EUN634 is cool

Advertisements
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The SEE Foundation Fiji

Epeneri Korovakaturaga was a student at QUT on an AusAID scholarship. As a university student, he was closely associated with the SEE Project and was the cultural ambassador on two student outreach projects that were delivered in Fiji. After returning home, he gained employment in an architectural firm.

The opportunity to engage with schools through the SEE Project was an inspiration for him and he wanted “to contribute something back to the local rural and remote communities”. He felt fortunate to have had the opportunity to study abroad. With this background, he felt “duty bound” to step out in the real world as a role model “to inspire and motivate the younger generation of Fiji to aspire for education”. He was clear on why this was necessary but the lingering question and uncertainty in his mind was “how this could be achieved?” Epeneri reasoned the best strategy would be to collaborate and brainstorm ideas with other Fiji students who had studied in Australia and had recently returned home after graduating with degrees in their respective fields.

After an Australia Awards alumni function, he approached a few of his colleagues and outlined his ideas on giving back something to our communities. He was very pleased by the many positive responses from colleagues with expertise in various disciplines. Epi found that their level of enthusiasm was very high, and they were more than willing to contribute in any way they could. After a few formal and informal meetings, the SEE Foundation Fiji was established. Through the assistance and partnership of the SEE Project in Brisbane, they have been able to assist a few schools around Viti Levu with library books and computers. They have also presented at schools to motivate students.

Epeneri’s initiatives could be described as a novel approach to dealing with some of the issues that confront the underprivileged in Fiji. I have not come across any other organisation like the SEE Foundation Fiji, which is steered by a group of young, highly educated people who gained their qualifications in Australia through AusAID scholarships. It is a model that AusAID could promote in other countries. There is no doubt that by founding and affiliating with SEE Foundation Fiji, young people like Epeneri not only become more proactive in supporting meaningful agenda like enhancing the quality of education, but they also develop their professional and social networks. For Epeneri, the SEE Project was an eye-opener. Without his active participation in the project and more importantly in the Sabeto and Somosomo schools, the SEE Foundation Fiji may not have materialised. It is a step in the right direction that will make a difference to the quality of education in developing countries.

Navesau Adventist High School

The Navesau Adventist High School was severely damaged by Cyclone Winston.  The SEE Foundation Fiji together with the SEE Project and its supporters in Brisbane were able to provide the school with a set of desktop computers. One of the IT teachers at the school, Narieta Tanuku worked with Epi to get the resources across.

In one of the reports, Narieta indicated that all the computer lab had been set up and all machines were being utilised. The classes for his department had “notably improved in the last few weeks” and “all students taking the subject are excited that now they can actually perceive what was theoretically taught all this while”. Of significance was the fact that “computer lab has become an educational hotspot”.

Apart from typing assignments, the computers were used to achieve the learning outcomes across a number of subjects which included:

• Year 9- Basic Applications like MS Word, MS PowerPoint etc.

• Year 10- Basic Applications esp. MS Excel, Internet

• Year 11- Basic Applications, Programming and typing Assignments.

• Year 12- Basic Applications, Programming, Researching and typing Assignments.

• Year 13 – Basic Applications, Programming, Web Designing and typing Assignments.

Commendations to all involved and in particular Epi and his team for all their efforts.

To read more about the SEE Foundation Fiji, visit:

https://www.facebook.com/SEEFoundationFiji/

https://www.instagram.com/seefoundationfiji/

Posted in 2017, Navesau District School, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A story of success

Our relationship with Saint Theresia Kuruk Primary School, in Mount Hagen, Papua New Guinea (PNG), began with Paul Ogil. He used to work as a security guard at our university. One day when he was on duty, he came to open the room so that we could load some of the stored computers for a school in Fiji. As we began our work, Paul became very inquisitive. He wanted to know where the computers were going. We responded to his question and told him more about our project. Almost immediately he said it would be nice if computers were also donated to his former primary school in Mount Hagen. We were buoyed by the interest and enthusiasm that was shown by Paul. He strongly believed that we all lived in “a global village” but the odds for full participation were “were stacked against” many citizens from developing countries.   However, he felt that fluency in digital technologies had the potential to “level the playing field”, particularly in the jobs market. According to Paul, the first-time students got a chance to use technologies in PNG was when they got to university. For the majority of young Papua New Guineans, such an opportunity did not exist because there were no technologies in schools. We agreed in principle to support him, with the proviso that if he could find a way to transport the computers, we would find computers for him. Little did we know that this meeting with Paul would give the SEE Project a new direction and challenge with no grant money or university students. It demonstrates the potential of a good partnership.

