Monday, December 14, 2015

What's in Another (Green) Flag?

Last Friday morning, as the the children of ISKL sat in their first block of the day, Mr. Myers was on his way west. His drive took him to Shah Alam and, specifically, to the closing events of the Eco-Schools International Conference. His role there was as a "filler" for the students but given that our high schoolers were well into "exams" mode it made more sense for him to be there in their stead. He represented ISKL proudly as the recipient of a 2nd Eco-Schools Green Flag award, the only school in Malaysia to be honored in this way. 

But though Mr. Myers stood there on his own in a sea of other recipients of different awards, he was fully aware that this was incidental. Because he was representing an able body of students - the Green Council - who have handled researched the evidence, gathered the data, communicated the results, completed the application, ran the tour and made a fine presentation to the visiting team of university professors. Certainly, there are accolades to be given to the Green Council. But it still wouldn't be enough. 

That's because the Green Council is merely a representative of our entire school's body. Their task, among other things, is to document the successes of ISKL clubs, students and classes in sustainable and service learning related projects. Though they did their job impeccably their task only revealed a small glimpse of what ISKL does on a daily basis.  It is often small things that make a community what it is. They are an often anecdotal - but no less meaningful - measure of the cumulative commitment to making positive change to the world around them. 

And so, though one man stood on the podium representing a small group of 25 students, who in turn represented several clubs and classrooms, it was all about the entire ISKL community coming together in the hallways, in the gardens, in the classrooms, in the meeting rooms and in the theatres. They come together to have conversations that are meaningful and purposeful, that are ongoing and never ending. They touch sensitivities and thoughts and empathy and attitudes. They touch teaching and learning and behaviors. And, in the end, they are transformational in that they touch our lives in millions of ways that, through collective capacity, make a lasting and important difference. 
Congratulations to all of us, young and younger, for doing the things that matter. The award is merely a recognition for all the cumulative wonderful things that you think, you say and you do to make the world a better place each and every day.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Community Engagement: In Elena's Words

The following is a post written by Elena Ortiz ('17) who worked tirelessly as a member of the organizing committee for the 24 Hour Run (to Stop the Traffic) aimed at addressing the issue of modern day slavery. Away from the eyes of most of us, she worked day after day for six months in a true collaborative project spanning a number of schools and the entire region. Her story is shared here as an example of our students' engagement with the community and a living example of ISKL's school-wide learning results. If you have a moment ask her about it and see her eyes shine with pride as she talks about it. 

Here is Elena's story, shared with her permission:

"This year I had the wonderful opportunity of being Kuala Lumpur’s Executive Director of Advocacy and Impact of the 24 Hour Race. This was both the most challenging, and eye-opening experience that I have ever undertaken. When I started my responsibilities back in May, I knew that it would be a challenge, but I had absolutely no idea just how far in over my head I was. But I was full of passion, energy, and ready to learn. Our only adult ‘supervision’ was in Hong Kong, meaning that it was up to the five of us directors to put on an entire event start to finish. And that meant everything from writing business proposals, to selecting and maintaining a partnership with beneficiaries and even trying to coordinate permits with the Malaysian government. I essentially devoted most of my life to trying to keep up with its mountain of demands, and cannot count the times where my teachers have caught me formatting the financial spreadsheet instead of doing math problems or finishing my essay. 

The factor that drove me most was knowing the impact that I was having. Human slavery is one of the biggest problems in the world, claiming the lives of 35 million people and plaguing every single country. The industry is a 150 billion dollar problem that nobody is talking about. Knowing in the back of my head that my efforts were helping to save lives and shut down some of the biggest injustices the world drove me to put every single challenge and task at the top of my priority list to complete. I am so proud of what my team and I were able to accomplish, and I’m so excited to see how the movement grows in the future."

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Hoping for a 2nd Green Flag Award

In August 2013 ISKL was the proud recipient of Malaysia's very first Eco-Schools Green Flag award. We were proud at the time and excited all at once. In the acceptance speech, Deana Anuar ('14) and Tunku Alysha Alizan ('14) spoke of the honor and responsibility that this would bring, of the leadership that ISKL needed to show moving forward and of the need for collaboration outside of our school walls. 

