In honor of International Day of Plant Health (May 12th), the OGA hosted an event titled Plants & Us: The Key to a Sustainable Future. The event took place on Tuesday, May 16th, in Li-Hsueh Building Conference Room 4. A total of 28 participants joined the OGA in this fun, interactive event. The event consisted of two segments: the interactive presentation and plant potting DIY. Due to the limited materials for the DIY activity segment, pre-event registration was capped at 30. This event was the fourth installment in the Bon Voyage! Event Series (國際領航員系列活動).

The goal of the event was to raise awareness about the importance of protecting plant health and its relation to building a sustainable world. This also ties in with the goals of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (UNFAO), 80% of the food we eat and 98% of the oxygen we breathe depends on plants. Yet, we often take plants for granted, forgetting just how vital plants are to human survival. This event sought to break the stereotype that plants are just “nice green leaves” far away in “nature”, hoping that participants walked away with a different view of plants.

In the first segment, participants were asked “What do you think of when you see the word ‘plants’?” and then instructed to enter 3 terms that came to mind on their phones via Mentimeter, an audience engagement tool. The top three terms that were most frequently submitted were “Green”, “Nature”, and “Oxygen”. A brief discussion of this interesting result followed.

Next, through a series of examples, the organizer presented the connections between humans and plants. The connections were split into 5 broad categories: (1) politics & history, (2) health & medicine, (3) culture & society, (4) technology, and (5) economics. The examples discussed were as follows: (1) Taiwan’s national floral emblem, the plum blossom, and its political/historical significance, (2) the Aloe Vera and its health benefits and uses, (3) the shrieking mandrake from Harry Potter and its mythical roots, (4) corn ethanol fuel and its relation to climate change, and (5) the ‘Three Sisters’ agricultural tradition of indigenous peoples of North and Central America and its revival in sustainable agriculture.

Since most people know plants in the biological sense, this presentation took a different route and invited participants to explore the entangled fates of plants and humans through a socio-cultural lens. A socio-cultural look at plants helps participants better see how intimately connected plants are to our daily lives, and why protecting plant health matters to them, as an individual.

The second segment was the plant potting DIY, in which participants got their hands dirty and potted their own plants to take home with them. The organizer held a live demonstration to explain the process first before the actual DIY begin. Four types of plants were provided: herb of tagua passionflower (龍珠果), baby rubber plant (乳斑椒草), nerve plant (網紋草), and bamboo (黃竹). Each person was able to choose up to 3 types of plants to pot. They also were given the option to decorate their plants with colored pebbles (6 colors) and a ladybug décor.

The event received very positive feedback from participants. Many participants hope the OGA would host another similar event in the future.

The Bon Voyage! Event Series is a new series of cultural events for KMU students hosted by the OGA beginning in Spring 2023, with the goal of developing KMU students’ cultural competency and English language skills. This event series is part of the nationwide efforts of internationalization of university campuses (在地國際化) and the creation of more culturally inclusive campus environments (國際共融校園). The funding for the series comes from Taiwan’s Ministry of Education’s Higher Education Sprout Project (高等教育深耕計畫).

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