asked three members of our community to reflect on what sustainability means and what it will take, inside and outside of Harvard, to build a more sustainability future. Here is what College student Sachi Oshima had to say.
Harvard University is one of the most prominent universities in the world, meaning that it can set the standard in many fields, including in sustainability. Harvard’s impact reaches globally. One reason I am involved in sustainability work is because of my summer abroad in Borneo with Professor Cam Webb, an affiliate of Harvard who runs a health and conservation clinic with his wife in the town of Sukadana. Sukadana sits right next to Gunung Palung National Park, one of the most magnificent rain forests in the entire world, and home to 10% of the world’s remaining orangutan population.
One of the only constant sounds in Sukadana is the sound of chainsaws from illegal logging. I asked Professor Webb, who has been conducting conservation research in this forest for years with the help of Harvard’s resources, how he manages to withstand that devastating sound. His reply has stuck with me ever since: “I go to walk in the forest every day, and every day I am so inspired by this place that I know I could never work to save anything else.” This is the same reason I put my time into sustainability and environmental work. I am endlessly inspired by the natural world, and want to actively work to preserve it.
Harvard also allows my voice to be heard. Undergraduates have a history of making a strong impact: when undergrads fought for the university to pay more attention to greenhouse gases, the university listened and implemented the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Goals. Undergraduate advocacy prompted Harvard’s dedication to sustainability, and we continue to remain at the core of the movement.
Now, as a campus, we have the potential to continue to move forward with an innovative spirit and a dedication to sustainability. We will share this knowledge with universities, businesses and organizations across the world, and will continue to be a global leader. We are privileged to be members of this Harvard community, and Harvard is providing resources like the Student Sustainability Grants to allow us to experiment, to try those crazy ideas in our mind that may lead to a cleaner world. So, my fellow students, how will we make our voices heard? Our echoes may be heard for years.