Here is a report that was compiled by Paul in late 2017.

Project Progress Report

Project Overview

Commenced in the second half of 2016, three primary schools in Mt Hagen have received used 120 desktop computers supplied by The SEE Project. The three schools are Kuruk Primary (40 computers), Holy Trinity Demonstration Primary School (40) and Kuntumb Primary School (40)

The project incorporates two aspects; supply of hardware and software training for the relevant primary school teachers to enable the teaching of students. The first training, facilitated by Dr Vinesh Chandra and Matthew Brown was conducted in Mt Hagen in late 2016. The second training facilitated by Christa Miyoni was held at Kuruk Primary for all three schools in August 2017.

Community Involvement

The community has taken ownership of the project and is keen to see it work. The project is the first of its kind in PNG. Currently, local students do not have access to computers and relevant training in government schools, a distinct disadvantage for students in both further study and future employment opportunities. The in-country project champion is Andrew Collin, principal of Kuruk Primary who has taken a leadership role in motivating other teachers in the other schools to be involved. Andrew Collin has also driven the construction of a special purpose built two storey library and computer lab at Kuruk Primary School. (Photo attached)

The school and business community have enabled the project by assisting with direct costs, local knowledge and in-kind contribution.

Financial assistance and on-ground support have included:

  • Sponsored transportation by Hastings Deering (PNG) of computers from Brisbane to Lae, organised by Kelly Kerua (Sales Manager – Parts).
  • Payment and arrangement by the respective schools for on-ground transport of computers from Lae to Mt Hagen, (a difficult 12-hour trip).
  • Organisation of first training session with venue and logistics for QUT staff facilitators. Kuruk Primary met with costs for flights and accommodation on the first trip.
  • Trainer Christa Miyoni’s flights and accommodation were paid for by Peter Mughkerhegl (a local businessman) and meals were paid for by the three Primary Schools.
  • Holy Trinity Demonstration Primary School have the support of a local company to run the cables for the computers.

Training Workshops

The first training sessions covered basic use of the computer hardware and how the Edubuntu system worked. They also went through some pre – loaded programs like Tux Math, Tux Typing and Tux Typing to get the teachers started. The teachers were showed how to access programs in Libre office.  This is a powerful office suite that includes: Writer (word processing), Calc (spreadsheets), Impress (presentations), Draw (vector graphics and flowcharts), Base (databases) and Math (formula editing).  Most of the time was spend on word processing.  Teachers also had the chance to explore the educational potential of Scratch that can be used to create games and a range of other digital artefacts. A highlight was showing teachers how to access and develop research activities with the SEE box.

The second training block provided a selected number of teachers with the opportunity to learn basic computer skills such as touch typing and work with Office. Teachers went through the process of creating an E-Book in Office, that illustrated the use of text boxes, inserting photographs, and creating a storyline on an issue within their community.

At the conclusion of the two-day development teachers and their classes were challenged to create an E-Book to return to Australia that would help create a long-term international connection with another school and the possibility of a hard copy of their book.

Teachers were given a due date of November to finalise their E-Book and submit to the facilitator Christa Miyoni and the teachers have shown their keenness to participate in this. Follow up support has taken the form of informal contact from time to time via Facebook.

Going forward

Support and monitoring of training to ensure ongoing use and maintenance of the computers is pivotal for the successful longevity and impact of the project. Direct benefit to current and future students is the desired outcome of the project.

There is an opportunity for more schools to be involved with this project, not only in Mt Hagen but in other areas of PNG. If the community support and enthusiasm can be replicated in other areas then this can occur.

Community and business support both in PNG and Australia will be continued to be generated and fostered for maintaining and hopefully expansion of the project. Support from the PNG Government would also assist in the project’s development and sustainability.

