On Sunday, January 22, 2017, thirteen staff and students cleaned up the banks, sidewalks, and gutters of the Songjeong River mouth,  as part of a newly-forged connection with the Haeundae Gu Volunteer Center.  From 9:00 to 11:00am, BIFS students and teachers combed the area for plastic bags, plastic bottles, styrofoam and other hazardous litter and placed the material in bags that they had brought with them for this purpose.
Plastic litter like this mars the beauty of Songjeong, an important tourist area.  More importantly, it washes into the sea, where ocean currents drive it into the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, far bigger in size than Korea, where it persists for centuries. This plastic never biodegrades. Instead, it photodegrades from the sun’s ultraviolet radiation into microscopic particles that are eaten by plankton, fish, and birds, poisoning them with toxins.  The higher on the food chain one eats, the more toxins that accumulate. Plastics like those the BIFS staff and students picked up on the Songjeong River are responsible for mass die-offs of plankton, the death of seabirds, and reproductive problems in human beings.
Service to the community is part of the BIFS education. “Service Learning,” connecting teaching in the classroom with action in the community, is integral to the IB’s vision of teaching peace through global citizenship and environmental stewardship.