May 17

Science Sustainability Project: Individual Report

Sustainability is the use of global resources at a rate that allows natural regeneration and minimises damage to the environment. Simply put, sustainability is the well being for all within the means of nature. The balance of economic, environmental and social development is called sustainable development and it is very crucial to our world. Sustainable development encourages us to conserve and enhance our resources, by gradually changing the ways in which we develop and use technologies. At the same time, countries must be allowed to meet their basic needs of food, energy, water, equality and stable employment. By changing a few aspects of our lives, we can grow sustainably and be able to live in a progressive society with good environmental and economic prospects.

An ecological footprint is another important aspect of sustainability. It is the amount of our environment (water and land that can support life) necessary to produce the goods and services needed to support our human lifestyles. Each of us have our own ecological footprint and our own impact on the earth. The ways we live like what we eat, what we shop and how we travel affects our world and  sustainability, especially if we are wasteful. Ecological footprint is calculated in global hectares (gha) which is a biologically productive hectare with world average productivity and our planet currently has 1.7 gha available to each human.

I took a quiz to calculate my ecological footprint and received the above estimation of my ecological footprint as 5.4 gha – 3.2 times the amount I should be consuming. According to the quiz, my main areas for improvement are food and mobility. The rest of this reflection aims to explore what impacts I am having on the earth and how I can change my life to be more sustainable.

My food consumption is a main area where I can improve my ecological footprint. A lot of the food I buy is imported as I am a vegetarian and the locally produced food in Singapore is usually seafood and meat. That being said, my family has not explored various local markets to see if there is something that would suit our diet. Additionally, we usually cook Indian meals in which the ingredients aren’t available in local supermarkets, hence we buy from the Indian grocers that offer imported food. Furthermore, we do not live near local markets and organic food is quite expensive – therefore imported food is the more convenient option for our lifestyle. However, by buying imported food, my family adds to global warming as perishable food is usually imported by planes which release harmful emissions directly into the atmosphere, enhancing the greenhouse effect. Imported food also requires more packaging and almost 20% of plastic in landfills comes from food and drink packaging. By buying more hard to recycle materials, like plastic, I support the increase of toxic materials in landfills and harm natural habitats. Furthermore, imported food means that local farmers lose their jobs as they are not able to compete with international markets. Additionally, imported food has an adverse effect on health as they often have harmful chemicals added and GMO products to help them be better tasting and preserved.

To counteract the effects of buying imported food I can – shop locally in farmers markets and local markets to support local products and farmers, eat foods that are in season to not need to import others, buy in bulk and find out how my food is sourced to avoid food transported by air travel. I could also start home gardening to make some of our own food instead of buying. Although all these options are viable, the most suitable change I can make in my lifestyle is buying from organic stores. I did some research and found an organic and vegetarian supermarket close to my house which would suit our dietary requirements. This change is the most quick and effective to reduce the negative impacts of importing food while also consuming healthy sustainable food. (refer here)

Transport is another aspect of my life that is unsustainable according to this calculator. In Singapore, I use the school bus for my morning commute and public transport in the evening. My usual method of transport is the MRT. I only take flights back to India on the large vacations, however, my parents travel by air often. Any form of transportation that uses fossil fuels contributes to harsh environmental damage and planes especially release their greenhouse gases directly into the higher regions of the atmosphere where they do the worst of their damage. Air pollution, global warming and my carbon footprint all increase as a result of travel and transportation.

My family should change how we travel by air. We could be more aware and use sustainable airlines (Delta, Singapore Airlines, Air NewZealand) who fund back some money into carbon neutralisation or sustainability projects, take non-stop flights to reduce pollution in layover countries, and try to travel locally and not with mass tourism (cruise, hotel chains) as it is much more polluting and comparatively worse for the environment. I think all these suggestions are good options for my family to consider as it is comparatively easy to facilitate and the issue of air travel is quite critical to the environment.

The one main thing I would change in my life out of all these options is travelling locally. This would mean staying in local places, doing local activities, eating local food and meeting local people. Not only would this give you richer understanding of local cultures when you travel it is also more sustainable because it supports more local businesses, you eat more local organic food, unlike travelling on a large scale it does not support the overconsumption of resources and protects the environment. In the future I would like to experience the world by travelling and hence, being a sustainable traveller is the one permanent change I would make in life.

 

May 16

Science Sustainability Project: Reflection 2

The best part of the project was doing research and learning so many simple, small yet impactful ways you can be more sustainable. For example, trying to implement energy efficient systems in your home (solar power) looks like it would take a lot of effort but starting small by getting a solar powered phone charger could help you start small yet be impactful in reducing you energy consumption. 

