Our team felt quite special when we were honoured at special events hosted by the Pahang State Government, Tourism Pahang and the QUT Alumni in Malaysia. We also had visits to the school by some prominent people from the community. The school community was just fabulous. These are some of the activities that we were privileged to take part in. Collectively they made a significant difference to the overall experience.
Monday (28 September 2015)
On our team members, together with teachers and parents from SK Temai were honoured at a special dinner hosted by Tourism Pahang. YB. Dato’ Sri Hj. Mohd. Sharkar Hj Shamsudin – Chairman for Tourism and Culture for Pahang state and YB. Dato’ Ishak Mokhtar – Director General of Tourism Pahang welcomed all of us. In his welcoming address, Dato’ Sri Hj. Sharkar acknowledged the work we were doing at SK Temai. It was interesting to learn that he had played a significant role in setting up Kuala Gandah – the elephant sanctuary which we had visited earlier.
We were also joined by Dato’ Ahmad Farid Abd Jalal – the Director of the Pahang State Museum. The dinner and the welcoming atmosphere were beyond our expectations. However, a special invitation to the Masjid Sultan Abdullah Pekan Museum by Dato’ Farid was the icing on the cake. He organised a visit to the mosque museum at 10pm after dinner. What we saw was breathtaking. Ingenious design skills and innovation appeared to have been creatively melded in this newly renovated heritage listed building. This mosque was built in 1929. As the population grew, a larger mosque was built later on in Pekan. For the past two years, work has been carried out to convert this mosque to a mosque museum. YB. Dato’ Ishak and Dato’ Farid showed us around and highlighted some of the main features of the building. The displays and the architecture were remarkable. Strategically positioned lights heightened the workmanship of this great building. As pointed out by Dato’ Farid, when the museum opens its door next year it will be an excellent place to visit for people of all races and religions. It is the first time I saw and visited a mosque museum, and it was a privilege. What a great idea?
Wednesday night (30 September)
YAB. Dato’ Sri DiRaja Hj. Adnan Yaakob – Chief Minister of Pahang state hosted a dinner for our team. Teachers and members of the SK Temai school community were invited. Some staff members from the Universiti Malaysia Pahang campus were also invited. En. Ali Syahbana Sabaruddin – District Officer of Pekan, represented the Chief Minister who was unable to attend the function. While En. Syahbana commended our work at SK Temai, he was particularly interested in our focus on integrating ICT in classrooms. He commented that earlier in his career; he was involved with technology integration. On the next day, En. Syahbana made a special trip to the school to see some of the work that the students at SK Temai were doing with our team and was very pleased with what he saw.
Thursday afternoon (1 October)
Our visit to an Orang Asli village in Permatang Siput was a unique experience. En. Midun is the Penghulu (headman or chief) of this village. He gave an overview of his community. This was followed by afternoon tea. All of us were given special gifts. The gifts were fruits that were grown locally by the community. Some of us were even more privileged – we were given coconuts that were picked by En. Midun.
YB. Mohammed Fakhruddin bin Mohd Ariff, the local member of the state parliament (sub district of Bebar, Pekan) visited the school later in the afternoon. He acknowledged how our initiatives were adding value to his community and invited us to consider other sites in his constituency as the program evolves in coming years. YB. Fakhruddin played a significant role in identifying and organising families who acted as hosts for our team members for a night. This was a significant and memorable aspect of our project. In reflections to follow, team members will shed light on how these homestays impacted on their experiences.
Friday morning (2 October)
On Friday En Mohamad Haris Mohamad Nor, District Education Officer, visited the school. He was the Chief Guest for the student showcase. He echoed some of the strengths of our project that were highlighted by the visitors earlier.
Saturday afternoon (3 October)
The Malaysian QUT Alumni chapter invited us to an afternoon tea at the popular Picknik Cafe in Publika (owned by Dato Nik Ezar – a graduate of UQ). Nik’s son – former Masterchef Malaysia finalist Nik Michael Imran heads the team at this cafe. It was a lovely afternoon – with great food and great company. Past students who attended QUT at different times were present. Many stories from the past were shared, and this brought back great memories. Of significance was the role that Graeme Baguley played in the lives of many QUT students from the past. Thank you to the President and Vice-President of the QUT Alumni in Malaysia and their hard working team to make the event a memorable one.
For me, the interest shown by the wider community in Malaysia in our project was heart warming. The education of our children should be everyone’s business. I was very pleased with what I witnessed. Thank you everyone.
“If we are going to live with our deepest differences then we must learn about one another.”
― Deborah J. Levine,
For more stories: https://theseeproject.org