Wednesday, December 30

I'm turning 30 & this is my wish.

taken from myniceprofile.com

Please, somebody stab me already! I want to be forever young!
It seems that everybody is having a good time teasing me about my age this year. Just as I was writing this blog post, Daren Lee of Production D sent me a birthday message. By the way, if you're interested in dipping your toes into modelling/acting, contact his agency. He's legit & pretty friendly. Also, the industry is always ALWAYS looking for new faces & in ALL kinds of shapes & sizes.

Honestly, I'm not as enthusiastic about leaving my twenties as I was entering it. It didn't take long before I realized that... Aging = more responsibilities + more expectations. As men, we're expected to refine like wine. Meh. I want to be a kid forever. Perhaps when I turn 40. But, that's a story for another day.

Tuesday, December 29

What Have I Been Up To?

~taken from teacherscollege.tumblr.com~
For the past 3 months, this was where I've been spending most of my time at, exercising my intellectual muscles, & will continue to do so for another 1.5 years!

More than 3 months ago, I promised you guys a lot of things on my blog. Then, there was complete silence on this blog until today! Lol!

I haven't been blogging but I've actually been really active on other forms of social media. I'm constantly sharing thoughts & content on my Facebook page, Twitter, & Instagram. I guess it's a faster way to share ideas & content. I've always thought of blogs as more meaty & for my deeper thoughts. I'll write as many  blog posts as I can until the Spring semester begins on 20 Jan.

So, what have I been up to for the past 3 months?
Well, I've been...

Sunday, September 20

Phantom of the Opera @ Majestic Theatre

A photo posted by Jarod Yong (@jarodyjk) on

Finally achieved a life-long dream & caught the Phantom of the Opera musical theatre!!
Reminded me of my secondary school years when I was part of the school choir taking part in district-, & state-level competitions. I remembered all the hard work that we put in to perfect the emotions & remember the words. Brought tears to my eyes listening to the songs again.

If you've never caught the Phantom of the Opera before, you should. Andrew Lloyd Webber did a great job with the musical. It's one of the longest running musicals on Broadway for a reason. One thing that will surely impress you, when you catch it at Majestic, is the detailed and grandiose setups for each scene. There is a lot to take in with your eyes.

Having seen countless videos & performed the songs myself, one point of criticism I had was the whole musical seemed too rushed. They didn't allow for time to pause & let the emotions sink in. I guess for something as popular as PotO, there is a fine line between art & commercialization. Perhaps it's lost its soul after years & years of popular demand? Still, it doesn't stop streams of tourists from attending the show every day.

If you've never caught Phantom of the Opera on stage, you'll be blown away. If you're very familiar with earlier work, you might be slightly disappointed but there is still a lot for you to appreciate, the nostalgia of the good ol' days.

Tip: They always have promotions so be sure to follow their social media accounts or wait for NYC 2for1 Broadway Week which happens twice a year in late summer or late winter!

Friday, August 28

I Was Awarded A Fulbright Graduate Program

I was awarded the Fulbright Graduate Study & Research Program.
2 weeks ago, I wrote about leaving the jungle school. I didn't have time to write about why I was leaving because it has been a hectic 2 weeks since then. Today, I'm finally able to find a breather to write & share. So, here it is... The reason I'm leaving is to pursue a masters degree in the US sponsored by the Fulbright Scholarship Board.

In this blog post, I'll share about how I got the scholarship & encourage you to do the same. Seriously, if a mere teacher in the middle of nowhere can do it... ANYBODY can.

Sunday, August 16

I'm Leaving The Jungle School

Taken during this year's Track & Field Competition at school with representatives from Bantin house!

During the boat ride back to school this evening, all that I loved about this place became even more intense. The sound of the river water beneath the boat was crisper. The looming trees looked greener. The bright blue sky looked clearer. As the boat surged forward, fresh air washed upon my face & tasted sweeter. The birds chirping in the evening were even louder. Deep in my heart, I cherished every moment because this might just be my last boat ride to SMK Katibas.

This is indeed my last week at the jungle school. I was putting off writing about this because I didn't know what to say & I didn't want to deal with the emotions. I kept myself very busy these last few weeks running programmes & having a lot of fun with the students. (I still have 2 more programmes I haven't blogged about so stay tuned for that.) I wanted to make my last moments count. Maybe I was trying to make up for leaving them.

As much as I want to leave & aim higher, I am deeply attached to the lovely children here & to the purpose of equipping them to face an ever changing world. The children here are unbelievably innocent, kind & malleable. I've lost my iPhone in the school plenty of times & they've returned it to me! Sadly, not much is done for them. At times, I do feel that their rural setting, illiterate society & apathetic educators are letting them down. I've been trying to compensate within my circle of influence together with enlightened colleaguesconcerned citizens & NGOs. Yet, more needs to be done.

Despite dedicating 6 years of my life to making a difference here, I'm disappointed in myself. I've failed to be sustainable. Nothing I've done would be left for the long-term. I can foresee that, when I leave, all that I've done leaves with me. I can't help but think of all the things that I want to do for this place but can't because of my personal & professional limitations.

Perhaps that is not such a bad thing. Perhaps my departure will allow other individuals & teams to emerge from the shadows & shine. Perhaps the teachers that I have mentored will rise up & create something of their own. Perhaps the generations of children I have taught will be successful & then return to their homeland to sustainably & wholesomely develop this remote place.

