Monday, September 16

M For Malaysia

Happy #MalaysiaDay 🇲🇾!

Our annual tradition during the Malaysia Day weekend is to support a local film. This year, we caught #MForMalaysia. In Sarawak, only 2 cinema's ran the documentary. The one closest to us was, 30 minutes drive away from Kuching, in Samarahan at @MMCineplexes of @SummerShoppingMall.

Sadly, we were the only ones in the theater. I walked in wondering why the heck I paid the online booking fee. 😅 In contrast, the theater next door, playing some pontianak movie, was packed. I guess political documentaries aren't the forte of regular Malaysians.

Honestly, the movie left me wanting because it stopped right after #PakatanHarapan won the elections. It didn't contain anything a concerned & informed citizen wouldn't know. Sure, it provided plenty of behind the scenes footage of a day in the life of #TDM leading up to the polls & several exclusive interviews of key political figures. But, that's all in the past.

As a Malaysian living in Malaysia, I'm very much more concerned with the FUTURE. Was hoping for more insights into that. Something to give me HARAPAN one year after #GE14. Unfortunately, I expected too much. This documentary is pretty much a loving tribute by a doting granddaughter. Not that there's anything wrong about that.

This documentary will be great for Malaysians living abroad to reminisce over, but too little too late for Malaysians living in Malaysia, experiencing the aftermath of GE14, struggling to make ends meet, & wondering where the heck our country is headed.

P/S: Proceeds from their music CD sales will go towards supporting Undi 18!

Saturday, September 14

Basic Mobile Video Production by SukaSuka

SMK Tabuan Jaya Represents!
Chaperoned 15 students from SMK Tabuan Jaya to the "Basic Mobile Video Production" Program by SukaSuka at Kuching Creative Heritage Hub in Bangunan Yayasan Sarawak. During this program, my students learned the basics of video production, worked as a team to produce a video, & competed with the other schools in Kuching at a showcase. Thank you, SukaSukaMY for running an excellent program. Although my students only got the consolation prize, they had a great time & were very engaged! Do invite us to future events!

I really wanted to spend this Saturday morning with my new baby boy & wife. However, I realized that if I didn't volunteer, my students would miss out on this golden opportunity to learn from skilled content producers & access a creative hub for FREE.

Wednesday, September 11

Keeping Pediatric Patients & Families Together at Ronald McDonald House Since 1999

The 20th Anniversary Celebration of the Ronald McDonald House at Hospital Canselor Tuanku Muhriz UKM, KL, officiated by YABhg. Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Mohd Ali.
**This post is sponsored by McDonald’s Malaysia**

I wouldn’t wish this of anybody, but, if you ever find yourself, a family member or a friend having to seek pediatric care away from home, know that if you seek treatment at Hospital Canselor Tuanku Muhriz (HCTM) UKM in KL, you’ll be able to stay at the on-site Ronald McDonald House (RHM) for just RM5/night! FYI, there is also an RMH at Hospital USM in Kelantan. Thankfully, these houses are situated in the hospital compound itself & will go a long way to alleviating the burden of suffering families.

Back when it was launched in 1999, the RMH at HCTM-UKM was the first of its kind in the ASEAN region and since then it has become a home away from home for almost 1,300 families seeking pediatric care.

Facilities available at the Ronald McDonald House @ HCTM-UKM, KL

Saturday, September 7

Mentor at YSEALIEduKL Regional Workshop

Last month, I had the privilege of participating my first YSEALI Regional Workshop, entitled "Empowering Southeast Asian Educators." Referred to as "YSEALIEduKL", the workshop was attended by more than 100 educators from all 11 nations in South East Asia. It was such an honor to represent Malaysia & Sarawak.

As a Malaysian alumni of a US Dept of State program, I was assigned the role of mentor to a team of 5 educators from 4 different ASEAN countries: Ary & Rizal from Indonesia, Billy from Laos, Elly from Vietnam, & Alfonz from the Philippines. During this workshop, we will design a Project-Based Learning unit applicable in all our contexts & pitch for funding at the end of the workshop. As a mentor, my role was to support them in achieving this goal.

