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Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Day #1

I woke up at 4 am.

I was shocked at myself - back in Malaysia, I wake up at 7 for school; when I'm on break, I don't wake up any time before 10 in the morning. But today, I woke up at 4 am. It surprised me even more when I glanced out of my window. It looked like an 8 am Malaysian morning to me. Clear skies, bright sun and everything on the field was visible.

I guess you can say that I'm excited for the conference since it's the first day today - or my biological clock is just messed up from flying halfway across the globe.

Breakfast was awesome and I had a variety of choices. Jill, my room mate and I then walked to CIRS building.

This is Jill, my room mate. Well, not really my room mate. More like (bath)room mate. She's from Taiwan !

The opening ceremony then commenced - one of the most extraordinary opening ceremonies I've been to, but no doubt, one of the best. After a few introductions and speeches from important people and the organizers of the IBWSC, Hussein Janmohamed took the stage.

Three words - he was phenomenal.

Expecting a speech, he surprised me by starting to sing. I was deeply amazed and engrossed in his deep, strong voice and to my surprise, the lyrics sounded familiar.

They were verses from the Quran. I know, for I caught a few words from the hymn and they were similar to those uttered in prayers by the Islamic community in my country.

Hussein was a choral conductor at UBC. He related the concept of sustainability, peace and harmony through his forte, music. It was no where near an attempt - it was pure success. He made the crowd sang religious verses from different cultures: one at a time at first, and together eventually. It was beautiful, breathtaking and indescribable - you just have to witness it yourself.

Even when we were singing verses of different cultures and religion, we still managed to attain unity - the choir of merged voices was absolutely melodious and enchanting. Sustainability, the big, overarching theme of this conference, works on the basis of unity. He quotes,

'Even if you have a small voice, when you sing with others, your voice is amplified.' 

Which, I thought, can be drawn parallel to our attempts on promoting the concept of sustainability. We might be small, or young, or seemingly insignificant - but if we stand together, like how we are now in this conference, despite being of different culture and heritage, we are able to create huge impacts to save our future.

Here's a link to a video by Hussein on TEDx:

After that, I went on an experience tour, let by UBC's own student leaders. They brought us around famous and reputable sites around the campus.

An extremely zen garden which strongly reflects the Japanese culture. Best part? THERE'S WIFI.

The UBC Rose Garden, which somehow reminded me of Alice in Wonderland.

After lunch, Moura Quayle, a professor from the Sauder School of Business, took the stage and gave us a few interesting insights of UBC's role in sustainability. The amount of dedication and effort amazed me, and I was inspired to do the same for my community one day. Like I've said previously -  UBC is a living proof of the concept of sustainability - they are willing to invest, incorporate and integrate student ideas into the environment they are living in. I have seen it through my own eyes: bike stands outside every building and faculty to promote biking instead of using vehicles, canteen cutlery made of recyclable materials and many more.

GAT group sessions came up next, led by our GAT leader Mr Bill Patterson and GAT Student Leader Michela. Apparently, we had to come up with a presentation which incorporates ideas and concepts learned within the week. We never agreed on anything solid but merely discussed what we'd like to present as a group, and made sure everybody was comfortable with the idea.

Koerner ! 

COLOUR WARS ! One of the most exciting and memorable event within the week. GAT groups compete against each other through games organized by the UBC Student Leaders.

Strategizing for Capture the Flag 


You won't be able to see me in both of these pictures because I'm short and I'm squished by everyone else. Haha.

By the time dinner was served, everyone was mad tired, but all of us were still excited for what's in store for us in the evening. Peace One Day activity came next, where we watched a documentary about the President of Maldives, titled The Island President. This film spoke about the efforts and struggles of a leader of a small country in tackling climate change. Discussions were carried on throughout the evening and we were later released for the day.

The Island President documentary.

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