During this project I have learned a lot about what sustainability consists of. Before the project I knew about sustainability but not really what you have to change to be sustainable. Through this project I learnt the options available to me, especially in Singapore, that I could apply to my own life to be more sustainable.

The most challenging thing for me was building the webpage as it required a skill set I have not explored before. Building a website was not really something I would consider fun but as I built the page and saw the research of our project come together with the presentation, it was very rewarding to see our work look professional.

I had to be creative in several aspects. When building the website especially I need creativity to make the layout of the page look put together and cohesive. Other aspects where I had to be creative was in creating our suggestions as some required some out of the box ideas to work in Singapore. An example of this creative thinking was suggesting implementing solar systems in your home as many people do not own roofs in Singapore – finding new ways to be energy efficient required to think differently from just getting a solar panel.

Though all my team members were equally focused, I feel that in my team I was the most focused because I made sure we were working towards our deadlines and balancing our time to keep the progress going.

 

May 9

Sustainability Science Project: 1st Reflection

We decided as a group to get information about different sections of a sustainable life, such as food, shopping, transport, travel, use of commodities and recycling to find ways to minimise our client’s ecological footprint. We planned on suggesting realistic changes that can be implemented – however, one challenge we faced was suggesting specific changes rather than general statements.

Ms. Jones was apprehensive about recycling in Singapore. I did research into the Singapore recycling system and found collection points where she can take extra action towards recycling or donating things like E-waste. I researched into ‘carbon offset programmes’ and volunteering work that she could invest in to minimise the environmental damage created by her travelling often and suggest ways of how she can implement energy efficient systems in her house. For the next part of the project, we will have to use creativity to display our content.

April 15

How does my idea of empathy changed after this service?

How does my idea of empathy changed after this service?

Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another – it is how we care and communicate with others. It is a human tendency and we all possess empathy at different levels. This service has helped my reflect more on what empathy means and where it is misconstrued. In our service, we interact with students with cerebral palsy – a cognitive disability that usually occurs during childbirth that leads to a lack of the ability to muscle control. In our sessions, we assist teacher with their lessons like art and craft or food exploration.

I’ve always been quite an empathetic person but service has helped me be more true with my empathy. Oftentimes, the world views people who are differently abled with pity, not empathy. We always think that we should be extra-kind or extra-sensitive towards people who aren’t the same as this and this is the basis of being unauthentic with how we care. When I first joined the service, I did not understand this difference. But I learnt that it is treating the students we work with just as anyone else and not like they need our pity in it’s own way to show our true empathy. Empathy is sharing the feelings of another – equal to another, it isn’t being overly polite to people.

 

March 29

Do we worry too much about the effects technology has on our lives? DPERS REFLECTION

We listened to three podcasts to help us answer the question ‘Do we worry too much about the effects technology has on our lives?’. They were podcasts from IRL’s podcast series on Technology Addiction, Daniel Lee’s Partnered Podcast Project and Pranav Harish’s Partnered Podcast Project. We took notes along the way about what quotes we found interesting, resonated with or questioned. These are my notes:

This is my reflection on the question – Do we worry too much about the effects technology has on our lives?

I do believe that we are justified when we think of the effects technology has had in our lives. It can changes our view of the world, how we work, study, function, connect and have fun and has changes us as a society. Yes, there are some negative repercussions of technology, But, I believe we often overlook the positive benefits of technology and the convenience, development, and platforms it has brought to our lives. These positives are exemplified only when we do not use it responsibly or moderately. Too much of a good thing can be bad as well. So in summation, technology is good, but we need to start using it responsibly instead of blaming the issues we see in our society on it.

March 25

Writer’s Fortnight Reflection

Category: English | LEAVE A COMMENT
March 22

Dpers: Podcast Round-up

Reflection:

In our Dpers unit, we took on different challenges for 5 days with the goal of making a podcast of our experiences. My partner, Sri, and me took on the challenge to use our phones as little as we can for 5 days.

The Science of Developing Mental Toughness in Your Health, Work, and Life:

Which three quotes from that reading link with your experiences in the podcast project? What makes you say so?

  1. It wasn’t strength or smarts or leadership potential that accurately predicted whether or not a cadet would finish Beast Barracks. Instead, it was grit — the perseverance and passion to achieve long–term goals — that made the difference.

This linked with my experiences in my podcast as it wasn’t facts about whether I had a phone or not that defined my success in doing this challenge but how much willpower and internal mental strength I had to not use my phone.

