SK TUMUNDA SALIMANDUT (2018)
Day 1: Samantha Lim
Today was departure day!!! Majority of us were taking the 8:55am flight to Kota Kinabalu. At around 7am, those who took the same flight gathered in front of the bag drop counters. We chatted and were still learning each others names(all of us had just met the day before at the TFMtraining session). We finally arrived in KK at 11:30am. It was surreal, I think I can speak for my team in the sense that everyone was excited that this project was actually in motion after a month of planning, brainstorming and multiple Skype sessions.
Upon arrival, we took a Grab to the hotel- Lucky 11. We checked into our rooms and relaxed while we waited for the rest of the team who took a later flight to arrive. And we set out to have lunch as well as buying the materials and supplies we would need for the next 2 weeks at the nearby Suria Sabah shopping mall. One of our volunteers was from Sabah hence we did not have much last minute materials to get.
We were all extremely tired by then however a large shipment of stationaries and dental kits still needed to be individually packed for Tumunda and Teringai. After several gruelling hours, we had finished packing and sorting the kits for each school.
But the day was not over yet, one of the volunteers knew of a place that was famous for its seafood, and thus everyone's stomach was filled with "tiga rasa ikan", butter prawns, fried squid and more to which I'm sure was the highlight of the Charismen's tiring day.
Before heading to bed we called for a meeting with both teams where final words of motivation were spoken and advice shared. All 26 of us went to sleep with the words dangling over our heads as we anticipated what was to come for the next 14 days. Little did we know the next 2 weeks would be the most memorable moments of our lives.
Day 2: Khye Vern
The day started off with a farewell, as we bid goodbye to our counterparts in Teringai and went on our way with anticipation towards Tumunda. The van was heavy with loaded gift boxes while our hearts were light with excitement, all 13 of us took a restful nap in the van in preparation for the busy day. (Though a bumpy road made it slightly harder to fall asleep!)
We were greeted warmly by the teacher-in-charge, Katrina (affectionately referred to as Cikgu Kat), as she took us on a tour around the school’s campus. We were shown the hostel, the wide green football field, the quaint home that was to be our accommodations for the next 2 busy weeks, and the school itself. As the students are only expected to arrive tomorrow morning, we had the run of the campus for the rest of the day, allowing us to get used to our new surroundings. Our final stop of the tour was the canteen.
We were treated to a scrumptious lunch made by the canteen’s staff, with delicious home-made food filling our hungry bellies. The staff on hand were very friendly, with one of our own Charisman getting a complimentary cup of hot Milo just because! The security that was present also ensured we were made to feel as safe as possible, as they took down all our names and made sure the locks on our humble abode was working as smoothly as possible.
We began preliminary preparations for the day tomorrow, ensuring all our materials were in their proper place and every Charisman was briefed properly on their roles. We then unwinded and bonded with a relaxing game of volleyball, working up quite a bit of a sweat attempting to keep the ball in the air for a record number of times.
Dinner was served swiftly after, this time with spicy fish to spice up our taste buds.
Cold refreshing showers to wash off the grime and sweat of the day followed soon after, as we made use of the hostel’s facilities to clean up both ourselves and our clothes.
We began work on a demonstration model of a newspaper wheel (an ice breaking activity we would carry out the next day) in our home, which took quite a bit of effort as we wanted to ensure the example that will be shown to the kids tomorrow to be as close to perfect as possible.
After finishing, we stayed up (but not too late! as the children are coming in early the next day) playing card games like Uno. All in all, for day one in a new environment with so many new personalities, it was an incredibly fun day.
Day 3: Atiqah Bahardin
“Cock-a-doo-dle-dooo!” Waking up to the sound of the roosters was foreign to many of the volunteers from the Charisma team. It was finally our first day of school in SK Tumunda Salimandut!
At 7.20 a.m., we were invited to join the school assembly and introduced ourselves to all the teachers and students of SK Tumunda Salimandut. After leaving high school for more than 2 years, it was nostalgic as we sang the national anthem and read our Rukun Negara. Seeing the faces of the 366 students lining up in front of the Charismen was really refreshing and gave us a breath of fresh air. We felt really motivated to facilitate the students in the best way that we know how.