Fast forward two and a bit years and our Green Council, responsible for documenting environmentally and sustainability based experiences under the Eco-Schools platform, are a completely different group. This year's team is led by Anne Wilson ('16) and Tiffany Tung ('17) and a very able group of 25 students. The team has been working diligently for the past two months to ensure that our application for a second Green Flag award is completed, evidence provided, and attention is paid to the proverbial dotting of our "i's" and crossing of our "t's". 

We now stand ready (with a few minor adjustments and practice-runs to go) to host the Eco-Schools Green Flag accreditation visiting team once again. On Wednesday, November 25, between 3:00 and 5:00 pm members of WWF Malaysia and university professors representing Eco-Schools Malaysia will be visiting our Ampang campus to see what we've been to for the past two years. The visit, of course, will include a tour of the campus (with requisite stops for "eco" highlights) as well as a formal presentation by members of the Green Council, HS Earth Club, Global Issues, Local Solutions class and Global Issues Club. 

The power of this experience is hard to explain. It is as authentic as authentic can get as the students themselves become the representatives of our entire institution and success and failure is defined not by their teachers but by external assessors. How they present, how they respond, their knowledge and skills related to sustainability in general and ISKL's ESD platform are critical in how we, as a school, are assessed. 

​In our constant striving to provide an education to our students capable of building global citizens, this is a big test and one that we are sure our students will shine in. Of course, there is no way of knowing whether we will be awarded the Green Flag award again, but that doesn't stop us from moving toward a sustainable future behind the leadership of some pretty terrific kids.

Friday, November 6, 2015

JUMP! Training for MS StuCo in preparation for Transforming our World Conference

The following was an article for the ISKL Panther News written by Jessica Vivian, Middle School Student Council Advisor. 

The Middle School Student Council members had a great opportunity to participate in a leadership training program for two days on October 23 and 24. This program was lead by JUMP! Foundation - a non-profit social enterprise that uses experiential education to build community leaders and global citizens and helps students to realize their passions and potential. Student council members participated in a variety of character building activities and completed several valuable tasks to address the importance and power of their role as ISKL Middle School student leaders. STUCO members were trained to facilitate learning and leadership, personal development and group collaboration in future Middle School activities and events. Their training will be put to the ultimate test come February 5, 2016, when they facilitate the running of the ISKL-hosted Sustainable Development Solutionary Conference, that explores the United Nation’s most recent Millennium Development Goals. Well done to our dedicated student council members!  

~ Jessica Vivian, MS Humanities Teacher

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

SDGs: A Student Voice

The following is the script of a speech presented by Sonja English (Class of 2016) to the Global Action Program assembly on October 20, 2015. Is is shared here with her permission.

"In light of the expiration of the United Nation’s Millennium Development Goals, they have released a new set of ambitions: the Sustainable Development Goals. In essence, they aspire to achieve a series of ambitious proposals by the year 2030. Here is a taste of what they have to offer: ending all poverty, everywhere, and with that an end to hunger and promotion of nutrition and sustainable agricultural practices. Another crucial goal, is to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls. Most studies strongly support the view that giving women a voice in their communities fosters a higher and more lasting level of development. Consequently, the role of women and girls needs to be emphasized ,especially in poorer regions of the world. We need more projects like The Girl Effect, as seen in 2008, which directly funded education for girls in Nigeria, Rwanda, and Ethiopia, with great success. We need to tread lightly on cultural issues like female genital mutilation and child marriage that results in girls trying to avoid the process by breast ironing. Child marriage and FGM isn’t going to go away by the developed world simply lambasting these practices. Instead, we must promote alternate ways of celebrating womanhood that still preserve indigenous values. Amhef Health Africa has founded an Alternate Rite of Passage (ARP) that replaces FGM with life skills teaching, and a ceremony. Over 9000 girls and their families have opted into ARP in Nigeria and Kenya. The UN functions on respecting the cultural traditions of communities, yet at the same time identifying where sometimes these practices do more harm than good. We must be able to consider both sides of the coin, because it’s too easy to say that “the world needs fixing”. It’s harder to suggest the means of solution that protect cultural identities and values while promoting universal human rights. The SDGs are attempting to bridge this divide and attain a more humane and respectful development for all.

