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Tuesday, 20 August 2013


Within the week, I witnessed UBC's countless and equally admirable sustainability efforts, cultures of thirty-five countries and people who share the same passion and thirst to save our future. I have never met such a diverse, yet united community, which may be separated by gender, race and age, but share and possess an equal drive and contribution to make the world a better place. There was never a moment wasted, as together, we practiced critical thinking and discussed sustainability issues, yet at the same time we are able to seize the chance of nurturing IB values within ourselves. 

What more can I say? UBC's hospitality and services are worthy of respect as they DO walk the talk - sustainability measures are implemented by staff and students alike. Their efficiency and desire for sustainability clearly lived up to their name and never ceased to amaze me. I always thought that being sustainably requires an amount of reduced comfort - I was wrong. 

The lectures and talks are empowering. The concept of sustainability is integrated with economics and is brought to light by amazing speakers. I feel blessed to be there for every second as I intently listened about sustainability efforts by people from other sides of the globe, and I strive to bring this new knowledge back to my society and country.

I would like to thank  Oxford Study Courses (OSC)  for this beautiful opportunity and a chance to widen my horizons. I had never dreamt of travelling out of the country at this age due to financial constraints, especially to Canada, a country half a globe away from my own. With all sincerity, I am eternally grateful for this opportunity, and this amazing experience shall remain close to my heart.

Wednesday, 14 August 2013


I woke up to a rather gloomy morning.

The beautiful field outside Totem Park Residence greeted me for the last time and I pulled open the blinds to savour the sight for the last time. It was pretty empty, as most people had early flights. I never had to say a last goodbye to my Arizona and Texas friends - the bunch I've bonded with the most within the week, and needless to say, the ones I'd miss the most. They all had flights as early as 5 am.

Breakfast was pretty quiet as well and I was pretty sure that I'll miss the strawberry yoghurt served in the dining hall.

I showered, packed, took one last look at the room, and left. What had disappointed me the most was, I never really said a proper, final goodbye to my chaperone, Ms Kim Uyyek, who had been kind and helpful to me throughout the week.

I shopped around a lot at the airport, for it's not everyday I get to be in a country halfway across the globe from my own.

I dreaded my flight, but the time to board had to come eventually. I don't know if I'd get the chance to be here again.

But as the plane lifted off, I know one day, I'll be back.

And then I drifted off to sleep. It was another twenty hours back to home.

From left: Kendrix and I from Malaysia; Natya from Indonesia; Eri and Ririka from Japan 

Day #5

This was one of the most dreaded days as it's the last day of the conference. It might not be the last for me, for I will be leaving on the day after today, but some participants had flights right after the closing ceremony which commenced in the evening.

We had breakfast as usual, and I found out that the strawberry yoghurt served in Totem Hall Dining Room was really good.

The activities in the CIRS building started off with concurrent sessions with various UBC student representatives who had made an impact in their community. Again, we participated in a workshop held by them, and I picked Sam Harrison's session. 

Sam was only sixteen, and both his parents were UBC professors. Nevertheless, his achievements were astoundingly impressive. 

A mini presentation during Sam Harisson's session

After lunch, we had an hour to prepare for our GAT group presentation. It was the last chance to make final changes and my group was pretty relaxed about it, since we all knew what we were supposed to do. We spent the next two hours in the CIRS building as each team delivered their presentation. 

Team Koerner before the GAT presentations start

My team threw on a sketch about IBWSC after 50 years, which would be held underwater since the future generation's ancestors (which is our generation) did not take sustainable and precautionary measures which lead to sea level rising.

Team Koerner ! 

One of the group's GAT presentation which featured a video they recorded

This is a blueprint of a model city constructed by Jonah Uyyek, which is simply amazing. 

If you thought the blueprint was amazing on its own, he even constructed a 3D model of the city. #mindblown

Everyone was absolutely awed by this demonstration - how can one create such an amazing, organized piece of work within such a limited time frame?! #salute

We had an empty slot next, which meant that we could do whatever we wanted within the campus since it was the last day. Most of us, including myself, went to the UBC bookstore, which held a large variety of goods catered for their students, most bearing the UBC emblem to exhibit school pride. 

(I have no pictures for this, sorry ! Was busy shopping :P)

Dinner was a simple and relaxed picnic outside Totem Park Residence, where we were served pizza and soda. This was the time where we spend our last times together, as some had to head off to the airport after the closing ceremony, which commenced after dinner.

The closing ceremony was especially heartfelt - most participants never hesitated to make a closing speech and they had bravely spoken about their experiences within the week. There were a lot of hugs and goodbyes, and giant thankyous to the organizers, especially to the staff members of UBC, who had spent a great amount of effort into making this a success. 

