Georgia’s reflections of her Malaysian experience

Georgia Row is a third-year student at QUT. She is enrolled in the Bachelor of Secondary Education course. Her majors are English and English as a Second Language. By working with her team, Georgia played an exceptional role in designing and delivering an engaging activity for her Class 3 students at Sekolah Kebangsaan Temai. In this blog Georgia is reflecting on her experiences:    

Haze filled air enters my lungs one last time as I pass through the airport entrance; homeward bound.

I’m strapped into a seat awaiting lift off. The plane hums alive and a chill runs through my shoulders as iced air enters the cabin. The sound of seatbelts clicking bounces around as the safety video plays – my journey was fast coming to an end. A strange sense of regret fills my eyes as tears pool along my lids and threaten to fall with a sting. My team is spread out on the plane, what began as a group of strangers had become a group of friends, bound by unique memories and experiences. Malaysia had been an adventure, a challenge and would soon be a memory.

Casey and I on the UPM bus

Casey and I on the UPM bus

Walking into this program I had little expectations. I felt I had something to offer and craved a renewed sense of purpose. What I received was an abundance of kindness, a warm hug, new friends and a three-day cold. Malaysia invaded my being, dug a whole and found a special place to exist.

Georgia's Team: (Top row) Ina, Jima, Ais (Middle row) Vicki, Me, Jocelyn (Bottom row) Lorna, Malen and Aini

My Team: (Top row) Ina, Jima, Ais (Middle row) Vicki, Me, Jocelyn (Bottom row) Lorna, Malen and Aini

What my team and I had planned to do was use the computer software One Shot in collaboration with pictures to create a short stop motion storybook. We would introduce the Year 3 students to some Australian culture through art and drama then change a story from their existing English curriculum. In my team I enlisted the help if Vicki and Jocelyn from QUT, and Ina, Aini, Malin, Ais, Lorna and Jims from Universiti of Putra Malaysia (UPM).

Here are some of my most memorable moments.

My team and I stand in front of a sea of alert brown eyes. A chair scraps along the concrete floor and a rosy cheeked boy smiles confidently. “Good morning, teacher!” he prompts and a chorus replies. A hand reaches my shoulder and relief floods my limbs instantaneously, my team and I share a moment of nervous excitement.

A young boy walks up to me after class, he motions for my hand. Offering it to him I attempt to shake it, however he guides it up to his forehead where it lightly makes contact with his skin. Aini (a student from UPM) tells me it is a sign of respect. My mouth stretches into a smile.

The year 3 team with their students

Year 3 team with our students

I’m looking for a photocopier. Blindly walking around, I enter a small classroom and attempt to communicate with wild gestures what I require. A pregnant lady leaves what she is doing to take me where I need to go. As we walk down a flight of stairs I slip, she catches my arm and we share a nervous laugh.

Wafi the model student and Georgia at the final presentaiton

Wafi the model student and I at the final presentation

A young girl named Aliya calls me “Cikgu”. Cikgu means teacher in Malay – I am touched.

I ask for a volunteer to speak at the end of week presentation. Vacant expressions are my answer. My eyes flick to the back left-hand corner as a hand shoots into the air. A boy who was originally quiet and too shy to make a peep was standing on his tippy toes, excitement reflected in his grin. The next day he came to me, Wafi had memorise his script. He would present for Year 3.

A blue floral scarf is placed in my hands. A gift from the UPM students Ina, Aini, Malin, Ais, Lorna and Jims, without whom our lessons at SK Temai would not have been possible. My throat clenches from the nape of my neck and pauses under my chin, I am speechless and unable to relay my gratitude nor face the possibility of never being in their presence again.

My time in Malaysia seems a little hazy – I guess that’s only fitting – none the less, the feelings remain. What I was able to experience means a great deal to me and although I’m not sure if I’ve been able to put it into words, I find it only fitting to say – terima kasih.

The STOMP team

The QUT team with the QUT Alumni

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