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Last updateWed, 11 Nov 2015 11am

Thursday, 16 July 2015 13:51

Environmental Protection Seminar in Tamil School

Written by  Koh Poo Leng, Klang / Translated by Lee Ren Hui

Volunteers specially prepared various types of resources to let students experience the fun of recycling through resource classification. [Photograph by Koh Poo Leng]

On the eve of Hari Raya, SJK(T) Telok Datok in Banting invited volunteers from Tzu Chi Klang to its Kempen Kitar Semula to share with 400 students on environmental protection. During the two-hour event, students gained a deeper understanding on environmental protection after learning about recycling and resource classification.


 
Conducting an environmental protection seminar in Chinese is an easy task for volunteers, but how does one enable Indian students studying in a Tamil primary school to gain a deeper understanding on environmental protection? Coordinating volunteer, Lim Sok Hoon was worried when she received the task to conduct such a seminar in a Tamil school. However, as environmental protection is a pressing issue, she sought help from Indian volunteers to jointly host the seminar.
 
“When liaising with the school, I found out that 400-plus students would participate in the seminar, and that would be a large audience. And, because it is a Tamil school, I needed the help of fellow Indian volunteers to make this first environmental protection seminar in Tamil a success.” 
 
Sok Hoon welcomed this challenge with open arms and overcame all obstacles. Besides requesting the Indian volunteers to search for more information on the Internet, she also helped them to prepare for the seminar to ensure that they could confidently explain the concept of environmental protection to the students.
 
Enjoyed the environmental protection seminar in Tamil
 
At 7.15 am on July 16, 2015, 17 Chinese and Indian volunteers started their 45-minute drive to the school in four vehicles. In addition to transporting volunteers, these vehicles were also packed with recyclable resources to be used in explaining resource classification and environmental protection to the students.
 
The Indian Master of Ceremony, Pubalan, made a simple introduction to the seminar, followed by lively and funny Chicken Dance which helped break the ice between the students and volunteers. Following that, the students sat down in an orderly manner as they participated in the environmental protection seminar.
 
One of the Indian volunteers, Thiruchelvam a/l Muthoo, purposely took leave from work to participate in the event. Well-prepared, and with the aid of slides, he presented his talk on environmental protection to his audience. As a computer illiterate, he sought the help of his daughter in obtaining the relevant information from the Internet.
 
“Today I am here to share the importance of environmental protection, mainly to inform students that the Earth is heavily polluted, and that we should stop littering and wasting resources, such as, water and energy, as well as food. We should all start saving the Earth together,” said Thiruchelvam.
 
Ten-year-old Subashini a/p Murugan was engrossed in the seminar. She looked at the screen and made notes from time to time. She shared, “Through the seminar, I learnt about the 5Rs of recycling, which are, Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Repair and Recycle.” Furthermore, Subashini also learnt some new environmental protection knowledge from resource classification. She especially loves the small toys and decorative items, which the volunteers made from recyclables.
 
“I am going to share with my family what I have learnt today, and I am going to start collecting aluminium cans and plastic bottles to make home decorative items,” said Subashini excitedly.
 
Attracted by reuse of resources
 
As a result of the large number of students, the seminar and hands-on experience on resource classification were carried out in the assembly hall and the school canteen respectively. At a corner of the canteen, teachers and students were attracted by decorative items made from recyclables displayed on a long table. A tall Indian volunteer, Murugan, was also on hand to explain to the students on how to classify recyclables, allowing them to learn about environmental protection through both theoretical and practical approaches.
 
“Boys and girls, using the garbage bags next to you, we will start sorting out the resources on the ground together, okay?” Murugan held a piece of paper in one hand and styrofoam on the other to teach the students to recognize the recyclables and non-recyclable items. Before he could even finish his explanation, the students had already started classifying resources, filling the canteen with laughter.
 
Ten-year-old Haemavathi a/p Berabakkaren was very happy to learn about recycling, and hopes to encourage her friends to join her in protecting the environment.
 
“When we protect the environment, we are actually saving the Earth. In future, I will place used papers in the recycling bin instead of throwing them into the dustbin, because paper can be recycled, as well as aluminium cans. I will pick them up for recycling,” Haemavathi said shyly.
 