Only time will tell. Until then, I can only pray, hope & continue to share my dream of a great Katibas & a great Iban people even more intensely during my last remaining days here.

God bless you, SMK Katibas. You have given much to me. I shall remember my days here fondly. #KatibasKuat #FlyHigher

Friday, August 14

Iban Engineers Spoke & Conducted A Workshop At SMK Katibas

The motivation talk by (from top left) Kelvin, Tonny & Devebra.
Last weekend, 2 Engineers & 1 Kolej Laila Taib staff member came to SMK Katibas to conduct a motivation talk & an engineering workshop for the students at no expense to the school. Mind you, they had to make use of their annual leave to make time for this programme so I was extremely honoured to receive them. Despite having really successful careers, they were all very friendly & humble as well as involved with a lot of volunteer work with NGOs. This is exactly what I want my students to be in the future.

After reading about the Japanese lectuer's visit to my school & the lack of Iban role models for the students at my remote school, Devebra decided to pull together her professional Iban friends & see who was interested in volunteering their time for a programme at my remote school. 2 really impressive Iban engineers answered her call & the rest is history. This is the first time I've invited Ibans to my school! Sarawakians are usually not so keen on visiting rural parts of the state. These guys were different & I'm really glad to have worked with them.

Devebra works at Kolej Laila Taib which offers diploma courses with plenty of scholarships so a large majority of their students get their first certificate in higher education for free! I thought that it'll be a great option for my students since the college is in Sibu & not far away from their home in Katibas. The college has got hostel facilities &, best of all, they don't have to burden their parents too much with the costs of further education.

Besides doing a motivation talk at my school, they also conducted an Engineering & Architecture workshop at my school. Check out the pictures below!

Monday, August 10

Installing Windows 10 Switched Off My Laptop Screen (& How I Fixed It)

Windows 10 is very new so bugs are absolutely expected. I took a leap of faith by installing it. Happy I did though...
Last night, I left my Asus N61j (bought in 2010) on overnight for the lengthy Windows 7 to Windows 10 free update. The update downloaded quietly in the background & a window appeared early last night informing me that it was ready & prompting me to install it. Since I depend on this laptop to get work done, I didn't want to have my current system configurations messed with (like the many horror stories I've heard about Windows 8.1) so I wanted to delay the installation. Unfortunately, I clicked wrongly & ended up at the point of no return. The installation was confirmed so I restarted my computer to allow it to happen. It took a really long time so I left & went to bed.

When I woke up the next morning, I was excited to try out the new OS. I moved my mouse & wondered why the screen was still off. I pushed the power button & restarted the computer. There was a new Windows loading screen but after that... nothing. I restarted again... same thing... nothing!

The computer was clearly still running so I plugged it into my TV & found out that installing Windows 10 had shut off my laptop screen. On another screen, I checked Device Manager, Display Drivers, Display Settings & couldn't find anything wrong! My laptop screen was detected &, according to the OS, it should be on. Then, I decided to take my troubleshooting online. I couldn't find anything on this topic at all!

If installing Windows 10 gave you the same problem, how I fixed my screen shutting off might be of help to you or someone you know. It's so simple even a 10 year old could do it.

Saturday, August 1

How I Removed A Windows Login Password via USB

I learned how to do this so now I'm teaching everyone!
Not too long ago, I asked for old laptops to be donated to the English Language Society at my school. We wanted to flood the school with printed media produced by the students for students but couldn't because the computers that we used in the past were damaged by the unstable current produced by our old & dying generator. This is usually how many electrical equipment at our school end up & why I use a regulator at my jungle home. Thankfully, we have a new generator now.

If you have a spare laptop or printer that is just lying around the house/office, please contact me.
WE NEED THOSE DESPERATELY!!!


The Facebook post was shared by a large group of people but I have yet to receive even 1 message from a prospective donor. Disappointing. However, the need was too great for me to stop there. So, during the Raya break, I returned to my hometown & asked around. I found an old 2008 Dell Inspiron 1525 which used to belong to my sister which was passed on to my brother who passed it on to my mother who forgot the password. We have a new computer at home so I asked for this one to be donated to the school.

Firstly, I checked & found that the old laptop could turn on & windows could load. The forgotten Windows Login Password was the only deterrent. At that time, I had no idea how to do remove/bypass it. But, I knew someone who did... Mr Google.

Initially, I was given a list of websites trying to sell me applications to recover/remove the password. They also offered (fake) trials which does not do anything unless I paid for it. No, thanks. I changed my phrasing a little bit & found exactly what I was looking for & learned from a full step-by-step tutorial. If this doesn't work for you, you can try these 7 other free password recovery tools.

From zero to hero in less than 1 hour (including searching as well as trial & error). I wrote this guide so that you can do what I did in less than 10 minutes. What I did works with XP/Vista/7/8.

Here are the step by step instructions:

A Review of Mosquito Coils In The Market

Mosquito coils = The first line of defence against savage jungle mosquitoes.

Remember when there was completely no electricity at my school? It happened during the dry season so the nights were really really warm & hard to sleep with the windows closed. Why close the windows you ask? Because if you don't close the windows, the savages from the jungle will climb in & suck your blood! Literally! I'm talking about swarms of mosquitoes gang-banging your skin & leaving you with clusters of chickenpox-like bumps on your skin in the morning! These guys even bite through clothing!! The itchiness that ensues will practically ensure that you never have a good night sleep.

