Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Eco Schools: More than Planting Trees

As our Eco Schools programming begins to move from the planning stages to the tangible it's heart-warming to see our students move forward and through difficulties. When one thinks of planting a tree, for example, one is not apt to think about the type of tree, the location of the nursery and contact person and how helpful they might be, or even the costs associated with the choice and transport of said tree to it's planting destination. So when the Eco Schools program asks our students to come up with a Plan of Action students might not realize exactly how much effort is put into putting 20 trees into the ground. 

For Diksha Srishyla and Belinda Gil, the coordinators of the on-campus tree planting activity that will culminate on Friday (the very day you read this article, perhaps), it's been a journey of several months. They could not have known, back in August when they said "let's plant some trees on campus" how much time and energy it would take to make it happen. Now they are both able to step back and recognize the amount of coordination. collaboration, communication and planning that takes place for such an event. No less than five nurseries from as near as down the street and as far as Johor Bahru were contacted regarding pricing, transport and species identification. Research was done on appropriate native species of trees that might provide both fragrance and flowers for insects and birds, but without attracting those menacing monkeys. Discussions and walk-arounds were done with our school's administration on several occasions. Outside experts were consulted. Countless emails were shared, threading together thoughts, ideas, reflections and ways to reach the planned goal.

Now, five months after it's start, the girls and their team stand ready to plant. Frangipani and hibiscus will adorn the front of our school's Ampang campus, highlighting our regional fauna and celebrating our host nation's majestic flower.  Similar trees will be planted around campus along with three sentol trees next to the bussing lane. Sentols are relatively fast growing trees that bear fruit too bitter for monkeys and humans, but much appreciated by insects like butterflies and bird populations.

When all is said and done those walking through the entrance of our campus on Friday afternoon might find a small legion of students moving, digging and placing the trees. Next week will find some new trees among us. They will stand small at first, and then taller as they get grow into their surroundings. But they will also symbolize many things:  The amalgamation of research, decision making, collaboration and ethical living that goes with being members of a caring and active community. These trees will not be merely trees. They will carry a story with them. The story of students working collaboratively to make a positive difference around them. The story of recognizing ways to work together and ensure a better community. The story of bringing nature back in. 

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