Day 1: Zhe Yi

The day has finally come, months of planning, liaising and coordinating being put to the test in just a mere fortnight, the road here wasn’t easy seeing as the other team members has their busy lives and chose to put it aside and instead take two weeks to inspire and be inspired by the kids of SK Teringai, we all come from varying backgrounds but we each had a unifying thought, to inspire the future generation of bright young individuals to improve the lives of their families and community through education. The theme this year was “Inspire”, we were all inspired when we were young to do what we do today, we hear success stories and think: “Wow! I want to be like them someday” or better yet: “I NEED to be like them someday, to inspire MY future successors!” and now, it is time to practice what you preach.

The hidden deal package that no one knew was the sleepless night before the flight, the anxiety that builds up before each life changing event, the fear of messing things up; and to that I say: “Don’t take yourself too seriously”, have fun and be open to new experiences, and one might say: “you can call it a mistake, I call it an experience to learn from”.

As planned, my team arrived in the airport all readied up to go, there was a beautiful sense of excitement in the air, reminiscent of the golden days you would go to a theme park when you were young for the first time, you were excited about the sights and smells of cotton candy, hotdogs and popcorn lingering in the air as you watched your favorite characters come to life.

Checking in the luggage went smoothly, and you get what you would expect in a 3-hour plane ride to Sabah: Refreshments, crammed seats, a crying baby that would make you wish that the life jacket was a parachute instead, and trying to get to the toilet while you are at the window seat but the 2 other passengers are knocked out so you feel bad for waking them up but also you needed to pee really really badly so you just sit there trying to figure out your life choices.

Once the team had landed in Sabah, the plan was to get items that we could not bring over from KL (to be more accurate, to prevent paying extra luggage weight fees). After a quick lunch, the team set out to work to gather the items for the projects we planned and it went as smooth as butter, which was relieving for everyone since we had to carry out the packing of the pencil cases and toothbrush (Sponsored by Colgate) to be given to all the kids which took at least 4 hours and every inch of the team’s patience.

After a meeting session with the team to share some thoughts and final words before the project officially commences, everyone went to bed with a tired but fulfilled self, ready for the challenges ahead.

Good Night!

Day 2: Shun Qi

As promised we did not wake up for the market walk and breakfast at 7am(sorry zhe yi). after the cramming our fat baggage and ourselves into the van, we set off on our 2hour+ not-so-smooth ride. This being my second trip back to Teringai, no doubt the ride in was nostalgic.

When we arrived, despite the headmaster not being available, we were welcomed warmly by the teachers. After breaking ice with the teachers, we immediately set off to clean up and set up our home for next 2 weeks.

tragically, my experience last year did not prepare me for the lovely surprise we had aka no water. No running water from taps, translates into shower, washing clothes and other issues. The rushing stream of my fav shower spot in the sungai last year, was reduced to a miserable almost stagnant pool of shallow water. and yeah, that was exactly where we showered.

As we were cleaning up our room, curious asrama kids popped by. many still recognized me from last year, surprisingly. they were very enthusiastic to help us clear up the room. and before we knew it, we were roped into joining their evening games session-which later turn out to involve lots of running. despite being unable to keep up with their energy, i genuinely enjoyed the fun running around barefoot playing kiddie games as i did at least a decade ago.

Cutting short the big drama by the ladies during the river shower, we had a scrumptious home-cooked dinner by mak cik canteen. We refreshed our malay vocabularies for mathematics class tomorrow, throwing in some random banter which is good for the team, before snuggling into our sleeping bags. i instantly K.O-ed when my head hit the self made pillow from towels and shirts.

Day 1 in Teringai had been nothing short of exciting. To me, coming back to Teringai was therapeutic to the soul. The people, the simple life, the school...countless little things that captured my heart last year then brought me back to this school once again this year.