Awwww :')

Rmember the Japanese flag Sushi brought? It was filled with signatures from people around the world. The symbol of hope :')

With the amazing Karen Waugh, who, together with OSC, made this whole trip possible for me. #touched

Words cannot express how much gratitude I felt for UBC, especially to Quinn, who emceed and overlooked the whole conference. I have to say, this is by far one of the best, well-organized conferences I've been to in my life.
Also, here's a shout out to Naomi Gordon, whom I did not manage to get a picture with, unfortunately. You've been utmost efficient and I am convinced that the conference could not take place without your presence.

Many thanks to Jeni Williams on behalf of the whole of OSC, who made all of this possible in the first place.

With Xander from Seattle, one of the friendliest and entertaining people I've met in this conference.

Kentaro from Japan, who never failed to amuse me with his unique personality.

Delber from Mexico, one of the very first people I've met before the start of the conference.

With Emily and Ainslie 

With Alisha, one of my GAT team members and an amazing friend.

With Atsushi, who insists to be called Sushi. Than you for throwing such an amazing performance during World Culture Performance :') 

And thank you to everyone in the IBWSC out there, as your presence had definitely contributed to this conference in making an extra memorable, heartfelt one.

Day #4

I looked forward to this day, compared to those within the week. We went for a trip to the downtown of Vancouver, and ended this incredible day with lots of dancing and dinner on a boat.

After breakfast, we board the bus and in about 20 minutes time, the city came into view. The architecture were impressive and the scenery was equally breathtaking. Vancouver offers its best with the beautiful blend of architecture and nature, and the equally friendly community.

UBC Robson Square

We went to UBC Robson Square and had a short seminar with a few business representatives from Vancouver City which elaborated on their attempts and roles in promoting the concept of sustainability through their respective careers.

Dorris Orr, from Vancity Risk Bank

Stewart Lampe, from The Soap Dispensary

The Soap Dispensary encourages their customers to bulk-buy detergents in self-brought containers as part of the business's sustainability initiatives.

Elaine Fisher, from the beautiful Vancouver International Airport (YVR).

Anthony Taylor, from The Hive

UBC's very own representative who talked about the biodiesel project in UBC

Christine Park, of AMS Bike Co-Op, which promotes the concept of bike-sharing by offering bike-fixing services and teaching programmes. 
Next would be the Sustainability Photo Challenge, which required teamwork as we were required to be present in photos at certain famous locations around Vancouver City. It was similar to the Scavenger's Hunt - but much more laidback as we could take our time and stop to get refreshments. It was quite a letdown that we were advised not to go shopping around the city, but you'll know why later.

Some photos while exploring Vancouver City:

Random dancing on the street - but they're good !

This picture looks as though it will rain - but trust me, it was no way near that. In fact, it was sunny. 

Random white plant which I found fascinating.

Tori, from Arizona ! 

The Scavenger Photo Challenge was a free and easy task, so we got to chill out a lot and took our time exploring the city.  We were playing some games here near the beach.

Luis, from Mexico ! He claimed that Mexico City has the best Chinese food and invited me over :P 

William and Andrei

Ella, Alexander, Tomoki, William, Sarah and Andrei. <3

See this thing? What does it look like to you?

Looks like a giant proposal ring, no?

Andrei and I. Sitting beside him made me self-conscious of my tiny frame. 

Tori, from Arizona; myself; and Alisha from Canada

With Mady, from the States

Random mysterious stone structures alongside the beach

Here's an Italian couple selling a form of dessert near the beach, which I did not purchase, but watched with fascination - for it looked extremely similar to the ice-kacang in Malaysia.

Shaved ice kiosk ran by an Italian couple

An ice-cream I had from a store ran by an Asian couple. It was instant relief after walking for so long. The weather might be relatively cool here as compared to Malaysia's, but it did not tone down the Sun's powerful rays. I had definitely got tanner, and a few of my friends turned pink.

We found ourselves at the harbour of Vancouver City in the end, to board the Britannica.

Here's why we weren't encouraged to shop in the city. There were security checks before we board the boat and set off for an amazing evening.

Sushi was served as dinner, and dancing commenced after everyone was filled. It was quite an experience for me, for it was one of my firsts. I went up to get some air after a few minutes.

Pictures on the top deck !

This experience is surreal. I have never seen such a beautiful city in my life.

Can I go back in time?

My favourite Texans :D

Cute houses that seem to be floating on water

Simply, breathtaking

With Kendrix, my fellow Malaysian.

Andrei, from Quebec !

Hieu, from Texas !

The evening ended soon enough, and again before I end this post, thank you to UBC for their laborious effort to make this a success. The best of Vancouver was definitely revealed today.

Picture of the day:

I want, so badly, to return once more.