In order to keep those monsters at bay, I had to go really low-tech. I eventually experimented with mosquito coils. There are so many in the market & I thought that all of them worked the same since they had the same basic ingredients. I was wrong. They had different effects on the mosquitoes & the environment. Some were very uncomfortable to use.

I didn't know which brands were good so I tried all of them. In total, I tested 4 brands. I finished the whole box before moving to the next brand so I experienced all 4 for at least 10 days (10 coils). I didn't collect any metrics in this experiment so this review is only based on my personal experience.

I'm going to share with you which ones worked best so that you don't have to end up with sleepless nights (like I did) from using some really ineffective mosquito coils.

Sunday, July 19

A Lecturer from Japan Speaks At SMK Katibas

Dr Kumiko Date in action. This quiet, gentle & humble lady is hiding a big & generous heart inside.
During this session, she shared about the Japanese language & culture.


In July, Dr Kumiko Date from Tokyo, a lecturer of the Japanese language at the University of Malaya, visited SMK Katibas to meet & deliver a talk for the wonderful children at my beloved jungle school. She had only been in Malaysia for 3 months when she embarked on this adventure to the hinterland of Borneo. All because a colleague showed her this which moved her.

She wanted to meet me & my students. I found a perfect speaker to inspire my students. We exchanged emails & she agreed to visit my school & deliver a talk to all the students. In turn, we provided her with food, lodging & a once in a lifetime experience.

She came at little to NO COST to the school. Not only did she pay for her own return flights from KL to Sibu (during the peak-priced Raya season), she actually bought Pilot pens, super cute erasers & origami paper from Japan & had it shipped to Malaysia for each of my 350+ students! What an unbelievably generous soul!

She also left us books about the Japanese language & culture, a Japanese fan & flag as well as a deep impression in the hearts of my students. I could tell that she really loved the children in the way that she interacted with them. It was all heartfelt. Her love was so great that it humbled me.

My students were mind-blown & overjoyed that someone from Japan would come all this way to visit them! They experienced Japanese fever in the days after Kumiko sensei's talk. Often speaking to me in Japanese & bowing. Cute.

Check out the pictures of what she did during her visit!

Saturday, July 18

Pictures Of My House In The Jungle

Even in remote areas, you have these standard JKR quarters
so it's really not that bad if the living quarters are well maintained.


If you want to be a teacher in Malaysia, you can expect to be placed in a rural or remote school for your first posting just like I was. But it doesn't have to be a complete torture. It's actually a wonderful opportunity to experience the best part of being a teacher = changing lives & making a real difference. Believe me, there is no greater sense of satisfaction than when you see a child you've worked with so hard & so long excel in their examinations. There are no tuition centres here so you can go to bed with a smile knowing that the achievement has it's roots in you. Let's not forget the beauty of nature & the fresh smog-less air.

When I arrived here many years ago, I knew that I had to root myself at the school for at least 4 years in order to see the change that I can make in the school. That's exactly what I did. I didn't run off home every weekend like some of my colleagues did. I stayed back some weekends to spend time with the children. It's a better use of my time anyway because my school is very far away from home.

Every year, I spend 300 days out of 365 days at school. Since I live here most of my days, I invested heavily in turning this bare quarters into a swinging bachelor's pad. I bought thousands worth of furniture & household items from places like IKEA in KL & furniture/lamp shops in Sibu to make the place reflect my ideal evil-genius HQ. My home is a reflection of my personality. I needed a place which feels like home & just being there recharges my batteries.

Without further ado, I present to you the pictures of my house in the jungle:

Friday, July 17

New 150KVA Generator At Jungle School = 24 hour Electricity

Mechanic & team at work assembling the new generator.
With great pleasure, I would like to announce that there is currently 24 hours of electricity at SMK Katibas!

A brief timeline of events: On 24 April, the sole-functioning generator at my school broke down causing the school to lose both electricity & water supply. 4 weeks later, on 20 May, that generator was overhauled & running again at school supplying 13 hours of electricity. 4 weeks later, on 23 June, the water pump was functioning again supplying river water to the buildings at school twice daily. 3 weeks later, on 15 July, a new 150KVA generator was brought to school & fully functional. Rotating with the current generator, there is now 24 hours of electricity!!!

I would like to express my appreciation to everyone involved in materialising this new generator so quickly. Thank you to the local district education officers, the state education officers, the federal education ministry officers, the assemblymen, & the ministers who made this happen. I may not know who you are or be able to repay your kindness but God knows & He will reward you greatly!

Let's not forget, all of you who helped spread the news to make this a matter of utmost importance. Thank you all so much! God bless you too!

Now, we can catch up with the mountains of clerical paperwork & push harder to achieve our academic goals! The students, teachers & staff can now live in greater comfort too! What a wonderful Hari Raya gift!

How To Reward The Brightest PT3 Students & (Hopefully) Uplift A Community

The iconic photograph of this programme.

Last weekend, I brought 5 top-performing PT3 students from my remote school on a trip to Sibu as a reward for their diligence in the exam. At the same time, my hidden agenda is to influence them to think bigger for themselves & also for their rural Iban community. A trip to Sibu might not be much to many of you reading this but to my students from extremely humble backgrounds in ulu Song, it is likely the equivalent of a trip to Singapore for someone from KL.

