Sunday, April 8

Why Every Malaysian Should Send Postcards Home When Graduating Abroad

If you are a Malaysian studying abroad, I implore you to send postcards home when you graduate. Here's why...

Being able to study abroad is a luxury & a privilege enjoyed by roughly 55,000 Malaysians every year (from 2003-2013). It may seem like a big number but it only constitutes roughly 5.5% of the tertiary student population (from 2000-2010). Academically, there is not much difference between degrees earned locally & those abroad. The special-sauce is in the broadening of the mind & the ability to consider multiple perspectives after being exposed & forced to survive in a foreign culture. With a simple gesture, you can share a glimpse of what you've learned with a new generation of Malaysians with the hopes that your postcard will spark young minds & inspire them to surpass your wildest imaginations.

Send Postcards To Where You Know It Will Actually Be Used

Perhaps you can send a few back to your past schools. I'm sure the students there will be inspired by what you have achieved as an alumnus. You might need to do some liaising.

I decided to send my cards to teachers because I am a teacher & I believe teachers make a difference every day. Having taught in one of the most extreme circumstances in Malaysia, I knew that Malaysian teachers face an uphill battle every single day whilst performing their most essential purpose = preparing the next generation for 21st century challenges while climbing mountains of paperwork & mindless midnight data entry. Teachers don't often get the support they need for the work that they do. Therefore, while I was studying, I facilitated a video exchange program between the US-Malaysia. Additionally, upon my graduation, I sent postcards to 163 schools in Malaysia.

Check Out All The Creative Ways Malaysian Teachers Used Their Postcards!

1. Cikgu Ashikin & colleagues read theirs to their students during their Merdeka Day assembly & recorded a video that moved me to tears! Click the link below to see the super cool teachers & their beautiful students!
Cikgu Ashikin Zainull - SK Kulai 1, Kulaijaya, Johor

2. Cikgu Nurhazirah got her students to write adorable replies & the results were amazing! I responded to all of their replies on Facebook!
Cikgu Nurhazirah Azhar - SK Convent (M) Kajang, Kajang, Selangor

3. Cikgu Zarina had her students read the postcard & write group responses to me on Instagram. I replied all of them!

Cikgu Zurina Abd Malek - MRSM Tun Dr Ismail, Johor

4. Cikgu Ho read the postcards with her class, got them to write replies & shared excerpts with me on Facebook, to which I responded!
Cikgu Ho Jia Yiing - SMK Batu Lintang, Kuching, Sarawak

5. Cikgu Nessa read the postcard during class & got her students really inspired!
Cikgu Neesa Nasurdeen - SK Banggol Jas, Rantau Panjang, Selama, Perak

6. Cikgu Zaidah rewarded her Pendidikan Khas students who did well in their English assessments.
Cikgu Zaidah Mahadi - SMPK Vokasional Indahpura, Kulai, Johor

7. Cikgu Raihan placed the postcard on the school's BI noticeboard to share it with an excited & curious school population.
Cikgu Raihan Jalaludin - SK Rapat Jaya, Ipoh, Perak

8. Besides the students, teachers from all over the country got really excited too!
Cikgu Marinette Baltazar-Shamsudin - SMK Beaufort 3, Beaufort, Sabah
Cikgu Maam Shimah - SMK Merbok, Merbok, Kedah
Cikgu Amy anak William Dee - SK Batu Kitang, Kuching, Sarawak
Cikgu Hannah Sundram - SMJK Nan Hwa, Setiawan, Perak
Cikgu Jacqie Jacqui - SJK (C) KEPONG 3, Kuala Lumpur
Cikgu Lee Siew Khing - SJK (C) Hin Hua, Song, Sarawak
Cikgu Li Phin Chu - SK Sungai Sam, Kuala Krai, Kelantan
Cikgu Nor Fadzleen - SMK Bandar Baru Uda, Johor Bahru, Johor

Here's a list of all 163 recipients!

Be Practical: Focus On Quality Over Quantity

Being a one-man show, I didn't have the ability to send postcards to every school in the country so I had to figure out a way to prioritize. I asked teachers to sign up (because I wanted the postcards to be welcomed & used) & write a little something about their students (because I wanted to write a unique personalized message for each postcard). Every classroom is different so it wouldn't be effective if every postcard contained a generic message.

The cost is real. I tried to do both quantity & quality, so it ended up costing me significantly. I spent an average of 15 minutes writing each postcard (read teacher's message + research about school + thinking + writing). That's a total of  2445 minutes = 40 hours & 45 minutes. Believe me, it's exhausting trying to learn about the local culture & write 163 different messages. Also, the total cost of this initiative was $293.4 (Postcards $0.55 + Envelopes $0.1 + Postage $1.15) = RM1140.04 (at the current rate of 3.88/USD). Just like the star thrower, the time, effort & cost was worth it, even if for all my effort, only 1 child benefited.

You will have to figure out what is realistic for you. Honestly, even if you are only able to do 5, imagine if all 55k students who are studying abroad did 5 each. We'd impact a nation.

Let me know if you decide to embark on this initiative too! I'd love to hear your story!

In the age of social media, why send postcards?

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