Photos

New computer lab and library building nearing completion at Kuruk Primary School

 

Inside New Computer Lab at Kuruk Primary School nearing completion

Current computer lab at Kuruk Primary School (Inside teachers staff room)

Inside the computer lab at Holy Trinity Demonstration Primary School. From L-R: Mr Robinson Bulema, Principal of Holy Trinity Demonstration Primary School, Paul Ogil and Andrew Collin, Principal of Kuruk Primary School.

Computer Professional Development with Christa Miyoni

 

Participating teachers from three schools at the professional develop sessions: Christa Miyoni (Standing -third on the right), Principals from Holy Trinity Demonstration Primary School, Robinson Bulema (Standing – Second on the left), and Kuruk Primary School, Andrew Collin (Standing – fourth on the left).

Posted in 2017, Kuruk Primary School, PNG | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

MMM – Madeline’s memories of Malaysia

Madeline Seivers is enrolled in a Bachelor of Education course at QUT. At SK Sungai Mas – a primary school in Malaysia, she teamed up with QUT and UPM students to deliver some outstanding activities using ICT. Her work was highly applauded and appreciated by the students and the school community. Here are some of her reflections:   

My time in Malaysia has changed my perspective in many different aspects of my life. Before leaving Australia, I thought it would be an awesome, easy experience. I defiantly got the awesome part right but not so much the easy part. Most days were packed with memorable experiences which deprived me of a decent sleep. When driving through the school gates for the first time, I was excited. The school was so different to the picture I had in my head and far more remote than I thought it would be. I had only been to one country before and had never actually experienced living with a different culture than mine. This experience allowed me to experience the Malaysian culture that no holiday to Malaysia would have.

Above Picture: Driving through the gates at SK Sungai Mas – a primary school in Kuantan, Malaysia

My time teaching there was an eye-opening and completely different than anything I had ever experienced. When returning back to Australia, I had to refrain from taking my shoes off when entering a classroom. The students at SK Sungai Mas were amazing and had the most respect for their school and us. They were also the toughest group of students I have ever met, and they were always engaged. They thoroughly enjoyed playing with the Edison robots and then making their presentations to show the parents who came on the last day. We were even lucky enough to play games with these parents after the students showcased their work. The students did a fantastic job and will hopefully continue their work programming and coding the Edison robots.

Photo: Assisting the students in their creation of the PowerPoint; Playing Simon says in English with parents of my students.

It is important to point out that his trip would not have even been slightly possible without the “wonderfully fantastic” and amazing students from the University of Putra Malaysia (UPM). Mary and I had an excellent experience teaming up with  Raja, Ice, Nurlina, Fatin, Aini, Hasan, Amalina and Hamiza as we delivered activities in our Year 3-4 class. These students from the UPM helped with everything in the classroom. Most importantly they helped with translation. By the end of the week, I also found out that for the Sk Sungai Mas students in my class, English was their 4th language and Malay was their 3rd. For this reason, our stategy of using lots of symbols, demonstrations, and physical gestures when teaching these students did make a difference.

Photo: The wonderful Raja and Hamiza translating from English to Malay for the Sk Sungai Mas Students.

While over there, my teaching partner Mary and I had the chance to explain the function of the Edison robots to teachers from other schools. This explanation will hopefully encourage other schools in Malaysia to become involved in coding and programming with primary students.

Photo: Teachers from other schools in Pahang visiting to see the work the students have done during the week.

This trip not only enhanced my skills to integrate technology into classrooms and teach some brilliant students at SK Sungai Mas, but it also gave me an insight into a whole new culture that I before had very little knowledge about. Before leaving Australia, as a non-Muslim, I was a bit nervous about being in a mostly Muslim country. The reason for this was due to the way practicing Muslims often get portrayed in the media. I was expecting to be disliked everywhere I went. This couldn’t have been further from the truth. The Malaysian university students I met over there were the kindest, funny and lovely people. It didn’t take long for me to develop my friendship with them.

