We love UPM … ! Selamat datang (= Welcome)!
These are two of many first impressions when having arrived at the big campus of Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) in Kuala Lumpur. The atmosphere is warm in different senses: It requires some acclimatisation to the high humidity and the hot temperatures by the eight European summer school participants, as well as we are impressed by the sincere friendliness of our Malayan hosts and the other Asian colleague students coming from Bangladesh, China, Indonesia, Philippines, Cambodia, Thailand, and Japan, including one student from Nigeria and one from Ecuador.
Off we go on Monday morning with a formal opening ceremony of the Food Security and Climate Change Summer School Malaysia 2018 ‘Oil palm – Cattle Integration: A Transition Towards Sustainability’, to which several distinguished guests from UPM and project partners are attending. After the welcome speech, formal exchange of gifts and photo session, our curious minds are being nourished first of all by refreshments with Malayan dishes of which there are many more to follow during our upcoming sessions at UPM campus. Feeding the hungry minds to contemplate issues in food security and climate change …
The first day is onwards devoted to ice breaking sessions, in which student groups are formed. These groups already start to become performing teams when they are being put to the test in some quizzes and puzzles. All in all, a dynamic and interactive start to an exciting programme ahead!
In the afternoon, our knowledge is reinforced by a presentation from Professor Datuk on climate change and global patterns in population growth and consumption dynamics. Onwards the study of system dynamics is demonstrated ‘live’ by means of a simulation of elements and linkages in oil palm production. It is well demonstrated that all 45 international participants in this summer school (SS) can truly be agents of change towards sustainability.
As such, the first day of the SS has set the frame for a challenging, international, multidisciplinary and foreseeably also much rewarding journey in the sustainability dynamics of oil palm production systems.
Joep, Agrinatura student