Tuesday, September 23

A Gift of Reading by Second Time Around Books

A Form 2 class gets the pleasure of unboxing the books given by Second Time Around Books.
In my last blog post, I wrote about a news article about me that I was displeased about. Before it was taken down, it caught the attention of a local entrepreneur. He contacted me about giving me some free English language children's books from the US.

Being very aware that my students lack quality reading material catering to their low levels of proficiency, I jumped at the opportunity.
My school library is well-managed by the teachers-in-charge but they lack the funds to splurge on quality books. They also have to cater to all the subjects taught at school.

In my 6 years of service here, I have arranged for & received book donations from only 2 parties: a female warden at UiTM Sarawak who mobilised her hostel blocks to organise a charity fund-raiser & members of the Aram Katibas! team who donated their old children's books.

However, this one from Second Time Around Books is the biggest I have ever received on behalf of my school.
When I went to collect, I only expected 1 box of books. Little did I know, they packed they packed 4 boxes full of children's books!! Susy, the lady in-charge, asked me if I wanted more & told me to take as much as I want!! How generous!!!
I was going to carry the boxes by myself all the way to my jungle school so 4 boxes was as much as I could manage. Also, I was rushing to catch the express boat at that time so I didn't have time to select & pack more books.

I had time to examine the books yesterday as I unboxed them with a class of Form 2 students. I received books at the level requested. I asked for books catering to low proficiency readers.
Simple books with lots of colourful pictures and large words. I got plenty. All of which were in good condition & had excellent content.

Second Time Around Books runs book fairs all over Sarawak. They import used books from the USA and sells them at affordable prices.
I collected the boxes they gave me at a small book fair in Sibu. The books were going for RM3-RM9. Also, there are plenty of gems in their collection: Dr Seuss, Winnie the Pooh, Disney, & so on.
They also support rural literacy initiatives in Sarawak & Sabah. They have been giving books away to rural schools & villages.

It is really an honour to meet such kind-hearted business people. I really appreciate the books & I believe that my students will greatly benefit from the extra breadth in the English book collection in the library.

If you have a collection of old children books you want to get rid off, why not donate to my jungle school? Contact me.

Sunday, September 21

Interviewed by The Sarawak Energy Newsroom

Interviewed by The Sarawak Energy Newsroom - 15 August 2014
A few months ago, I was approached via email for an interview about my opinions of the importance of education to rural folk in Sarawak. The question pushed enough of my hot-buttons that I answered immediately & elaborately. I wanted to raise awareness about the education challenges & social issues in the part of rural Sarawak I serve in as well as call people to action.

I guess my answer was so comprehensive that the news agency used it to publish an article on their site under my name. They also used a lot of pictures of me in it. Especially one big picture of me at the top of the article even before anyone read the text.

I didn't like what I saw. I decided not to share the article & I emailed the journalist about my desires & intentions for answering her queries & how the article is might become a disservice to everything that I am trying to achieve in the jungle.

I am no politician. I don't need journalists to over-blow my persona. This is not something I want at all. I want the focus to be on THE ISSUE. NOT on me. I'm hungry for change. I'm not hungry for attention. I became very concerned when people started sharing the article on social media & tagged me in it. I hope that I do not become a Malala. I don't want people to support me in spirit/on social media & then do nothing at all about the issue. I want more people to innovate & come up with their own unique solutions to age old problems in their own world. I want to decrease so that others may increase. Together, in our own little ways, we can do a lot more.

Fortunately, the journalist I contacted took down the article, apologised profusely & rewrote the article. This new one is way better. Although my name is mentioned multiple times & most of the words used were mine, my picture does not appear in it & another teacher is also quoted in the article.

Check out the article here:

Do read the article & comment on it.
If you would like to clink brains with me & flew your muscles to help, send me an email or contact me on my FB page.

Saturday, September 6

The Time Is Right For A Transfer

I applied for a transfer for the academic year beginning 2015.
I'm sorry to burst your bubble, everyone. I'm not going to spend my entire life in the jungle. Some of you may have only recently come to know of my work but I've actually been serving here for 6 years already. This year, I have found something that I can leave behind which will yield long-term benefits to the rural community. Knowing that, I believe that it is time for me to move on. I am hungry for a new challenge & desiring to make a bigger impact.

Let me make something clear. When I arrived 6 years ago in 2009, I made a conscious decision to root myself here for at least 4 years & work my butt off to see if I am worthy of being a teacher. I converted my bland government apartment into a swanky jungle bachelor pad (will take photos & show it off soon) as well as implemented various programmes & activities which promote the English language & develop the character of the students at my school.

I only applied for transfer after 4 years of full service in 2012. Again last year in my 5th year in 2013. And again this year in 2014.
During those 3 years, I only applied for transfer at the end of the year because I wanted to commit myself to developing my students & guiding them over the course of a full academic year. I also wanted to follow through all the programmes that I have planned for the year. (Teachers only get 2 windows to apply for a transfer: mid-year & end-of-year.)
Even though I would have had a better chance of getting a transfer if I applied in the middle of the year, I wanted to put my students & my school first.

I have seen too many teachers arrive at my school & immediately decide that they want to leave. They never bothered to enjoy the natural rainforest surrounding them, gotten to know the warm & unpretentious locals, or figure out what kind of legacy they wanted to leave behind. All they want is to leave & that's their main focus throughout their wasted years here. I have seen desperate teachers do all sorts of unethical things. Some of which I will never be able to publish in a public document.
Sadly, it is their loss. They missed the beauty & opportunities which were right under their noses. In the end, no matter how many years they've spent in the jungle, it was as if they have never arrived in the first place.

From the get go, I wanted something different. I came here with the intention of testing myself & a desire to make a difference. I believe that the greatest opportunity exists where the challenge is greatest. I also believe in rising to the level of any challenge & overcoming it.
My beliefs have proven true over the years. Having excelled here, I am primed to excel in any pursuit in life. I am ready & I am hungry. I am ambitious & there is so much more that I want to do which I cannot do in the jungle.

I am ever thankful to be blessed with this opportunity. If you ask me if I would do it again, I'd give you a hell yeah. Working in the jungle has given me so much. Most of the blessings I've received cannot be seen with the eye or valued with currently. It is imbued in my character & only understood by those with the softest eyes & biggest hearts.
To summarise: I entered the jungle as a boy. Soon, I shall emerge as a man hungry to make his mark in the world.

I bet you're asking: Where do I want to go? What do I want to do? What is this special thing that I am leaving behind?

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...