The Official Blog of the 2009 Sustainability Decathlon
Learn more about the Sustainability Decathlon.
Reflections of participants in the 2009 Sustainability Decathlon
Saturday, Apr. 11, 2009
Interview by Laura Farley, Mentor for Presentation High School
Why are you participating in the Sustainability Decathlon?
Our school is involved in the Decathlon because our environmental club (SEAS) moderator, Ms. Rahmig, told us that Santa Clara was interested in entering us in an environmental challenge, and it would be a good idea if our club got involved to represent our school. I am participating because I try to live an environmentally friendly lifestyle and I want others on campus to have a reason to as well. To me, a lot of it has to do with attitude and awareness and I want to improve both of these on my school campus. We are the people of the future, and I want to share the opportunities we have to make it a cleaner future with the rest of my school.
What is your favorite decathlon category? Why?
I think my favorite categories are those that fall under "Communication". To me, communication/education is a very important part, and often the most influential step, in making change for the better. Our projects for the decathlon under these categories, such as our school Earth Day celebration and our Garbage Clean-Up Day, are just some of the many ways in which we are trying to communicate to the rest of the school and bring awareness to our goals for a better future.
What has been your biggest challenge in the Sustainability Decathlon so far?
I think the biggest challenge is probably staying organized with all the different categories we are involved in. We have a good number of people involved in the Decathlon with all their good ideas for how we can contribute to a cleaner and more sustainable environment. I think another challenge we have is narrowing down the ideas we have into feasible plans of action. It is a good challenge, as it’s awesome that we have a surplus of ideas and participation.
What have you learned from participating in the Sustainability Decathlon?
As President of our environmental club, I am very impressed with the dedication of our members to the decathlon. I have learned that this is just the beginning. I am a senior this year, and I wish that I had more time to work on the more long-term projects we are starting for the Sustainability Decathlon. I am quite proud of all of us, as I think the Sustainability Decathlon has furthered us as a club, and has given us a challenge and a means of focus for our ideas. I think that from here, our club will just be moving forward, and hopefully have more influence in our school community on creating a greener campus.
What career paths are you exploring?
Next year, I will be attending UC Davis. (Yay! My top choice!) I have determined that I will not be satisfied in life if I do not have a career that is "environmentally friendly.” I am intrigued by biology and the way in which we as humans interact with the rest of our world. Over the summer, I interned at the San Mateo Mosquito Abatement District, and I was so impressed and inspired by the way in which the biologists work. They get to interact with people, their pests, and the environment, and find solutions in which all of them can stay balanced. I think I might have a future in vector biology, public health or epidemiology, with focus on how our environment affects us as humans, how humans affect the environment, and the consequences of such.
What do you do for fun?
Well, if I have spare time on the weekends, I hang out with my family, friends, or boyfriend. I like going to the movies, or just hanging out at home and watching one...I can't wait for the Harry Potter movie! I'm most excited for X-MEN ORIGINS (I am obsessed with the X-men movies, but more importantly, Hugh Jackman as Wolverine). I also LOVE swimming. Yes, practice can sometimes be a drag at the end of a long school day, but in reality, swimming and swim team is SO FUN, and is definitely the highlight of my high school career.
Thursday, Mar. 26, 2009
In terms of what I have learned in this class, I will definitely take with me all the ideas of being more environmentally conscious and living a more sustainable lifestyle.
Additionally, I will also take with me what I have learned about communication skills as well as the complexities of staring a project. In terms of communication skills, I felt that I learned a lot, even just with initially emailing my school and talking in front of the class, something I’ve always struggled a little bit with.
In terms of starting a project, I think what I’ve seen and learned just by being a part of a generally new project was just showed my the challenges that any new project will face.
I’m sure I will experience many more types of these challenges in the future, but hopefully the rewards as well!
Thursday, Mar. 26, 2009
Throughout this quarter I learned so much, from being able to really understand and experience what “sustainability” is, to how to communicate effectively. Through the readings and the speakers that came to the class, I was able to get new ideas and perspectives on what sustainable living really is. Even though I consider myself to be considerably environmentally conscious, I initially struggled with coming up with a good definition of what “sustainability” is, for example. I think that what I’ve learned can be reflected in how my ideas concerning sustainability have changed, and how I’ve applied what I’ve learned outside the classroom.
Tuesday, Mar. 17, 2009
Headed by Jordan Brown, one group from Wilcox planned a field trip to SCU so the class could tour the Solar Decathlon house and Kennedy Commons. Jordan and I were in close contact for a couple of weeks, and his group filled out all of the necessary paperwork for busses and permission slips, and on Thursday of last week the trip happened.
Allison Kopf, the project coordinator of this year’s Solar House, gave the tour. I went to meet them when they arrived and joined them on the tour. They got here at 8 am, which is an ungodly hour in the middle of dead week, so we were all incredibly grateful to Allison for giving the tour.
The kids seemed genuinely interested in all of the minor marvels that contribute to the house. They were surprised that there was actually electricity, that the solar panels were really doing their thing. Another thing that we all found interesting was the window film that changed color according to how much light was coming into the room. I think the students were very impressed that college students had built this house from scratch. I couldn’t believe that those skinny bamboo I-beams were supporting all of the solar panels, which Allison said weighed several thousands pounds.
I hope the trip stimulates further ideas and exploration as the project continues. Jordan’s group will now have to find some other way to fill their time as the class continues working on the decathlon.
Thursday, Mar. 12, 2009
They want to set up an e-waste recycling program together for their school as well as the surrounding community, but they were getting weighed down by how difficult that task may be to accomplish. I told them that they should take one step at a time and simply find out if there are companies around the area that will take e-waste, if they pick up, what they pick up, how much it costs (if at all), etc. Simply ask questions and see where it takes them.
We decided that we might as well try it right then and see how it goes. They all elected one of the students to make the call—he said that he was not good at communicating, but he went ahead and did it anyway. He made the call, asked the questions and found out, quite immediately, that not only would they pick up anything, anytime, anyplace, but also that it was free!
First of all, the student did a great job communicating and acted as mature as any adult would have been, if not more. As soon as he hung up the phone, everyone started clapping and cheering and the excitement in the room was invigorating. The immediate shift from skepticism and doubt to sheer ecstasy and hope in what they were doing was heart-warming and put me in an amazing mood that I am still on as I write this…and probably still when you read this!