Mitchell’s reflections of his trip to Malaysia

Mitchell Neill is enrolled in the Bachelor of Engineering program – majoring in Computer and Software Systems. He is nearing completion of his studies. Mitchell’s team engaged in a range of activities using digital technologies (eg. little bits and Scratch) in Class 6.

Just helping one of my students

Just helping one of my students

A child’s smile is something that transcends the need for language. During my time in Malaysia, I was lucky enough to explore the country, along with working together with my peers to help teach students renewable energy through the use of scratch (A drag and drop programming language) and little bits (Snap together electronics). As cliché as it might be, my favourite moment within the trip, and perhaps as an educator was when the students claimed they didn’t want to go to lunch but would rather stay and keep working on their projects. This was a truly incredible feeling. I was truly amazed at how the students wholeheartedly accepted us into their groups, playing sports with us, playing traditional games with us, and teaching us about their language and culture. Malaysia was amazing.

Some of our groups presenting for parents and the community

Explaining what we did to parents and the school community. with some of our team members (L-R) Syarifah, Anthony, Me, Hamiza

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Kim Dong Hwan’s reflections of his experiences at SK Temai

Kim Dong Hwan is an exchange student at UPM. He is from South Korea. He was a part of our team. Kim is a popular student – very much liked by all students. Kim worked with his team in Class 5 to deliver a very effective activity. Here Kim reflects on some of his experiences at SK Temai.  

I will have long lasting memories of the experiences that I had with my mates from QUT and UPM.  We had a great time from 25 September 2015 till 3 October 2015.

Just reflecting on something here

Enjoying my lunch at SK Temai

I was very excited as we made our trip to Pekan in the Pahang district of Malaysia. On the bust I talked a lot with my class mates and my new friends from Australia. Our first stop was the Kuala Gandah Elephant Sanctuary in Pahang.  There were a lot of elephants in the park. We watched an elephant show and gave the elephants a bath. In the process, I also got wet. I liked our hostel at UMP.  I was really looking forward to our stay here till Friday.

Me with the elephants

Me with the elephants

Teaching at SK Temai went on smoothly.  While our QUT counterparts took the lead, we played the role of assistants. To be honest, I did worry a lot before we started teaching. Questions like “can I teach them?”, “how do I communicate with them?”, “I also don’t know English well, can I help my friends?” went through my mind many times. But it wasn’t problem. Our Australian friends prepared the content and other resources that were very user-friendly. This made it very easy for us to follow.  My friends from UPM  were also able to explain the tasks in Malay – this made it very easy for the children to follow.

Our home stay was also memorable experience

Our home stay was also memorable experience

At SK Temai, the children were very kind and honest. In addition, they participated very well. There were no behavior problems – so we could teach them easily. We taught them about making cartoon movies. The message was on the importance of  forests and how it can be protected. I did my best for the children. The children made an excellent cartoon movie, and then we got time to present on Friday. I felt that we achieved a lot and I was proud of my student and our group.

I enjoyed working with these students

I enjoyed working with these students

I wish SK Temai staff, students, and parents the very best in future.  The SEE Project created new opportunities for me to learn and interact with both – people from Malaysia and Australia.

고맙습니다

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Vicki reflects on her experiences in Malaysia

Vicki Jacobs

Vicki Jacobs is enrolled in the Master of Social Work program at QUT. Her team members were able to deliver a very effective activity for students in Class 3 at SK Temai. Vicki played an important role in delivering this outcome. Here are Vicki’s reflections:        

I was so fortunate to be involved with this project as part of my social work practicum at QUT International Student Services. It has provided me with a real experience of culture that would be difficult to obtain on a holiday or a quick visit. I have gained insights and experiences that will stay with me for the rest of my life.

I was part of a team of eight students, three from QUT and five from UPM. We used Australian animals to re-create a short story found in the Malaysian English curriculum textbook for Year 3. Our classroom activities were highly interactive and the children had a lot of fun whilst being able to practice their English and learn about Australia. The combination of UPM and QUT students worked well, giving us the ability to explain our lesson preparation and receive feedback based upon local knowledge and incorporate ideas and games from UPM students into the classroom. In the classroom, some of the children found speaking in English very daunting which challenged us to think about other ways of interacting, however the UPM students were fantastic at encouraging the children to speak and this gave them the confidence to have a go!

Students in class 3 enjoying their activity

Students in class 3 enjoying their activity

Being able to stay with a local family for one night gave a unique insight into daily life in rural Malaysia, the customs, the traditions and the food. It was a privilege to be hosted by families who were connected with the school and form friendships with them and the UPM students we stayed with.

With our host parent

With our host parent

Not only did we experience life in a small rural village in Pahang, we also had the opportunity to visit an elephant sanctuary on our journey from KL to Pekan where we helped bathe the elephants and heard about their plight to remain in their local environment due to deforestation. Later on in the week we visited Kuantan, the nearest beach town, complete with cheeky monkeys on the rooves of the fast food restaurants and on our return journey to KL, we stopped at Putra Jaya the country’s new government administration hub and experienced Malaysian street food at the night markets.