Road into the school 

The school gate 

Us unpacking at our house

Kids visiting 


Dinner at canteen

Day 3: Zhe Yi

The day started off like any other, except this time we woke up sprawled in sleeping bags on the floor filled with what I would consider a bug spray warehouse, literally the whole floor was filled with mosquito repellent of all shapes and sizes. Breakfast was served by the canteen and it was sardine sandwiches and Milo, a perfect way to start the day!

Monday is Hari Perhimpunan (Assembly Day), where kids of all years come to sing the national anthem, the state anthem and the school song. This was followed by a speech by the headmaster and they welcomed us to the school. Suddenly, the teachers decided to pull a fast one and asked me to give a speech as a project leader to the school, needless to say I was thrown off guard by their request but years of Bahasa Malaysia class in school is going to be paid off today, so I just picked up the mic and introduced my team and announced that in these 2 weeks, we were going to eat, play and learn together; and most importantly: we are all going to have fun doing it!It was followed by a short introduction from each volunteer and a final speech by the teacher in charge.

The day continued with an Ice Breaking Session with the year 6 students piloted by Alia and Natasha, we played games where the kids get random colored candy and have to perform a task in order to savor the delicious treats. Needless to say, it taught us about the kid’s one and only weakness, candy. One kid was eyeing the piece of candy like it’s going give an answer to life’s most important question: “Yanny or Laurel?”.

Jokes aside, the session really gave the team a good platform to bond with the students, we were all laughing at the end and sparking conversations with them in B.M, a great start to a meaningful project! Of course, it was not all fun and games, we then had a night class from 7:30 to 9:30 teaching the kid’s Math and English. Being the first time the team is doing these night classes, the room for adjustment and improvement is present as we were all drained from the class at the end of it, we need to control the energy so that we do not tire ourselves out for future classes!

Day 4: Carmen Ng

Day 4 was the first day of having a full schedule. It was also the first day where I met all three of my kids! I was lucky enough to get the kids which understood English the best in class and I was grateful that they were still engaging with me even though I couldn’t speak a single word of Malay. In the first session, I had to gauge their English level so I made them read a story book and to my surprise they really enjoyed the session; we jotted down the vocabularies they’ve never come across and also they did a lot better than what I expected. I felt accomplished that they enjoyed my session and got something of out it.

Besides teaching, we also started to work on our mural for the school which is located in the Astrama this year. Most of the heavy lifting was done by the guys since they were tall enough to reach. We started painting over the original colour of the wall so we have a clean canvas to work with. 4-5 is the kids’ playtime and we are requested to join them to play catch and volleyball. It’s the time when the kids are the most lively and you can see that they really treasure this time especially because suddenly this bunch of kakak and abang came to join them. Even though it gets super sweaty, it’s worth it being able to bond with them and seeing their happy faces.

It’s really hard to expect everyone to settle in fully by the second day. As a foreigner volunteering at this school, it’s such a far stretch to what I’m used to, the humidity (without air con), the mosquitos (was the worst), showering in the river was all scary and new to me. But after spending the first full day, I realised you don’t really notice these things in the process, you forget about the fear and discomfort because the focus shifts to preparing for the next class, slipping in a nap in between class, play time with the kids and always, what are we having for dinner!

Looking forward to the upcoming days when I become closer with my kids and also seeing them grow in knowledge. It’s been a rollercoaster so far and I cannot wait to see what is yet to come!

Day 5: Melissa Ong

It was only our 5thday here in the school and I was still adjusting to waking up feeling my numbed arm from sleeping sideways on the hard cold floor with just a sleeping bag separating us and my jacket as a pillow. However, being greeted by the sound of the students playing in the field and their laughter wakes me up almost immediately along with the footsteps of the other volunteers walking around the small wooden house as we wake up one by one. As the past few nights were raining heavily, we were lucky enough to get some running water out from the pipes so we didn’t have to brush our teeth with mineral water anymore hahaha.

