Project Malaysia 2008

Project Malaysia 2008
When: Wednesday May 28 2008 – Sunday June 8 2008
Location: Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia

Project Blog: http://sealnet.ning.com/profiles/blog/list?tag=pm08

Project Leaders:

Tuan Huynh: huynht ‘at’ mit.edu
Wesley Koo: shwesley ‘at’ mit.edu
Kai Qiu : kaizer ‘at’ mit.edu

Problems

Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia, is a major ecotourism destination. However, many people in its community only view the conservations and parks as natural attractions. The question: “how do we preserve these environments?” is not frequently asked.

Moreover, local students do not have many opportunities to participate in leadership programs such as ours. The community lacks student-initiated projects, and we seek to inspire students to develop their own environmental projects.

Local Partner

Our primary partner is the Kota Kinabalu Wetland Centre (KKWC). KKWC works to conserve a 24-hectare area of mangrove forest, a habitat that once existed extensively along the coastal region of Kota Kinabalu. KKWC has agreed to work with us to support the environment projects that we will plan together with the local students.

Other secondary partners are the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Malaysia, the Ministry of Education of Sabah, and potentially other local institutions.

Objectives

Our project’s motto: “Environmental Awareness in Action.”

  • Help KKWC raise public awareness of the importance of mangrove wetlands
  • Facilitate Malaysian high school students in establishing a sustainable community service program that promotes environmental conservation
  • Enable both high school students and university participants to utilize and improve upon leadership skills throughout the project
  • Give all participants an invaluable experience that instills in them both the knowledge and motivation to act.

Approaches

  • Increase public involvement in the wetlands’ protection.
  • Organize leadership workshops, talks by speakers from World Wildlife Fund and other environment organizations, and field trips to environment organizations to the local students.
  • Throughout the project, each student will be paired with a SEALNet team member to develop a mentee-mentor relationship. Mentors will talk to students about service and leadership and encourage them to give back to their community.
  • Through working with KKWC and SEALNet, students will come up with their own future events and programs on the environment. Students will present their projects to us and KKWC on our project’s closing day, and we will give them seed funding to start carrying out their projects after we leave.

Team Member Responsibilities

  • Be the mentor of one or two Malaysian high school students (mentees), constantly interact with them during activities, and motivate them to innovate and take action
  • Prepare daily lessons in leadership and teach them with enthusiasm
  • Help in different ways with high school students’ creation of their own community service project
  • Keep an eye out for the safety and health of other team members
  • Reflect upon what one has learned at the end of the day, and communicate it with team members
  • Be the adviser of the students’ community service project after leaving Malaysia, and be ready to answer questions and contribute to the development and sustainability of the project in different ways

Skills Needed

  • Enthusiasm and motivation to tackle social problems
  • Sense of responsibility
  • Persistence
  • Strong communication skills
  • Genuine interest in Southeast Asia/Malaysia and the environment
  • An open mind