= What is YSEALI? How Can I Join Too? =

The YSEALI Regional Workshop I participated in

Wednesday, September 4

SMK Engkilili For The Win

Photo with the principal, teachers, & SPM Students of SMK Engkilili
Earlier this year, I published an offer to rural Sarawakian secondary schools; If you have students who struggle in English, inexperienced teachers, & have not had an SPM speaker because of your geographical location, I WILL COME TO YOU. I'm pretty bogged down with all sorts of "amanah" at school so this would be my sole SPM Talk for the year. I thought that I'd be inundated with requests, but... *crickets*. The only school that responded to my offer... was none other than SMK Engkilili in Engkilili, Sarawak, 5 hours drive away from Kuching on the Pain Borneo Highway. I gladly accepted & arranged for the talk to happen during the SPM trials at my school so my teaching hours wouldn't be disrupted.

I made the offer because, as a teacher who started his teaching career at a rural school, I was hungry for mentorship & guidance but had none to turn to because all of the English teachers at my former school were new. There was also a peculiar lack of collaboration/outreach between expertise that's usually concentrated in urban areas with their hungry & passionate peers in more rural areas. Everybody seems to be working in silos & more than happy with the status quo, a perpetual cycle of the rich get richer while the poor get poorer. Well, I say NO! This is the bloody 21st century & Sarawak needs to wake up & catch up with the rest of the nation lest we desire to be a vassal state!

= SPM Talk For Students =

Students were seated in neat rows with plenty of space between each other when I arrived.
As I was setting up, I realized many would be too far away to be able to see the screen, so I decided to move bodies & furniture. Pack everyone as close as possible to the greatness I was exuding. Immediately broke the ice.
Engkilili is so small, it doesn't even have an inn. But, their students, oh, delightful! They were so bright & so full of hope! They responded to my questions, participated enthusiastically in my activities, & were more than willing to learn from the only SPM speaker they've ever had for any subject. This was truly a privilege. I hope that I'll be the first of many to contribute expertise to your efforts in improving the educational outcomes of your students.

I will remember SMK Engkilili fondly for the rest of my life. You remind me so much of my beloved children in Katibas. Your English may not compare to big city kids', but your kindness & your positive attitude will see you through to success. You have so much potential. I want you to succeed. I want you to find sustainable ways to improve Engkilili. Make your hometown shine!

I delivered a 4-hour SPM Workshop to all of their 160+ Form 5 students. SMK Engkilili is actually a big school nested on top of a hill with more than 1200+ students. That's it for this year! No more SPM workshops until next year!

= SPM Workshop For Teachers =

The upper form English language teachers had a workshop with me for almost 4 hours!

What a privilege to work with teachers who are willing to learn &, also, willing to stay for an unheard of EXTRA 1.5 HOURS after the workshop was supposed to end!! Usually, teachers would rush out of the room. I know because I'm one of those who do that. 😅

Most of the upper form BI teachers at SMK Engkilili have less than 5 years of teaching experience, so I believe the workshop that I did with them will help them to advise their students better. Also, the teachers with more than 5 years of experience used the session to confirm/refresh what they already know.

We went through the marking scheme for SPM 1119, & used their newfound understanding of the rubrics to grade essays written by their own students. It was a lot of work & it was clearly tiring for the teachers, but I admire their dedication & thoughtful questions. We also talked about how to help our worst students to pass & the best students to score.

Remember my challenge to share what you've learned with SMK Lubok Antu & may your good work be blessed & multiplied. Also, don't forget to join the Sarawak English Educators group on Facebook!

*Special thanks to Cikgu Vanessa of SMK Hajjah Laila Taib & Cikgu Then of SMK Sg Tapang for providing the model answers used.

Thank you for having me, SMK Engkilili!

Special thanks to this brilliant team of teachers for making my visit to SMK Engkilili so memorable!
Thanks, Cikgu Siti for engaging me; Cikgu Davis, Head of English, for making the arrangements; Cikgu Dickson, Principal of SMK Engkilili, for approving my visit; the PIBG for funding it; & Cikgu Edward, my principal, for allowing me to go.

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