Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Planting for the Planet: An Invitation

I am always amazed that, after all the time I spend in trying to work out best practices and appropriate behaviors for sustainability, arguably the best thing is to just add to nature and let it do it's thing. 

Students note that recycling is a helpful behavior, and it is. But the assumption is that one is helping because they are doing less damage that they might otherwise. 

Perhaps we should be turning everything on its head and start looking at things from a positive starting point. Let's not assume that our behaviors need to be detrimental to the environment. Why not actually add our share to the natural capital of the world?  A simple act of growing a plant will provide benefits that far outweigh the time and energy expended in planting it and provide a meaningful service to the planet and its inhabitants. 

On Saturday, November 8 from 7:00 am to around 1:00 pm or so, our HS Earth Club and Green Council are running a tree planting Plant-a-thon that will support the UN Plant for the Planet program. Open to the entire ISKL community (aged 10 and above) the idea is to head out with our partners, the Global Environment Centre, and plant 300 trees at the Raja Musa Forest Reserve (north of KL). Bussing will be provided from our Ampang campus and back.

Why not come out and help get some carbon out of the atmosphere, return some of the natural spaces and provide some of that ever-elusive clean air around these parts. Then, once we plant, just let nature take it's course.

If we're want our son's and daughters to exemplify global citizenship, we would be hard pressed to find a better example of humble yet positively impactful service to the world.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Building Global Citizens: GAP & BCP

In the past two weeks both students and teachers have been involved in a plethora of initiatives and learning aimed at building communities and developing global citizens. It's a sustainability and service learning dream come true!  

It would have been difficult to avoid getting sucked into the enthusiasm revolving around the high school Global Action Program (GAP). In large part GAP is about building bridges. Bridges between different people and places and systems and structures. Bridges between ecological, social, economic and political sustainability. Bridges of experiential learning for our students and those we meet. Every trip is integrated with a service program that is powerful and authentic.

In the case of Cambodia 9, which I was privileged to participate in, it was through the building of a home for a rural family whose daily income, on days when work is available, hovers around USD 3. Our students also taught English to children around Seam Reap for whom the language can, quite literally, be a one way street out of poverty. We also initiated the building of a library in a community school, using discarded plastic bottles and waste. The arrival of subsequent school groups, during the fall semester or school travel, should see the building completed by November. 

It was in conjunction with one of those GAP trips to Bali that our elementary librarian, Suji Dehart, was doing her bit for global citizenship as well. She has been integral in establishing a partnership between ISKL and a rural Balinese community to support literacy there. The Bali Children's Project has just begun by providing a library for the young children in the area with obvious benefits to literacy, education and beyond. It was particularly meaningful that a group of GAP students supported the establishment of the library and the reading to children there.

Extending it even further, Suji and David Herbert, our new Elementary School Service Learning Coordinators, are using the Bali Children’s Project as the focus of fundraising for Melawati, largely through our grade five Red Hats initiatives. These are the baby steps in long-term commitment to sustainable development in communities where need is highest.

These are but two examples of how, at ISKL, the pursuit of global citizenship is taking form.  One need only to look around to see ISKL’s community doing it’s bit in making the world a better place without fanfare or pomp or circumstance.