It was only our 3rdday since class has started but I was already slowly getting used to this routine of waking up early, heading for breakfast and then class. As it rained last night, the field was muddy and wet but that didn’t stop the kids from playing and approaching the volunteers to hand out their handmade letters! I was shocked and touched when I myself received a few. To think that these kids would even spend time colouring their cards and making it as creative as they can just for us when we’ve only met for a few days warms my heart.

The weather today, unlike the first few days of scorching heat was gloomy due to the morning rain. It was great until it started to rain again while we were having breakfast causing us to be stuck in the canteen while we wait for the rain to stop. Thankfully, the rain wasn’t as heavy anymore as it approached class time so the rain did not stop us from attending classes!

It was only my 3rdday of teaching but today’s English afternoon class was particularly hard to handle as the classroom was extra noisy causing my students to be very distracted and losing focus during class. It also did not help that due to the strong winds outside, a piece of the roof from one of the buildings flew off which caught the students’ attention making it even harder to get them to focus… I truly understood the struggles of a teacher trying to get their students to pay attention in class right there and then.

After the afternoon class which ended at 4pm, it is usually followed up by the students’ play time for an hour but due to the rain, the students did not come out to field to play which meant precious resting time for the volunteers! As much as I love playing and bonding with the students, I really needed to recharge after that difficult afternoon session haha. 5pm was showering time and some of us girl volunteers got to shower with the girls staying in the hostel. I was touched by how the girls were willing to fill up our pail before theirs and allowed us to use their water to shower even before they were done showering themselves! Their hospitality and generosity towards us when we’ve only met for a few days truly showed me how kind these children are. After everyone was done showering, we were all starving and headed to the canteen for… dinner! The food served at the canteen was delicious and I am always so excited for meal times and as expected, tonight did not disappoint me.

Dinner was then followed by night classes! I personally prefer night classes as it wasn’t as hot in the classroom and my students could focus better as I assumed they probably felt fresh after showering and resting. All 3 of my students were doing well in this night class compared to earlier and I was glad to see them following the class well! It always puts a smile to my face when my students understand what I taught them and it makes me happier when they’re willing to learn and ask me questions when they’re met with a tough question! JI’ve only been teaching my students for 3 days so far but I see so much potential in each of them as they’re all fast learners despite their academic disparities. I can’t wait for the following lessons to come and hope that they truly get to gain more knowledge and improve through each and every lesson while I’m still here!

Day 6: Anis Aishah

It’s the 6th day we’re here. Waking up 630am, a bit early than usual, straight away to the kitchen to have a splash of yellowish water to the face and brush our teeth. Today’s morning is a bit different from the other days, we’re gonna have ‘Senamrobik Session’ with the kids!

The session was conducted by SherMaine and Shaira, the best dance conductor in the team. The session went quite well, except for the part where the boys were too shy to join in. We used several songs as background music, All of Me by John Legend to start the day during the Senamrobik session! 

At first, I thought the kids couldn’t really do the senamrobik steps but, they actually really enjoyed the session. They even asked SherMaine to teach them the steps during our evening playtime. Cuties!

The normal school session began shortly after. All you can hear as soon as you enter the classroom is the voice of the kids try to memorise sifir, the repetitive basic English-Malay words to improve their vocab and sometimes the screams by kakak and abang when there are bugs. The bugs and tokek are totally not a joke 😂

The playtime at 4-5pm was the ‘scariest’ part for us. The kids are so excited to play, have some crazy time with us but we just an old bunch of people that couldn’t match our energy level with them. The best plan we could come out was to hide in the house (not Zheyi and Natasha, they were as hype as the kids) until the kids come and shout “Kakak, jom main sekarang” , then only we go out to play 😉

Oh yeaa thank God, we got not water problem on that day. Some of us showered in the house while some went to shower with the kids. The kids were so helpful, showering with them is lot more fun than having to chase them across the field for some “hantu-hantu” game, i swear!

The night class start after our dinner. Although the schedule of the kids are quite packed, they still give 110% of their effort to the class. I am so happy to see their improvement, from not knowing how to even do simple subtraction, now they can do division!