This was the first step taken by the school in promoting environmental protection. Teacher Mala a/p Munusamy was pleased to see the students actively involved in activities, making the seminar a success. Teacher Mala got to know Tzu Chi two years ago through Tzu Chi Study Grant when she served at SMK Pulau Carey Barat. She admired Tzu Chi’s efforts in promoting environmental protection, and had also taken her students to visit the Taman Meru Educational Recycling Centre.
 
After understanding the importance of environmental protection, Teacher Mala had started promoting environmental protection in the school she served previously. As a result of her efforts, the teachers and students there have stopped using styrofoam. Early this year, she was transferred to SJK(T) Telok Datok. After obtaining the school’s approval, she started promoting environmental protection in the school, and invited Tzu Chi volunteers to help in this regard.
 
Teacher Mala said, “Tzu Chi’s environmental protection concepts are very practical and important for the students. When they grow up, they can help reduce natural disasters through environmental protection initiatives, so it is imperative to start cultivating these good habits early.” She also agreed with Tzu Chi in giving the money from the sale of recyclables to help the poor and needy. Through the promotion of environmental protection, she hopes that the students can develop good virtues as a start, and help others later on in their life.
 
Jointly carry out environmental protection in school
 
At the seminar, Senior Assistant, Gnanaammal a/p Rajaia, listened carefully to the explanations given by volunteers. Having gained a better understanding on environmental protection, she decided to start recycling activities in the school after the Hari Raya holidays.
 
She said, “Actually, environmental protection is now part of the school curriculum, but the content is not as rich and extensive as shared by volunteers, so I think the students have learnt a lot today.” Although busy with school affairs, she is willing to make extra efforts in promoting environmental protection in school because she feels that parents may not necessarily teach their children, and therefore, teachers have an obligation to lead them to save our planet.
 
“Environmental protection is not the responsibility of one person; everyone should do it because the Earth belongs to everyone,” she added earnestly.
 
Coordinating volunteer, Lim Sok Hoon, hopes that the seminar will have a ripple effect in the school and that everyone will start playing their part in protecting the environment, and become a promoter of environmental protection.
 
 
Environmental protection is everyone’s responsibility, regardless of age; and the Indian volunteers are now advancing towards this area. They hope to share the concepts of environmental protection with their Indian friends so that everyone can be an advocate of environmental protection.
 
 
Volunteer Murugan (centre) explained to the students the importance of resource classification, hoping to instil in them the proper concept of recycling. [Photograph by Koh Poo Leng]   Haemavathi (left) is very interested in the decorative items made from recyclables and decided to make them at home. [Photograph by Koh Poo Leng]

Volunteer Murugan (centre) explained to the students the importance of resource classification, hoping to instil in them the proper concept of recycling. [Photograph by Koh Poo Leng]
 
Haemavathi (left) is very interested in the decorative items made from recyclables and decided to make them at home. [Photograph by Koh Poo Leng]
 
Volunteer Thiruchelvam shared with students the importance of environmental protection. [Photograph by Koh Poo Leng]   Subashini is determined to carry out environmental protection. [Photograph by Koh Poo Leng]

Volunteer Thiruchelvam shared with students the importance of environmental protection. [Photograph by Koh Poo Leng]
 
 
Subashini is determined to carry out environmental protection. [Photograph by Koh Poo Leng]
 
Senior Assistant, Gnanaammal, announced that the school will start implementing environmental protection initiatives after the Hari Raya holidays; a move that will boost the volunteers’ morale. [Photograph by Koh Poo Leng]   Teacher Mala and volunteer Chong Sui San got acquainted through Tzu Chi Study Grant and have become good friends. [Photograph by Koh Poo Leng]

Senior Assistant, Gnanaammal, announced that the school will start implementing environmental protection initiatives after the Hari Raya holidays; a move that will boost the volunteers’ morale. [Photograph by Koh Poo Leng]
 
 
Teacher Mala and volunteer Chong Sui San got acquainted through Tzu Chi Study Grant and have become good friends. [Photograph by Koh Poo Leng]
 
Coordinating volunteer, Lim Sok Hoon, is thankful to the volunteers, who helped her to complete this mission. [Photograph by Koh Poo Leng]   After the seminar, volunteers happily took a group photo with representatives of the school. [Photograph by Koh Poo Leng]

Coordinating volunteer, Lim Sok Hoon, is thankful to the volunteers, who helped her to complete this mission. [Photograph by Koh Poo Leng]
 
 
After the seminar, volunteers happily took a group photo with representatives of the school. [Photograph by Koh Poo Leng]