On Monday we had the final Environmental Law class of the semester and my students showed the films they had made. There were five films in all and they were surprisingly good, particularly considering that the students had never once asked me for any help. I simply gave them two video cameras, some digital videotape and a laptop with digital video editing software. I was really impressed with what the students produced.
“Red Beijing” featured some nice acting by the students as they tried to demonstrate the impact of air and noise pollution in the city on their daily lives. “Loving Animals Is Loving Ourselves” included photos of animals being rescued from the Sichuan earthquake and it urged people to take care of abandoned and orphaned pets. “Disposable Chopsticks” attempted to demonstrate the environmental damage caused by their use by involving actors playing the police and hospital employees. The students who made “White Plastic Pollution” interviewed shoppers about their reactions to China’s new ban on the free distribution of plastic bags by grocery stores. “Banana’s Fault” urged people to be more careful about their disposal of garbage by following around a banana peel. The films demonstrated great creativity and effort on the part of the students. I plan to host an Environmental Law FIlm Festival next fall where “Golden Tree” awards will be presented in various categories to the student filmmakers, just as we do at Maryland.
Professor Wang Canfa joined our class for its last half hour and he brought along the Olympic torch he had carried in Guizhou the previous Friday. After class he gave a wonderful thank you to me, which was followed by individual students taking turns expressing their thanks. I was really moved. We all posed for photos with the Olympic Torch and Professor Wang then took me out to dinner at the Tenggeli-Tala Inner Mongolian Opera dinner theater restaurant. Professor Xu Kedzhu, Zhang Jingjing and my assistant Huang Jing also joined us.
On Tuesday I hosted a group of 21 students for drinks at my apartment followed by dinner at the South Beauty Restaurant in Oriental Plaza. While I was unsure whether my one-bedroom apartment could accommodate such a large group, it worked out fine. We played a DVD of the student movies in the living room and a slide show of photos from this semester in my study. Photos of the party and the students posing with the Olympic torch after the last class are available online at: http://gallery.mac.com/rperci/100272.
On Wednesday I visited the Beijing office of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) to give a lunch talk to their staff. The topic of my talk was “The History and Future of Global Environmental Law.” NRDC’s Beijing staff are expanding rapidly, due in part to a grant from the Google Foundation to work on green energy issues in China. They have just acquired additional office space that will more than double the size of their Beijing office.
After my final comparative environmental law class on Thursday I flew to D.C. en route to Chile to give a talk at the University of Chile’s annual environmental law conference. I stopped at home in in D.C. for the weekend and was able to attend the Washington Nationals/Texas Rangers games, accompanied by my nephew Andrew Percival who works for the Texas Rangers. On Friday night the game went into extra innings. After the top of the 14th with the game tied 3-3, the Nat Pack repeated their 7th inning t-shirt toss and I caught one of the t-shirts that were thrown into the stands from the top of the visitors’ dugout. I opened up the balled-up t-shirt I had caught and discovered that it said “Welcome Home.” I took that as a good omen and, sure enough, the Nats scored in the bottom of the 14th to win the game 4-3.