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At 915am, the six of us (Melissa, Chun Hui, Rachelle, Rachel 1, Moira and Rachel 2) rushed out of school to take a bus (actually it was two and a long walk) to MGS Primary School in Blackmore Drive. Here is MGS Primary in all its glory:The school is very beautiful!

When the students streamed in, we felt really nervous, because it was the first tme any of us had actually done this kind of thing. But when we stood on stage, looking in the sea of eager little faces, and started introducing our project, we felt less nervous and more at ease. Here is a picture of Rachel 2 talking:
I think the students loved the quiz section best, maybe because the prizes were good? There was a pretty piece of soap hand-made by us, and corporate gifts provided by Ms Emily Tan. However, the video we showed them received a not-very-enthusiastic response, maybe because there was some problems with the audio.

We have learned a lot from this experience and hopefully next time, if we do these kinds of talks again, we will have more confidence and give a better talk!
MGS Primary will be our first school on board GREASE-ycle, so we will be collaborating with them in the future!

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I’m finding it a little difficult to write on behalf of Project GREASE (seeing as I am only 1 of 8 people) so I’ll be making this entry a little more personal, hope you don’t mind. =)

Only 2 of us were able to make it for the 2nd oil collection due to clashing schedules with House Practice which many of our members were involved in.

We ran low on manpower that day so most groups had only two people instead of three.

Of course, during the course of the oil collection we learnt to communicate better and I daresay my oral Mandarin has improved by a very minimal margin due to communication with Chinese speaking residents!

We knocked on less than half the doors of the last collection, and filled up our bottles to the brim, which satisfied us tremendously. I remember one unit where we collected a chunk of frozen oil!

It looked rather like cheesecake and I probably would have eaten it if not for the oily smell. I think that was the best part of the whole collection, other than getting to know the lifestyle of students in Marsiling better (most of my ‘knowledge’ was inferred from their conversations, though).

‘Inspired’ by this situation, I’d like to say this to everyone who is reading this entry: Oil does not have to be frozen. Under no circumstances are you required to freeze the oil before handing it over to us.

Now that it’s all said and done, I’d like to wish everyone an early March Holiday blessing, don’t worry too much if you have a mountain of homework waiting for you to do! I’m sure there will be things for you to do to de-stress, like reading our blog!

Oh, the author still doesn’t have any photographs from any of the oil collections, but she will put them up if she gets hold of any. =)

Edit: Here are some photos for you to enjoy!

After oil collection

And that was the end of another day at Woodlands (:

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The 2nd generation of Project GREASE members had their first taste of oil collection on Saturday, 30th Jan 2010.

Marsiling Secondary is a school that has volunteered to help in our movement to convert oil into soap. Their Green Club will be collecting oil in their area and also make soaps in their school.

We were all taken aback by the sheer number of people mobilised to help in the oil collection as we didn’t know what to expect. Of course, coming from an  all girls school we weren’t exactly the most comfortable around the guys from Marsiling’s Green Club…

Needless to say, being completely green (no pun intended) to oil collection, we left the first few door-to-door visitations to the Marsiling students who were more than happy to guide us (we hope!). We learnt the ropes as quickly as we could and then began to actively participate in the oil collection.

We went from unit to unit to advocate our purpose and project, and though we were turned down more often than not, we were not discouraged. We even collected a few large bottles full of used oil!

It was a wonderful experience to be learning from others instead of teaching (like we would do during workshops)! Also, although we had to wake up ‘bright’ and early we were glad we came! It is nice to know how far Project GREASE has spread.

Sadly, the author currently does not have any photos of the event but she’ll be sure to upload them the minute she receives them!

Edit: Photos! 😀

Project GREASE and Marsling Secondary School

Students from Marsling Secondary eagerly collecting info

We truly enjoyed ourselves then! Many thanks goes to Marsling Secondary for their invaluable help and support (:

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GREASE-ycle is going very smoothly so far; thus North West CDC has expressed interest in making it a district program! (a program run in 3 different zones) Marsiling RC Zone 8 is the 3rd area to join GREASE-ycle, and Marsiling Secondary School will be in charge of running it. We held a workshop for the students in their green club to impart to them the knowledge of soap making.

Yujia giving an introductory presentation

Yujia giving an introductory presentation

Stirring sodium hydroxide solution

Stirring sodium hydroxide solution

Teachers looking in awe at our soap

Teachers looking in awe at our soap

In action!

