Future Generations University Alumni
Huiling’s study addresses the issues stemming from the top-down management and inadequate resources of Sanjiangyuan National Nature Reserve in China by seeking ways to involve the local community to participate in co-managing conservation and community development endeavors. The park lacks a management plan, has very limited staff, poor work equipment, inadequate levels of training, and a minuscule operational budget. It also suffers from severe degradation due to overgrazing, engineering damage, climate change, and illegal mining and poaching. In order to perform research and create a community conservation project, Huiling used funding from UNDP-GEF to create a three-way partnership between the local government, local community, and outside experts, including Future Generations China. Before starting conservation activities, Huiling conducted community participatory research in the form of household interviews, semi-structured interviews, participatory rural appraisal, and focus group discussions. From what he discovered through his research, Huiling makes the following recommendations to create a conservation program for the park: 1) build from successes, such as the community ecological patrols to prevent poaching and the use of traditional culture to educate poachers, future generations, and outsiders on the importance of preserving wild animals and the land, 2) form a three-way partnership between the local community, local government, and outside experts, 3) make decisions based on evidence rather than anecdotes, and 4) focus on behavior changes in community members to encourage the protection of the land.
Through gathering information from its members and participants.Tsering Digi explores the way that the organization Hope Corner, of which she is a founding member, can better promote positive social change within the community of Lhasa in Tibet Autonomous Region of China. This research also seeks to evaluate the impact of Hope Corner’s activities on young children and adults in the community of Lhasa, which is not only a holy place for Tibetan Buddhists, but also an important cultural and economic center in Tibet. This study addresses the problems associated with rapid economic development, including a widening gap between rich and the poor, the increased importance of material goods, alcoholism, gambling, computer game addiction, and a disregard of traditional moral standards. During the past several years, Hope Corner Voluntary Group established six regular activities to respond to the need to build trust, consciousness, identity, and knowledge through different forms of communication: English Corner, Tutoring for Community Children, Language Exchange, Scholarship, Mentoring Program, and Social Welfare Projects. Tsering recommends that Hope Corner recruit more stable volunteers to maintain current activities and initiate new activities and seek recognition from the government to increase the possibility of receiving more funding to create programs that meet the needs of the community. In addition, Tsering acknowledges the need for a more effective administration, which can be established by distributing tasks and improve record keeping. Other improvements that can be made include forming partnerships with local organizations, creating marketing materials to promote awareness of Hope Corner, and holding sessions at English Corner to collect the thoughts and ideas of community members.
The Pendeba Society, previously known as the Pendeba program, has faced many challenges throughout the years. The original Pendeba program was created in 1996 by Future Generations in Tibet as a method for local leaders to gain skills related to environmental protection, conservation, healthcare, women’s education, sustainable livelihoods, and renewable resources. In 2008, largely due to rapid economic development in China and an unstable political situation in Tibet, the Pendeba program was terminated. Norbu, who previously worked with the Pendeba program in Tibet, realized the significant impact felt by locals when the program was discontinued. Traveling from village to village, he faced the same question from the locals-- what became of the Pendeba program that had captured the profound interest of the community? He knew he had to do something. He needed to go local. He decided to take the bottom-up, seed-scale strategy to a new level by seeking the support of the Chinese government. Norbu faced many challenges and restrictions. He spoke to countless officials, locals, and the movers and shakers in the community who continually offered him support. One of his supporters included Mr. GonguDuoji-La, the first Tibetan mountaineer to climb Mt. Everest, who happened to be from a town close to Norbu’s own birthplace. After countless setbacks, frustrations, and tribulations, Norbu created the Pendeba Society as a civil organization registered in both China and Tibet on June 26, 2009. In 2012, the Pendeba Society was conferred as a Top Grade Civil Organization by the Department of Civil Affairs of the Tibetan Autonomous Region. Recognition continued, and in 2014 the Pendeba Society was selected as winner of the Equator prize by UNDP and winner of the Environmental Prize by the Chinese Ministry of Environmental Protection. Although the difficulties of functioning as a community development organization still rest as an everyday reality, the Pendeba Society stands as an example of what one individual can accomplish if his or her heart is dedicated to the cause. Norbu expressed, “As a leader, you should have a strong passion to do something and have infinite patience to do them in many different ways until you realize your dream.” Norbu, in all his efforts, is a beautiful example of what our students accomplish at Future Generations University through our Master’s in Applied Community Change.