Thursday, December 12, 2013

Making Connections with the Community

I just had the pleasure of accompanying a number of our students - Alysha Alizan and Deanna Anuar from the Green Council and Zijia Kee and Sun Woo Kim from the HS Earth Club - to the 2nd International Eco-Schools Conference. The delegation participated in a number of activities ranging from experiential game-based activities to school presentations or their initiatives and projects. Our students also had the opportunity to run two hands-on workshops for the students from other schools. The biggest benefit, though, was the interaction and networking that took place in the five short hours we were there. The level of engagement went from an expected cautionary arrival to a thrill of being around peers who share a genuine concern for the environment. 

This got me thinking about the connections that we have with the community around us. It also brought me back to a conversation with two representatives from the MPAJ. They mentioned that the them ISKL has an "invisible wall" at the limit of our campuses, seeming out of reach to the common passer by. One of the aims of the Green Council and our community service teams is to provide a corridor of interaction between two parallel worlds that benefit from each other. 

So it was with this in mind that I was perusing the latest issue of the Hornbill. It includes a number of articles that deal with global issues, diversity, community connections, service and environmental action. It is a bit of a "wow" to read through it and makes one realize just how much is being done at ISKL in terms of connections with the various communities we work with. Add that to the community service projects that are being done on a weekly basis at the HS and you have a highly engaged population. 

Data collected from our HS community service programs that our programs have, until now, added up to 1,558 hours. Though the amount of time is not as essential as the value added by the quality of service, it is none-the-less important to recognize that what works best is on-going, authentic connections with the community. Certainly time with others, particularly those outside "the expat bubble" allow our students an engaging connection to learning from those they interact with. 

Of course we would love to do more. We are planning to have workshops and/or conferences set up for Eco-School members locally. Likewise we are working on developing connections with local schools for environmental projects such as tree planting along the Klang River in Ampang and the establishment and development of a Nature Education Center - along with local NGOs and/or schools - in the Klang Valley. 

Overall we are doing very well. But our impact as a school is made greater by the collective positive interactions we have with the world around us. Experiential in its nature and authentic in its setting, community involvement is essential to the growth of our students in the formation of socially conscious global citizens. 

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