When I first started running this programme in 2011, it seemed to me like just a simple reward for students who achieved As for English PMR. But, it inspired them & the subsequent cohorts to work hard for an A in PMR English so much so that I decided to do it again in 2012, 2013, & 2014. The As just kept coming! Also, we were soon getting our first PMR 8A students so I decided to up the ante with a trip to Kuching for them in 2013 & 2014.

Soon, I recognised the potential of this programme to influence the future leaders of the rural community & turned it into a leadership programme where they could gain valuable insights from notable individuals.

Check out the pictures of the trip!

Thursday, July 9

How Your Students Can Study At Oxford University @ Leaps Of Knowledge

Disclaimer: To keep the blog runningI have received monetary compensation for writing this blog post. Nonetheless, this is still my honest opinion & I will only write about products or events which are beneficial to you, my readers.
Yup, representatives from St Anne's College of the University of Oxford will be in Malaysia to talk about how to get accepted. Also, you'll get the chance to meet & learn from your future professors.

I was pretty excited when I first heard of this conference. Since it would cost too much to bring even one of my students to this event, I wanted to attend myself so that I could coach my students & share with the teachers I'm mentoring. Alas, I've got a super fun programme planned at school which will take up that entire weekend.

Therefore, I'm sharing about it here so that you have a chance of getting your students there! They'll get a nice certificate too. Lucky accompanying teachers might be able to sneak in, soak in the intellectual atmosphere & return speaking like Arry Potter. If you do attend, do share what you've learned with little ol' me!

Leaps of Knowledge Conference 2015 @ Garden International School
9am, Saturday, 25 July 2015.


Isn't it super tough to get into Oxford? Why should I even try?

Think. What would a successful person like Tony Fernandes do?
It's likely that he'll find out what it takes someone who has done it before or EVEN BETTER learn from someone who is actually PART OF THE ADMISSION PROCESS. This is precisely why you should attend this conference.

At this conference, Oxford representatives AND current Malaysian undergraduates will speak to students to aspire and apply into the University of Oxford. If you are serious about your education or getting into Oxford, there's no better opportunity to meet someone FROM Oxford as well as others like you who ARE STUDYING in Oxford in the flesh & all under one roof! It isn't impossible to get into the world's best and get an educational advantage that will help you in your future career! Carpe opportunitatem!!!

Saturday, July 4

How I Proposed To My Wife

She kept silent. With one hand, she held my hand while the other held back her emotions. It was long awkward silence. I started to wonder whether she was going to turn me down...
On 7 May 2015, I proposed to my girlfriend, Michelle "Noelle" Ng. This is the story of how it happened & how I came to the decision. It's full of ups & downs, mystery, romance & drama: a story worth telling.

I'm sure that when you look at the date, you'll remember that it was during the power outage at my school. You see, I was at the lowest point in my career. At that time, I had just written a viral blog post &, after the ensuing media frenzy, I was deeply disturbed at the possible consequences. Having worked so hard & given so much for so many years in the jungle, I was distraught at the thought that it could be dismantled & discredited in an instant by the powers that be. It was so bad that I had sleepless nights & emotional breakdowns.

Friday, July 3

Want A Beautiful Website That Designs Itself?

When you have an AI that does all the coding & design ground work for you, all you have to do is focus on the overall vision & tweaking instead of spending hours coding & getting frustrated when the codes don't work out the way you want it to (speaking from experience).
I first learned about The Grid from a video interview of Startups To Watch during the 2015 Social Media Week in New York. I was immediately attracted to it because, for a long time, I have been wanting to modify the design of my blog &, until that point, I was still willing to pay for someone to do it for me. Thank God I didn't because I might not have the know-how to modify my blog post-designer! At the pre-launch price of $8/month for life (after launch: $25/month), it was a good bargain compared to the hundreds I had to pay for one-off work by a website designer.

Still, it sounded too good to be true so I looked it up first. Firstly, I looked for any information on whether it was a scam. So far so good. Then, I checked the reviews. Looks okay. I was convinced when I found that they were featured on major websites like Entreprenuer.com & TechCrunch.com. Finally, I scoured it's entire website. I also watched a video of how it works & it's Beta version before I committed & became a Founding Member.

Templates can be a headache when something you saw from another website could not be included in your template.

If you don't know how to design a website or if you dread the thought of messing with the complicated coding on your website, this is the thing for you: a beautiful website that evolves according to your content & needs. Most of the work that goes into designing a website is automated so all I will have to do is tweak according to my liking. Imagine every blog post being completely unique if you want to! It is also promising to be as easy to use as Facebook, Twitter or Instagram!

When purchasing, help support my site by using this link: #25687. Thanks! =)
If you know someone who is looking for a website design solution like I was, SHARE this post with them NOW!! They're still able to get it at $8/month. If you wait, they'll have to get it at $25/month when Beta testing is over!

Need more information? I made some screen-captures off it's website, check them out:

Sunday, June 21

Motivate Your Students To Write Longer & Better: The Pen Pal Project

A simple yet powerful writing programme: the Pen Pal Project.

How do you feel when you ask your students to do a writing assignment? For me, it's less than pleasant. Even with the "better" classes, I have to flex my teacher muscles just to get my students to hand in their work &, most of the time, I get half-hearted work which is hastily done, short &, after reading a few of them, repetitive.

