Janji Ditepati In Kuching

Over the long weekend last week, I took my straight A PMR students all the way from the lush rainforests of Katibas to the asphalt kingdom of Kuching. We spent the long weekend sightseeing, dining & meeting people.
Last year, I promised that every straight A student would receive a fully sponsored trip to Kuching. And, as an infamous ladies man would say... Janji Ditepati.

Over that same weekend, a few people surprised me with their questions. They said some pretty harsh things about the people group my students came from. I had the impression that they were severely looked down upon by some wealthier city folks.
There were also people who could not understand that there was nothing in it for me. They kept looking at what I was doing in many twisted angles trying to figure out how I would benefit.

Honestly, I do not treat my students for who they are. I treat them for who I know they can be.
I do not give in order to gain from them. I give so that they may, in turn, give to others.
I live a full life. I have many great friends who believe in what I do. I have a healthy body & I exercise regularly. I live beneath my means & can afford many luxuries.
I don't need anything from my students. In fact, I am in a great position to give for I give out of abundance. Some people have way more than me but they clench it in their bulging bellies & airtight fists whilst thinking others are the same.

Many of my students come from poverty or broken families getting by with around RM500 a month. That is an unimaginable sum for many of you reading this now. Many have never set foot in Kuching. Many have never even been out of the jungle.
This lack of exposure to the outside world has caused many of them to be limited mentally or have their thoughts narrowed by their environment.

As a result, you will find that in a rural setting like this, young girls get married off by their parents at the first suitor, quit school & become housewives. Also, the smarter girls who could have had a better life, instead have dangerous boyfriends, have sex, get pregnant & leave school in shame. I have seen this all too often. Some of my ex-students are already divorced with kids before 20.

I want so desperately to show them that there is more to life & that there is a whole wide world out there for them to explore & thrive in. But persuasive words alone can only go so far. Also, it is not possible for me to bring all of them on trips into the world. Fortunately, I have just enough resources to do it for the few of them with the potential to make the best of it.

Anyway, enough of my philosophical nonsense. Time for some sharing & pictures!

We took 3 boats to Kuching & 3 boats back. Departing at 7am & arriving at 4.30pm.
I put them up at Beds Guesthouse which is owned & run by a friend of mine.
I wanted to expose my students to the foreign travellers there.
THE Kuching icon.
You haven't been to Kuching if you haven't had a picture with this cat.
We visited the Sarawak Museum. The oldest museum in Borneo.
Took a boat ride across the river to see Fort Margherita & the new State Assembly building.
We visited the legendary Mount Santubong.
The Sarawak Cultural Village is a must.
I wanted them to be proud of their culture & never forget their roots.
I treated them to Kolo Mee, Laksa, Kueh Chap, Belacan Bee Hoon, Cha Kueh, Rojak, Ice Kacang,
lunch at Bing! & dinner at Basaga.
I also arranged for people who have lived exemplary lives to join us for a few of our meals.
First time at a beach. Cute. =)
How can I be sure that the kids I took on this trip will be any different? I don't.
I can lead a horse to water but I cannot make it drink. I shared with them my ideals & leave the rest up to them.
And that's the beauty of it, for whatever they choose for themselves will be even more meaningful than something I have imposed on them. What matters is I saw a need & I did my little bit of good. If more people in the world did the same, we'd be living in an utopia.

All in all, I've spent less than half a month's salary on this trip for 4, but I believe it has made a lifetime of significance.
It's worth every cent because of the invaluable experiences my 3 students have had & the inspiration their stories will be to others. Let's hope that it sparks the beginning of an intellectual revolution deep in the wilderness.

Check out all the pictures here on my FB Page.

Comments

  1. Replies
    1. Yup! Come tour Sarawak for a little bit of the sweetness too!

      Delete
  2. Thumbs up to you!! You are such a good role model~

    And I really agree with what you think, treat people for who they think they can be.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Do follow the link & see where I got the idea from.
      Extensive reading is really powerful.

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  3. Very inspiring =) I have only one question: When we take students out, be it for competitions whatsoever, there is a surat kebenaran ibu bapa and all that. With an unofficial trip, how do you deal with that?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have a history & reputation here so it's not hard for me to get approval for the stuff that I want to do.
      I make sure the students ask their parents for permission. Still, even with permission from parents, when the sheet hits the fan, you're all alone so you have to be REALLY careful with other people's children.