I tried to choose a favorite memory to reflect on however I could write hundreds of them. Every second spent in Malaysia was awesome. I could tell you how I had the best burger of my life – thanks to Nurlina or how Ashlee, Lorna, Safri and I accidently left Fitri in a shop (sorry Fitri, haha) or I could also tell you how on the day before my flight I went bowling with Ice and Raja and lost terribly or how I got to sleep in my classroom and wake up the next day and teach or meeting the Princess of Pahang who had the best sense of humour or playing card games till late at night and sharing  funny similarities and differences between our cultures. However, all these memories would probably just make you envious of my time in Malaysia. I’m not sure whether I was lucky with all the people I met or if it is just the Malaysian way. However, everyone I met in Malaysia was beautiful and kind. I would have to say that sharing time with the UPM students was my most favorite part of my trip to Malaysia. I still talk to a lot of them regularly and hope I can see them again soon. Not only has this trip opened me up to the beautiful Malaysian culture, but it has also opened me up to different teaching experiences. I hope in future years I will be able to teach again overseas.

Photo: Many of the wonderful UPM students (Raja and I in the face swap)

The first few weeks being back in Australia was hard. I had to accept the fact that although this trip was over, I was hopeful that there will be other opportunities like this in the future.  It was also hard trying to explain my experiences to anyone as it was not relatable for many of my friends and family. After sleeping for 16 hours straight, I finally unpacked my suitcase. I now have the beautiful presents and memories next to my bed that reminds me of the wonderful times in Malaysia. Although it was only for 10 days, the beautiful people in Malaysia were so open – it feels like I have known them for ages. I actually miss them all, and I am very grateful for this amazing experience. After this experience, I am also a happier person overall. It has made me so much more appreciative of the things I have every day that I used to take for granted.

Photo: Sad feeling when landing in Goldcoast; Beautiful gifts and souvenirs received in Malaysia.

Posted in 2016, Malaysia_2016, SK Sungai Mas | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Mitchell’s second trip to Malaysia

Mitchell Neill recently completed his Bachelor of Engineering program – majoring in Computer and Software Systems. At university, he was high achieving student and very committed to making a difference to others through technology.  This was his second trip to Malaysia. At SK Sungai Mas, his team introduced and integrated activities in Scratch. 

Our trip to Malaysia was fantastic. Before going on this trip, I had previously gone on holidays – I visited bird parks, tall buildings, and temples.  Perhaps there is nothing more special about Malaysia than it’s people…(Maybe the food).  On our trip, we were lucky to have the students from the Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM), who partnered with us. In the process, they also shared their culture with us. They showed us what it means to be Malaysian, and shared some of the country’s best-kept secrets in Malaysia. We also reciprocated and shared aspects of our culture as well.

Even though the primary purpose of the trip to volunteer at a local school, I feel that it is appropriate to mention that without the input and the camaraderie of the students from UPM,  the outcomes and the experiences of this outreach project would have been quite different.  In a few words – our contemporaries from UPM were simply amazing.  We all bonded quickly. Laughs and smiles were in abundance, we were so lucky to interact with some the most fun-loving people I’ve ever met.

That’s not to say the students we got to teach weren’t fun loving, nothing could be further from the truth. I was amazed by the huge difference in teaching approaches used between the Australian and the school we visited in Malaysia, Sekolah Kebangsaan Sungai Mas (SKSM). One fundamental difference that struck me was the flexibility of the curriculum at SKSM. I remember attending “sports carnivals” during my schooling days in Australia. It was not so long ago. The event was more of a rigid contest than a carnival. The competition centred around finding who could run 100m the fastest in time? Who could jump the highest? Who could jump the furthest? While I enjoyed these events, the atmosphere was incomparable to the sporting event we attended at SKSM. Rather than having rigid contests, students completed by playing games. The rules were flexible enough to accommodate more than 30 university students in heavy rain. We never got a chance to find out which one of use could jump the highest, but we did have a lot of fun, and I made memories I’ll never forget.

Oh, and did I mention that everyone was a winner? Yup. No ribbons were awarded, but everyone received items (such as baskets and water bottles) that they could take home. I think this style of teaching really helped us get closer to the students. Their happy faces always spoke a thousand words.

Within the school classroom itself, my team taught programming through Scratch 2.0 and playing games. There was only one computer class in the school. Regrettably,  all the computers were broken, and this had been the case for quite some time. While there was no lack of student interest in developing computer programming skills, it was evident that there was a need for more strategic methods to teach these skills without relying on constant access to computers.