I spent my early teaching years pondering & experimenting to pique my students' interest in writing & motivate them to write more. I started by asking what would motivate ME to write?
1) An authentic audience
2) Social interaction
3) Novel experience

With these 3 factors, I experimented with all sorts of programmes like getting my students to make their own big books because we didn't have big books at that time, getting students to tell stories to other students, & show & tell. None worked as well as the Pen Pal Project which I started experimenting with since 2010 & recently found out that I've only blogged about it once in 2011.


What is the Pen Pal Project?

Connecting a group of students from my school with another group of students from another school somewhere in Malaysia & exchanging letters once a month. Over the years, my students have exchanged letters with students from all over Malaysia!


What is the Outcome of the Programme?

If you've never seen a student light up at a writing assignment, you've got to try this one. This is when many of my students first discover that they can write for school AND enjoy it at the same time. Also, over time I've had students surprise me with beautifully decorated letters & also letters which are longer & more elaborate than I'd usually get from a regular assignment. Which is why this is one of my staple programmes run every year.

Not convinced? Read the following feedback from teachers I've collaborated with.

Monday, June 15

A Brief Timeline of the Power Outage

Imagine using candles every night for 3 weeks.
We'll find a way to carry on despite our circumstances. Nonetheless, do continue to pray for us.


This is not the first time we've had electricity or water problems at school. We've had them since my first year here. Back then, outages rarely lasted more than a few days. Last year was when things started to get worse. We had 2 lengthy power outages for up to a cumulative 2 weeks. Long-term solutions should have been implemented then.

The best thing is, every time something happens to the water or electric supply, ALL the teachers, students & staff will band together to make things better & soldier through the extremely difficult circumstances instead of pointing fingers or merely complaining. We always have teachers who are willing to step up.

I'm eternally thankful to be part of this family so early in my teaching career. It is only in difficult times do we learn the true meaning of esprit de corps & berat sama dipikul ringan sama dijinjing. A bond forged in fire. This powerful bond which transcends race & religion is what I aspire to recreate in whatever organisations I lead in the future.

In this blog post, I want to share a brief timeline of the recent power outage that went viral. We have been waiting for 2 months now & the situation is still not fully resolved. As described by the most senior staff at school, this power outage is the worst in his entire career of 20+ years at this school!

Read the timeline below & you'll find out why.
Bear in mind that it is written from an eyewitness's fallible memory. I'm not sharing this to condemn anyone. I'm sharing so that we can all learn & improve. If you feel uncomfortable by what is shared here (as candid as I possibly could), then perhaps you should have done more for us.

**I will continue to update this post as the days go by until there is an adequate resolution.**

Sunday, June 7

School Power Outage: Who The True Heroes Are

See that trolley? See those portable generators?
Early every morning, they would put the portable generators on the trolley & push them to the office where they ran the generators so that we could do some basic office work on limited devices.
Every evening, they would move those generators to the hostels & quarters to light up corridors & the school hall so students could study at night.
Imagine the same people doing it every day for weeks without fail.
Imagine students running away from helping because of the trouble it took to bathe after the hard work!

If this isn't heroism, I don't know what is.
They could have just as easily stayed at home & done nothing but complain about the situation.
I'm sure that you are well-aware of the power outage at my school. You might also be aware that, because I was the one who appealed to the public for help, I am bestowed with an abundant halo effect which resulted in me being thought of as some sort of a Ghandi-like teacher as evidenced here.
Honestly, I've done nothing for the school during the power outage & I'm not a hero.

True heroes rarely show themselves.
They quietly do the work required to make everyone's lives better. They don't need to be publicly lauded.
Those who like to blow their own horns & talk about their achievements don't always tell the full story of how countless others worked so hard to get them to where they are today.

I want to set the record straight.
I'm going to tell you who the real heroes are & tell you what they did which made life so much better at school during the power outage when we didn't have electricity or water at school for weeks.
I'll reveal who the heroes are at the end of this post. Their identities will surprise you.

Monday, June 1

I Signed Up To Get Windows 10 For Free

My first thoughts were: What? Is this a virus? Scam?
Still, I clicked on it to find out what it was about.
Today, I turned on my laptop & found this peculiar icon on my taskbar. I wondered for a moment whether my laptop was infected with a virus but I'm really careful with viruses & "free" toolbars so it was likely that this was a legit icon from Microsoft.

So, I clicked to find out what it was about & unveiled a wonderful present from uncle Bill & co.

Monday, May 25

Generasi Gemilang Leadership Camp at SMK Katibas

One weekend in April,  a team of 8 volunteers from Generasi Gemilang
conducted a Leadership Camp for my Form 5 & 4 students!
Thank you, Generasi Gemilang, HuayPhing, DerekHuiPing, WaiPeng, KwokSarah, Joy & Charlene!
How did this happen?
Back in January, I got a call out of the blue from Derek who was my team mate in our secondary school national-level winning choir team. He was touched by what he had seen circulating on Facebook about my efforts in my remote school. He is a volunteer with Generasi Gemilang & wanted to explore the possibility of running a programme at my school this year. I checked GG out & was really impressed by what they've done.

Then, I was connected with HuayPhing who is the head of school programmes &, together, we planned for a camp designed to address the needs of my students in order to quip them to not only excel in whatever they choose to do but also to overcome specific social issues their community has been mired in for generations. I.e. poor financial skills, lack of self-efficacy/purpose/role models/leaders, etc. GG usually charges for their camps but they decided to go pro bono especially for us! Thanks, Generasi Gemilang! Also, this trip was made possible through a grant from The Edge Education Foundation.

Read on to see the pictures & videos of the activities! It might be useful for when you want to run a camp yourself!