In action!

Adding fragrances

Adding fragrances

The students were cooperative, thus the workshop ended half an hour earlier. 🙂 The household participation surveying for Marsiling RC Zone 8 will take place on the 6th of June.

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Besides encouraging others to make soap and contribute UCO for recycling (as seen from our fundamental project approach), another of Project GREASE’s aims is to empower more to conduct soap-making workshops for others. This opportunity came last week, when Project GREASE conducted a mini 5-participant workshop for members of an RGS Service-Learning team, for them to in turn conduct soap-making workshops for others during the Singapore General Hospital’s arts festival this June. Talk about spreading this oil-to-soap movement far and wide by tapping on our very own peers – right within our reach – as agents of change!

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Sam Lee giving the participants an overview to our project

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The participants hurriedly donning on their gloves – “The Workshop you’ve all been waiting for will commence now!

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Participants stirring their sodium hydroxide solutions out in the open

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And down those mixtures go, plop into the oil!post_04Decisions are so hard to make when you’re spoilt for choice! Participants clamouring around a box of prospective fragrances and a box of sample soap (which they were told to aim to model theirs after)

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Time to add the fragrances!

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That last crucial step: pouring the completed mixtures into the moulds

Taking the above example to a much larger, communal scale,  it is not so difficult to imagine an eventual full-fledged oil-to-soap movement in the country, from looking at how this soap-making knowledge can be passed so easily from one party to another. We sincerely hope more will step up to learn soap-making from us and initiate the imparting of this knowledge to others, such that the lack of UCO recycling within households can ultimately be addressed in time to come.

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On the 11th of March, Wednesday, Project GREASE took some time off from our school activities and made their way to Yishun Primary school to do a mass workshop for 70 teachers. While Yishun Primary has kindly arranged the workshop for these 70 teachers to personally enrich themselves, in the hope that they can eventually apply soap-making to their daily lives, the school has simultaneously agreed to be yet another proud Green Club involved in GREASE-ycle. In fact, the entire Primary 4 level will be incorporated into GREASE-ycle as part of their service-learning project, as both UCO collectors and soap-makers.

The workshop started at around 1pm in the Art Room of Yishun Primary, with approximately 70 teachers waiting with wide-eyed anticipation as we proceeded. As the bulk of us – 5 out of 8, to be exact – all had school activities to finish before 1pm and could not help with the preparations, Talia, Sam and Jiayi very kindly arranged to meet in school some 3 hours beforehand, cab over to Chung Cheng High Yishun to drop off some 30 litres of oil we collected on Saturday, then finally venture to our official destination of the day – Yishun Primary – to make the necessary workshop arrangements. (by the way, that includes measuring 70 glasses of oil and water, distributing all materials and seeing that the IT tools for the pre-workshop presentation are in working order!) Much thanks to Brenda as well, who had to go through the immense trouble of journeying back to school prior to the workshop to collect some 3 more litres of oil, as the amount provided by the teachers of Yishun Primary were a little less than we expected. We sincerely would not have managed to start this workshop on time without the help of these very helpful and selfless Project GREASE-rs. (:

The workshop officially commenced when Mrs Amy Ong, Project GREASE’s very responsible and reliable channel with Yishun Primary all along, gave a brief opening address to all her colleagues about the service-learning projects her students would be taking up this year, in a bid to nurture in them a genuine interest to serve community.

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Our dear Mrs Ong with the mike – and my, my, could she be describing us modest GREASE-rs up there?

(all right, we hereby disclaim that was a bad joke)

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After that, Yu-Jia from Project GREASE gave a short presentation to all the teachers about our project as a whole, GREASE-ycle as well as oil purification methods.

With that, Talia took over and the soap-making demonstration and hands-on officially kicked off!

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Teachers buzzing about like excited little children! (:

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Check out the sheer number of teachers present in the art room! It was really the largest number of participants Project GREASE has ever had at just a single place, making the workshop that day somewhat harder to coordinate than what we were used to. Nevertheless, it was an enlightening experience that we all learnt from, and a hearty challenge we embraced and enjoyed!  (:

We sincerely hope the teachers enjoyed the experience too – which, judging from the photos we took, we think they did!p05

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Do mine eyes deceive me? Is that green soap we see?!p06

Due to a relevant concern several teachers raised, Project GREASE saw that the used cooking oil these Muslim teachers used were strictly halal.