We did a number of activities with the students (both with and without computers). The activity that I liked the most was called “program your teacher”. I liked it because it felt far more like a game than learning to program and required no access to computers. While not strictly necessary for the activity, we started by playing Simon says. This really turned out fantastic as not only did it give us teachers a way to quieten the students when they became too loud (Students began to reflexively respond to “Simon says hands on heads”), but it also served as an excellent ice breaking activity. From there we used a set of scratch blocks we had printed and laminated, to allow students to write commands like “move forward”, “jump” or “turn left”. This allowed the students to write out a set of commands to get their teacher or fellow students to complete the challenges while representing their instructions (just like you would in the scratch programming languag)e. This became a lot of fun, as students would often mistakenly command each other into obstacles rather than around them, and collisions with others became inevitable. It was clear when we started programming that this helped students more quickly grasp the concept of programming.

I, along with everyone else had such an amazing time. If I could change one thing about the trip it would be to make the trip longer so that we could spend more time teaching at the school, and also more time sleeping. Jumpa lagi!!

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Student outreach project at SK Sungai Mas

Our recent outreach project was undertaken at Sekolah Kebangsaan (SK) Sungai Mas in September/October. This is a small rural primary school and it caters for Orang Asli children.  The trip was made possible by the funding received through the Australian Government’s New Colombo Plan (NCP).

Ten undergraduate students and two staff  from QUT participated in this project. The students were from the following disciplines: Education (5), IT (1) and Science (4). The project was managed by Graeme Baguley (Manager, International Student Services). Associate Professor Jennifer Firn (Faculty of Science and Engineering) and I were responsible for the students and their activities in our respective areas. We teamed up with Dr Siti Isa and Dr Evelyn Lin and 31 of their students from the Universiti Putra Malaysia(UPM). Like last year, we had excellent support from Dato’ Sri Haji Mohd Sharkar Shahbudin (Chairman, Pahang State Tourism) and Dato’ Ahmad Farid Abdul Jalal (Director, Pahang State Museum Authority). We were also very appreciative of the support of other staff members from UPM.  For all of us, the dinner with Her Royal Highness Crown Princess of Pahang, Tunku Hajjah Azizah Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah was a special and significant moment. This dinner was jointly hosted by Pahang State Tourism and the Pahang State Museum Authority at the Pahang Art Museum in Kuantan.

Her Royal Highness addressing the guests (Photo: Batik and Bubbles http://batikandbubbles.com/)

Her Royal Highness addressing the guests (Photo: Batik and Bubbles http://batikandbubbles.com/)

UPM students performing at the dinner nite for Her Royal Highness (Photo: Batik and Bubbles http://batikandbubbles.com/)

UPM students performing at the dinner evening for Her Royal Highness and other guests (Photo: Batik and Bubbles http://batikandbubbles.com/)

The Australian students had to complete an assessment task as part of this project.  The education students had to design and develop a unit plan that showcased the use of ICT in this Malaysian Primary School. Coding and computational thinking were at the core of these activities. In addition, the activities also had to promote English language development. The delivery of the activities had a trans-disciplinary and trans-national focus. The education students had to communicate and collaborate with other students from QUT and UPM and teachers from the primary school to deliver activities. None of these students had a background in education.

Developing new friendships

Developing new friendships

The Australian team arrived in Malaysia on different days and times. This was due to the fact that all participants had to make their own bookings for their flights. This was a condition of the NCP grant. There are no direct flights between Brisbane and Kuala Lumpur – this added another layer of complication. For this reason, we all had to fly out from the Gold Coast. All overnight flights arrived in Malaysia at about 4.30am. Despite our different and inconvenient arrival times, our counterparts at UPM were very accommodating – as always. The hospitality and the friendliness of our colleagues in Malaysia and their students cannot be expressed in a few words. They were just amazing!!

Some of the amazing students from UPM

Some of the amazing students from UPM (Photo: Mary Cosmo)

For all of us, our trip to Kuantan started on Sunday morning. The weather was relatively pleasant – very different from our previous visit. It was somewhat cooler. This time haze and smoke was not an issue. Last year, the burning of natural forests in Indonesia was causing havoc to people in Malaysia and in other countries. Schools had to close due to pollution. En route to, Kuantan we stopped at the Kuala Gandah Elephant Sanctuary. This is an interesting place to visit and see the elephants perform to a captive audience. This park seems to be very popular and attracts both the locals and tourists. The audience also gets a chance to bathe the elephants. The body language of these magnificent giants tends to suggest that they enjoy the experience. For most of our students, it was the first time that they got a chance to not only see elephants but also get to give them a bath at such a close distance.

