SK TUMUNDA SALIMANDUT (2017)

Day 1: Cendy Lim

(Please bear with this boring and short reflection post because day one was practically just a lot of napping and settling down to enjoy our last day of being in a civilised world… JOKING! I will try to make it as interesting as possible, I promise ☺ And also, apologies in advance because this post will NOT contain any graphics just because everyone was too shy to take selfie with each other)

It was the departure day (finally!). Most of us were taking the same flight towards KK Airport. It was about 7 in the morning. We gathered at one of the cafes in the airport, had some breakfast and chatted while waiting for the others to check in/ drop their baggage. I was super excited to finally see my two-day-old friends again (only because we all have met each other like maximum twice and two days before the departure, and no we are not two days old infants). Our flight to KK was on time and we departed from KLIA2 at 9 in the morning.

We touched down at KK Airport at approximately 12pm, looking refreshed after a 2-hour power nap on the plane. We went through immigration, picked our bags up, and UBER-ed our way to the hotel in the assigned groups of three. The weather was amazing (by that I mean no rain, but scotching hot), we checked into the hotel at 1400 and had lunch at some kopitiam nearby.

Li-Ann, Vinrea (the directors of this project) and YiFen gave all the volunteers some detailed briefings based on the schools we were assigned to. Shortly after some rest, the two teams split and had discussion and preparations on the planned activities. Our team invaded Sara’s room (because it was the most spacious one), practiced sketches for Drama and Creativity (although it was scrapped off from the schedule in the end, zzz, where we also realised who can be the real pembuli – the sketches were for anti-bully campaign if you ever wonder) and bonded.

We had dinner at a famous halal seafood restaurant (super scrumptious food 110% recommended) nearby, which took about 15 minutes by feet from the hotel. We ended the day with the final discussion and preparations for the next day, then headed back to our own rooms. #SweetDreams #LastNightWithBed&HotShower #MalayBootcampLeggo

Having joined this 2-week volunteering program was by far the best choice I have made to spend my summer. It was not an easy decision to forgo internship opportunities for a volunteering project. All in all, it was an amazing journey with 13 kindest souls, started off as strangers at a training program and became friends who are always there to support each other through this tough journey. I am so thankful for this opportunity to be able to serve the community and give back to the society, even if my presence and effort were insignificant. I was a Maths and English teacher to the kids, but the children, so pure and naïve, were teachers to me about life. Seeing how they were happy and genuinely laughing when they got to lumba lari with the volunteers, play bola sepak and volleyball, was the probably best thing I haven’t seen in years while living in a city. They have taught me how to appreciate my life, how lucky I am to be given proper educations, how to live a simple life without needing all sorts of branded stuff, and how to not take things given to me for granted. (My kids refused to use the erasers given out by us because they wanted to keep it until UPSR, that is how much better they know how to appreciate little things given in life compared to me). I also learnt that a teacher’s role is VERY hard. I have been demotivated when my kids did not manage to progress as much as the lessons I had planned for the day or when I had to repeat the same topic for 3 days, and yet they still did not understand a single thing; but what kept me strong was their determination and enthusiasm to learn. The most satisfying thing was when they understood what I was teaching, and that was the moment you felt you have achieved something great, of course not to mention my biggest accomplishment for the two weeks- my kids managed to memorise all the multiplication tables (YAS) from what is 2*3=tak tahu to 8*8=64, I am so proud of them :’) . The bonds formed with the kids in mere two weeks were unbelievably strong and goodbyes became the hardest thing with tears and sweet little notes on the last day.

Thank you for the great memories, Sabah! I wish the kids all the best in their exams and future endeavours.   

So,.. if you need reasons to join this camp, (I could probably list you 100, but I am not going to because you probably won’t read them anyways):

 

  • Great way to give back to the society, and you get to learn a lot more about education problems in Malaysia;

  • You get to meet fantabulous people and live outside your comfort zone (mentally and physically)

  • You gain invaluable and like-minded friends ☺

  • It’s a great way to sharpen your Malay language (because it was practically a Malay boot camp for me)

 

Okay I lied, I have pictures :D

(from left) Pheng Chew, Eliana, Mel, Rann, Wesley and Anddy (Missing Arnold)

Tumunda Terbaik! * Tepuk Terima Kasih*.