Consider another issue: the part of the world that lives in darkness. We often take for granted the ability to turn on air conditioning, running water, lights. Even in Malaysia, many orang asli tribes not far from KL still do not have electricity. Liter of Light and MIT have invented a solar powered plastic water bottle light that has been introduced to rural communities. These ventures have not been government sponsored, but rather NGOs and normal citizens have worked to bring light to communities in Brazil, the Philippines, and Malaysia. This is only the beginning. Access to electricity and safe shelter go hand-in-hand. The UN’s Sustainable Development goals are all interlinked, and with the achievement of one, we get a domino effect into another. With the majority of you embarking on GAP this week, keep these goals in mind because they’re supposed to be the foundation of the trip, and we often forget this.

Malaysia with all it’s beauty invariably has its own struggles to quell. Before we embark on new journeys, we first should tackle those closest to home. Hence, Malaysia week and a Malaysian Action Program is what we should pursue. Act local, think global."

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Snippets of an ever-growing Sustainable Culture

Years ago, when the Environmental Coordinator (now Sustainability & Service Learning Coordinator) position was created one of it's key responsibilities was the "development of a 'green' ethos". For those who have ever studied change it is often argued that people's mindsets are the hardest thing to change and so a job responsibility like that was, and continues to be, a tall order. 

One way to determine whether ethos is being built rather than rules being instituted is to look at those things that happen naturally, from a bottom-up. These are not things that are required or forced. They are glimpses into the slow growth of a sustainable mindset on our campuses. Here are a few snippets:
  • The creation of waste-free Fridays and waste free parties at Melawati
  • The commonplace sharing of information in PTA newsletters about how to be "green" in a variety of events
  • An International Fest that is free of non-biodegradable single-use items, offers bussing for participants and includes a number of "green" stalls and events
  • A Panther Hut trying out sales of new shopping bags recycled from our very own school banners
  • Students on both campuses extensively using their reusable water bottles
  • Vendors increasing in the use of juice dispensers in lieu of plastic bottled drinks (and thus reducing waste)
  • Student projects aimed at reducing paper use (Green Council), food waste (Global Issues, Local Solutions course), trash in the ocean (G6 service learning) among others
  • Increased use of timers by the Melawati maintenance department to ensure reduction in non-essential use of energy
  • The cleaning companies are consistently adapting their behaviors (use of water, use of cleaning agents, etc.) 
  • Parents involved in addressing the issue of school uniforms (when families move on or children outgrow them)
  • The establishment of the first (and hopefully regular) Grade 7 Conference on the Global Goals for Sustainable Development
  • HS students initiating a Global Issues club (and others with social and sustainable foci)
  • Student articles and public service announcements on issues from the haze to the caterpillars on our campuses to use of energy, water and the like
Each one of these (and the many more not mentioned) would probably not be defined as evidence of a changing "ethos", but once combined there is little room for doubt. It's the evidence of caring, empowerment, purpose and global citizenship that defines this school's culture. Though there is still a long way to go, the changes are obvious. It feels like the beginning of a wave of change for a better world. It's a good feeling, no?

Monday, September 28, 2015

The Global Goals for Sustainable Development

On Saturday, September 25 the UN General Assembly voted to pass the Global Goals for Sustainable Development. We had touched on this earlier in the year, but now that they are in place these goals are expected to pave the way to an entirely new future. The Global Goals take effect on January 1, 2016 and will extend to 2030. By that time our littlest ones will be in their final year of college and looking at a world of opportunity with the requisite excitement and worry that entails. 

