Thursday, March 13, 2014

Missing Water, Dirty Air and Opportunities for Personal Growth.

The haze outside must be way over 100 with little seen even across the street. Add the water rationing situation and we are experiencing first hand what we often talk theoretically about in terms of global issues. Except now we're no longer talking about smog in Beijing or water limitations in Africa that we see on YouTube. This is here and now. 

The silver lining is the singular opportunity to experience water shortages and dirty air (though still nothing severe or chronic) and the learning that these difficulties lend themselves to. Parents as well as teachers should take this opportunity to partake in conversations with their children/students. Not to complain about it, but to step outside of it and look at it from a global and local perspective. 

For example, the water outage on Tuesday prompted a stop-gap purchase or paper plates and plastic single use utensils as an immediate solution. It did provide opportunity to eat, but also added waste. This, in turn, resulted in frank conversations about alternative solutions such as the bringing of personal containers and utensils or interacting with our vendors to promote the preparation of foods that will not generate excess waste. There are probably as many solutions as there are creative minds and we might need a more systematic approach if the water shortages continue for long. 

Similarly, the haze offers itself to some deep and powerful conversations within the social studies and humanities classes school-wide. It also offers an excellent opportunity for the discussion of the connection between economy, environment and society at school and at home. Recognition of connections both in terms of the "global issues" and in terms of local and/or personal solutions provides tools to increase our knowledge and skills with regard to dealing with such issues.

This is how growth takes shape. So even if we're stuck with the current problems, we might as well get started on understanding and solving them!  

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

ISKL Eco-Schools Mini Conference a Success!

Last week my article focused on the ISKL Eco-Schools Mini Conference, and especially about the power of collaboration. Now that the conference has come and gone I wanted to make sure that it's success did not go unnoticed. 

Overall there were 54 participants from nine different schools, WWF Malaysia and MESYM attending. The event was very well received by all and Mr. Thiaga Nadeson from WWF Malaysia was impressed by our use of the Pyramid 2030 as a decision-making and action planning tool. 

A number of schools shared their environmental projects and our Green Council members then led them through a process to determine an Eco-Schools theme to focus on. After some deliberation and discussion the students determined that waste was an appropriate topic.  The Pyramid 2030 structure allows the students to ask successive "why?" questions to address to global issues reaching deeper and deeper into the real issues behind current problems. Once they managed a solid understanding of the issues, students were split up into four groups, each being facilitated by three ISKL Green Council members, for the action planning portion of the morning. 

Utilizing our Google Drive documents the four groups were able to create action plans through discussion and further deliberation. During this time the teachers also had some time to talk about the Eco-Schools program and issues of organizational and administrative support for their students. 

The final portion was the return of the delegations, the sharing of their action plan proposals and the final decision to focus on recycling programs. The specific plan includes internal recycling efforts (perhaps with a competitive class-based format) and the creation of videos to document each school's initiative. 

The Mini-Conference took just four hours. It included a good deal of networking, "greenstorming", a short campus tour and a promise to continue to work together. Nine schools with one purpose: To bring sustainability into the forefront of our awareness and to share information through a collaborative platform.

Now comes the harder part. Keeping together and moving through the labyrinth of real-life circumstances to involve people in recycling and increase awareness independently and collectively. Our students have a wonderful way of impressing. This was no exception. Global Citizen Leaders in action.