Thursday, July 24

Jungle Pedalling Adventures

Close your eyes. Imagine the mist-velveted lush green rainforest in all it's glory. Imagine the air filling your lungs with its crisp, sweet & cool goodness. Imagine the golden glow of the sunrise illuminating the scenery before you as you rush downhill in a blur of speed. One small slip on your mountain bike & you'd fall & risk injuring yourself hours away from help with nothing but a cheap plastic helmet to protect your valuable noodles. But it's worth it. Working in the interiors of Sarawak does have it's moments. Esp if you've got a hot-blood for adventure & the persistence of a hamster on two wheels.

After working here for 6 years, I've finally decided to get a set of wheels for early morning rides to Song from my school.

Bought a bike in Kuching, had it packed nicely, carried it all the way to the jungle so that it will carry me in return.
I'm still considering whether I want to carry it all the way back to Kuching once I transfer.

Saturday, July 12

The Education Consultancy Job


A few weeks ago, when I was stressed-out & madly rushing the paperwork required for Guru Cemerlang, I got a call from an HR agency working for an education consultancy about a job position in the consultancy. The person saw my profile, read my information & thought that I would make a good candidate for the vacant role. I've heard of the consultancy & have a friend who works there but I didn't know much about what they did. I was provided with some basic information on the consultancy & the job description. What really surprised me was the remuneration package. It was huge. I was surprised that there was such an amount in the education sector.

The offer really caught my attention & got me thinking seriously about the direction I was taking in my life. Is this better than what I am doing at the moment? Is this the legacy that I want? Is this the only way for me to finally be able to move on to a new challenge? Do I stay as a common teacher or become a consultant of teachers?

Sunday, July 6

When There Is No Water At The Jungle School

You've probably heard me lament many times on Fb/Twitter about the lack of water at school.
Well, the main water pump in our school is really old & in a poor state of repair. It breaks down or a pipe bursts every few months & immediately plunges the school into drought.

Also, the speed in which repairs take place can drive a snail mad so we can go on for weeks without water being pumped into our lodgings. The situation gets worse when the mini-pumps at our apartment blocks break-down after an extended period of disuse.
The record time for not having any water pumped into my apartment is 4 months: October 2013 - January 2014.

Imagine you're a student who is sitting for SPM & you have to endure a drought throughout your preparation & exam. You have to endure no matter what & do your best in your tests. I really respect my students who went through SPM in such conditions last year. I wouldn't want anything like this to happen to me during an important period of my life.

Imagine you're a teacher who comes from the city where you have taken for granted the constant supply of running water & electricity. You fly from your home & take 2 boats to get to school. You feel energised from the holidays & are eager to start the year with a bang.
Yet, you return to find that nothing has been done to fix the water problem during the holidays & you've got to find a way to clean your filthy house, source for clean drinking water, prepare your meals & clean your dirty laundry.
What would that do to your morale & those of the colleagues you depend on? No matter what, you have to survive & you have to stay focused. It's not easy.

So what happens when there is no water at the jungle school?

Tuesday, July 1

Featured in The Borneo Post - 14 June 2014

an exact replica of the article in the Victorious magazine
When I received news about appearing in the newspaper again, I thought that this principal in Sibu was pulling my leg. I laughed off the early morning WhatsApp message in good humour. Soon, more messages came & then I was FB tagged in a picture of the article by a hot dentist friend.

Apparently, I have made a surprise appearance in The Borneo Post, an English daily distributed all over Sarawak. At that time, I was in KL for TFM's energising Connect_ED.

I didn't know about the article & my permission was not sought. I studied the picture of the article & found that it is an exact replica of an article written about me in Victorious, the alumni magazine of my alma mater, Victoria University of Wellington. I don't know whether to be alarmed or happy about this.
Even though I appreciate the recognition & being used as the face of New Zealand education in Sarawak, I should have at least been informed. I am going to seek an explanation.

Meanwhile, it's business as usual for me. I'm just the flavour of the week. Being featured in newspapers does not make me a better teacher nor any better than any other teacher.
I'm still trekking 10 minutes to the river to do my bathing/washing/cleaning just like any other jungle teacher.
I'm still paid peanuts to do what I do. Paid like teachers who do very little too. hmm...

Also, I'm trying very hard not to let all this publicity get to my head.
You have permission to slap me when my head gets so full of hot steam it floats through the air like an Angry Bird. Be gentle.

Maybe with this new found fame... will someone powerful who reads this please tell the ministry to send good principals & teachers to the interiors?
What's the point of having Guru Cemerlangs & Pengetua Cemerlangs in top schools? Put them some place where they can make a real difference instead of being Great Clerks or Powerful Clerks in schools who can run extremely well without them.
Teaching in the interiors is a privilege. NOT a punishment. You can quote me on that.

View all my newspaper features here.

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