ARVIN Mogan stood in front of a crowd of people, holding a bearded dragon in his hand and talking animatedly about it. In his green shirt and khaki shorts, he looked like he was about to go on a nature trek. Around him, in the room, were display tanks holding various reptiles and insects.
The event was a social awareness campaign, organised as part of an assignment by students in the final semester of the Diploma in Communication programme at Taylor’s College Petaling Jaya.
Challenged by their lecturer Srikumar Ramayan, the students had dubbed themselves the TREEhuggers and conceptualised, then put into an action, an environmental awareness campaign themed Liberalisation, Expansion, What About Conservation? which featured a three-day two-night expedition to Taman Negara.
“Many college students lack knowledge and understanding about nature conservation,” said campaign chairperson Ben Len.
“We thought the best way to heighten their appreciation of nature was to allow them to experience it.”
With that in mind, the campaign was launched, together with an introduction to nature which allowed students to get up close and personal with various animals, including a Burmese python, iguanas, and spiders, all exhibits by PLC Pet Safari.
Entomologist Dr Mohd Yusof Husin also gave an enlightening talk on the fascinating world of insects.
Malaysia Nature Society executive director Dr Loh Chi Leong was present at the event to share his views on nature conservation.
To add a light touch to the occasion, Arvin (calling himself Steve Arvin) spoofed crocodile hunter Steve Irwin with much enthusiasm and delighted the crowd with his animal antics.
About 23 students participated in the trip to Taman Negara trip. They enjoyed activities such as night jungle trekking, cave exploration and boating, and even met the orang asli of the area to learn more about their traditions and lifestyle.
Ben said the trip was an unforgettable experience that taught them much about nature.
“For urban dwellers, it is truly an eye-opener to see how much more there is to life,” he added.
Meanwhile, in a separate event, Srikumar’s semester six students of the same course recently held a charity gala dinner to raise funds for the Malaysian AIDS Foundation (MAF).
Calling themselves the Hope Seekers Foundation, the students had organised the dinner as the culmination of a series of fundraising activities held over the year.
The gala successfully raised over RM10,000 for the cause.
In her opening speech, project manager Suleka Suppiah spoke on the devastating effects of AIDS on young people around the world.
“As a caring nation, it is our responsibility to help these citizens live a normal life. They are no different from us and deserve all the love, care, and support they need to achieve their dreams,” she said.
Themed One Hope Saves Lives, the gala featured a fashion extravaganza, jazz performances and comedy acts, and was accompanied by a delicious eight-course meal.
Also present at the event were MAF president Prof Dr Adeeba Kamarulzaman and Miss Malaysia 2004 Gloria Ting.
Srikumar said organising such projects allowed his students to put into practice what they learnt.
“Education does not have to be confined to the classroom; students learn best when they are allowed to be independent and use their creativity,” he said.