Saturday, September 22, 2012

International Fest Going Green!

The International Fest is arguably the event of the year. Normally held in the latter part of the year, this year the PTA has opted to move it forward and create a bit of a community building event for families eager to share their culture with the rest of the world!  But wait! There's more!  What started three years ago as a small table offering reusable plates for the eco-conscious visitor who, none-the-less wanted to get a taste of all the goodies, the "Rent-a-Plate" initiative has grown, and grown, and grown.  Last year over 350 sets were 'rented', prompting the PTA International Fest organizing committee to request an expansion of the program. Here's what that means for this year's event:
  • We expect the event to be styrofoam free
  • We hope to minimize all single-use utensils and/or plates to biodegradable options
  • We invite countries to use reusable plates, bowls, cutlery and cups exclusively
  • We ask those thinking about taking food home to consider bringing their own reusable containers (but we'll have biodegradable containers just in case)
  • We ask country tables to consider minimizing packaging when possible
  • We ask that families bring some extra cash as a deposit for "rent-a-plate" sets. The deposit of RM 5 will cover the cost of a plate and fork (or bowl and spoon). Sets can be replaced at any time and the deposit will be happily returned when you're done for the day!  
  • You can find the "Rent-a-Plate" station conveniently located to all food outlets, just outside the cafeteria
Coordinated by Mrs. Anne Baillie (PTA International Fest Environmental Coordinator), Ms. Siew Thai (Assistant to the Director of Operations), Dahlia Zailani (HS Student and HS Earth Club member) this initiative is a true community effort bringing together all country coordinators, our Ampang campus cleaners, our grounds crew and a host of others who are working diligently to make this a showcase event for sustainability!

So, expect this year's International Fest to not only offer fun for the whole family and a wonderful array of shows, sounds, tastes and colors, but to also provide visitors with the opportunity to be Earth-friendly while we're at it!  Come on over!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Sustainability & Service Learning Goals 2012-2013

 Goals are interesting things. They provide direction;  serve as targets; they show you the way. But there are often many different paths to the same destination. Though lacking goals is probably not what one wants for a school, moving in a certain direction while maintaining a relative flexibility to deal with short term flows and ebbs are necessary elements. I am hoping that this year is one of progress, to be sure, but which allows for the variety of perspectives and positions in our community to be recognized, valued and incorporated into the direction we are moving. I am sincerely hoping that this year continues to be one of moving forward for all of us: Those who teach, those who learn, those who speak, those who listen, those who act and those who support. What about me, you ask? Well, here's my direction:
  1. Increase visibility of the Sustainability & Service learning efforts at ISKL
  2. Foster links with local organizations
  3. Support sustainable practices throughout the ISKL community
  4. Engage students in environmental initiatives that make positive impact
  5. Support teachers in planning and implementation of ESD/Service Learning
  6. Promote student ownership and leadership in environmental and/or service learning initiatives
  7. Reach Eco-Schools Green Flag status (by 2014)
  8. Lessen ISKL's impact on the environment
  9. Infuse ESD throughout the curriculum
  10. Ensure that designs for a new campus are environmentally sound, provide natural spaces for leisure and support on-campus environmental education
  11. Ensure that the curriculum prepares students for leading a sustainable lifestyle when they graduate
  12. Provide evidence of ISKL's commitment to environmentally-friendly practices on both campuses
  13. Engage members of the ISKL community in sustainable practices (through appropriate decision-making)
  14. Ensure that ISKL follows the CIS/WASC recommendations for environmental stewardship
  15. Identify and share best practices for service learning
  16. Develop guiding principles in service learning programming
  17. Establish a service learning philosophy, mission and vision
  18. Inventory service-related programming at ISKL
  19. Link service learning to curriculum and/or program where natural fits exist
  20. Provide service opportunities for the community
  21. Establish a service learning organizational chart

Monday, September 3, 2012

Educating for Sustainable Development

Quick test:  What are the eight themes that the United Nations has determined as important in humanity's move toward sustainable development? Okay, let's try something easier. What which years comprise the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development?  Oh, come on now. Don't tell me that you don't know those right off the top of your head!  How can that be?  Oh, that's right. When we were in school just a decade ago (right?) the concept was more theoretical than it was practical. Now, just a short generation later, we are standing at a crossroads of human history and environmental capacity. 

At ISKL we recognize that sustainable development is more than just a catch phrase. It's a necessary component of our students' education. The knowledge, skills and attitudes that they walk away with after their time at ISK will mold much of what they do. Post-graduation data indicates that 95% of ISKL graduates will go to university within two years. In all probability, they will end up in a leadership position and, in so doing, internalizing sustainable development practices is essential to defining what their life will look like. 

At all levels and disciplines we are working toward an interdisciplinary approach to infusing the concepts of ESD into existing curriculum in a way that should allow our students to recognize just how all inclusive and involved sustainable development is. Here's what it looks like:
  • Standard 1: Understand the importance and characteristics of Sustainable Urbanization.
  • Standard 2: Understand the benefits of Sustainable Consumption and the value of resources.
  • Standard 3: Appreciate the significance of Peace and Human Security whilst developing strategies to maintain them.
  • Standard 4: Appreciate the importance of Rural Development and how to enrich rural communities.
  • Standard 5: Recognize the importance and benefits of Cultural Diversity.
  • Standard 6: Appreciate the values of Gender Equality.
  • Standard 7: Appreciate the importance of Health Promotion and develop an understanding of how to improve it.
  • Standard 8: Recognize the importance of protecting the Environment and the role of individuals, communities and governments. 

Take a look at the list above. Study it. Combine that list with your everyday conversations, your thoughts and your decisions. See what you can do to assist us in making your son or daughter a truly prepared global citizen. It's time we got off the paper and into the daily discussions. It's time ESD wasn't a separate concept but one which, as we hope, will define everything we do as people and as a community. 

Now, no peeking. Want to to take that test again? :-)