Our class of 2026 will have gone through a whole new approach to development, been taught in a completely different manner than you or I. They will have been exposed to the world in ways that are interconnected, systemic and solution-oriented, and they will have tools to make them 21st century practitioners. 

The goals highlight the need for a diverse approach to sustainability. They focus on issues of the human condition - from education, to poverty to hunger - as much as on the condition of the planet - from biodiversity on land and in the oceans. They focus on the manner by which we function as societies - as consumers, as city dwellers, and on industries and innovations. But perhaps more than anything else, they focus on the fact that everyone - literally everyone - is needed. From the youngest members to the oldest the goals offer an invitation to partner, locally and globally to move forward. Both personal citizenship and collaboration are essential.

How hopeful a situation to be in, despite school closures due to the haze. At ISKL's Sustainability & Service Learning Office we envision a beautiful and harmonious future made so by the combined efforts of our community, where care not only follows closely behind but walks along side. 

For further information on the Global Goals for Sustainable Development please feel free to visit, watch the promotional video, "We the People for the Global Goals" below or go in depth into the goals themselves by visiting the US Sustainable Development website (here). 

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Guiding Questions, Enduring Understandings.

It's the 1/3 mark of trimester one in the Middle School. Two classes of sixth graders work diligently in their service learning classes to piece together global and regional issues and how they might help address them at the local level. One class, we are told, is working hard on perfecting their "elevator pitch" while the other one is busily finding resources to develop their plan to address waste, pollution and sea life. 

Connections are often a matter of perspective. When many of the adults in this community were young(er) we might be taught about how one thing leads to another. Often that was it. Cause and effect. In service learning classes, and a good number of other classes at ISKL, students are consistently asked to go even further. What are the connections between our sorting of waste and the marine ecosystem?  How does what we do affect the haze and vice versa?  Where can we find leverage to improve the system? 

These are powerful questions, and ones that can lead to a myriad of answers. Direction is defined by the interests, skills and experiences of our students and therein lies the beauty of it. No matter which way one goes, it doesn't take long to recognize that it's all interconnected. 

These systems, interconnections and solutions are a huge part in generating 'enduring understandings' that are essential to becoming a global citizen. In grade 6 our students are working hard connecting the dots and creating action plans. Because everyone knows that the best way to predict the future is to invent it. :-)

Monday, September 14, 2015

The Hazy Days of Summer (errr... Dry Seasons)

Have you looked up an enjoyed that crystal clear blue sky lately?  If so, you were probably nowhere near SE Asia during the past week or two. As you know by now the haze we're all dealing with is an unhealthy side-effect of behaviors in Indonesia. Between health concerns and production methods, what gives?

A quick online search will indicate that Sumatra, where most of this haze originates, is in the tail end of a dry season. It's a season that allows for fires, often from slashing and burning, to rage increasingly out of control until the October rains appear, though there is concern that this could be delayed due to this year's expected El Nino effect. The Air Quality Index website (here) on Monday, September 14, 2015 indicated air quality levels teetering on the fence of "dangerous" (150) for the Klang Valley. We are, of course, understandably concerned for the wellbeing of our families and children.  

But for some it's harder still. One look at the bottom left corner of the image above (taken from the AQICN website  on Sep 14, 2015) will indicate an air quality reading of 796 in Pekanbaru (Riau), Indonesia!!  Is that a misprint? Perhaps, but this is also the epicenter of the at least some fires raging. At this level the numbers don't indicate a mere inconvenience, but a physical threat to life. Schools have closed, the airport shut down and people told to stay indoors. This, of course, has an obvious impact on health, but also on the economy (missed work opportunities, less tourist arrivals, etc.), and environment and social life too. 

From a sustainability standpoint this brings together numerous dimensions.  When we look at global issues like this it is helpful to view them through a "systems" perspective. How do economic, political, ecological and social dimensions interplay in the fires in Indonesia and around the region?  How can affecting one of these dimensions have a knock on effect to the others?  How can our personal and collective behaviors add to, or detract from, such large scale health risks? In what ways can we leverage change to create a better win-win situation for the future? These are necessary conversations in an increasingly interconnected world. They are conversations we're having at school. Hopefully they are also conversations you're having at home.  The conversations (and solutions) at ISKL continue long after the rains have put out the fires for this round. 

