Empowering Community, Inspiring Change- Highlights from WOW2023 Carnival

By Azida Abdullah

The Institute of Oceanography and Environment welcomed a diverse gathering of individuals, young and old, students and professionals, all converging with a shared purpose—to celebrate our oceans and pave the way for a more sustainable future— at Teluk Ketapang Beach. What was the occasion? WOW2023 Carnival was an event that encouraged community participation and demonstrated the joint strength of our university and local citizens working together.

WOW2023 Carnival echoed the theme “Planet Ocean: Tides are Changing”. While the event was much more than a day of fun and games, it was also about raising awareness, instilling a feeling of responsibility, and inspiring good action for our oceans.

The feeling of oneness that pervaded every contact and activity was an essential element of this Carnival. Families, friends, and neighbours interact with university employees and students, sharing tales, laughing, and, most importantly, a common desire to advocate for ocean protection. The range of ages and origins only helped highlight ocean health’s universal necessity.

The event’s success was measured in numbers, the genuine relationships made, and the spark of inspiration kindled. The Carnival offered opportunities for both learning and fun, from energising morning aerobic exercises to the colourful artistry of the colouring contest. Beach volleyball matches were hotly contested, and smiles abounded during games such as “Catch Me If You Can” and “WOW Ship.”

One of the most memorable events was the sandcastle-building competition and a Beach Clean Up, which students and community members enthusiastically embraced. These activities have become the signature WOW@UMT, reflecting our commitment to fostering creativity, environmental consciousness, and community engagement. Adding to the remarkable roster of events, we also organised the ‘Create a Recycled Ship Model’ project, in which participants demonstrated their artistic abilities using recycled materials.

As the celebrations progressed, it became clear that the event’s purpose of strengthening the link between the institution and the local community had been met. The Carnival demonstrated the power of collective action, demonstrating that when institutions and communities work together, the potential for good change is boundless.

We want to thank everyone who helped make the WOW2023 Carnival a huge success, including the organisers, participants, volunteers, and supporters. Your dedication to ocean protection extends well beyond the coastal venue. We are reminded of the strength that develops when a community joins with a single purpose as the echoes of laughter and shared experiences from the Carnival linger.

While the event has ended, the conversations and friendships it created are still felt in our community and beyond. The WOW2023 Carnival is a poignant reminder that by connecting our hands and hearts, we can create a more sustainable and resilient future for our seas and future generations.