Friday, July 19

#missionKatibas

There will come a time in your life when you meet like-minded people who get you & share your ideals. When you meet people like these, the only natural thing to do is collaborate & see where it takes you. It usually leads to surprisingly amazing moments which touches the hearts of those who experience it first hand & even those who hear the stories. From there, the possibilities are infinite. This is merely the beginning of more great things to come.

Earlier this month, a team of 5 amazing individuals arrived at our school. They called themselves the #missionKatibas team. They came with big hearts, lots of smiles, gave a lot of love & encouragement to my students, shared their lives, & they left a deep impression on my students. Many of my students expressed a clearer idea of what they wanted to achieve in life. They even expressed a greater desire to study hard & do better in SPM & PMR. It's amazing how much I have learned from them. I respect them for braving the unreasonable stigmas associated with travelling to the interiors of our superstitious country.

Usually, nobody would want to come to our school because it is so deep in the interiors. You have to take a boat, risk the infinite possible bad things that would happen on boats, you might even get eaten up by crocodiles or swept away by spirits. Esp Malaysians. They want flashy consumer products, bright lights, fine-dining & skyscrapers. They forgot that the Earth as it is is the most beautiful. They also forgot that the most blessed gift of all is giving.

Because they came with such big hearts, in return, we gave the #missionKatibas team an experience that money can never buy.

The #missionKatibas team was lead by Sarah from Teach For Malaysia, an organisation I think is looking wholeheartedly at making a real difference in a neglected area of our education system.
Together with her are Trish, Sonia, Wai Leem & Esther.
We welcomed them with a simple BBQ dinner where they get to mingle with the Project X+ team.
Our chef, Cikgu Hayazi, was able to work magic out of really simple ingredients. Great job!
On the first morning, they conducted a survey on behalf of Teach For Malaysia.
I wasn't around because I had class but, from what I understood, this survey was conducted to gauge what Malaysian students are like: their interests, ambitions, hopes, etc. It would be interesting to see the results of the survey. I'm glad that they chose to represent an interior school in the data.
In the afternoon, we did an activity for our guests. We took them jungle trekking & they loved it.
That night, they conducted a Youth Service for my students.
I asked the #missionKatibas team to do this because I wanted them to speak to every student at our school. Thus, using them to the maximum as we do not get guests very often.
I also wanted them to provide some religious teaching to my students because I find that they have a really shallow Christian faith (100% non-Muslim students so no proselytising happening here).
The next morning, they conducted a PMR Motivation Workshop for my Form 3 students.
They helped my students realise & develop their multiple intelligences as well as make pledges for their PMR exams. 
The next morning, they also conducted an SPM Motivation Workshop for my Form 5 students.
My students charted their lives & a vision for their future. It was a powerful activity as they were able to visualise what they wanted to achieve in the future.
Also, each student was given an A4 size picture of themselves dressed in graduation robes. The students loved those pictures & it was also a very powerful tool to motivate them to strive towards their dreams.
In the afternoon, I took them to a nearby longhouse for a cultural visit. We visited TR Pillai.
We received a very warm reception & were given the whole cultural package.
We were welcomed with the engekeromong (traditional cymbal ensemble), their best tuak (rice wine) & the ngajat (traditional dance). We were served traditional cakes & local delicacies too!
I don't know about the others but I had a great time filling my belly.
That night, my school put together a Cultural Night in honour of our guests & in appreciation of their efforts in helping the school.
We had traditional dances, a sketch, bands & choirs. Even the teachers put up a show!
People who come to my school & give will not receive financial compensation or fame. But, they leave with a better understanding of the local people & their living conditions. They gain valuable insights & discover a bond with my students that they will never be able to find in any urban school. This is the beauty of Katibas. They will be much better off than the many millions of Malaysians out there who gladly point accusing fingers at Sarawak in political spite despite being unwilling to lift a finger to help.

Thank you, Sarah, Trish, Sonia, Wai Leem & Esther. You have made a difference. I know that this is just the beginning for many of you. This experience will change you, just as it has changed me.

View all the pictures here.

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