Saturday, May 10

Aram Katibas!

The Aram Katibas! Team
I am truly blessed to be working with the individuals pictured here as well as the many who were not able to attend the photography session. With their time, care & effort, they made this programme happen.
It's interesting how making a stand for something & fighting for it attracts kindred spirits.
Back in 2011, an eloquent & intelligent teenager from Penang read a series of teacher articles I wrote for Loyarburok.com. She then decided to interview this obscure teacher & write an article about me for The Star. She was the first person to recognise this crazy slaving hermit in the jungle & slingshot me into the limelight.

Never in my wildest dreams had I expected to host her & her merry band of altruistic adventurers at the very school she wrote about 3 years ago.
What were they up to at my school? What were they like? What were the outcomes? How much did I pay them for their 'services'?

Nothing. I paid them nothing. This makes me either a Scrooge or manipulative psychopath. I'm not sure which. Actually, there's a funny cloak & dagger story here which fills me with the pain of betrayal. A story which I will carry with me to my grave but more likely sell it to you in my memoirs.

Anyway, 4 ASEAN scholarship graduates & a liberal education graduate from Penang, KL, Selangor & Johore paid their own way to travel into the jungle to run programmes for my students. They ran a motivation programme for the Form 5 SPM candidates as well as a HOTS programme for 40 selected students from Forms 1-5.

The HOTS Programme Participants
The SPM Motivation Programme Participants
The Journey to School: 1 Flight & 2 Boat Rides
I'm sure you've met the typical Type A individuals. They have a good family background, received a good education, got to study overseas & have a bright future planned out for them. Sadly, these people have had a silver spoon in their mouths so they're demanding, snobbish, nit-picky, heat-allergic & walk with a royal air about them. They've paid to come here & they can pay their way through anything. They expect a resort in the middle of the jungle & little servants to serve them.
Well, I've got bad news. These 5 people who came to my school were exactly like that... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... NOT!!!

Honestly, I was very surprised at the lengths these 5 amazing young people have gone to make sure that they gave nothing but their very best to my students. They'd plan the curriculum for months on their own & only trouble me once in a while for critical insights. They'd source a luggage full of books for my kids. They'd purchase necessities & refuse reimbursement. They'd stay up all night reflecting & planning for the sessions to make sure that there was impact. They'd share with my kids as equals & treat them with the utmost love & respect. They're also planning follow-up activities until the end of this year. Seriously, what more could I ask of them?

I knew from the moment I met the leaders for coffee in Penang last year that they were the perfect people to bring to my school & share with my students. They were kindred spirits. Youths after my own heart.

The SPM Motivation Programme
The HOTS Programme
A Visit To My Class
We rewarded them by taking them jungle trekking to a nearby waterfall.
After jungle trekking, I took them on a memorable romantic cruise down the Katibas river back to school.
In the following weeks after the programme, my students were very motivated. There was a new spark in the eyes of the Form 5 students. The students who took part in the HOTS programme spoke more English. There was even an episode where a group of students told me off for giving them instructions in BM. Amazing. Sometimes even I forget that I'm an English teacher. It's humbling to be reminded & very sweet at the same time.

Just like the many (JiaYiing & team, Sarah Lasung & team, Dr Kay & Dr Dawn) who have come before them, they made a deep impression on my students & will forever be remembered & loved.
I'm sure that by giving of themselves & opening up to my students, they have also gained something that no education or purchased product could give them... a deep sense of satisfaction that you only feel when you've truly honestly given all you've got & made a difference.

They have also witnessed first-hand the challenges faced by my students & felt the fire of justice burn in their bellies. Such is my battle & my struggle so long as I am a teacher here. Their aid & spirit have rejuvenated me & encouraged me to push on.
I wish them success in everything that they do & I pray that God will reward them for what they have done for my children in the jungle. Please don't forget us here in Katibas. We'll miss you.

For all the good you have done, I'd like to express a heartfelt THANK YOU...
to Amanda Ng, MaoFong, Alicia Francys, Gareth Wee & Jesereen Kaur.
Amanda, the young lady who has blossomed from the little teenager I knew, wrote about her experiences here on her blog. Have a read & do comment.

View all the pictures here on my Facebook Page.

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