-Kakak Sifir/ Kakak SPM

Day 2: Francine Lim

TODAY WAS D-DAY, they called - It was 6 early in the morning when the first alarm rang. We either had a bread in our hands and never got the time to eat or had it munching in our mouths as all of us were busy checking the hotel rooms for one last time and moved our luggage to the lobby, making sure no one and nothing was left behind. After a group photo, we bid farewell to Teringai volunteers and embarked on journey to our schools respectively.

Everyone says “Life is like a roller coaster.” and I say the ride to our destination was the real deal. Thanks to the motion sickness pill, we all survived it. Sitting at the back of the van, waves of thoughts flooded my mind; from saying goodbye to a comfy bed and hot showers to the excitement from wondering what is going to happen in the coming 2 weeks. Little did we know this was just the beginning of a life changing and memorable trip we are about to experience.

Upon arrival at SK TUMUNDA SALIMANDUT- what came to sight was those cute little creatures already lined up in 2, waiting to welcome us any second. For the first time in our lives we were so welcomed by people we barely know, and the smiles on their faces just assured me even more that I, I mean we, have made the right choice of joining this project.

Introduction- Believe it or not, introduction of ourselves had never been this hard as we had to say it in Bahasa Malaysia, and of course in a very formal proper way. Since most of our BM was very rusty, it made complete sense how Wei Wen who is 20 this year stood up and started with:

“Name saya Wei Wen. Umur saya…err…DUA BELAS!”

Even typing this out had me laughing. Imagine at that moment of time, there was only silence for a second and what left afterwards was laughter. Therefore, she was called “KAKAK DUA BELAS” from this day onwards to the very last day of our project.

After all the warm welcoming speeches, we were brought to Shane’s (one of the teachers) house as the hostel this year was opened up to all the standard 6 students; therefore, there wasn’t enough beds to accommodate 14 of us. We girls were lucky to have 2 bedrooms shared among the 9 of us, and as of the boys they had to sleep in the living room nyehehehe but ok la the living room is super spacious. After settling down, we officially started our first activity of the project! YAY!! We played a series of ice breaking games so the kids could know our names better and the games got the kids hyped up in no time.

Also, the YDP got us coconut water freshly taken down from the trees and it literally made the super hot weather so much more bearable. Couldn’t be any more grateful for that!

When the clock hit 9pm, we ended our night class and ushered the kids to dewan makan for minum malam and the volunteers took turns to shower after such a long day. On a side note, 14 people sharing one toilet isn’t easy haha. We then had our first ever reflection session when everyone was done. Before the light dimmed, we bid each other goodnight and get ourselves ready for another long day ahead; went to bed hoping for more good days to come!

Day 3: Aneesha Chettri

My alarm went off at 5 am on Tuesday. It was a chilly morning, so it only made sense that I snoozed my alarm and curled up under the warmth of my blanket. What I thought was a flimsy piece of mattress the night before felt extra comfortable this morning.

Just when I was about to fall into deep slumber, the alarm rang again and it was already 5.35 in the morning. I was late. I woke up hastily and make my way to the common space where I found Amir performing the final procedures of his Fajr prayer. Amir and I have been designated to wake the Year 6 kids for their 6.20am class. The Charismen appointed us to take up this role because according to them, we look ‘fierce’. Yes, I am as perplexed as you are.

It was pitch dark outside when we were walking towards the hostel. When we reached the dining hall, Amir and I were surprised to find the kids immaculately dressed in their school uniforms. They claimed that they rose at 3 am. This is certainly something that the volunteers could learn from the children as most of us claimed to be night owls.

The hue of the sky turned blue when we were about to start our morning class at 6.20am in the morning. The sky there brightens early because Sabah, Land below the Wind is 8 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time(GMT).