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Transforming Our World Through ESD

ISKL is one of few international schools promoting Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) as a formal curricular platform. But this year, arguably more than ever, ESD is taking on a particular importance. 2015 brings with it far-reaching changes that will affect the way we, and our children, will carry out our daily lives. On September 25-27 the United Nations is expected to adopt the new Sustainable Development Goals which will pave the way for the world through 2030. It is quite appropriate that the UN names this initiative Transforming Our World

2015 is also the year for the COP 21 UN Climate Change talks taking place in Paris in November/December. Regardless of where we sit on the humanity-is-at-fault-for-climate-change debate, there seems to be a growing recognition at the political level that humanity needs to move decisively in unprecedented ways to ensure the health and wellbeing of the planet and all its people.  

To put this year in context, and our ESD platform with it, here are some major highlights from the past 8 months or so:
  • Last November the IPCC announced that the world needs to shift almost all its energy sources by 2100 to keep temperatures at plus 2 degrees (this, of course, has huge ramifications for all the world's communities, including our own)
  • Many countries have formalized their intent to cut carbon emissions in preparation for COP21
  • A growing number of cities are taking steps toward sustainability
  • Elon Musk (CEO of Tesla Energy) introduced a home battery. This technology is described by many as a "game changer"
  • On a windy day last June Denmark became the first country to generate a surplus of wind energy, generating 140% of it's national needs. 
  • Over the summer a number of Holland's citizens sued their own government for not looking after their wellbeing by not supporting sustainable practices... and won.  This is considered to be a landmark ruling that might define the way forward in many countries.
It is in this context, and with a decidedly positive outlook, that ISKL ensures that our students are becoming "socially responsible global citizens" through Education for Sustainable Development (ESD).  Be it leadership training programs, Global Issues classes, activities that develop critical thinking, constructive collaboration or any host of related skills, ISKL is working to ensure that our students are solution-oriented and forward thinking. This year's events could define a "new" direction for our shared future, but flexibility, creativity and problem solving will be necessary way after this year becomes history.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Eco-Schools Green Flag Accreditation

Last week HS students were given the chance to sign up for clubs and organizations. There was lots of commotion and, in the end, it seemed anecdotally that all groups were "ready go to". One such group is the ISKL Green Council, which started up the year with its first meeting just this past Wednesday, getting to work right away. It's first big agenda item?  Ensuring that the evidence is collected and compiled for the Eco-Schools Green Flag Award, that the award application is completed and submitted.  

Two years ago ISKL was the first school in Malaysia to receive the prestigious international award, the Green Flag. It's an award that lasts for two years before a school goes through it's re-assessment process. But unlike other accreditation programs, this one is conducted by our student leaders entirely. Though it's difficult to know if we will be granted the prestigious award for a second time, the Green Council is primed to ensure that all our Education for Sustainable Development and service learning opportunities are well-documented, with obvious connections to our curriculum. 

What comes next is a rather stressful visit by the accreditation committee, often university professors and/or community leaders. To prepare our Green Council presenters train and practice and practice some more. Presentations and video are put together. Tours are planned. Practice question and answer sessions are put simulated. Then, finally, the visiting delegation arrives for a tour and presentation - ISKL's Green Council - inviting the Eco-Schools program to consider us for a subsequent Green Flag Award.

It's a stressful task, to be sure. But it's authentic and builds skills for students that are "real world". Public speaking, organizing, communication, creativity, critical thinking, all combined to make for a true authentic learning experience. It's what ISKL is all about!

Monday, August 10, 2015

Starting off with New Programs!

Hello to one and all from the Sustainability & Service Learning Office. By now, hopefully, a semblance of routine has found its way to your home. The new year brings a great many new initiatives/events on the sustainability and service learning front and, as is not customary, this article will do it's part to communicate what our students and community are up to in this regard. 