Saturday, May 23

Lessons from the ♥ of Borneo - TFM Sarawak Regional Event

Last weekend, I conducted a workshop titled "Lessons from the ♥ of Borneo" at Curtin University Sarawak
for Teach For Malaysia fellows placed in Miri & Subis.
Due to the power outage at my school, I was only able to prepare the PowerPoint presentation for this workshop the night before. Which was also why I wasn't able to write an update on the situation at school last weekend. I was totally exhausted! I will write an update this weekend. I've got some good news.

Despite preparing the slides the night before, I planned for the workshop earlier & we had lots of fun. I shared about the teaching conditions at my school, my experiences teaching at a remote school, as well as techniques, activities & pedagogies which worked in my situation.
You can download the PowerPoint slides & view pictures of the workshop below.

It is always a privilege to share with the fellows of Teach For Malaysia. I always leave with a sense of confidence that they will actually make use of what I have shared instead of treating my session as just another in-house training. I conducted a workshop for them last year & I was a keynote for their first conference in 2013.

Saturday, May 9

Update On The Power Outage

Candlelight dinners every night.
I've also become very good at Xiang Qi (Chinese Chess) & Dou Shou Qi (Jungle Chess).
Dear supporters of my school, thank you so much for sharing the call for help so fervently that it went viral on social media. Each & every one of you have demonstrated that Malaysians of all walks of life really do care. I am thankful to have so many angels out there looking out for my school & sharing our situation with the influential people they know. Now, there is both attention on our situation from the ground & from "above".

Thankfully, we have now got the full attention of the relevant authorities & they are working extra hard to swiftly materialise their promises to our school. Improvements are happening every day due to the combined efforts of people of all levels. With so much public interest, I am confident that the school will be up & running like it's supposed to be very very soon. If I am allowed to, I will write about the good work done at my school.

Featured in Oh! Media - 7 May 2015

There is a factual error in one of the images in this article.
The image is of an article in the alumni magazine of my alma mater. I have addressed the error here.
In the image, it says that my school is 3 hours from the nearest town which is wrong. We are 1 hour from the nearest town, Song, & 3 hours from the nearest city, Sibu.
On Thursday, 7 May 2015, I was featured in an article on Oh! Media. I never knew what Oh! Media was until their post about me went viral. I thought that they were just a small internet periodical which wanted to help share the plight of my school. I never knew they had such a large following.

From the beginning, they said that they wanted to highlight the point that there is a Chinese guy teaching in the jungle which is unimaginable to their Malay majority audience. I told them that I wasn't the only guy teaching at my school but they could only write about me if they mentioned my Malay, Chinese & Iban colleagues who are struggling together with me if not more.

Friday, May 8

Featured in The Sun Daily - 5 May 2015

There is a factual error here. We do not take the boats every day. We take 2 boats to the school & stay in the quarters on site.
Can't imagine? Perhaps these photos of my school will help.
On Tuesday, 5 May 2015, I was featured in The Sun Daily in the "Next Gen" column for notable youth in an article titled "The Jungle Teacher" written by Alicia Nicholle Ng who paid her own way to my school to be a volunteer for a week-long camp for my students. She is truly a gem & someone whose heart is in the right place. You can read the article by clicking on the image above & zooming. Or, you can read part of the article online: http://www.thesundaily.my/node/307834

Thursday, April 30

No Water & No Electricity At A Remote School

Imagine this is your life.
Imagine spending so many years getting a degree, only to leave your home, take flights & ride boats to go to a remote school in the middle of nowhere to accept the challenge of educating rural children without knowing when you'll get to return. All because you want to materialise a dream of making a difference & changing lives.

Imagine going to school knowing that you'll have no electricity. No electricity = the pump will not function = no water. Imagine carrying your clothes, toiletries & dirty dishes in pails & walking 10 minutes through rough terrain to the nearby river to wash up. Furthermore, you'll have to carry one or two pails of water back to your living quarters for toilet use & general cleaning.

Imagine having to clear all the food in your fridge lest it rots. Imagine having to cook your meals with murky river water. Imagine the hot afternoons without even a fan. Imagine teaching in classrooms with full formal attire without a fan. Imagine nights of complete darkness. Living by star, moon & candle light. No TV. No laptop. No Internet.

This is the life that we live every day as teachers of a rural school when the generator breaks down. We do what we can to survive & thrive. Modelling the grit that we desire in our students. Do read on, because we need your help.

Saturday, April 25

Graphic Novels From Students For Students

Last year, I discovered that one of my students could draw anime characters really well. He showed me his folder full of amazing creations & it left me wondering how I could help him get his work appreciated instead of just doing nothing in a folder in the jungle. Then, I came up with the idea of a graphic novel for the school. I empowered him to form a team of his choosing & gave him the task of producing English language comics for the school. He made a few last year & the students at school loved having something 90% graphic to read.

This year, I improved on the programme. I realised that it was too taxing on 1 team to consistently produce graphic novels throughout the year so, this year, I scouted for 2 more talented students & again allowed them to form teams of their choosing. This year, I have 3 teams producing comics for the school.

The best part is the team members thoroughly enjoyed this English language "homework" (probably a first for some of them). Also, once their work is scanned & printed, they will be helping hundreds of their schoolmates improve their English & be more interested in the language. If you've seen your weakest students devour those graphic novels prescribed by the ministry, you know they'll devour these too.

