Frances was a Project Trust Volunteer teacher in Thailand in 2010/11. She told us about how she’s remained an active Global Citizen since the end of her gap year:
Early on in our Project Trust placement my volunteering partner and I went to Chiang Mai to take a Thai Language course so that we could speak enough Thai to begin to integrate in our rural town. When the three-week course finished we were unable to get back to our project because of a disastrous flood that had blocked all access to the town and the surrounding area.
The school which we were living and working in was severely damaged by the flood and had closed for over a month. Street vendors and local businesses were also out of work and the whole town had to pull together to rebuild the damage that the floods had caused.
Although flooding is a common occurrence in this part of the world due to the tropical savannah climate, there is inadequate drainage and, at the time, there was little support from the government. It struck me that nothing was put in place to prevent any future damage.
The following year Thailand encountered its worst flooding in five decades, killing over 800 people and leaving millions homeless or displaced. It was clear to me that Asia is one of the world’s most vulnerable regions to the impacts of climate change.
Since returning to the UK, I became increasingly aware of climate change and the impacts it has across the world. My time in Thailand allowed me to see first hand that the affects of climate change are being felt more in LICs (Low Income Countries), while HICs (High Income Countries) continue to pollute and do little about it.
The same spark that lit when I applied to Project Trust came back and filled me with determination when I heard about the UK Youth Climate Coalition. I joined the 2015 International Delegation to the United Nations to attend COP21 in Paris, the highly anticipated negotiations on climate change.
As part of the delegation my focus was to represent the youth voice and raise awareness at the UN negotiations. This meant campaigning, advocating and knowledge sharing with others to form an ever-strengthening International Youth Climate Movement.
The role of youth climate campaigners is now more important than ever in holding governments to their promises and putting into practice real climate justice in countries and communities across the world.
The feeling of being part of the climate change movement is one of the most rewarding, infuriating and overwhelming feelings. It brings emotions similar to the ones I experienced throughout my Project Trust placement, when I felt like I was a part of something much bigger than I could ever imagine. Knowing that I am doing whatever I can to contribute, no matter how small, is a lesson I learnt on my gap year and one that I will take with me wherever my path goes.
If you are interested in climate change and would like to be part of UKYCC’s International Delegation then now is your chance. UKYCC are recruiting a team to take to the 2016 negotiations, which will be held in Morocco from 7 – 18 November 2016. For more details on how to apply please go to www.ukycc.org/apply and follow UKYCC on Twitter: @ukyccdelegation