As we went into our first class for the camp, the students greeted us “Selamat Pagi, Abang dan Kakak”. We were assigned to the Standard 2 and Standard 5 classes for our first day at the school. It was a unique experience for the Charismen as we have never taught a class of students before and we can see the excitement in the eyes of the students as they answer our questions enthusiastically. We shared with the students the many types of occupations there is and asked them what they want to be when they grow up. For an 11-year-old, it was inspiring to hear the dreams that they have and remind the volunteers, to dream big. Some of the students want to be astronauts to travel space and some want to become soldiers to protect the country. Hearing their dreams, we felt even more motivated to give our all in this short duration of time.
After the school bell rang signalling the end of school, we proceeded with the Ice Breaking session that was meant for the volunteers to get to know the Standard 6 students. At 2.00p.m., all the participants gathered in the school hall and played a few games. One of the highlights was the Newspaper Train game where groups of nine students need to build a tyre-like structure newspaper that can fit five students. The students were then instructed to race among the four groups and the last to cross the line will need to do a penalty.
When the session ended, we started to assess the students’ capabilities in Mathematics and English through a short test. After a long day, we marked the test papers and graded it to sort the students into groups. We assigned mentors to specific groups. We also prepared lesson plans and goals for the students we were assigned to. Hopefully we are able to help the students in preparing for their UPSR.
In the morning, we taught Standard 5 classes. Mine was 5 Pintar at 10:50am and lasted for an hour. We first conducted the class by introducing them to multiplication to see their levels. Then, we split into groups to give more personal teaching to the students. It was initially tough to get their attention but most of them got very enthusiastic about learning once I showed them the method and that they have someone to provide immediate feedback about their work. They gained more and more confidence until they could even teach one another. I especially loved it when they asked me, “Kakak, beri saya lebih soalan. Ini senang!” and asked for more questions. Before this session, I was afraid of how I would be able to handle them and their potentially overwhelming energy but I realised these kids are so filled with enthusiasm to learn. It was hard to leave when the class’ time was up when I felt there was still so much for them to absorb.
We went for a delicious lunch at 1pm, with the kind mak ciks catering to those who don’t eat meat by providing some fish. The English classes started today at 2pm and I had given my students a model paper to do. One student that stood out was Haqkim. He did his work slowly and was still doing it when the time ran out at 4pm, but he refused to play his friends, even shooing them away in order to finish his essay to hand up. I was really touched by his enthusiasm and showed that just because a student takes longer to finish, didn’t mean he was any less capable.
Day 4: Li Ann
Frank (left) and Absten reading English comic books as part of their break in our English class. Love how they had the same pose in this picture!
After that, it was recreational time. I was in charge of handling board games for those who didn’t want to do sports. We got to know Cartika and Elviane, who both were open in sharing their ambitions and hobbies. Cartika sang her rendition of Flashlight which was aaamazing. Elviane was extremely passionate about being a pediatric nurse, garnering inspiration from her mother to help others in need. I think it was very moving how she has a clear goal and works hard to reach it.
I was very touched to see that the younger girls staying in the asrama had set out chairs for us when they saw us coming for dinner. I thought that was so considerate.
After the filling, nutritious dinner, we had a maths session within our individual groups. There was Joeweltoalexion, Jerycho and a surprise Marco, who was absent the previous day. The break times in this session included me getting to know them and they me, and was told they were all great friends. I found out that Joewel was a very good beatboxer and could carry a tune while beatboxing. I was so impressed as it was probably selftaught. He and Hermon, a student from another group on the table we shared, gave us a duet beatboxing performance. Cuteness overload! Then, Joewel said something very adorable,
“Kakak, adakah kamu minum banyak air?” “Ya. Kenapa?” “Sebab kulit kamu putih”
He thought fairer people drank more water! I wonder what made him to think that?
As it was the first day of proper teaching, it was a pretty productive day as we were all still warming up to each other and they listened attentively. Here’s a picture of some of us hanging out at the common area after our lessons finished.
