If you ever want to feel like a superstar, walk into Karin Martin’s grade 1 class. Mine was a special visit to see and talk about “Recycle City”, a model Kuala Lumpur made exclusively of plastic bottles and snippets of paper. When I walked in one little boy (if only I could remember names) looked up at me and just stared as he put up his hand and pointed at me as if saying “it’s him”. I don’t think he actually knew who I was, but he was none-the-less impressed by my presence. When Ms. Martin saw me she introduced me to the class, several members of which literally jumped with joy to see me. I was tickled silly.
Then came the introduction to the city itself, complete with Petronas Towers, the Maxis building (with big clock on the side), KLIA, and the water fountain in Mont Kiara neatly nestled among the tall buildings. It was quite an impressive little city, actually, and I couldn’t help but marvel at the creativity and attention to detail. But that was just the beginning.
In 20 minutes, which literally flew by, this is what it looked like: Questions by me. Answers by them. Explanations by me. Questions by them. Clarifications by me. Inquisitive comments by them. Smiles by Ms. Martin. Chatting. Hands up. Excitement. Discovery. Appreciation. Learning. All in one place. We talked about all sorts of things from the differences between reuse (which is so much better than recycling!) and recycling to balance between natural spaces and human needs, the nature of construction materials and the new campus (wouldn’t it be great to be built on completely recycled materials?). We talked about the airplanes and how cool they were because they take you places, but they also emit carbon. Busses too. We talked about how wonderful it was that they took the initiative to build this city and each student identified what he/she had constructed.
I was clearly talking too much (and had arrived a bit late) and the kids had to go to lunch. We took pictures and I walked out into the hallway from one room as they exited from another. As I worked my way out of the room I noticed a small girl waiting for me by the door, her finger on the switch. I asked her what she was doing. She answered with a smile “I’m the energy saver” and turned off the light. I smiled broadly and went on my way, happy as can be. Recycled cities and energy savers. Now there are some things I never thought about when I was in first grade.