Pulai Baru: Finding Myself At SMK Katibas Again

SMK Katibas: 5 years later, much has changed, but the serenity still remains.
One that fills the soul with peace, allows the spirit to soar & provides the mind with clarity.
I left SMK Katibas in late 2015. Although I really miss SMK Katibas & the children there, I never expected to be able to return so soon after having a kid. Therefore, I was extremely grateful when MESTR wanted to involve me in a Parental & Community Engagement Program in Song, Sarawak. I was engaged to conduct a breakout session for SPM students of Song with one of their "killer" subjects, English.

The plan was a 2-in-1 program at 2 longhouses. An educational event involving students in Song at one longhouse & an official event with Dato Sri Michael Manyin involving the local community at another. The dream was to demonstrate that the rumah panjai (longhouse) could be a place of learning & encourage tuai rumah (longhouse chief) to have learning programs conducted in their ruai (common room).

SPM 1119 Tips & Tricks Session at SMK Katibas
Children benefit from associating reading/learning with the love, especially when parents read to them or get involved in their early learning. Also, if regular education programs are conducted at the longhouse, learning becomes part and parcel of the local culture & will definitely yield dividends in the long-term academic success of their children. Doesn't have to be anything complicated. Can be something as simple as allocating 7-9pm as a quiet study time at the longhouse for both adults & children.

However, prior to arriving, I was told that the student event will be held at SMK Katibas. The day before the event, I found out that only the students of SMK Katibas would be involved. Even then, not all of the students were present because it was a Saturday during the semester break. Funny thing is the official event involving a minister was able to be held at a packed longhouse. I'm deeply saddened by this. University professors & other professionals were engaged for the underutilized student event.

Definitely didn't expect to have my name on a monument commemorating the Gravity Feed Water System joint venture between SMK Katibas, TR Abo Dampah, & Bursa Malaysia. Thank you, kind friends, for including me.
Clearly, it's not the fault of the students or the schools as they weren't even given a choice whether to attend or not. The powers that be have to really think about why they are placed there & how seriously they take the academic prospects of the children in their community. Bs like this really infuriates me. That's why I'd rather deal with schools directly than with bureaucrats in my own projects.

Anyhow, the show must go on. I did my best to help the students who were able to make it.

Form 5 & 3 attendees at SMK Katibas
More pictures of the school & the student event here: https://www.facebook.com/pg/jarodyjk/photos/?tab=album&album_id=2284044485058284

Finding Myself Again

I admit I have been reeling from reverse culture shock & was feeling very lost prior to my return to SMK Katibas. I returned in hopes of working on impactful initiatives & making a difference. What I actually experienced was politicking, territorial-ism, red tape, apathy, mediocrity, & backbiting. I was starting to wonder if transformation was a pipe dream.

Looking over the landscape at SMK Katibas, I drew the clean, cool morning air into my lungs, as if taking the magnificent landscape in. I feel at peace once again. Memories of the place flood back into my mind. The ups & downs. I think about the many students like Katibas's in the rest of Sarawak. I think about how left behind we are in Malaysia & the world. If I do nothing, what is going to happen to them? A lost generation. Without the busyness of life, I found a moment of clarity. I have to soldier on.

Years ago, SMK Katibas was where I found my purpose as a teacher. Once again, I found myself here in this land. Katibas will always have a special place in my heart.

Thank you for making my SPM talk at SMK Katibas possible, Hazelynn Rimbar, MESTR, SMK Katibas, & PPD Song!

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