The second day back for our teachers was taken, in part, by training in service learning modalities and concepts. Cathy Berger Kaye spent four days with us providing training to all our faculty and a select group of student service leaders. It was a great initiation to what we hope will be an action-packed year of sustainability and service learning. 

The year also brings with it a new Middle School program in which we hope to engage our students in independent community involvement through the use of the service learning process. The program, nameless until our students find an appropriate name, will focus on documenting and highlighting things our MS students are doing outside the realm of their classrooms but that are none-the-less learning experiences in their community. 

At High School we are welcoming a new course: Global Issues, Local Solutions. The course is intended as a venue for students to pursue action-based learning to address sustainability issues. The course, coupled with the re-introduction of a Global Issues Network club should pave the way to a greater opportunity to address authentic learning. 

We are also taking our first baby steps to creating a Global Issues Network (GIN) program in the MS too. Though in the past we've participated in such events at other schools we are planning to host our first Global Issues conference (on a small scale) in February, largely based on our Global Issues classes. 

On a sustainability front we have created an Operational Sustainability Committee this year which will include all sorts of stakeholders, from our finance department to our facilities to cleaning staff, cafeteria vendors and transport office.  The idea, of course, is to bring everyone "to the table" so to speak, and identify ways that efficiency can be increased while ensuring operational sustainability.  

Our elementary school too won't be left behind. Typically service learning is alive and well at Melawati, but this year there are higher expectations of service learning in all grade levels. 3KD, in particular, will be using "water" as a consistent theme and participating quite extensively in the Eco-Schools programs, of which ISKL is a Green Flag school. 

Wow. That's a lot of new things starting up. Add them to an already extensive list of happenings, and you've got yourself a busy place. More to come as the year continues!

Monday, June 1, 2015

The Numbers and the Heart: 2014-15 Wind Down

Those fortunate enough to be at graduation last week will have listened to the excellent graduation speech by Michael Ortiz, a HS math teacher (who will serve as IB Coordinator next year), who focused on the "hidden curriculum" of what really matters in growing and learning. His point, regarding how much that matters is not often documented is an ever-present one. Like most things both education and life can only be 'defined' in part with numbers and data and the like. Much of it, though, lies in less-definable elements such as the heart, disposition, growth, where evidence can be much different. So too, is the case with ISKL's sustainability and service culture. 

The numbers will say this:

Change from 13-14 (Total Amounts)
Water (m3) *
+ 0.5%
(12,519 m3)
(11,763 m3)
(24,282 m3)
Electricity (kWh) *
+ 3.9 %
(2,158,352 kWh)
- 8.0 %
(984,657 kWh)
Paper (# of copies/prints) *
Carbon emissions from ISKL flights (tonnes of CO2)
- 16.0%
(1200 tonnes)
Recycling (kg)
(11,027 kg)
Composting (kg - estimated)
(17,045 kg)

They will say that, overall, ISKL has done a reasonably good job in moving toward being a more sustainable school. They will say that Melawati fared better than Ampang in that regard. They will also tell us that we recycled more, we composted more, we used less water (and fixed some leeks). But they won't talk about the heart, the disposition or the growth of our students. 

For that one needs to speak to children and ask them what they've learned. One has to see what they've accomplished. To recognize that during the course of the past two years over 100 service related initiatives have been taken on. Students have assisted with relief efforts in disaster affected areas and/or difficult political circumstances. In the process our students have learned about the challenges of being change makers. They have worked with communities in numerous less-developed areas and, in doing so, recognized how much "stuff" they have in comparison to others, but also that material things matter less in different circumstances that they might have originally thought. They have provided support in building homes for those who cannot build their own and recognized what is truly important in shelter, family and community. They have assisted with refugees and learned that the world is not always easy for people who have done no wrong. They have worked on bringing back the environment and realized how difficult it is to do so when monetary priorities imply that nature is less beneficial to an economy and, by extension, to a society. And yet, despite these seemingly massive obstacles, they still work and plant and teach and build. 