What an experience?

What an experience?

SK Sungai Mas was about 30 minutes from our hotel. However, our coach could not get us to the school. There is a feeder road that connects the school and local community to the main road. While the condition of this road was relatively good, it was only designed for light traffic.It was too narrow for a bus to go through. Walking was possible but not feasible due to time constraints. There was a UPM mini bus that transported some of us to the school.  So we had to find alternative transport locally.  Teachers at the school also transported us to and from the main road to the school from time to time.

Local transport (Photo: Mary Cosmo)

Local transport (Photo: Mary Cosmo)

SK Sungai Mas was a neat and tidy school. It was colourful. Walls throughout the school were peppered with text and images. Most were designed to capture students attention in the hope that it would deliver some positive messages that would add value to their learning. The physical environment spoke volumes about the passion that the staff, students and the community had about the school. These characteristics made the school very welcoming. To me, the school looked very inviting and was an ideal environment for teaching and learning.  The staff and students embraced us very warmly into their school.   On day 1, we were welcomed by Zulfadzli Ismail, the Assistant Head-Teacher. We were shown to our classrooms.

Ashley chatting just before the school assembly

Ashley chatting just before the school assembly

Given the small size of each class, combining Grades 1 and 2, 3 and 4, 5 and 6 was relatively easy. So we had three groups to work with as planned. Monday was the day for observations for our students. However, the teachers at the school expected our students to start teaching. Instead of whingeing and whining our students from QUT and UPM sprung into action. They all did a brilliant job and it was also a major confidence booster. They knew that with some modifications they could implement what they had planned.

High engagement in the Grade 1/2 class

High engagement in the Grade 1/2 class

Jessica Martin and Ashley Mitchell led the Grade 1 and 2 team. On some days children from the preschool also joined their group. Their activity focused predominantly on Bee-bots. These robots are very popular with younger children in Australia and elsewhere. Mary Cosmo and Madeline Seivers led the Grade 3 and 4 team. They used Edison robots for some of the activities but later modified their plan which enabled their students to create multimedia presentations. Joram Villanueva and Mitchell Neill led the Grade 5 and 6 team. Their focus was on teaching coding and computational thinking using Scratch. I was quite amazed when I found out that Malaysia and already introduced Scratch programming in the curriculum for children in Grade 6. However, it appeared that children were learning about this application for the first time!

Some happy faces in the Grade 3/4 group

Some happy faces in the Grade 3/4 group (Photo: Mary Cosmo)

All teams came across issues and challenges from time to time. But it was very pleasing to see that the team leaders were able to solve the problem through communication, collaboration and application of their knowledge and understanding of the task at hand. We often talk about 21st-century skills and the 4C’s – critical and creative thinking, collaboration, and communication skills. For me, I could see that our students were able to demonstrate the 4C’s by solving curriculum problems that were highly relevant in this unseen and unique context. This is the type of teachers we want to see in all oschoolsols.

Figuring out some instructions in Scratch in Grade 5/6 class

Figuring out some instructions in Scratch in Grade 5/6 class

Our success was largely dependent upon the support provided by the Head Teacher – Humdan Bin Ahmad, his staff and the school community. The school appeared to have an open door policy with the local community. Parents always seem to have been welcomed with open arms. In fact there was a small hut next to the school gate for the members of the community. Perhaps one of my highlights was seeing the parents come of school on the last day and participate with their children in their classrooms. With some certainity I can say that they were seeing robots and programming for the first time.

A parent (in green t-shirt) engaging in a Grade 1-2 class

A parent (in green t-shirt) engaging in a Grade 1-2 class with Bee-bots

Parents (in green t-shirts) listening to Joram and

Parents (in green t-shirts) listening to Joram and Fiazul

One afternoon our group was invited to visit the local village and sample the life of the orang asli people. We tasted some native fruits, saw how sap was drawn from rubber trees, and got a look into their homes to get some appreciation of their life styles.

I love this photo!

At the village. I love this photo!

