Herzlichen Glückwunsch (Congratulations) Hong Khai Loh!

by Hong Khai Loh, University of Wyoming

Hong Khai Loh 5Selected as the Bayer Young Environmental Envoy finalist representing Malaysia, I was given the chance to travel to Germany for a one-week study trip to observe the best environmental practices by people, government and industry from November 10-15, 2013. Prior to receiving the honor, I went through a rigorous selection process which included a proposal, implementation and presentation of my environmental project which I named “HopON”.

HopON is a carpooling initiative I started at the Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. I intend to encourage more students to carpool to and from campus with the aim of reducing carbon gas emission, alleviating parking space issues and decreasing the number of cars on the road. During the first two months of implementation, I managed to set up multiple Facebook groups to aggregate students living in the same neighborhood so that they have a secure platform to request and provide carpooling service. Every member is screened and verified. To ensure sustainability and interest, I ran the project as a social business where the price for each carpooling session is flexible and determined solely by the drivers, who in turn observe the market price acceptable by all students. As the only participant flying from North America, I was honored to be able to join the other 44 envoys from 19 other countries. We met in Cologne, a breathtaking city near the Bayer Headquarters in Leverkusen. The first day started off with a briefing and a welcome dinner. During the second day we visited the Bayer communications centre ‘BayKomm’. There, we met Roland Kelper, the Head of International Communications Corporate Policy and Media Relation Communications, and Dr Michael Preuss, the Head of Corporate Policy and Media Relations Communications. Throughout the week, we had multiple discussions on food shortage, water issues and global warming with experts from the field.

Apart from a tour of the BayKomm exhibition rooms, we also met Walganjo Njoroge, a Public Information Officer from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). Throughout the week, we visited a lab ship on the river Rhine, a waste-management site with an incinerator, a waste water treatment plant and many other Bayer AG sites.  Bayer AG, the global chemical and pharmaceutical giant was founded in 1863 in Germany.

It was nothing less than spectacular to see the BayArena, the first time for me to enter a EUFA level stadium. We were treated like VIPs and the Bayer officials gave us a tour through the stadium, including the changing room, the fields and the trophy room.  Another memorable moment is when all envoys performed, representing their countries. Wen Shin, the other envoy from Malaysia, and I sang “Rasa Sayang” – the famous Malaysian nursery rhyme – which means feeling loved and to express our gratitude and love to the hospitality of a host.

I deem myself very lucky to have the opportunity to visit many environmental sites and initiatives and to meet the corporate figures of Bayer.  We were even shown how plastics are produced and made our own plastic spoons at Baylab Plastic. I learned a great deal during this trip and am very grateful for the opportunity.


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