Some 60 students from over 30 institutions in the ASEAN and Greater China Region participated in the annual STEP Sociovation Forum held from 5th to 16th July 2021.
Organised by the SUSS Centre for Experiential Learning (CEL) and supported by Temasek Foundation, the STEP Sociovation Forum introduces students to the concept of social innovation, with the mission to imbue in our participants an empathy-driven approach to innovations in various sectors. This year, students passionate about environmental sustainability immersed in the world of visual storytelling, where they learnt how to create compelling narratives. Given the global travel restrictions, the forum took place in a unique hybrid format, with both virtual and physical sessions happening concurrently.
With everyone tuning in from 12 different countries, they delved into the fundamentals of visual storytelling and the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through storytelling workshops, guest talks by industry experts, and mentoring sessions by sustainability and storytelling mentors such as Jacqui Hocking, founder of the Singapore Eco Film Festival, and Vijo Varghese from OurLand. Additionally, they were issued with the challenge of collaborating in small multi-cultural groups, to work intensively to create documentary films that advocate pressing environmental causes such as food waste and clean water.
To provide everyone with an enriching learning experience, students also embarked on a variety of virtual and physical learning journeys with social organisations such as Terra SG, Ground-Up Initiative (GUI) and Waterway Watch Society (WWS). With the help of these eco-education champions, students had a firsthand experience of the need for sustainability in everyday life. Not to be shadowed by the inability to travel, every student was given a special welcome pack that consisted of biodegradable stationery and planting seeds that were produced with sustainable production practices.
Rising above the immense difficulties of collaborating virtually amidst the COVID-19 restrictions in their own countries, the students emerged with 15 inspiring short videos based on UN SGDs such as Clean Water and Sanitation, and Responsible Production and Consumption. The students’ perseverance and passion for sustainability shone through in their documentary videos, with two groups attaining recognition for being most inspiring, and excelling in editing and interview-making. Check out the students’ video creations here!
Ugly is the New Good by Group 5
Chasing Change by Group 10
Other than valuable documentary-making skills, deep cross-cultural friendships blossomed amongst our students.
"Even though it is virtual in nature, its capacity to build cooperation between multiracial individuals is not diminished...the experience is a unique one and worth-sharing." – Jose Zalde B. Samson Jr. from the Philippines.
"The programme does not only strengthen your skills but also gives you friendship, which I have always valued. The experience is beyond my imagination and what I’ve gained is precious." – Thorphan Tienboon from Thailand.
During the first day of STEP Sociovation Forum 2021, students showed that despite travel restrictions, they could still unite for a good cause, as they collaborate to champion environmental sustainability.
During the learning journey to WWS, students went on a kayaking and litter-picking expedition at the Marina Reservoir, where they were confronted by the magnitude of resources that go into cleaning the Singapore waters daily.
The overseas participants were not left behind as they embarked on a virtual tour of Marina Reservoir to learn more about Singapore’s water story through interactive and meaningful activities and games.
During the learning journey to GUI, students had a hands-on experiment in making eco-enzyme, where they learnt how easy it was to recycle unwanted kitchen waste and turn them into useful cleaning materials.