Saturday, July 6

Program Jalinan Kasih (with SMK Kapit)

Going gong ho in the jungle. These were the people who made it happen.
During the weekend right after the school holidays, a group of adventurous top students & a teacher from SMK Kapit paid a visit to my school.
I wanted to give my students quality role models. They wanted a jungle adventure to remember. I think we've got ourselves a fair exchange, don't we? And after wading through a whole bunch of bureaucracy, we made it happen.

The biggest challenge in materialising this program was not bureaucracy. It was overcoming people's preconceived perceptions of my ulu school & the benefits of travelling to such a secluded place.
Let's not talk about inviting Guru Cemerlangs or students from Sibu or Kuching or anywhere else further away. Even the people in nearby Kapit were reluctant to allow their children to travel to Katibas. They were afraid of deadly boat rides where non-existent crocodiles infest the waters. They did not think that travelling to such an ulu place would benefit their children.

One participant told me the story of how she had to be stubbornly persistent with her parents to be allowed to take part. Eventually, her parents consented with her father telling her mother, "let her come back crying & she'll understand why we did not agree."
So, after a few withdrawals & replacements in the group, 15 students & 1 teacher came. They were certainly a group of people to cherish & that was exactly what we did.

So, did they run home to mommy in tears? Take a look at the pictures & judge for yourself.

On their first night, we did an introduction & ice breaking for them.
My students also gave them a romantic midnight tour of the school after the event.
Early the next morning, the whole school took to the field & we did aerobics together with our guests.
Later, the top Form 5 students from SMK Kapit did a workshop with our Form 3 students who were going to sit for PMR.
I think that they were the ideal role models for my students.
Role models are something that we are of short supply in this region. Better students usually leave for better schools. So do local residents who do better in their lives.
After that, it was the Form 6 students' turn to conduct a workshop for my Form 5 students.
They may not have been the top students at their school, but their experiences will be able to help my students prepare.
I also pulled in the Form 5 students from SMK Kapit to work with my science stream Form 5 students.
That afternoon, we took them jungle trekking.
We spent 3 hours in the jungle trekking through thick foliage & wading through rivers to arrive at a magical waterfall where students & visitors alike had a lot of splashy fun.
That night, our school put up a Cultural Night show for them.
My students did cultural dances, sang songs & so did our teachers. Everybody had a great time!
The next morning, they joined our Youth Service.
We joined together in prayer & studied the bible together.
Before they left, we took group photographs, autographed shirts & also autographed the banner. They wanted to bring the banner back to SMK Kapit with them as a memento to this momentous event. They wanted to bring back a piece of SMK Katibas back with them. How sweet.
Rightfully so. They've gained so much during the weekend & made so many meaningful connections.
Don't you think that it was a trip worthy of making? I'm sure there will be more insights & benefits to be gained from travelling all the way to my ulu jungle school instead of staying confined in their comfort zones at home.
Don't you think children & adults alike will benefit from helping others? My students gained a lot from this small group from SMK Kapit & I am pretty sure they gained a lot from us too. This exchange was mutually beneficial.
WHAT WOULD YOU DO IF YOU WERE GIVEN THIS OPPORTUNITY?

For the brave few who took the road not taken, I salute you. You have taken the first step towards discovering what it takes to be truly successful in life. Something that, unfortunately, is not taught in school but is discovered through obtaining unusual experiences such as these.
I wish you well & I pray that God will bless you abundantly for the priceless blessings you have brought to my rural school students.

View all the pictures here on my FB page.

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