Homes in the local community

Homes in the local village

The support provided by the Pahang Government, Pahang Tourism and the Pahang State Museum Authority (last year and this year) added another dimension to our Malaysian experience. On this trip, Sri Haji Mohd Sharkar Shahbudin (Chairman, Pahang State Tourism) and Dato’ Ahmad Farid Abdul Jalal (Director, Pahang State Museum Authority) hosted two dinners and a lunch for our students.  The dinner at the Pahang Art Museum in Kuantan with Her Royal Highness Crown Princess of Pahang as the guest of honor with other VIPs represented a once in a lifetime opportunity for us all. It may remain in our memories forever. I felt quite honoured to have addressed the princess on behalf of our two universites and then joined her for dinner at her table. This evening gave us an opportunity to highlight the work we were doing with the orang asli children. In her speech and in the conversations that I had with her, it was obvious that Her Royal Highness was a very compassionate human being. I was truly impressed by the work the princess and the prince were doing for the underprevildged in low socio-economic communities.

Her Royal Highness with some of our team members (Photo courtesy of: http://batikandbubbles.com/)

Her Royal Highness with some of our team members (Photo: Batik and Bubbles http://batikandbubbles.com/)

Dato Farid with Her Royal Highness and some of our team members Photo: Batik and Bubbles )

Dato Farid with Her Royal Highness and some of our team members (Photo: Batik and Bubbles  )

So what is the take home message? I have been involved in outreach projects for the past few years. Such experiences (thanks to all the parties involved) create unseen opportunities for us to view the world and its people through a different pair lens. How we paint the picture of the world depends on how we see it. However, our picture will be based on our experiences and not be based on what someone has tells us. There are far too many people – who think “small” and talk “big”.  The world is the best classroom you can have – so experience it and form your own views!

Time to go home!

Time to go home!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in 2016, Malaysia_2016, SK Sungai Mas | Leave a comment

Mary Cosmo’s reflections of her trip to Malaysia

Mary Cosmo is a third-year student in the Bachelor of Education (BEd) program at QUT . She is a high achiever, an excellent team leader and communicator who works through problem-solving activities methodologically. On her trip to Malaysia, she teamed up with Madeline Seivers (another student in the BEd primary program) and other colleagues from QUT and UPM to deliver some highly engaging activities (in coding) to children in Years 3 and 4 at SK Sungai Mas – a primary school in Kuantan, Malaysia. This is a reflection of some her experiences…

img_0009I feel very blessed to have had this opportunity. I envisaged that I would learn more than I taught and that was certainly the case. I pride myself in being one to embrace diversity and find the good in most, but this opportunity highlighted to me how I had allowed my viewpoints of the Muslim culture to be socially constructed by the perspectives portrayed in mainstream media. The stereotypical Muslim doesn’t exist. What I discovered was the warmest, most caring, engaging, astute and nurturing group of people I have ever met.

img_0016

Whilst our first observation day turned into an unplanned teaching day, I feel this day broke the ice and set the week up to be the success that it was.  Another successful aspect of the class experience was forming groups at the beginning of the week and keeping those small groups together. Team pride and camaraderie flourished and some light-hearted competitiveness was clearly evident. The students from UPM were ‘naturals’ at teaching and motivating the students and it would have been a considerably less engaging experience for all without them.

img_0008

I found the Edison Robots frustrating in the class although the students didn’t seem to care too much that they didn’t work consistently. I have researched them since and have discovered that they are light-sensitive which explains their inconsistencies. Although we were continually challenged, I gained a lot of confidence in my ability to adjust to the changing circumstances. If I were to give advice to another student setting off on this experience, it would be to plan lots of games (that promote the use of English language)  and offline activities to support the main objective.


img_0010
img_0015
img_0018

My favourite time in the classroom was when the parents visited. They were very shy and sat to the edge to start with. We had small gifts that we gave to them and their smiles were priceless. It was extremely heartening to see them then join in our Simple Simon game and their children were so caring and proud.  They were so obviously grateful.

img_0082

The trip was well organised. The food was fabulous and plentiful. Collaborating with this group of people was enlightening and rewarding. I would jump at the opportunity to be involved in a project like this again. Thank you!

14500207_1172860292777587_753825207342697171_o

 

Posted in 2016, Malaysia_2016 | Leave a comment