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.