      Delete
  4. love their joyful smiles in the last photo! Your story is going to inspire many teachers and students out there :D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My hope is that, instead of being inspired, they will eventually be an inspiration to themselves & to others.
      Let's do something together this year! =D

      Delete
  5. What a great job man! Really understand how the 3 students feel for the trip, since my students also come from almost the same area as theirs.. keep servicing to the world! ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Hailmi!
      Keep up the great job you are doing yourself!

      Delete
  6. Only girls scored kah? Die lor...they're taking over the world!!! Your friend's guesthouse? Hmmm...can ask you to get me special rates the next time I hop over to Kuching then... Looks like a nice place. Love the last pic!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sure. Let me know if you want to try the place out. Communal showers though.
      It's a backpackers.

      Delete
  7. Anonymous4/2/13 08:38

    "I give so that they may, in turn, give to others"- is the same reason why I give what I could in the hope that I could start a cycle that would become a complete circle one day. then, charity would be infinite. heh, but I guess this way of thinking is kind of an idealistic.

    Anyways, I am sure many have told you that what you're doing for your kids is just terrific! it really is, and I hope that you'll keep it up regardless of the challenges that you may face. you'll never walk alone in the path of the righteous as God will walk along with you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for the encouragement, Anonymous.
      It takes idealists to turn dreams into reality. We feed the realists the reassurance they clutch on to so desperately.

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  8. wow... very admirable... im pretty sure what you did would motivate your students to aim high to be with you on the next trip!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's exactly what I'm hoping for & more! =D

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  9. The kids are really blessed to have you as their teacher! The trip looked amazing and a really great job for being selfless! Now im challenged to see what else i can offer to my kids ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, we challenge each other, eh. =)

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  10. If got next turns i wish i can be ur students...
    janji ditepati selaras dengan slogan PM kita. :D
    u are so gorgeous..
    not giving a fake promise ,
    role model for guru pelatih

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You know, you are in a position to be a teacher that you never had to your students. Do that & share your story!

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    2. yup..now even when im preparing my BBM..i ve to think my position as primary school teacher...

      Delete
  11. It's so nice to put faces to the kids that you have been talking about since their results come out :)

    And I like how every possible chance you had, you linked it to a page. I found myself clicking on every link just to see which page it takes me too.. Hahah..

    As for the reactions that you got, I'm so sorry you had to go through that. This I hope was far from the ears of the girls so as to not break their hearts. Continue your hard work Jik Kam. Those people were right though when they said you were benefiting from this. You benefited the satisfaction of knowing you made a difference in their lives. That benefit and impact is immeasurable. One that would be categorised as PRICELESS :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. hahaha~~ Some people are not ready for my message so I cant be bothered to talk to them about what I do.
      They just think that I'm a teacher. Suffering in a far away place in the jungle. Making very little dough.

      Delete
  12. it's not to say that the original way of life of these people is by no means wrong, but please continue doing what you are doing, because indeed, you have no idea what kind of positive influences your genuine efforts will have, but we can never ever stop trying. inspire on!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, NYC!
      I want them to be true to their culture & be proud of their roots while at the same time reconcile it with the modern world & be prepared for the day development makes its way into the jungle.

      Delete
  13. Well done Cikgu! That's one noble thing to do. I've ever served farther upriver. The farthest up Katibas. The condition(education wise) is utterly pitiful.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. SK Lubok Ipoh. Good on you.
      Hope you did something good to counter the utterly pitiful educational conditions there.

      Delete
  14. Kudos to you, Jarod. *salute* Keep up the good work!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Cheryl!
      All the best in your studies & mommyhood!

      Delete
  15. Anonymous6/2/13 14:32

    the things that you have done left me speechless. i am touched by your kindness and endless support for our community, no matter who and where they are. i too wished that i can contribute in any way i could possible. Keep it up!

    -small bits and pieces make the big puzzle complete-

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The way I see it, they are my people too.
      Time to put those wishes into action. If you want to help, contact me via email.
      I have a big puzzle in my head that can only be completed by people with a big heart.

