Sparking Sustainability in the "Green Rhinos" of India
Vanessa Shin '19
KOLKATA, INDIA—It is a typical day in the office for interns Alicia Manfroy ‘18, Rowan Whalen ‘19, and me at the Association for Social and Environmental Development (ASED), a social enterprise that seeks to create an “ecologically resilient society” through environmental education. In many ways, ASED’s mission is embodied in this handwritten reminder on the whiteboard: “We should say ‘yes’ to solutions and ‘no’ to pollution…” At this organization, however, the solutions to some of the most daunting environmental issues are not deliberated by the renowned experts; they are brainstormed and then implemented by the “Green Rhinos”—youth nature leaders who want to see a change in their communities. And it all starts with exploring their own backyards.
Inspiration by Nature, for Nature
For these secondary school students, who are invited to participate due to their interest in nature, time spent in the surrounding natural environment prompts not only intense perspiration, but also profound inspiration. Armed with a shovel and knowledge about their natural surroundings, Green Rhinos plant trees around their neighborhood as well as seeds of sustainable practices in their families and friends.
Examples of Green Rhinos Projects
- Planting trees and shrubs in local community
- Crafting and distributing reusable bags from old trousers
- Creating 100 posters to educate about sustainable practices
- Installing dustbins in classrooms to reduce pollution
- Monitoring 200 butterflies and maintaining a butterfly garden
Despite the diversity of Green Rhino projects, each team’s ambitious undertaking is rooted in a deep appreciation of the environment—one that stems from learning about their natural surroundings.
ASED’s Green Rhinos Program, which began in 2012, has already fostered over 3600 youth nature leaders throughout India, and it is a privilege to witness the confidence and determination of the Green Rhinos. Alicia Manfroy, a rising senior studying environmental science, is currently organizing the Citizen Science aspect of the program. She believes that understanding the interconnectedness of humans with the rest of nature can elicit a powerful desire to protect their local environment. And it’s not just youth in Kolkata who are being educated and empowered—the Green Rhinos movement is spreading across India and, ideally, throughout the world. Rowan Whalen is a third-year finance student and is creating a business plan for ASED—a document with guidelines and strategies that will help foster the growth of the program internationally. Similarly, I am spreading the stories and successes of the Green Rhinos by producing content for ASED’s social media platforms and engaging with broader audiences.
A Nature Movement for Green Rhinos and Broncos Alike
“The Green Rhinos Program showcases aspects of nature that we might have previously overlooked. The local environment becomes significant, which is why the students are caring for it,” Alicia reflects. Even in our own SCU community, there are many opportunities to explore and engage with the natural world. Check out SCU Gone Wild to learn more about the biodiversity on the SCU campus, and how you can help document it today! If you find inspiration in nature and, just like the Green Rhinos in India, want to pursue a sustainability project at SCU, take a look at the Sustainable Living Undergraduate Research Project (SLURP) and Campus Sustainability Investment Fund (CSIF) as avenues to transform your ideas into reality. This summer, take advantage of the warm weather and turn towards nature for inspiration, innovation, and elation!
We have had the wonderful opportunity to work at ASED through the Global Fellows Program, which seeks to mold students into global citizens and leaders. Established through SCU’s Leavey School of Business in 2008, this 9-month program centers around an international summer internship at a nonprofit or business. For more information, you can read about our experiences on the Global Fellows blog.
Aug 2, 2017
Alicia Manfroy '18, Vanessa Shin '19, and Rowan Whalen '19 with Green Rhinos