01 December 2015

Sharing with Outward Bound, teachers and youths

The largest gathering of people I've spoken to so far. Nearly 500 people who volunteered for Outward Bound Singapore's IsLand-A-Hand event! Only the excellent OBS team could manage such a monumental event so smoothly and with such good cheer!
During the week, I also gave another talk to teachers, and helped workshop at a gathering of youths. I learned a lot, met many interesting people and collapsed in an exhausted heap at the end of it all.

IsLand-A-Hand allows ordinary people to go trekking on secret Ubin paths, meet other youths who care about Ubin, get down and dirty to clean up, reforest and learn about Ubin. It was organised by the Outward Bound Singapore staff as their community service day. The clever title shows how everyone can lend a hand to the island of Ubin, and bring back what they learned to the big island of Singapore! I joined mid-way after the participants had completed their activities and were starting to share their thoughts about the event.
Some participants helped to clean up more remote shores of Pulau Ubin. And they clearly felt good about the experience.
Other participants helped plant trees in an area that was affected by a fire, while others helped to weed and remove invasive plants.
The chance to meet like-minded people was clearly appreciated. And the experience of making a difference with our actions too.
The remarks show that the participants understood the complexities of the issues.
How nice to see lovely drawings of marine creatures on one of the panels.
Thanks to Chua Li San for not only inviting me to be a part of the event, but also arranging to purchase more copies of the Shores of Singapore guidesheet to give out to all the participants. I hope this will help them know more about the marine life that thrives in Singapore's northern and southern shores.
One excellent way to make a difference for nature and find out more about our wildlife is to volunteer with NParks Pulau Ubin. Here's some of the ongoing activities that NParks Pulau Ubin volunteers can help out with.
One participant was really keen to volunteer and I'm glad she caught up with Mr Robert Teo who looks after Pulau Ubin. More about how to volunteer with NParks.
The Project Ubin info panels at the back of the room also provided more information for those who would like to make a difference for Pulau Ubin.
As Paris COP starts, I also shared some of the effects of climate change that we are now already experiencing. From the terrible haze we recently experienced to the anticipated monster mass coral bleaching event and possibly a water shortage in Singapore due to prolonged drought in Johor.
The Guest of Honour, Senior Minister of State, Desmond Lee also shared his inspiring thoughts about how we can make a difference for nature.
In the exhaustible Johnson Ong of U Volunteers with the equally indefatigable Minister Desmond take a group photo together. Johnson Ong, as usual, will have the most awesome collection of photos of the event, and posted almost instantly online!
While waiting for the afternoon programme, youths are always sharing and learning even when they are resting.
I was also subjected to an interview by these kind people who gamely let me take photos of them too. Here's the Channel NewsAsia story of the event.

More photos of IsLand-A-Hand 

Alas, on the way home, I saw a trail of palm oil waste at the OBS jetty.
Here's a closer look at it.
I saw the stream of palm oil waste on the way to Ubin before the event. More about palm oil waste and how it is very harmful to the environment.
On the way to OBS, once again, I spotted people laying nets in the Straits. Right in front of Pasir Gudang Port. More about the issue of netting in Project Driftnet. The upside is that it suggests our waters are still rich in marine life despite the many pressures it faces.

MORE talks

Last week, I was also kindly invited to speak at the Gifted Education Annual Conference for the session on "Treasures in Our Backyard: Rediscovering Singapore's Natural Heritage". I was quite nervous speaking to Real Teachers. Besides my usual talk about Singapore's amazing marine life and some of the threats facing them, I took the opportunity to share some of the work that the nature community has been doing with youths. The Sustainability Mentorship Programme 2015 initiated by Eugene Tay was a great learning experience for me. I'm so glad he is looking into another run of the Programme.
November Tan of the Leafmonkey Workshop has been providing invaluable workshops for volunteer guides and nature volunteers. To allow them to learn, share and Do! These are non-denominational and anyone can join with a wide variety of nature experts invited to share. The interactive workshops are fun and ideal for adult sharing and learning.
It's only been a little more than a year since the wild internship was attempted. Blessed with great interns, and awesome mentors, we've done so much!
The occasion was made even more special because it gave me a chance to hear Faizah Jamal speak. She always inspires us to listen to Mother Nature and learn how to heal ourselves, our children and our planet. More photos of her talk slides here.
It was also a delight to hear from the alumni of the Raffles Ecological Literacy Programme that has produced great work including many books for children on Singapore's native flora and fauna. More photos of their talk slides here.

Earlier last week, Dr Serena Teo also kindly invited me to help out at the STEP-NUS Sunburst Environment Programme - Workshops. As usual, I had fun and learned a great deal from everyone. Grateful acknowledgement to November Tan and the Leafmonkey Workshop for workshopping tips. Which I hope helped the participants have fun and get to know one another and brainstorm ideas on how to approach some of our most heartbreaking food security issues. More photos here.
While I enjoy doing workshops and giving talks, I find them exhausting. I think it's because I'm basically an introvert. It takes me days to recover. Doing so many in a row was particularly hard. But I'm glad I had the chance to do these special occasions.

Here's more about the terms and conditions for me giving a talk.

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