All 14 volunteers split into two groups. Group 1 took charge of teaching students of 6 Pintar, while Group 2 was assigned to teach students of 6 Bijak. The previous night, the team leader had the volunteers rank the students based on their proficiency in English and Mathematics. Most of the volunteers were assigned to teach four students. That morning, I observed all the volunteers drilling the kids on their multiplications table. As for volunteers in Group 2, their frustrations were evident because students of 6 Bijak did not memorise the times table.

At about 7 am, we dismissed the class so that the kids could have breakfast. The menu for breakfast was fried rice and Teh 'O'. Puan Kaitrin; who is also SK Tumunda's Curriculum Senior Assistant brought us kuih penjaram. Kuih penjaram is a traditional kuih of the Bajau tribe. The kuih; which had a chewy texture and fragrant pandan aroma was made using rice flour. We were pleased by the hospitality that we received from SK Tumunda thus far. We thanked Puan Kaitrin for her thoughtful gesture.

Schooling hours commenced normally. Apart from teaching the Year 6 pupils, SK Tumunda had also assigned us to handle the PdP (Pengajaran dan Pembelajaran) session for the student of other ages. Before recess, Group 2 we assigned to teach 2 Bijak English. Initially, we read story books to them. Towards the second half of the class when it was getting out of hand, we played dumb charades using a list of animals. From my experience of teaching young kids for the first time, I would suggest that teaching early childhood education is not for everyone. One should be tenacious because it takes an enormous measure of patience to teach an active group of young children with short attention span and little self-control. I am sure all the volunteers walked out of 2 Bijak feeling tired that morning.

Volunteers of Group 1 conducting a lesson during normal schooling hours.

One of the volunteer demonstrating the eruption if a volcano using household items.

I assumed that we used plenty of energy that morning because when afternoon come rolling, our stomach was already growling.

Lunch was a typical Malay meal; rice, Masak lemak pucuk manis with sweet potato, sambal ikan, stir-fried winged beans and fried chicken. For dessert, we were each given a crispy Red Delicious apple variant.  It was certainly a hearty lunch. Most volunteers got their cravings for a Malay meal fixed. We had an hour to lay back before conducting the afternoon class for Year 6.

At 2 pm, volunteers were already in the classrooms. We sat down with the kids that have been assigned to us. We were determined to teach the kids simple ways of memorising the times table. The multiplication table is the most fundamental aspect of UPSR mathematics, so it is imperative that these children learn their 'sifir' by heart. I felt as if time slowed down that afternoon. The kids seemed lethargic and were half-awake. I infer that the kids were tired from their normal schooling hours. They barely got enough sleep the night before as they were wide awake at three in the morning. Their habit of rising at three in the morning is commendable, but I am concerned that these kids do not get enough rest from sleep. After all, sleep is important for the body and mind to function well. Keeping the fact that the students were sleep-deprived, the volunteers chose not to raise their voice whenever they answered questions wrongly.

The kids lead a healthy lifestyle. They love sports and is something they look forward to every day.

At 4 pm, the kids were in high spirit to do outdoor activities. The children were disappointed when we told them that we are not playing sports that day. The volunteers had other plans for them that evening. The previous day, when some of the volunteers used the hostel's washroom, they were extremely disappointed at its sanitary condition. Thus, that evening, we decided to have the kids to do 'gotong royong' to clean the toilets and dormitory. The children were divided into groups of two according to their gender, and the cleaning commenced. The volunteers also gave the kids some tit-bits as to why cleanliness of the toilet is important. Once the state of the toilets was satisfactory, we let the kids off to unwind and get ready for dinner.

We gathered at the dining hall at 6 pm for dinner. We were served rice, fried sawi, beef Tom Yum and watermelon. Night class commenced an hour later. Volunteers of Group 2 decided that we were going to teach them English. Most of us taught vocabulary and basic grammar. It was evident that a lot of work must be done. The only thing we wished these kids have, was a sound basis of English when they were younger. Now that they have passed these years, all the volunteers could do is to help them gain confidence to converse in English.

