Anastasia Kabanova is in her second year of studying Management & Modern Languages at King’s College, London. As a student at an international boarding school in Switzerland, she fell in love with skiing and the Swiss Alps, and became a student ambassador for POW Switzerland; firstly, learning more about climate change itself through POW’s “Hot Planet / Cool Athletes” programme; then leading awareness raising, marketing and fundraising projects for POW through her school’s Sustainability Club. Below, Anastasia shares her experiences of being involved with POW and the lasting impact this work has had on her.
Hi all! My name is Anastasia. I’m a former student of Surval Montreux International boarding school in Switzerland. The first time I heard of POW was in an assembly led by one of my teachers, and it was through this that I learned of sustainability and its necessity in today’s world.
After learning of POW’s goals, I felt inspired and wanted to contribute to their mission of raising awareness. Thanks to the support from our teacher, my friend and I **decided to ask POW Switzerland to visit the school as part of their “Hot Planet / Cool Athletes” athlete ambassador programme. It was a powerful and thought-provoking meeting, which made me realize how privileged we are and how easily we can lose nature if it is taken for granted.
Realising The Mountains I Love Are Under Threat
In my first year of studying in Switzerland, I learned to ski and fell in love with the Alps. It was amazing to see all the wonderful views while going down the slopes and feeling like nothing else existed… Those places were full of freedom and joy. I felt happy there. But then one day I had to face the reality: glaciers are melting and winters are becoming shorter and warmer, with snowfall less reliable, especially at lower altitudes.
I realized that this beauty might no longer exist in a couple of years. And we aren't doing enough to prevent this from happening.
Learning The Facts of Climate Change
It really hit me on the day of the POW visit we organized, when a POW volunteer and a POW athlete ambassador, a mountain guide called Caroline George, presented at our school. They told us the facts of climate change, in particular its impact on winter seasons, glaciers and snow fall, and showed multiple photos of ‘then & now’. I did not expect to see what I saw… And in that moment I realized - we need to act. Now.
The key in this situation was my inner connection with these mountains that was formed over four years. I couldn’t imagine the Swiss Alps with no snow on them.
Needing to Take Action Myself
Even more terrifying is the thought of the consequences it might have on the people and animals who live there and depend on the seasonal cycles. They were not alien to me; I cared for them and that’s why it hit me so strongly. Sadly, until climate change became related to something I love, something my heart cares about, I was indifferent.
And I realized that this is not normal. That in every country there are people who love nature, their country, and who care about it as I do about mine. Do I really not care about these people Am I so cruel that I can without hesitation throw a plastic bag into the sea, knowing that it can cause death of marine life? Can I really see the world through rose-tinted glasses and think that nothing bad is happening, while every year the forests are burning more and more, and the glaciers are melting? Am I not going to do anything to help my planet, the environment that I live in?
It was a moment of rethinking and of reassessing values. I felt like I could no longer ignore what's happening. I was no longer indifferent. I realised that the whole planet is my home. And I am responsible for how I care for it. Consciously or not, we are all contributing to the positive transformation or terrible destruction of our planet.
If every person felt a strong, close connection with every piece of the planet, regardless of where they live, we would be attentive to our actions and simply could not afford to harm each other and our planet. We are an example for each other, so what one person does can inspire another either to help and take care of our common home, or to pollute and destroy it.
Getting Involved with POW
Seeing how POW turned their sincere feelings of love and protection for the Swiss nature into determination to hep preserve it, I decided to follow their example. I wanted to change my lifestyle at least a little in order to help the common cause of protecting our winters.
I also wanted to do what I could to support POW. One of the ways to do it was fundraising by buying POW branded winter equipment. And what’s even cooler is the fact that we were then able to take it with us and use it on our Thursday ski trips, which was another way of raising awareness of POW in our community!
I also talk about POW with as many people as possible. Two of other sustainability club participants and myself led an assembly, and then I also decided to bring up the topic of climate change in my TED talk at the Youth Forum in Switzerland. Now I understand that the most important thing that I was taught by POW is the power of having a caring attitude and being informed.
Thanks to this, despite the fact that I do not yet know what I will be doing in the future, I know for sure that the planet to me will no longer be composed of separate countries for which I have nothing to do.
It is my family. It is my home. And I am partly responsible for it.
Blog written by Anastasia Kabanova
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