We had a good time at the

We had a good time at the elephant sanctuary

In summary, the trip was a very rich and rewarding experience and I will remember the people and places we visited with very fond memories!

 

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Nuraain Amalina bt Mokhli reflects on the visit by QUT staff and students

Nuraain Amalina bt Mokhli is a Bachelor of Tourism student at the Universiti Putra Malaysia. In this blog she is reflecting on the visit by QUT students in October 2015.   

Short Term Outward Mobility Program (STOMP) is an outreach project run jointly by Queensland University of Technology (QUT) and Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM). The project run from 25th September 2015 until 3rd October 2015 in Malaysia. I had joined this program as a student from UPM. I am studying Hospitality in Parks and Recreation under the guidance of my lecturer, Dr. Siti Suriawati Isa.

My STOMP experience began when I arrived at SISFEC on Sunday, 27th September 2015. This was the first face to face meeting with QUT staff and students. Previous to this I met them once through Skype.

We travelled together to Pahang by bus. Our first stop was at Kuala Gandah National Elephant Conservation Centre. We got the chance to get closer with the elephants by watching them perform their trick, feeding them and also watching them taking a bath. We continued our travel to Universiti Malaysia Pahang (UMP). This is where we stayed for 5 days and 4 nights.

Here are some of the highlights and memorable moments I experienced during my five days as a participant in this program in Pahang.

SK Temai

I had a lot of fun assisting QUT students to teach pupils at SK Temai. I worked with QUT students Kate, Casey and Afiq to teach Year 5 students. The module was about “Deforestation”. Therefore, I helped them to translate the content and help the Year 5 students to carry out their activities.

As a result of a fire haze blanketing much of the area at SK Temai there was emergency leave for all schools, so we were unable to meet the students on the first day. On the second day at SK Temai, we started to get to know the students. After that, I had my first experience helping the students to understand the stories read by Kate and Afiq. I was glad that the students could understand what we tried to deliver to them. Some of the students impressed me with their ability to read and understand English. Furthermore, I had fun helping students to draw on paper.

The next day, I assisted the Year 5 students with story writing. My group created a story entitled “Homeless Orang Utan. The students read their story aloud in order to record their voices. After that, the students were asked to draw and make puppets using popsicles. Even though it was a bit tiring due to our limited time to finish up the activities, I still had a lot of fun because we succeeded in making drawings with the puppets. In addition, I also had learned on how to tackle the students and organise the works especially when I only have a little time to do so.

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Guiding students with story writing

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Cover page of the story book: “Homeless Orang Utan”

On the fourth day, we started to use ICT. In my opinion, this is the most challenging task because some of the students know nothing about computers. Therefore, it was somewhat hard to make some of them to be interested with the activities. In spite of that, there were some students who were actually good at computers. After I taught them how to make a video using “Openshot” software, they can understand it and started to combine the image and the audio to make a video. However, the computer froze few times and we needed to reboot and redo the video. Athough my students and I were having a hard time at first to redo the video, we finally succeeded in completing the video. I would like to especially thank one of my students in my group, Alis, who was so good with computers that was able to solve the problem we had in order to complete the video. The other students in my group also had taken interest and helped each other to complete the video.

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Teaching students on how to use computer

We had debriefing sessions each day after we finished the day with SK Temai students. I had the chance to give feedback and hopefully my comments enabled QUT students to make any improvements as well as to make them feel more motivated to continue the program at SK Temai during that time. 

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                                                 Group photo with Year 5 students

Foster family

The foster family program was held for one day from Thursday, 1st October 2015 until Friday, 2nd October 2015. On Thursday evening, we had been assigned to different foster families. I got Mrs. Roslaili Abdul Kadir as my foster mother together with Casey and Hamiza. Mrs. Roslaili has two children, Aqil who is a Year 6 student and Yuna, a 4 years old girl.

Our activity started with our visit to Pahang River. I had a lot of fun because the three of us – Casey, Hamiza and I were accompanied by my foster family as well as the other kids who live in that village.


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Casey, Mrs. Roslaili, me and Hamiza at Pahang River

Our dinner for that night was chicken rice and prawn (Udang Galah). This was really delicious. My Mama (my foster mother) is such a good cook. All of us ate well night. We were so lucky because someone was so generous to give us freshly caught prawns from the river for free. We felt very grateful for that.

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Udang Galah (prawn), Chicken Rice and Jimmy Asmara drink for the dinner!

After we had finished our meals, we went to our Mama’s mother’s house. That was when we saw Mama’s mother, siblings and also Yuna, Mama’s child (Aqil’s sister). Mama introduced her family to us. Mama’s mother is such a strong lady at her age because she painted the wall all by herself. Yuna is a dear little girl who loves watching cartoons especially Barbie and Frozen. She is a brilliant kid. Casey taught her some words in English like ‘banana’ and she learnt the word in a split second. I also had fun playing with her and chatting with the family.

It was such a great opportunity to meet my foster family who were very friendly and lovely. Even though the program was only for a day, I had great experience and, we used our time wisely by doing many fun things in that short period of time.

