Thursday, May 2, 2013

Eco Schools Green Flag or Not, We’re On a Great Journey.

It was 1:30 pm on Wednesday, April 30, 2013. The girls – Deanna Anuar, Alysha Alizan and Diksha Srishyla – looked tired and relieved the Green Flag Award presentation was finally “over”. The people they left behind in the conference room – the Eco Schools Green Flag award committee members – were still deliberating.  Alysha's deep sigh said it all. A year’s worth of work, compiled into a two-hour presentation and tour of our Ampang campus culminated in just that: A sense of relief and accomplishment.

But in doing a quick de-brief with the girls I was happy to see just how positive it had been for them and how well-received they felt. How happy they seemed that the members of the committee really enjoyed – reveled in fact – in the little things that we do each day but most people hardly notice.

The tour, especially, had included several stops along the drains, the compost bins and water stations. At ISKL we often walk by these things and don’t think much of them at all. But to the visiting committee members they were pure joy!  They smiled at the water stations and lauded them as a “great idea”. They were impressed by the compost system. Likewise they walked around our water ways (can we call them that?) naming the plants and noting that the species of animals, fireflies in particular, are indicators of a healthy environment. Could it be that ISKL really is an impressive place, even in nooks and crannies where we, as a community, aren’t regularly impressed?

The girls pulled up their backpacks and put them across their shoulders. They had just a few minutes to get to their period 5 class.  The committee members said that, for a Green Flag (which, in their words, “is a big deal”) they wanted, above all, to see evidence of a culture of “green”, which they did. I was left, for a few minutes, between scuttling students and pondering committees, to write this note. Hmm? Are we, really, already there?  Probably not. But wow, how empowering to think that others, and not just any others, are impressed with what we’ve done, what we do and where we’re going.

How fantastic – really awesome – to see three young ladies maintain composure through a friendly but none-the-less grueling session. How mature in their responses! How very well they communicated their efforts and thoughts. How well they represented ISKL. How graciously they expressed their appreciation for their education here and noted the benefits of being educated for sustainable development. How realistic they seemed in both the challenges and the successes that lie ahead.

In the end, no matter what the Eco Schools committee decides, this has been a rewarding and positive year for us and the process – from deciding on action plans to making presentations – has been hugely powerful, both for our students and for the environment. In the end that is what it’s all about.  

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