The night class came to an end at 9 pm. We dismissed the class to let the kids have supper, prep and go to bed. As for the volunteers, some went home to take a shower while the remaining went to the dining hall to spend more time with the kids.

Our final agenda that night was to have a reflection session. All fourteen of us sat in a circle in the common room and shared our thoughts. We discussed the kids' strengths and weaknesses. Everyone had their own goals as to what they want the kids to achieve by the end of the project. After about an hour, we went to bed. There was a long day ahead of us tomorrow. Despite being exhausted, we were glad that our first day as teachers in SK Tumunda was a memorable one.

Day 4: Regina Tan

I woke up to the sound of a rooster crowing and was partially confused, still thinking I was in my room back in KL. Still half asleep, I checked my phone and realised it was 5.35a.m., and instead of my room, I was staring at the ceiling of Shane’s (the teacher whose house we were living in) wooden house. Despite the lack of sleep, knowing that the standard 6 students would be waiting in their classrooms at half past 6 motivated me to get out of bed and get ready for our morning class.

As per the other days, we entere the classrooms an hour before school starts for a brief review or motivation session with our students. Today, instead of going over Math, I thought that it would be nice to find out more about the 5 children I was assigned to, be it about their ambition, hobbies, or family members. From our conversation, 2 of them aim to be teachers, 2 to be policemen and the other wants to be a firefighter. When I asked them if they ever thought of going to university, here were a few of their responses.

Student 1: Cikgu, kalau saya fail UPSR, papa saya kata x payah belajar dah, kerja saja lebih senang

Student 2:  Cikgu, kita orang miskin, mana mampu nak pergi jauh jauh untuk belajar kat universiti

The above responses struck me and that was when I realised that their perception of higher education was something beyond the term “achievable”, especially with the lack of resources and support from their family. That was when I truly felt that our presence (a group of Malaysian students who made it to university) could serve as a form of motivation to persevere in their quest for education. I then had the chance to share on the importance of education and the various opportunities such as scholarships available. It was surprising to see the look on their faces as if they were never exposed to such an idea before.

After morning class, the students proceeded with normal school hours and we continued our day with P&P slots for the other classes (excluding standard 6). After lunch, we had our extra class sessions and although it was only day 4, it feels like we’ve known the children for weeks as we call each other through personalised nicknames.

We continued the day with the student’s favourite sports and riadah session. After being deprived of sports for the past 2 days, the children were so so so excited. We played captain ball, volleyball, rebut tiang, football and even Batu Seremban! There was practically a sport or game everyone was involved in (even the volunteers)! The students (and us) had so much fun. The sports session did indeed serve as a motivation for the children to pull through the extra class during the night session. My students were more attentive as I taught them a new Math topic and could apply them (although with guidance) to several questions, it actually surprised me!

As usual, after the night class session, the students either headed back to the asrama for supper or went home. The volunteers as usual, had our supper and headed home for our usual cold shower, reflection/ ranting + bonding session over snacks!

Here’s to the end of day 4! One day closer to home but a day closer to parting with the children!

Day 5: Tan Xuan Ping

Thursday morning, the second best day right after Friday. Waking for the 6.20am class has became a normal and natural routine, sort of. Just a splash of water to the face and trying our best to brush our teeth, we're all awake and ready to go to morning session with the lovely and cute "darjah enam" class. Morning is usually slow so we would find some ways to start the day with a blast with the kids. For me, I would try to give a surprise pop quiz or just ask something about them, where they would be interested to talk instead of being gloomy.

The first few days with the kids would always turn out to be really quiet and only me talking, as days past by, the kids started to be more active and showing their true self, which is partly good and partly bad. Good as they would have more interaction in class that would made it more interesting, bad in a way that they would be more rebellious and chat too much. A simple reminder would always work to ask them to continue their homework.