These are the "unwritten" learnings that our environmental indicator data cannot reveal and are hard to gauge. But they are there and they are necessary. For if we want out children to grow and be empowered to make the world a better place, to be the global citizens we want them to be, then all these things - the data and the learning - are important to set the course to a more sustainable present, and future. 

What a wonderful year it's been!  Our children are one year older, and wiser still. They are more capable of making change and, as the Melawati Way puts it, ".. taking care of each other and taking care of this place". Have an enjoyable summer, everyone!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Winding Down. Moving On.

The hubbub is either ending (if you're involved in activities) or just picking up (if you have exams) but regardless everyone is feeling that summer breeze coming fast. The community is somewhere between the combined tiredness of a busy but rewarding year and the exhilaration of well-deserved time off. But for sustainable decisions it's just another day. 

As the end-of-year quickly approaches we have a number of things going on at ISKL. Some involve finishing up the data collection on environmental indicators (waste, energy, water, flight carbon emissions). Others have to do with making adjustments to our physical plant (e.g. energy saving motion sensors in common rooms and solar powered fans for the busing waiting area). Still others have to do with planning for next year. A few highlights for the upcoming year are:
  • Our service learning consultant, Cathy Berger Kaye, will be visiting ISKL on two occasions to train teachers and staff of all divisions as well as our HS service team leaders. 
  • The service learning model we have is also being adopted by the International Baccalaureate (IB) as the process for CAS projects so we're thrilled that we have a Prep Junior to IB service learning framework that is consistent throughout a child's school experience. 
  • Our MS is planning to make a small foray into the world of running Global Issues conferences with a small one-day conference planned for the second trimester. 
  • Our HS will be introducing Global Issues, Local Solutions, a new elective course that focuses on global issues through the use of service learning as a learning strategy. We are pretty excited about it!
  • Our MS is creating a new individualized program highlighting personal citizenship and community engagement currently being tagged as The Global Citizen Project. A self-initiated and voluntary project it will provide our students with an avenue to highlight their citizenship on their portfolios. Students will be supported by mentors (who can be teachers, parents and even HS students who will be trained in the service learning framework. 
  • Our faculty and staff will have increased opportunities to participate in professional development offerings in sustainability education and/or service learning. 
Our Sustainability & Service Learning Coordinator might not be visiting too many classrooms these days (as classes prepare for year end) but there is lots going on still!  Lots to be proud of and lots to move on with. Life goes on, especially when the joy of summer approaches fast!  :-)

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Nepal Earthquake Relief: Direct Efforts by ISKL

It's not often you have the chance, as a community, to "cut out the middle man" and do some direct good in a disaster affected area. This past week was a special kind of week for our school, with four faculty/staff members heading to Kathmandu, under the coordination of Kevin Brawn (HS Activities & Athletics Director). 

Kevin, with the support of Drew Davis, Monica Clear and Bendan Kiernan headed off to Kathmandu to take part in relief efforts, specifically targeting Ocean Nepal (website here) and surrounding communities.  Part of their work was to support the evacuation of the students at the orphanage, with a larger emphasis on providing food and shelter to those affected. 

Certainly ISKL's efforts are limited compared to those by international aid organizations but it was hard not to notice the day-to-day news coming from Kevin (handing out food and tents) and the international press (covering the bureaucratic problems with allowing aid to come in, leaving plane-loads of goods on the tarmac for days).

Much of the group's effectiveness was based on their own know-how of the area (we have several connections in Nepal and also run a good number of HS GAP programs there), but also on the money raised in the four days prior to the team's departure. We are told that Melawati (through coordinated efforts by the Red Hats) raised RM 43,000!  The Ampang crowd was just as impressive and, in total, over USD 20,000 (from all sources) was taken to Nepal for the direct purchase of rice and shelter before in-kind donations were made to those affected by the tragedy. 

Thank you to all of you for making a positive difference to those affected by the earthquake and, of course, a special and heart-felt thank you to those who gave their time, energy, efforts to exhibit caring and compassion to those in need, and for being wonderful role models for our children at ISKL.