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.

Sunday, August 2

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.

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:

Saturday, August 1

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.

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