Take Me To Church - EcoKnights Instills Environmental Awareness To Secondary School Students

It was a Saturday morning, February the 27th, and the Environmental NGO was invited to give a talk to a bunch of secondary-school students from the 1st PJ Girl’s Brigade in Trinity Methodist Church Petaling Jaya about, well, the environment. Unknowingly, the caller from the 1st PJ Girl’s Brigade, coincidentally chose the date for the talk on the same day as International Polar Bear Day, giving EcoKnights a baseline on what to talk about. The theme the two interns decided on was Climate Change and its effects on Polar Bears and the north and south poles. 

This feels funny.”, thought the two interns from EcoKnights.

Bazil Shahriman and Mandeep Singh, a muslim and sikh respectively, still felt a bit uneasy strolling into the church. For one thing, this is their first public presentation, on top of getting no guidance from supervisors, and they were trusted with this task by the organisation’s co-founder and current chairperson, Yasmin Rasyid. And the fact that they were not christians only added to the discomfort.

Both boys have already practised open-mindedness and mentally prepared themselves for this moment, but just thinking about it and actually doing the things are two different ball games altogether. They entered the compound, nervously looking for Ms. Chew Lee Fuang, the person they were in contact with through email and phone. Not knowing what she looks like, the two looked for a welcoming face. They found her almost immediately after they entered the church. Thank God! (Whichever you prefer) 

As they stepped into the room of their would-be presentation, fourty curious pairs of eyes followed them as they made their way across the room to the stage and podium. Dead silence. The intern-pair were only expecting at most an audience of twenty. Apparently the 1st PJ Boy’s brigade was present too, doubling the number of heads in the crowd. It was a good thing Bazil and Mandeep had the intent of preparing for screw-ups in their interactive session they had planned, so they had prepared double the amount of supplies. Now they can’t afford to screw up! 

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Armed with only a pendrive, the interns started off the presentation with an interactive “Did you know?” Ice-breaking session, along with some (lame) ice-breaking jokes. Amongst the many puns, one of the better ones went a little bit like this: “How heavy does a polar bear weigh? ...Enough to break the ice!”

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Determined to break the awkwardness of the half-hearted laughs, Intern Mandeep Singh started things off by talking about Climate Change and its causes, mostly lead by carbon. Pun intended. With adorable animations and informative videos up his sleeve, the teenaged audience were surprisingly kept interested. Mandeep went on about how carbon dioxide, lead, and other pollutants were produced and, when left unmonitored, come with devastating effects, especially in terms of the greenhouse effect and ozone layer thinning phenomena.

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A sample of a couple of the slides that were used

After a series of slides and explanations, Mandeep passed the microphone over to Bazil to take it from there. Bazil described how making a change to curb climate change can start from home. From explaining natural and artificial causes in climate change to elaborating on the efforts that can be made by every individual that when, collectively, makes an everlasting and significant impact especially in the long-run. From going vegetarian to carpooling to “making volcanoes erupt”, ears were perked and the atmosphere of attention shifted as the fourty teenagers got interested in how their choices could save the world.

After a few more slides, animations and videos, the time came for the members of the Girls and Boys Brigade to carry out the interactive activity session. Split into a total of six groups, each group had to think of their own ways to help curb climate change. “Bonus points” was awarded to any group that came up with their own methods that were not included in the earlier slides. The whole activity took about twenty to thirty minutes, including the presentation phase.

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Most presentations were professional and creative, though one group, the last to present, shines a bit brighter over the rest, albeit in a rather unorthodox way, for their ideas were those untold of. Amongst their many otherworldly suggestions were to “shower together/share a cubicle” to save water, to “pass a fart bag around” to contain and compress methane emissions, and to “use coffins made out of cardboard” instead. Of course, they managed to balance their presentation with more professional, rather standard, answers such as reducing the use of air-conditioners or by saying “no” to plastic bags.

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After the final group ended their presentation, Ms Chew Lee Fuang stepped up and asked for another round of applause for the two interns as well as the individual-group efforts with their presentations. The two interns asked for a final group picture and Ms Lee Fuang bestowed tokens of appreciation for them both on behalf of the 1st PJ Girls and Boys’ Brigade before officially closing the talk.

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Prepared by,

Bazil Shahriman
Programme Intern

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