Wednesday, August 28, 2013

At Melawati Recycling Comes of Age

Just last week we held a recycling "stakeholders meeting" at Melawati, including Vicky Sethuraman (Canteen Supervisor) and Sumathy Kandiah (Assistant to the Principal), Sophia (Head Cleaner),  Indran Savasivam (Campus Supervisor), Sharil (Sam's Snacks), our external recycling partner and our new Melawati Recycling Club advisor, Jorge Arismendi. Oh, and myself, of course! 

As I took a look around the table I realized just how much cooperation it takes to get things off the ground and create a well-rounded culture of recycling at our school. The curriculum covers it in many areas (the most obvious being the 3rd grade Reduce, Reuse, Recycling unit) and our facilities offer inviting sets of bins to attract passers-by to partake and to prompt our students to get into the mind frame of "taking care of this place". But over the years we have identified a slight disconnect between our 'covering' the topic in the curriculum and asking our staff to do the brunt of the work. Apart from being a shortcoming of our program, we also felt this was an excellent opportunity for our students to engage in authentic learning through doing (some might even call it service learning).

So starting this year we are initiating a Melawati Recycling Club!  Working with Jorge Arismendi, our cleaning staff, facilities people and our external partners the Recycling Club will be primarily responsible for paper collection from the different pods and photocopy rooms. They will also participate in a number of educational sessions where they will learn about the "behind the scenes" goings on of recycling. They will have the chance (hopefully) to visit a distribution station and/or recycling factory along the way. In line with our new focus on service learning club members will also conduct awareness campaigns as they themselves become teachers for adults (staff, cleaning staff, parents, etc.) and students alike!

We are hopeful that this will become a great cooperative effort and allow us not only to proudly say that recycling is alive and well at Melawati, but also that our youngest students are leading the charge to changing the world, one piece of paper at a time! The on-going amounts of recycling will be kept - as always - on the Sustainable ISKL website for anyone to follow. 

It's a small step for ISKL. It's a big step for our students' involvement in ensuring that we are, in fact, "taking care of this place" and becoming "social responsible world citizens". Not bad!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

A New Beginning - ISKL Goes Green (Flag, that is!)

This past Wednesday ISKL hosted Malaysia's first Eco-Schools Green Flag award ceremony. As the recipients of the award is it difficult not to get caught up in the elation of the moment and it's easy to mistake that feeling, and the flag itself, as the final goal. But as the co-coordinators of the Green Council Tunku Alysha Azizan ('14) and Deanna Anuar ('14) stated, really this flag is just the beginning of something bigger than us. 

Part of their speech was spent highlighting the future plans for the Green Council and our participation in Eco-Schools programming. A recurring theme was our intent to expand beyond the borders of our campus walls, to engage with our community more, with our host country in a positive and meaningful way and to use student initiative as the starting point for big things. 

Our visitors were duly impressed with our students (how could they not be?), the program, the campus and the ceremony itself. A big thank you goes out to Hilda Alposilva and the Marketing Office staff for doing such a wonderful job with organizing things, but also to the facilities crew and the theater staff for all they do so well. 

As the adrenaline slowly dies off, and we recognize that a flag does not change our direction, we hope that our participation on the Eco-Schools program will allow us to start a new, to create a blueprint for school-community interactions and mutual goals. We move on, waving our new Green Flag!

It is important to recognize the contributions of those who went before us, and whose decisions and efforts have led us to where we are today. Most notably, we would like to thank Mr. Paul Chmelik for his request of the -then - Green Team for "bold thoughts" in moving forward. We would also like to thank Mr. Angus Carmichael (my predecessor) for his vision in joining the Eco-Schools program and for setting the path for us to follow. Similarly, a big thank you also goes out to our previous Environmental Officers who played pivotal roles in our Eco-Schools initiatives and programming: Nathaniel Zacharias ('12) and Samantha Lee ('13). To those few, and the countless others who added their parts, thank you!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Starting Off the Year with a Big "Green" Bang!

Hello to one and all!  It's been a long, silent summer from the Sustainability and Service Learning office and it's time to get that rust off our keyboards and jump on that ever-fast-paced treadmill called working at ISKL and get the year off to a great start! 

And a great start it is!  As many of you know, ISKL was informed last May that it will become the very first Eco-Schools Green Flag recipient in Malaysia!  Now the stage is all set for that very recognition. The Eco-Schools Green Flag award ceremony will take place during a special HS Assembly on August 21st at 11:40 am. It will be awarded by the CEO of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) in Malaysia and we expect to have a representative of the Malaysian Ministry of Education present as well as our administration headed by our new - and very supportive - director Dr. Norma Hudson and our Green Council members. What a better way to start the year with a bang, and what better a recognition for the efforts of our Green Council and, more generally, the entire community!  

As a short but ongoing aside, and particularly for those who are new to ISKL, I'd like to share the online sources of information that you can use for updates on our sustainability and service learning programming:
On a related, but perhaps less historically important note, Community Recycling and our composting-from-home program are starting up this weekend as well. I invite each and every family to consider participating. Just let me know if you're interested!