Joewel also has a very good habit of taking chairs for the whole table to sit on. What a sweetheart!
What's going on here? This picture encapsulates how energetic and 'cool' these kids are :) From top left: Me, Marco, Jedly, (bottom)Terence, Joewel
Day 5: Aily Nadira
After a few days of normal studying sessions and tests, today is actually a little more exciting for the kids because………. It’s dancing time!
We had senamrobik session at 7.20 am, and that’s the moment I realized that the kids (and the teachers) here are pretty much obsessed with singing and dancing! While the other volunteers were getting ready for this session, they played some songs and out of a sudden, the whole school just started singing and dancing together, roughly 200 of them - and it was so beautiful.
This was great for us because most of them were just very quiet and shy on the first day. So when we get to loosen up by dancing and laughing during the senamrobik session, it was so nice to see them breaking the ice with us! Also, after the senamrobik, this is when the quiet ones began to talk… The jokers began to show their belang(stripes)...and everyone just started being themselves!
Then, after this session, we gave some souvenirs we got for the whole school: a pencil case filled with stationeries, a file and a couple of exercise books. (Thank you, Charisma Movement!). And oh lord, that feeling when you get to see them utilizing it and writing with proper pencils and erasers during the subsequent days... it’s just so comforting.
Anyways, getting back on the schedule, we had to teach the children from other standards for a bit after that. Our team always try our best to make the lessons as fun as possible, so since we’re teaching English that time, we decided to play charades to test the children’s vocabulary. They learnt so many new words and had so much fun while at it.
During the afternoon and night period, we used it for extra classes. English during the day, and Maths at night. I have 5 kids with me for Mathematics, they’re the top students in the school. So my study session with them usually goes smoothly as they are very eager to learn new materials. They keep calling me, “Kakak Aily, macam mana nak buat ini”, “Kakak Aily, apa maksud ini”, “Kakak Aily, this”, “Kakak Aily, that”!! I was actually taken aback at first because I’m not used to this. But I tried to remind myself on why I’m there. So, I did my best to accommodate to all their questions. However, while I was busy doing this, I noticed I have one student who’s very quiet. And I mean, very very VERY quiet. When I asked her to do any questions, she can do it. But she’s always so slow, and she’s always putting her head on the table, like she’s not interested. I tried to study her behaviour for a while, until I learnt (from my friends), that she actually has really bad eyesight to the point she has constant headaches. And she has other illnesses, as well. Which explains her slow movement and why she’s always tired and sick. My friends told me that her family could not afford to get her proper spectacles and medication. And that broke me apart. A very bright student, but she couldn’t go to her full potential due to her illnesses. At that moment, when I found out, I wish I can just carry her and drive her to the nearest hospital, and get her all the medication she needs, but then again, there’s only so much that we can do. And I guess one thing that I could learn from this is to not judge too quickly. I thought she wasn’t interested in learning and not appreciating the volunteers’ effort to come all the way to Sabah to teach them, but I was very wrong. I learnt that there’s always two sides to a story, and especially with the kids here. Some of them are going through really tough times, so we should understand first why they’re behaving the way that they did.
We talked about this during the reflection session after the night class (over snacks!), and then the volunteers played some games together before bed (One of my favorite memories here) and there you go, that’s the end of Day 5!
Day 6: Sofea Daud
Me and my team was assigned to teach English for standard one students during the school hours for one hour and it was quite challenging for us; because some of them could not write and read, so we had to deliver the lesson a bit slower because we had to start from scratch. Despite the challenges that we faced in the classroom, we were glad that towards the end, we managed to make them learn something- even though it was just simple English words like ‘school’, ‘pencil’ and ‘eraser’. After all, it’s the input that they learnt that matter.
In the evening, we held a workshop for the standard 6 students whcih was held in 4 classrooms; involving kids from other two schools. We gave them tests before they were divided to specific groups them on their levels. That evening was the Maths workshop and I was assigned for the weaker group so I gave them simple maths exercises involving basic maths operations and I would say all of the kids in my group were doing pretty well and towards the end of the session, they managed to finish their exercises up until multiplication involving 2 digits- which was really impressive although some of the kids that I taught did the exercises a bit slower than the rest but towards the end, she managed to grasp the idea on how to do subtraction and also multiplication.