Thursday, April 2

A Stewardess Speaks At The Jungle School

My students & the first motivational talk of the year!
I believe that everyone has a unique story to share & that story will more than motivate & inspire my students. I realised a long time ago that my students lacked role models in their community who were able to give them insights into a better & brighter future due to their unfortunate circumstance of being in the middle of the jungle without money, influence or power.

Instead of pointing my fingers at the school counsellor & saying that it's his job, I take it upon myself to personally seek out people who would enjoy & benefit from the experience of travelling to an exotic destination & making a difference in the lives of disadvantaged & forgotten children.

This year, I'm glad that I found one in Adriena Ng, a young stewardess of an airline that I've been complaining about recently. She took time off her annual leave, booked her own ticket from KL to Sibu & paid her own way to my school to give a talk to my students. Kudos to you, miss.

Tuesday, March 31

Kpg Chuweh, Gerik: The Route To Education



I was so delighted when I saw this newspaper article & the video above made by NST. No matter how long it took me to load the video above on my jungle internet connection, I waited patiently to see the Orang Asli children travel to their new school build by the villagers themselves! The school looks very impressive! Check it out!

Saturday, March 28

How To Save Money When Missing An AirAsia Flight

In February, I missed 2 flights because the flights left even earlier than 20 minutes before scheduled departure. Read the story & my advice on catching AirAsia flights here.

I thought that it was unfair for passengers who were early to be left behind so I wrote the following feedback & submitted it via the AirAsia contact page on the 21st of March.
A stern letter reflecting my sentiments of the practice.
On the 26th of March, I received a reply.

Sunday, March 8

I Pledged As An Organ Donor. You Should Too. Here's Why & How.

Nope, I didn't. This needs to change.
When I was a child, I watched those American movies (or was it Indian movies... I can't remember exactly...) where the main character or someone emotionally close to him is in desperate need of organs but is put at the bottom of a long waiting list because they are normal people just like me with not much money & would die in a certain period of time unless a miracle donor appears.

Being the sweet little thing I was (you can ask my mom about how 'sweet' I was as I was jumping from furniture to furniture & skilfully evading her capture), I developed a deep desire to be that mysterious miracle donor which appears out of thin air and saves the day for a sobbing & heart-warming happy ending.

The minority people are the majority of pledges & donors. I wonder who the recipients are...
My girlfriend was way ahead of me. She signed up silently last year & I only discovered it when she shared a photo of her donor card on Facebook. Embarrassed that I didn't think to do so earlier, I decided to follow her wonderful example this year & pledged to donate all my organs at my death. I'm currently awaiting my pledge card.
You can too. Sign up at www.dermaorgan.gov.my/daftar.

Thursday, March 5

This Airline Will Leave You Behind 20 Minutes BEFORE Time!!!


This happened to me 2 times in the past few months. I arrived at the airport early, loitered around, called a friend, did some shopping & arrived at the boarding gate 20-25 minutes BEFORE departure only to discover that my plane had left me behind! (To clarify: I was at the gate at least 20 minutes before & the plane was GONE. Meaning the gate closed long before I got there.) The best thing was, it still said Boarding on the TV screen both times. I looked before I went to the boarding gate & after I've my flights departed early.

I went to the office to complain & I was told that the captain had the prerogative to initiate Annex 22 which he did. I tried to look up this protocol on the internet but could only find a book of flight protocols called Annex 22. I was about to write a complaint letter to the airline company when I realised something...

Thursday, February 26

How To Shut A Child Up During CNY

This one works too. But if you want something better... Read on.
This is a light-hearted story of what happened to me during CNY this year. I learned an amazingly effective way to shut up a group of rowdy children (all 5 years & below) which was very likely used on me once upon a time but I have forgotten due to extremely violent emotional scarring.

I had just entered my relative's house when a group of children who were already there started making a lot of noise with one 5 year old girl being particularly screamy. Her mother was clearly exhausted & fed up from an entire day of pacifying a sugar-charged kid so she said something really brilliant.

Sunday, February 22

Foodpanda Malaysia Apologises With An Excellent Email

In response to my blog post, a rep from Foodpanda sent me this email on 18 February 2015:

Very level-headed & tactful response.
This is a model of how organisations should respond to criticism.
I'm actually surprised to get such a mature response from the company which made me wait half a day for food that I pre-paid for.

Tuesday, January 27

My #1 Personal Development Tool: The Art of Charm Podcast

Yes, I spend a lot of time on boats just waiting for time to go by. Why not use it to improve myself?
How many of us have had teachers who tell us to "do as they say, not as they do"?
I've had plenty of those. I've also had teachers who walked the talk. It doesn't take a genius to figure out which ones I respected more & desired to learn more from.
Actually, as I was growing up, I've known plenty of adults who were more than willing to dish out advice they do not follow themselves. Everybody does it. Not just teachers.

Now that I'm a teacher myself, I do my best to live up to all the expectations & standards I set up for my students. I ensure that I practice my reading, writing, listening & speaking regularly. More importantly, I'm also building my character & my soft skills. Stuff that's not easily measured but is easily discerned by others & especially the more-than-perceptive children in our classrooms.
Literacy skills are very important but it's not enough to give us the moral authority to lead or resilience to overcome the challenges of the world.

