Starting a fire….

The following is a special message from the current President of Greenpulse. We also wish to happily announce that the Greenpulse blog will soon be more active as we will have new contributors and authors writing for the site. Now sit back, relax, and read about how one student decided to take the first steps towards setting up Greenpulse.

At the end of June 2008, I came to UMS to continue my studies. My course? Environmental science.

I still remember the reason I chose this course, and the reason I chose to come here – Sabah which very far from my hometown. Partly due to my Sixth Form biology teacher, Mr. L’s influence , I started to appreciate all the things I have in life and also started to think more about the environment. Although this course was not my first choice, I am still happy that I am able to study here.

As an environmental science student, I assumed most of my fellow course-mates would care about the environment as well. Not so.

They are still the same people they were before university life; thinking that life as a university student did not extend beyond focussing on their studies, having fun, and so on. A lot of them chose this course is because they just wanted to continue their studies – in a way the Malaysian education system has forced them to study something they aren’t passionate about. As a result, they come here just to further their studies (although technically, that is our main purpose for coming here).

I thought there should be an environmental group to provide guidance and leadership to this university’s students in environmental issues. Unfortunately, there wasn’t any group like this around. Luckily, this university still has a significant group of students that really care about the environment. Most of them joined an association that helps to spread information about the environment. Our student council (Majlis Perwakilan Pelajar, MPP) even has an environmental division (Rewarp: although essentially frozen in time like Duke Nukem Forever, it is still technically there).

Sometime in July 2009. One of my environmental science senior, Chow Geh Tsung, came back from an environmental leadership programme in the U.S. to give us a talk (presentation) about what he learned from his experience there. He made me feel that he really cared about the environment.

At the end of his presentation, he mentioned about forming an environmental movement in the university. About 15 of us – including myself – then went forward and that was how it all started. We arranged for our first meeting on a Sunday after his talk to discuss in greater detail about the movement that we were going to form. As a result of that meeting, we formed a committee and had Associate Professor Dr. Piakong Mohd. Tuah become our official advisor. It was also on that very day that we decided on the name Greenpulse.

In that meeting, we also discussed the activities we would carry out and how we should organize the club. Due to Chow’s great efforts, we successful passed up our club proposal to the university’s Student Affairs Department (Hal Ehwal Pelajar, HEP) about one month later.

While waiting for the official approval for the establishment of our club, we also started our first project – Switch Off. We had a meeting every Friday evening to discuss the status and details of the project. We also involved first year students in our movement.

Luckily, the first year students were quite interested in our movement and joined in every meeting we had. On the 7th of September, project Switch Off started at the School of Science and Technology, SST. Although there are were many difficulties in running this project, the most important thing was we stepped out and took our first step. Now, more and more people know about our movement and have expressed their interest in our movement.

I’m very appreciative of their support. Although the first result have yet to come out, I hope that this project will be successful.

Within this period, we also meet Mr Alberto Goetzl and Mr. Phill Loosli, both of whom gave some talks about the environment. Now, the recycling plan we have for some residential colleges in UMS has also started moving.

This project is mainly led by the first year students. I can feel that they really care and really want to keep the fire burning (Chow’s favourite line). They even do some things that were quite dirty and sacrificed quite a lot of their time and effort on this project. This was a very pleasant surprise and I really can’t fully expressed the extent of my admiration towards what they have done. This project will carry on in the next semester, which is in 2010. I hope it will be successful.

Sometimes, I feel very shy while facing the Greenpulse members, partly due to my broken English and I find myself not knowing what I should do and say. Sometime it makes me afraid to speak out during the meetings or discussions.

Maybe I haven’t prepared enough for it. Although we face many problems such as members leaving the movement, or the normal difficulties of university life, and so on, we still need to strive on. The environment is not just “our thing”, but is the shared responsibility of all members of the world.

I hope we can get more members who really care about the environment and can help us to spread the news about our movement. Maybe we are busy with the endless assignments, presentations, or lab report. But I hope we can allocate some time to think for the environment.

Starting a thing is easier than trying to keep things going. I hope that we can keep going together.

To Nature’s Beat,

A person from the starting point.

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