Grenfell environmental studies student Kim Olson has placed first in a national essay contest on water resources.
The contest was run in connection with an awareness-raising presentation tour on water and sanitation issues both in developing countries and in Canada. The Corner Brook stop of this tour was organized by instructors at the College of the North Atlantic and Grenfell College, and presentations took place at both institutions in late January; Ms. Olson was recently notified of her achievement.
In her essay, Ms. Olson notes: “’Mottainai,’ a word taught to me by a dear Japanese friend, roughly translates to the English phrase “don’t be wasteful”. Perhaps if in Canada, we introduced a word containing the same meaning, we would create a generation of individuals with strong respect to our freshwater resources. In addition to ‘mottainai’, we need to recognize our world as the community that it is. In doing so, we will get to know our neighbours; learn their abilities and understanding their challenges. In turn, it is my hope that this will foster the desire to assist in the global challenge of depleting fresh water.”
Post-secondary students between the ages of 17 and 30 who attended the presentation were eligible to submit a 500-word essay on their ideas, opinions and proposals about water. Grenfell College selected five essays to send to the ISW for the national contest. As the Canadian winner, Ms. Olson will receive a week’s trip to Istanbul, Turkey, to participate in the activities of the ISW during the 5th World Water Forum in March 2009.
“I feel very fortunate to have been given this opportunity – the forum is the largest international event on water, and occurs only every three years,” said Ms. Olson. “This is an incredible opportunity and has the potential to open up a lot of networks. I am looking forward to being exposed not only to challenges associated with water, but lead strategies taking place to mitigate global water challenges. The previous forum, in 2006, gathered approximately 20,000 participants in Mexico City. I am certain there will be no lack of people to learn from.”
“We are thrilled that Ms. Olson will be representing Grenfell College,” said Dr. Ivan Emke, head of Social Sciences at Grenfell, who assisted Leonard Vassallo of the CNA in the organization of the Corner Brook presentations. “In fact, she’ll be representing Canadian youth in general, since it was a national competition. The fact that she won this essay contest affirms our pride in the quality of our students studying here in western Newfoundland.”
The International Secretariat for Water (ISW) is an international non-governmental organization created in 1990 during the International Drinking Water Supply and Sanitation Decade. Since 2006, ISW has been working with young people in Quebec, Canada and around the world in the context of the “A Celebration of Lakes and Rivers” program. This program engages the young by offering them the opportunity for direct citizen involvement in actions favouring water development issues in both domestic and international cooperation projects. The ISW will share results of its projects from the past three years during the presentation.
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