Friday, January 16

How It Feels Like To Yearn For A Transfer

To be honest, I do feel like this sometimes.
When I started teaching, I was excited to go into the jungle & serve my country. I didn't care where I was posted. I wrote on my posting form "dimana saya diperlukan dan kebolehan saya dimanfaatkan". I was willing to go to the highest mountains, the deepest jungles, the furthest islands, or the worst urban schools. I understood very early on that WHERE I was didn't matter. WHO I was mattered more. I wanted to make a difference & I think I have achieved all that in my 6 full years at my jungle school.

During my first 2 years at school, I really enjoyed myself at the jungle school, I never really understood the feelings of someone who really wanted a transfer. Mainly because I had a good leader who made the teaching experience purposeful. Also, I felt a deep sense of accomplishment & satisfaction with my work. I had decided to root myself at the school & commit myself to 5 years there.

Then came the darkest 2 years in my career. Despite being my most productive years, those were also my hardest years of being abandoned & persecuted because I wanted to do more. As Chief Warden, I did a lot of programmes despite working without support from above. I had a spineless leader who let land crocodiles take bites at me. I learned to be independent, to be resourceful & to be relentless. I wrestled crocodiles & galvanised support from the ground up. Now, I fear nothing & I have a self-confidence forged from the fires of hell. To me, nothing is impossible because of what I've been through.

After those 2 years, something changed in me. I started to see everything that I built disappear & everything I love about my school slowly disintegrate one by one. I was getting deeply discouraged & unsettled. That was when I first applied for transfer. But, God was not done with me yet. The next two years were years of recognition & collaboration. Just when I was about to collapse in exhaustion, God sent angels to volunteer at my school. I spoke at conferences & delivered workshops for teachers. I was featured in newspapers & magazines.

Friday, January 9

Beware When Using Foodpanda Malaysia!!

It started in Singapore in 2012 & it is now worldwide. Should be good right?
Foodpanda is a food delivery service partnering with local restaurants.
Before I used the service, I looked on Google for authentic reviews but I only found blogs which looked very much like advertorials (advertisement-tutorials teaching you how to use a service). All of them ordered from major restaurant chains in the Klang Valley/Singapore & said good things about Foodpanda.
Since they're operating worldwide, they should be world-class, right? Read my experience & decide for yourself.

Thursday, January 8

2000 Likes On Facebook

Gotta love Jim Carey
In July 2012, my Facebook page was created as a platform for sharing pictures of activities/programmes & sharing ideas with friends & colleagues. In August 2013, I got my first thousand likes. In January 2015, there were 2000. It's nothing compared to other teachers who have achieved more than 5 digits but I want to be thankful for the 2000 people who decided to publicly endorse me & my work. To them, what I am doing matters & it is such a booster!

My Facebook page hasn't changed much since from its inception. I'm still sharing pictures of stuff I did, useful/interesting articles & the good work of other teachers. Nowadays, I'm including more personal development articles because I believe that one person's level of success is parallel to their level of personal growth. If you want to lead a classroom, a superior ethos has to shine through. As I grow, I want others to grow with me.

Honestly, having 2000 & counting supporters is a big encouragement to me. I just hope that I'm returning the favour by sharing with you quality content that helps you to learn something new or think deeper about overlooked issues.
Also, I'm always looking to improve. If you have any feedback about how I can make things better for you on my blog or on my Facebook, contact me or write a comment below.

Truth be told, I refuse to think that I am anything more than a common English teacher. There's nothing special about what I'm doing or who I am.
I hope that when you look at what I have done & achieved, you'll see yourself doing the same things. I'm not anyone special. I'm just like you. I do simple but significant things which anyone can adapt & do in their own way. I don't mind people copying what I'm doing as long as it makes a difference to their students.

Wednesday, January 7

Super Speedy Service Renewing My Passport In Kuching

This is what my new passport looks like.
Sorry, can't show you what's inside because you might puke blood after viewing my photo.
Today, I went to the Immigration Office in Kuching to get my passport done & I was really surprised to walk in at 9am & walk out at 10am with my new passport in hand. The immigration staff were friendly & they answered all my questions politely. No more grumpy officers of past.

I had plenty of questions before coming here as I didn't want to get caught in a crowd & I didn't want to have to come back another day because I forgot something. I wrote this to help you get a better idea of what to expect when you need to renew your passport at an immigration office.

Sunday, January 4

Amazing Pictures of SMK Katibas (The Jungle School)

I took these photos many years ago for the 2010 school magazine & shared them on the school's official Facebook Page in 2013 but I only just realised that I never did share them on my own blog. Which is a shame.

You'll know by the end of this post why so many people were willing to pay their own way to do short-term volunteer work at my school even though it is in the middle of nowhere (here, here, here, here, here & here).

Ladies & gentlemen, prepare to have your eyes soothed by the best of nature...

Friday, January 2

How To Use Your Custom Domain Name On Blogger

Registering a domain name for my blog was easy enough. I only spent 15 minutes doing it. I wrote about why I wanted my own domain, how I got it & tips on what to look out for.
The problem is I wanted Blogger to continue to host my blog because it is not making any money. It would be unsustainable to pay for private hosting for my blog.

Thankfully, Blogger is generous & has provided instructions to set up a custom domain.
It was basically Greek to me because there were plenty of technical terms I was not familiar with. Also, there were no pictures at all to guide me. It took me 1 hour of trial & error to figure it out & get things running.
I wrote this guide so that you will be able to do it on your own with the aid of visuals.

How Do I Use My Custom Domain Name On Blogger?

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