The 2-hour night session was for English and for my English group, the kids were doing pretty well. Considering their level, I start off by giving them basic grammar exercises and also I assigned them to find any difficult words that they couldn’t understand from the exercise and all of us discussed the meaning of the words and how it can be used in sentences/essays. This is to make them to understand the sentences better which I think will be quite helpful for them to construct sentences. However, I haven’t taught them on how to construct proper sentences yet but I will gradually give them more exam-oriented exercises to prepare themselves for the exam. Overall, the night session with my kids went on smoothly but since they had a 3-hr workshop in the evening, I would say it drained them quite a bit so they looked exhausted during the english session.
I would say that the whole day was very tiring; since we were occupied with workshop and another two-hour session during the night but to see a bit improvement from the kids is really satisfying. I hope that I could do more for them for the days to come and really hope that they will remember everything that we have taught them.
Day 7: Ming Yamamoto
The day started off as I was awoken by the chatters of children walking past the house as they made their way to school, right after the Friday bell rang. As the sun just came up, I rolled out of my sleeping bag and stood up and stretched as the sun shone it’s warm golden light through the windows. I realised that everyone was awake as I walked out of the room; some were queuing up to use the toilet whereas, some were just talking. I dashed to the sink and washed my face, brushed my teeth, getting ready for the day.
As the clock struck eight, we left the house to have breakfast at the school dormitory. I took a plate of fried rice with a cup of hot Milo and sat with the rest of the volunteers. Then, we passed around the famous cikgu’s sambal kicap to add a bit of heat to the fried rice. In fact, it was almost a routine that we add sambal kicap to most of our meals. From the day we arrived in SK Temunda Salimandut, we were always welcomed and treated well by the teachers, students and the villagers. I was touched by their kindness and generosity, for instance, the teachers always offered us food. After we finished eating, we went back to the house after breakfast to plan our day.
Kids folding paper cranes taught by Suchi
From left: Samii, Aisyah, Suchi, Aily and Fifyi; Behind: Dee, Kai Li
Before lunch, the volunteers gathered for a final briefing on the Inspiration activity conducted by Shazlin and Fifyi. This activity consists of two stages; the first was an explorace which involved students moving from one check point to another upon completing a certain task, and the second was a mini career fair to expose the children to different types of careers.
The activity began with students divided into six groups. When the whistle blowed, it marked the start of the two-hour explorace held around the school compound. Some of the students had to build a bridge made out of straws, while some had to solve crossword puzzles. The second activity was conducted once the first stage was completed, where the children were introduced to different career paths through activities such as intellectual debates and fashion shows. The activity ended after everyone was given a debrief and a mini award ceremony was held to award the best speakers in the debate.
Amir and Fifyi introducing the kids to basic accounting
Team Champion with their striking pose
After dinner, the mathematics night tuition started a bit later than usual due to shortage of water supply in the girl’s bathroom. Therefore, some of the boys had to carry pails of water, back and forth from their bathroom. It occured to me that problems as such, we often take things for granted such as clean water supply, which made me feel that we should be grateful that we are blessed with a limitless supply of water back in our home.
I was astonished when I heard one of my assigned students was excited to learn conjunctions. “Abang Ming, jom belajar ‘and’ dan ‘or’ ”, said Irwan. Then for the next two hours, I taught them conjunctions through educational games and mini quizzes as they seemed to love it. The volunteers called it a day when all the students had their supper and returned to their dormitory to rest.
Later that night, I crawled into my sleeping bag as soon as the lights were turned off, lying down while staring into the dark ceiling above me. Reminiscing on the small events that occurred today, I believed that we come to expect certain things in our lives as a given. We are so used to our needs being met constantly in this modern world, to the point where we do not appreciate them as we ought. As the night fell silent, I felt my consciousness ebbing away.
From left: Jowel, Me, Willdry, Irwan
Standard six students with the Charismen