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Needless to say, we Project GREASE-rs were literally kept on our toes – and busy as bees at that – throughout the workshop.

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Check out the beautiful results one very creative teacher yielded! She had gone around requesting for her colleagues to donate her a little of their soap mixtures, hence the vivid, double-layered multi-colouredness.  

Behind every successful workshop, there will, indisputably, always be X amounts of preparations we have to see to. Following the same line of reasoning, after every successful workshop there will always be Y amount of washing up to do – all this, we have already accepted as a natural part of life.

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Eek! We wouldn’t have managed to finish the washing-up within 30 minutes if not for the help of several extremely considerate teachers, though (:

And that was the end of our soap-making workshop! Of course, there were more details to iron out with Yishun Primary. Project GREASE, along with teacher-mentor Mrs Lee, met with Ms Emily Tan from North West CDC and Mrs Amy Ong thereafter for an extremely late lunch (at 3pm), also for an opportunity for further discussion.

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Mrs Amy Ong holding our rapt attention. Yes Ma’am, at your service!

The meeting could be summed up in several words: enjoyable, for the yummy lunch Mrs Ong kindly bought for us (there was fried CHICKEN and Project GREASE will be going to Mi-CHICKEN :P); and productive, for the many details we managed to iron out. Yishun Primary seemed enthusiastic and raring to begin, North West CDC was all too happy to oblige/provide, and of course, we as Project GREASErs were over the moon that GREASEycle has started on a very promising note. Yishun Primary will most probably be in charge of collecting UCO on a regular basis from the new RC proposed by NW CDC. Indeed, we look forward to our partnership with Yishun Primary and further collaboration with NW CDC in the very near future. (:

Of course, every blog post (almost!) wouldn’t be a proper one without a final group photo, characterized by all our happy smiling faces.

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Lo and behold! (Ms Emily Tan is absent from the photo as she had to leave earlier)

We’re truly grateful to Mrs Amy Ong for being one of the most patient, cheerful, enthusiastic and sporting people Project GREASE has had the good fortune to work with – duly obliging to our every request, logistics-wise, to ease our burdens; seeing that our welfare, so to speak, was taken care of by providing us lunch; and always providing us with encouraging words of advice.  We’d also like to give much thanks to our dear teacher-mentor, Mrs Lee, as well as Ms Emily Tan from North West CDC, both for taking time off their busy schedules to be down for the workshop and subsequently, the discussion later.

Speaking from a Project GREASEr’s point of view, it’s sincerely heartening not just being able to personally effect change, but more importantly, mobilize, motivate or even inspire others to effect that same positive change, all in light of a common meaningful cause. We genuinely hope that Yishun Primary will eventually take it upon themselves to spearhead GREASE-ycle, because ultimately – pardon the cliche, it’s true! – the environment belongs to everyone, and there’s no reason why we shouldn’t take ownership of protecting it.

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Following after the South East CDC, we received another invitation to set up a meeting with Ms Emily Tan. Reaching nearly an hour early outside the building, we again dedicated time to sit down and go through our presentation materials (this time sadly, unaccompanied by a pretty water fountain).

Beside... a wall ><

Beside... a wall ><

Logo

Logo

Our project presentation comprised a powerpoint, video and scrapbook. Similar concerns from our earlier meeting with SouthEast CDC were also raised regarding the importance of our project’s sustainability, especially since holding soap-making workshops would be one-off events for our participants.

Project Explanation

Project Explanation

A rather interesting proposal was posed by her, as we explained that the limited availability of used cooking oil, apart from our collections from hawker centres, was a project obstacle.  She proposed a used-cooking-oil-collection from interested households within our chosen region, with the help of Green Clubs from various schools.  This proposed programme, piloting in the year 2009, would hence be ideal in more directly reaching out to households in a certain region in Northwest Singapore (most probably Buona Vista). The oil collected by us/Green club members from interested households could be made into soap by the Green Clubs (who we would like to hold a workshop with). These soap could then be sold at various carnivals, with the revenue going to help the needy.

Discussing plans

Discussing plans

So far, this possibility has been met with much enthusiasm from our group. Hopefully, with the full approval of this new project direction from our teacher mentors, we would be able to undertake this new course of outreach with much success. As such, we look forward to future collaboration with North West CDC.

Group shot

Group shot

 

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