As the short morning class went by, it's time to go to the next class without having breakfast YET! The first normal class session was a "darjah empat" class where we were conducting Mathematics. The approach was to separate into a group of 3-5 kids. It's always tough to start teaching right after meeting, so as cliché as it can be, a self introductory session then games that involved Mathematics. After trying my best to teach them about conversion of unit for about 40minutes, a teacher came to announce that a milo truck came to the school.

The kids were all excited and started to line up to receive their share of milo drink. It feels extremely nostalgic to be in that position, the feeling of excitement knowing the best drink you can ever taste in school was here, but not only that, a short break from class too, which was also great as a teacher to just catch a break and get a iced sweet milo.

Then comes the afternoon session after a short nap. Afternoon sessions with our kids had always been maddening, tiring, frustrating, but also rewarding. It's either mathematics or English, but Thursday we're doing English. Firstly the maddening part is explaining the same words to them multiple times over and over again, tiring because I would always around to each kids as they had difference pace of progression, frustrating because they would be easily distracted, but all and all manageable. Rewarding because the looks from the kids after they finally understands, the face of happiness that they finish their work with the correct answer. It's better than getting the present you hoped for, it's better than winning a prize, it's the best feeling to see someone else success as you pour all of yourself. It's like reaching your hand out and someone reaches back to you kind of experience.

After the afternoon sessions, come the little lecture for the kids on how they did well or bad the day before. It could either be congratulating them or a scolding because they didn't follow the rules that were laid out. Then a briefing of activities that we, the volunteers were preparing for them. Thursday was a super chill day, it's free activity day. Where the children get to choose to either go play sports, read books or play board games. Everyone was running wild because they can finally leave their seat to do something else. The kids were the most craziest when it comes to sports, getting super hyper with just a simple competition of racing. They can be racing the whole day and not get tired which was very tiring for us to tag along with them for the whole 2-3 hours.

Then came the best time of the day, night sessions. Why do I say that it was the best time, everyone is wide awake from all the activities and ready to work. It's usually the time with the best progression. After 2 hours, it's time for dinner and chilling at the canteen.

After the long day, the group came together for a reflection for the day and it's to turn the power off and start charging for the next day.

Day 6: Tan Wei Wen

Friday, one last day before the weekend!!! I think I’ve never looked forward to a weekend so much before. Today is the fifth day of teaching and it’s definitely one of the hardest days that I’ve been through here in SK Tumunda.

Turning up to class this morning expecting all 3 of my kids to finally memorise the sifir (times table in malay- a new word that I’ve learnt and used more than ever at my time here), not all but the ones that I’ve asked them to. Of course, you must take into consideration that these kids barely even have time to sleep for 8 hours every night just like us volunteers do, which pulls you back from raging at your kids when they don’t meet your expectations. Today was the first day I raised my voice at them, hoping they would realise how behind they are for UPSR that is less than two months away from now and they can barely memorise what 9x9 is- and telling me that 4x0 is 3..

Thank god after morning class today, was senamrobik. I think the kids and the volunteers are all too excited to finally do something else rather than sit down and study. Personally, I think we had more fun than the children did cause in the end we had to dance around them to get them moving- it felt like a long overdue workout after eating so much food here.

Afternoon class was frustrating for almost all the volunteers teaching 6 Bijak- leading to a raging session of Timestable Snap (it’s like slapjack but in timestable form) and slapping the table so hard until it felt like the table was going to collapse. We also had a short but needed anti-bullying talk (led by our very fierce Abang Amir starting off with the tagline- abang sangat kecewa) with the kids especially after noticing subtle signs of name calling, boycotting here and there. One of my girls lost both her front teeth and she has ‘gigi palsu’ and some girls from the other class called her outside just to show one of our volunteers her fake teeth which in my eyes seemed like bullying, but after I spoke to her it just felt like a social norm to her like it’s been happening so often that she doesn’t mind showing it to other people anymore. I guess there’s nothing much we can do to help them through this learning process of protecting yourself and not to be scared to not fit in, but only to tell them that you should treat others like how you want to be treated.

