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…
I 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.
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.
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.
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.
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!