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Student Outlook -- Tai Thai

Last week marked the beginning of a new year. As we welcome 2002, what

resolutions can we make as a community to improve our way of life? What

areas can we focus on? While there are many -- such as education,

transportation and public safety -- another important aspect we should


consider is the environmental condition of our neighborhoods. With the

recent holiday bash, what can we expect will result from all the

gift-wrapping papers, party wares, glass bottles and other potential

environmental hazards? Consider overloaded trash cans, street pavement


littered with trash and alleys stuffed with non-recyclable trash.

Therefore, one necessary resolution for the new year is to have many

community outreach projects that target the environmental problem of

trash. With this occasion in mind, I have been working on implementing

such a project that I would like to introduce.

Last summer, I had the opportunity to design and develop an outreach

project with the help of a distinguished group called the Quest Scholars

Program at Stanford University. My project is called the Neighborhood


Cleanup Campaign: Empowering Youth to Volunteerism and Raising

Environmental Awareness. It has been accepted for sponsorship by the

National Youth Ventures Program and is also my senior project at Estancia

High School. I plan to start implementing it this month with the help of

many people in my school and community.

From students to community members, we will work together on a

bimonthly basis to immediately help relieve my neighborhood of trash in

the streets and alleys. There will be about four groups of four students,


including myself, who will go around my neighborhood to pick up trash

using trash bags and metallic trash pickers. We will also pass out fliers

that will provide further information about this project and other ways

to personally help keep the neighborhood clean.

What inspired me to have this compassion to reach out to my community

had its roots nine years ago, when I began to see an elderly man picking

up trash in the nearby alleys where I live. I still remember the times I

saw him while walking to Pomona Elementary School and waiting for the

TeWinkle Middle School bus to pick me up. I would see him with a small

metallic trash picker, picking up small pieces of trash one at a time. He

would go around the alley near my house, as well as other alleys and

paved areas. It was a small act, but it meant so much more. It warms my

heart to see that there is such an individual who is dedicated to such an

act of volunteerism and devoted to such determinism and dedication to

make our community a cleaner and healthier place to live in. Therefore, I

plan to use the elderly man as a model of dedication and commitment for

my project.

In the long run, I hope to expand my campaign to include other

neighborhoods in Costa Mesa and to garner more funding and support for

this project. I understand that this project requires a lot of teamwork,

hard work and commitment, and with the help and support from my school

and community, I am confident that it will be successful. If you would

like to help in any way you can, please send an e-mail to o7

tthaiquest@yahoo.comf7 .

* TAI THAI is a senior at Estancia High School, where he is the editor

in chief of El Aguila. His columns will appear on an occasional basis in

the Community Forum section.