Usual riadah time followed which we get to forget about studying for a little while (not for the kids to forget about their timestable tho- we sometimes try to incorporate it into games like once u miss the ball you have to memorise the timestable for 4) until we get back to studying after dinner. Night time is English classes for my kids, and when they can’t even form sentences with the most fundamental grammar like pronouns and articles, I try to focus more on conversational English like asking how you’re doing, what’s the day today and things that at least in my perspective would be useful to them in the future.

Night time hits, with everyone waiting in line for the shower, a reflection session cut short seeing how tired everyone was with a briefing for the Inspiration activity (A real life board game of life!!), we called it a day.

Day 7: Amirul Asyraf

It’s finally weekend and we decided to not do the 6.20 am class as most of the standard 6 kids are going home anyway. We reward ourselves with extra hours of sleep after one week of hard works and struggles. Today is also a special day as we were exclusively invited by the YDP of SKTS Parents-Teacher Association to attend the local Hari Raya celebration at the local community hall situated at the centre of the village. Everyone woke up fresh after the extra hours of sleep and put on some fabulous set of traditional clothing I’ve ever seen. These lads and lass all looked so radiant and lustrous as you can see here.

The kids who are not going back home lead us to the community hall by feet. It was only 15 minutes away from the school. We were greeted by the local group of musicians playing the gong and caklempong.

The elders taught us some traditional dances that involved a very slow limbs movement which made ours sore. Alex, Sara, Regina and Amir were also invited to sing karaoke together with the orang kampung and the kids. Everyone dance to the songs and it was very enjoyable moment for all of us.

But the best part of this Hari Raya celebration is of course the food that they served! A variety kind of dishes is available and I didn’t let this chance slipped away as I went and tried all of them. From Nasi Linopot, rice that was wrapped with a huge leave, Burasak, Kelupis Kuih Makmur, Kuih Penyaram up to Chicken Soup I didn’t missed them at all.

We went back to the school a bit early to prepare for the Inspiration Activity that was carefully drafted by Pheng Chew and Jie Yi. The Inspiration Activity was basically a very huge board game that explain the process and stages of life from school up until career life. Only standard 6 students were involved during this slot. The kids were divided into 10 groups of 6’s. There are 3 stages of life that was simulated on the board which are School Stage, College Stage and Career Stage before they all proceed to the grand finale of the slot which was the Chicken Leg Competition.

The School and College Stage were both played on a very large 6x6 physical board game placed on the ground. Every group had to throw a dice and a representative pawn will step forward according to the number rolled on the dice. They were also required to follow every single instruction placed at every box. Boxes 12 is a special box as it was the SPM pitstop where every group who passes this box need to be able to answer 5 Maths & English questions before they could progress further in this game. During the College Stage, there are several challenges that they need to fulfil and completed for them to get advantages and helps during Career Stage.

Doctor, Actor, Engineer, Bomba and Police were among the several career paths that awaited them at the Career Stage. Every group need to perform every task completely for them to be employed into respective occupations that will help them further during the Chicken Leg Tournament.

Everyone who was hired now may use their unique skills that they acquired to help them win the Chicken Leg Tournament. Group 10 was announced as the winner of the Inspiration Activity and one of the team member was voted by us as the best player of the tournament. Amir and Regine then gave a reflection on what the activity is all about, how everyone start at the same point in life but must undergone different stages, different pathways and different challenges but eventually, everyone will get to the similar end. We hope that this activity will greatly inspire them to work their very best to achieve their dreams and not feel sad and down when everything went south as everyone has different stories of their life.

At night, since it’s Saturday, we decided to cut come slack and give some time for the kids to rest also after such a long day. Most of the Standard 6 kids went home. We gathered all the kids that weren’t going back at the Dewan Makan and let them do what they want. Some read the storybooks that we provide, some play the board games, cards and some play the Lego. We exchanged stories with the kids and share some heart-to-heart experience. The bond not only among the volunteers grew stronger, but also the kids as well. It was such a hectic day, but everyone seems to enjoy it very much.

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