  1. Ivy League undergraduate students who had more grit also had higher GPAs than their peers — even though they had lower SAT scores and weren’t as “smart.”

This linked with my experiences in my podcast as I realised it was working towards a goal and having perseverance that would make me successful overall but not starting off really strong and gradually decreasing my ability to follow the challenge – it is okay to have some lulls in your success as long as you are strongly working towards a goal.

  1. Mental toughness is an abstract quality, but in the real world it’s tied to concrete actions. You can’t magically think your way to becoming mentally tough, you prove it to yourself by doing something in real life.

This linked with my experiences in my podcast as I often found that I could easily say and imagine that I could stick to the challenge but in reality it was harder to do. I realised that to have perseverance you have to be actively working towards something and proving it in reality rather than imagining it up.

How is this useful for you as we enter the last three months of the year?

We have exams and many submissions during the last three months of the year and practicing mental toughness and building grit through small challenges like this will help me study dedicatedly and responsibly.


Before we carried out our challenge my partner and I made this partnership agreement:

  • As you listen to your partner agreement responses, where do you think you should have thought more about collaboration?

I feel like we should have organised a bit more as to setting google calendar reminders instead of just reminding each other by spoken word to make sure we wouldn’t forget. Sometimes we forgot to carry out the challenge in the beginning of the day as we did not set a calendar reminder or another source to remind us.

  • Which pieces of advice could you have thought more deeply about and why?

We spoke a lot about how we should listen and reflect more onto our podcast and I felt like while listening back onto our daily recordings during the challenge, we missed out on the opportunity to reflect about the day fully in the recordings. However, our final podcast did include some of our reflection, we should have thought more deeply about the extent of the reflection we should have portrayed during our daily recordings to fully portray what we had learnt from the challenge.

  • Now that you’ve worked with different partners, what is it that you MOST need from a partner during a project and how do you know?

I feel like I need a reliable and quality-oriented partner who also has a few different ideas for a project as well. In this way, I feel like my partner, Sri, and me took equal responsibility over the content and quality of our podcast. She was a reliable partner and took on the work when I was absent as well and made sure we stayed on track. We worked well with each other.


According to the Swiss Knife picture show below:

Which part of the tool (see below) was the sharpest for you in this project?

I feel like the sharpest tool for me in the project was the bottle-opener as I felt like I opened up to my partner and communicated well with her during the challenge and made sure we were on the same page.

Which part do you think you need to spend more time using and why? How would using that tool have helped with this project?

I also felt like I could have took a closer look at myself (magnifying glass) and measured what I felt better (ruler) as I feel a few of my reflections were lacking and I could have said much more about the daily experiences of the challenge and portrayed much more about the effects about the challenge. If I had reflected more, I believe that the overall content quality and message that we strived to portray in the podcast would have been better expressed. However, this a good reminder for me to think more deeply in my work in the future.

 

March 16

DPers: Partnered Podcast Project Final

In our Dpers unit, we took on different challenges for 5 days with the goal of making a podcast of our experiences. My partner, Sri, and me took on the challenge to use our phones as little as we can for 5 days.  This is our final podcast. The shownotes for this podcast are mentioned below.

Shownotes

In the podcast we mentioned Parker Nash’s 16 Things Everybody Should Stop Doing

To create our podcast we created intro/outro music through looping on garage band. Refer to this post to see how we did this.

To gain context on how to create a podcast we listened to IRL’s Social Bubble Bath podcast on filter bubbles. This is a reflection of the podcast to show what we learnt.

 

This is a photo of my partner, Sri, and me:

March 2

The Partnered Podcast Project

In our FIB Dpers Class – we have been working towards in partners, making a podcast based on our experiences from a series of challenges that we chose.

To implement this we have a series of deadlines and planners to make sure all our audio recording through the week are available.

This is a link to the project planner

We remind ourselves to take daily recordings of the developments of our project by making sure we verbally communicate/ text about it.

We also created intro and outro music for our podcasts. 

 

 

 

March 2

Writer’s Fortnight Article: Connections Create Change

Connections Create Change:

The FIB Service Experience

By Megna Srinivasan


From it’s teaching kids to juggle in Circus Club to planting pots in Gardening, most of our students here at UWC spend quite some time participating in a fundamental part of our community – The UWC Service Learning Programme. Whilst our students dedicate an hour or two after school each week to service,  the Foundation IB students are given the opportunity to expand their service experience.

This January, the FIB class took a Global Perspectives Service Trip to Bintan, alongside an NGO called The Island Foundation (TIF), with the shared aim of assisting local communities in Bintan through creating lessons targeted to help students with English Communication and the 21st Century skills of critical thinking, collaboration and confidence.

