Earlier this year, Gaia from our core team shared her many experiences with the Sustainability Week in an article of the Mercator Magazine. Read her story about the joys of being part of a student movement full of motivated young minds.

The Sustainability Week Zurich (Nachhaltigkeitswoche Zürich, NHW) took place for the sixth time in March 2018. And for the first time, it was part of a Swiss-wide initiative: At more than 20 higher education institutions in twelve cities, 300 students organised over 150 events as part of the Sustainability Week Switzerland (SWS) – a series of events focusing on environmental, social and economic sustainability. It was a special experience not only to be part of Zurich’s activities, but also to participate in the national project.

Gaia Di Salvo (23) studies philosophy and religious studies at the University of Zurich. Picture by Ayse Yavas.

I remember the first time that I attended a meeting of the NHW, back in 2015. I had just moved from Ticino to Zurich. I had heard in a lecture about the opportunity to help organizing the NHW. The very committed but yet relaxed atmosphere that welcomed me to the meeting convinced me right from the start. I immediately felt part of the team. Since then, I have taken on various tasks: I helped with the distribution of flyers, co-organized an event – and then finally in September 2017, I joined the core team of the NHW, where I was responsible for the coordination of the marketing until September 2018. The idea of taking on such a role made me nervous at first. When the Sustainability Week finally took place, the feeling turned into great joy: it was an amazing experience to be part of this movement, which organizes more than 50 events in Zurich, receives a lot of attention and can spread awareness on such important topics.

Thanks to the NHW, I was also able to get involved in the SWS. It was inspiring to meet with the teams from different parts of the country, to be in touch with so many committed students and to jointly set up a series of events. For the future, I hope that there will also be a Sustainability Week in Ticino (a dream that may soon come true! Stay tuned). Due to my mother tongue, I was able to help correct the Italian press release this year. My commitment has not only enabled me to get to know the world of activism. The SWS gave me the opportunity to learn about important social issues and to hear a wide variety of opinions. I am now much more aware of the sustainability problem and I pay attention to the effects that my behavior has on my environment. I hope that in the future many more students will be motivated to critically question their everyday behaviour. I am firmly convinced that the collective strength of our personal efforts will make a sustainable future possible.

Gaia Di Salvo (23) studies philosophy and religious studies (Religionswissenschaft) at the University of Zurich. She is engaged at the NHW since 2016 and also at the SWS, which took place for the first time in 2018 at 20 Swiss universities. Whether lectures, poetry slams, flea markets, cooking shows, workshops or excursions, students organise a wide range of activities throughout Switzerland that provide information on sustainability and encourage environmentally conscious action.

This article was published earlier this year in the Mercator Magazine, p. 79. Access the full article in German here. Translation from German by Dario Siegen. 


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