That day ended quite early, most of us knocked out around 10pm, to have a good rest for another teaching day before weekend.

The no-phone-line really help us to sleep earlier than ever. No more an hour or two of scrolling instagram and twitter before sleep. We’ve bonded more as no one is busy looking at their phone, just laughing at each other’s silly jokes. Will be missing this kind of memory, the kids smiles and laughs, once we go home next week 🙁

Thank you Teringai, you have a special place in our ❤️

Day 7: Noor Natasha

On the 13thof July, everyone continued with their normal routine. However, that day there was no electricity as the school were doing checks. We woke up around 7.30 am, freshen up, then proceeded to the canteen together for breakfast. We had an English style breakfast by the Kakak and then went back to the house. Half of us had the usual Standard 4 English class while the rest either helped out with the mural painting or stayed in the house to prepare for their Standard 6 classes later. That day, I was assigned to take photographs of the students instead.

Before class started, we handed the students their files and pencil boxes. The volunteers started the Standard 4 class with the topic ‘Sports’. They introduced new vocabulary and gave a few exercises for the students to do. The students seemed pretty responsive but the students at the back of the class were not too keen to learn. It was hard to get everyone to be interactive even with the number of volunteers assigned for each class

At 10.00 am, we had the Standard 6 English classes. Everyone went to their respective students and gave them personal tutoring for UPSR. As the weather was quite hot, the students were unable to focus. A lot of them were fidgeting around their seat and some started fanning themselves. It was the drought season, so it was very hot.

After classes, some of us went to the house to rest while others went to help out with the mural again while waiting for the last class at 11.50pm. Class at 11.50pm was still pretty unproductive given the temperature and condition the students were studying in. A lot of us managed to give them a few revision questions though despite the lack of comfort.

Fortunately, before the day could get even hotter, the electricity came back. Everyone felt relieved that the electricity came back in time before night class.  We did not have any afternoon classes from 2pm to 4pm with the Standard 6 students. Instead, we prepared materials for tomorrow’s activity as the career fair required a lot more preparation than the rest of the activities. Some went to continue helping out with the mural. A lot of the students surrounded us while doing the mural. They were really excited to see how the mural would turn out. While waiting, some of the students had like a mini photoshoot with the camera. They were pretty excited about getting their picture taken with the partially finished mural. Some of the volunteers even managed to read a book to the children while they watched the other volunteers paint the mural.

In the evening, everyone went out to play sports with the students. Despite it being quite late, the weather was still very hot. But the students were very enthusiastic and excited about playing sports nonetheless. Vincent and I also set up like a volleyball net with raffia string, so the students can play a real game. There were no scissors to cut the string up, so the children actually told me to just use my teeth which I actually did hahaha

After sports, the girls went to bathe with the female students and the two guys had to wait their turn as usual. The river was still pretty shallow, and the water was stagnant, so we showered in the girls’ bathroom near the female dormitory. Then, everyone went back to the house to gather stuff for the night class.

We had dinner with so many bugs flying around that day. The weather was pretty hot and wet, so it was an ideal time for insects to come out. The students that night were pretty restless and jumpy. As there were so many insects in the classroom, some of them started jumping about. It was very noisy that night, but the volunteers managed to settle them down after a short break during the class.

We went back to the house pretty much exhausted. However, we weren’t done yet as we still had to discuss tomorrow’s activities. There was a lot to do for the career fair tomorrow, so the volunteers stayed up to prepare for the event. As the volunteers would be assigned to different career stations, we prepared our own material for tomorrow based on the career we were given. Qi, Iman, Melissa and Carmen also came up with a small game for the students to play called a ‘Game of Life’ after the career fair. Everyone had to be briefed about their roles before tomorrow.

We ended the day with the usual daily reflection session and the volunteers began writing down their lesson plans for tomorrow. Overall, it was a pretty tiring day without the electricity and the weather being so hot. Our trip to the restaurant also tired us way too much with the sun being scorching hot. We pretty much fell dead asleep after everything was done.

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