TIF is an International Charitable Organisation, registered in Singapore. It runs an education programme in collaboration with local people in the coastal communities of the Riau Archipelago in Indonesia with a goal to “create lasting change by educating the next generation to create resilient, resourceful problem-solvers, equipped with skills for better prospects in life.”

The UWC-TIF Partnership started 5 years ago as a minimal half-day collaboration that, over the years, developed into 2 three-day trips with students working directly with the NGO in Bintan, Indonesia.

Students spend their time on the trip engaging closely with the community in Bintan by following the 5 Stages of Service Learning: Investigation, Preparation, Action, Demonstration and Reflection – and of course, having fun.

Upon asking Pranav Harish, a FIB Student who went on this year’s trip, what his most memorable moments were, he said with a chuckle, ‘I remember playing with one of the kids on Snapchat, putting different filters on our faces, and she was so happy. It made me feel really good knowing that I showed her something she’s never seen before and gave her a new experience – it was those small connections we made with the children and the community that made the trip stand out for me’.

Daniel Lee, another FIB student on the trip says that his favourite moments were ‘playing football with the TIF Staff and learning more about them in a fun and engaging way’ and also mentioned how this ‘helped develop our connections, making it easier to work together’.

These ‘connections’ are what Mr.Rick Hannah, current Chair of Service UWCSEA East, says is ‘the way to connect students to world issues in a meaningful way – with reciprocal benefits’. Mr. Hannah has seen his share of world issues, be it the slums of Soweto in Africa, trash-picker communities in Jakarta or the effects of the civil war in Luanda, Angola. He recalls the powerful moment, while working with students in Angola, that sparked his long-lasting passion for service learning:

‘I set up an interaction between the local students in the slums of Luanda and our UWC students of similar ages so they could connect; and one of the activities the students there planned for us was about the dance and the arts of the local culture and our students learnt so much in the process – it was all very moving, we were on the receiving end of so much knowledge. After which, our students were like ‘We need to reciprocate’ so they set up a project whereby they taught students Computer Literacy Skills and looked at how they support them with infrastructure as well.’

He goes on to mention that this project was when he saw the true reciprocity and power of service and concludes with the thought

 

People from other cultures and places have got so much to share that we don’t know, have or can learn from and vice-versa.

 

So, regardless of whether it’s just a sharing snapchat filter or being immersed in ways of Angolan cultural dance, the more connections we make with communities and people different from our own – the more we have to grow and change.

But is simply making connections with other communities conducive to change? Do these benefits of Service Learning also benefit our service partners?

According to Erlina Ramli, The Education Manager in TIF over the past 3 years, the most impactful changes on the students are ones created by ‘the interaction with the UWC Students speaking English – they don’t always get that, because most of the teachers and people around don’t really speak a lot of English. I think that’s one of the best experiences for the students and of course they also learn different kinds of activities from UWC Students as well’.

But, these aren’t the only impacts – Erlina says ‘the ones who benefit the most would probably be the TIF Staff, because not only do they get the chance to learn English as well, but also see the tools you guys [UWC FIB students] use during service (like the compass tool) and now can apply that in their own teaching’.

She goes on to mention how “seeing the interaction between Mr.Hannah and the UWC students, how you guys communicate and work as a group,” is really helpful.

Feeling, seeing and learning from ours connections make all the difference.

If these connections create change – What have we seen happen so far?

Since the start of the UWC FIB Service Trips to Bintan with TIF, the community and our students have seen a few magic moments that show how our process and efforts to come together are worthwhile.

For instance, FIB students created a project with the Panglong community in Bintan which focused on the environment. After implementation, the local students within the community were seen to be more responsive in picking up waste and trash in the community and upcycling and repurposing them to sell in shops and making an income while cleaning their environments as well.

A group of FIB decided to address the issue of diabetes in Indonesian communities by picking apart traditional Indonesian recipes, substituting some ingredients with healthier counterparts – this was where we observed another magic moment. The community took on these proposed recipes and made healthier food decisions as a result.

And, even though this process of ‘Service’ may feel like it takes a while to come full circle to see the benefits, when it does – it’s worth the wait.

Work of Pak Madun, a community local in Bintan, who repurposes trash like shoes, plastics and wood to make and sell artwork

As a UWCSEA Student, one has the opportunity to connect with over 31 local service partners, 23 NGO’S, 9 Focus Groups, and  115 different services groups and projects within our school community.

So, in the words of the quintessential giver, Mahatma Gandhi

‘The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.’

 

 

 

Category: English | LEAVE A COMMENT