      Delete
  16. Nothing much that I can say cause everybody else is commenting what I feel! I guess I've said it before but it's incredible that there are people like you out there who are willing to be that change :)

    Oh and, nice hair! Haha!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much, Hannah!
      Appreciate the feedback! =)

      Delete
  17. Great vision. Flawless execution.

    Get my number from suituapui & let's go for the free food :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Please oh please oh please be a hot chick.

      Delete
  18. You have done a great job to the rural community. I admire what your contribution.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, William. Just doing my little bit for my country.

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  19. You are inspiring. Thanks for making that change in people's life. God bless!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Jen.
      Every moment in your life when you interact with people is an opportunity to make a change. Do something meaningful.
      Good luck!

      Delete
  20. This story puts a smile on my face :) Kudos to you for inspiring your students, teachers(including me)and the rest of the community out there in your own way~! I can't wait to finish up with my studies and serve the community back home, like seriously! It's great to know there are people back home who share the same passion and hope to educate children and change their lives for the better. Keep up the amazing work!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for the compliments! I am honoured.
      I'm curious. What are you studying? Where?

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    2. I'm doing my Masters in TESOL in the States. Hope to be done soon cos boy do I miss teaching English in high school! :)

      Delete
    3. Wow! You are overqualified to teach here, Jo. Why could possibly entice you to come back?

      I think the prospects are better in the US, aren't they?
      Better remuneration. Lifestyle. Career prospects.

      Delete
  21. Oh things are not what it seems la in the US. hahaha! Everyone says that when I tell them my decision. I don't see myself as overqualified though, i mean I still learn about teaching and numerous ways to make learning more fun and effective for students.
    US has their own army of teachers so I think I won't make any difference here anyway. My main concern is where our education is heading and it worries me (but of course, we still have awesome teachers out there like you). I made up my mind some time ago that I would use what I learned in college in Malaysian schools and try to make a difference in our education in small ways. Not that different from what you are doing now. :) In fact,I have crazy ambitious plans that I hope will change the way students learn using arts. p.s. you probably saw my comment in fb on this :p

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anyway, it's good that you made a choice & you have an idea of what you want to do. That gives you an advantage over maybe 50% of teachers in the system.

      But if you want to see change in the system, it'll take lots of time & perseverance. Plenty of the latter. Be prepared to be disappointed, be hammered down, ridiculed & stunted in your career prospects.

      You are in no way obligated to our country. You can always seek greener pastures in Singapore. I know that they are constantly looking for English teachers. I, myself, not too long ago, strongly considered going there.

      If you're serious about this & you're willing to risk it all in the face of defeat, let's meet & talk.

      Delete
  22. I know change won't be easy. That's why I want to go back and teach in schools back home in order to experience the real deal, be realistic and not over idealistic. Like you said, I know I can always go somewhere else, even getting better pay and work environment. But doing this will make me happy and that should be a good enough reason, no? :) I have this strong belief that education is the only way out of poverty and that all kids from under-privileged families deserve a good education as much as any other kids. If I can get this far, they can do it too. And yes, I would love to meet up with you and have this Serious talk when i get back to Kuching. It's probably a first step in establishing a network of Sarawakian teachers who share the same vision. Just sayin. :p

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If you're really interested, look up Talentcorp. If you hook up with them, they'll give you loads of perks to come back home.

      Also, the easiest way for you to enter national schools might be TFM. Look them up too.

      Looking forward to finally meeting you.

      Delete
  23. Thanks for the information. really appreciate it. I've heard of TFM and I'm planning to find out more about them especially about the differences in going them or through KPM.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Anonymous30/5/13 01:32

    This makes me want to cry. I'm a college student who used to fail so badly for the past one year and a half. When I was depressed about my performance in class, I wished some lecturers would care but none did. I know it's a bit unreasonable for a 'late teen' to still rely on someone to give them a little push, but honestly, quoting from your other entry: "I give them what most teenagers desire at that age: attention, love & direction.", I couldn't agree more on what you've said.

    Those kids, no matter where their futures will bring them to..I believe, will never ever forget what you've done for them, because if someone in my life ever did that to me, I'm going to have high respect for that person. God bless you for allowing Him to use you to bring hope for those who need it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow. A heartfelt comment. Thank you.
      Your comment will give me another reason to keep doing what I'm doing. =)

      Delete

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