We spent our last two days together at UPM by having a short tour to Putrajaya. On the last day, we went to KLCC and then, we had high tea at the Picknik Restaurant before we bid farewell at the hotel.

I would like to thank our partners from QUT – Mr. Graeme, Dr. Vinesh, Dr. Richard and all QUT students for partnering with us for in the nine days of STOMP program. It was such a great opportunity to be able to meet and work with new people, build new friendships and gain new experience.These whole experience including those that I didn’t mentioned before such as a visit to Permatang Siput Village and many other wonderful moments leave me with bittersweet feelings. It was hard to depart from SK Temai students. It was hard to part from my foster family. It was hard to farewell QUT students and staff. During the entire program, we had many great moments and I will always remember and cherish those moments when all of us went through fun and tough times together.

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Jocelyn’s reflections of her experiences in Malaysia

Jocelyn Tan is a QUT staff. She works in the International Student Services Office. She is a former Malaysian National. Her role in the team was very significant. Her good knowledge of ICT and her fluency in Bhasa Malaysia made her a real asset to her team.  Here Jocelyn is reflecting on her experiences…

I was involved in the Malaysia STOMP/ SEE Project as an accompanying staff member from QUT. I was very excited to be given this opportunity and was even more excited to be involved in one of the teaching groups.

My year 3 team with our students (Photo: Ibnu Isa)

My year 3 team with our students (Photo: Ibnu Isa)

My group consist of Georgia Catherine and Vicky Jacobs from QUT, and Lorna Minin, Aisamuddin Ahmad, Fatin Umira, Amalina Ferdaus, and Nurlina Gani from UPM. We taught in the Year 3 group and the aim was to introduce ICT through role play and drama. To do this, we incorporated a story from their English text book and replaced the characters with Australian animals. We encouraged the Year 3 students to create a similar story and use masks in their role play. The aim of the week lesson was for them to be able to create a digital story through role play.

Assisting my students with their actvitity

Assisting my students with their actvitity

I think one of the successes was how quickly the Year 3 students grasped and learned ICT. I was impressed at how quickly they learned to navigate and use the laptop to create their digital story through ’One Stop’, even though some of them have never used a laptop before. The lessons planned for the week was taught in the first few days and Georgia our group teacher had to be creative and come up with more lesson plans.

Class 3 students showing off their masks

Class 3 students showing off their finished masks

One of the main challenges I found was the language. Being able to converse in Bahasa Malaysia, I found myself speaking mostly in Malay to the Year 3 students as they had trouble understanding me in English. Some of the students were too shy to response in English even though they may understand some of the questions asked.

Congratulating my students for a job well done!

Congratulating my students for a job well done!

Coming from Malaysia myself, I was very excited to share some of my culture and experiences with the QUT students. One highlight of this trip was how well the QUT students have embraced the Malaysian culture and overcame the challenges faced. The weather, concerns of mosquitoes, and the unfamiliar food were all bravely embraced by the QUT students, and everyone was in good spirits. I felt most moved by the hospitality provided by the UPM students and the teachers at SK Temai, as they have truly gone out of their way to make our stay comfortable. I have gained many new experiences from this trip and found that I have learned many things from our counterparts in Malaysia.

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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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Thank you for supporting our team!

Our team with

Our team with Dato’ Sri Hj. Sharkar (Chairman for Tourism and Culture for Pahang state) and YB. Dato’ Mokhtar Chairman for Tourism and Culture for Pahang State (Photo: Ibnu Isa)

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)

Some of our team members enjoying a lovely evening

Some of our team members enjoying a lovely evening

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.

Masjid Sultan Abdullah Pekan Museum (Photo: Richard Medland)

Masjid Sultan Abdullah Pekan Museum (Photo: Richard Medland)

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?

Time to capture a great moment (Photo: Richard Medland)

Time to capture a great moment (Photo: Richard Medland)

Afig deep thought at the Masjid Sultan Abdullah Pekan Museum (Photo: Richard Medland)

Afig deep thought at the Masjid Sultan Abdullah Pekan Museum (Photo: Richard Medland)

Wednesday night (30 September)

(L-R) Vinesh Chandra, En. Ali Syahbana Sabaruddin - District Officer of Pekan, Graeme Baguley, Siti

(L-R) Vinesh Chandra, En. Ali Syahbana Sabaruddin – District Officer of Pekan, Graeme Baguley, Siti (Photo: Ibnu Isa)

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.

Team members enjoying a lovely dinner (Photo: Ibnu Isa)

Team members enjoying a lovely dinner (Photo: Ibnu Isa)

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.

(L-R) Siti & Vinesh Chandra with their fruit baskets. (Photo: Richard Medland)

(L-R) Siti & Vinesh Chandra with their fruit baskets. En. Midun in the centre (Photo: Richard Medland)

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)

Year 6 students doing their presentations for guests parents, and the school community

Year 6 students doing their presentations for guests parents, and the school community (Photo: Ibnu Isa)

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.

Well done team, teachers and students (Photo: Ibnu Isa)

Well done team, teachers and students (Photo: Ibnu Isa)

 

Happy children at SK Temai

Happy children at SK Temai (Photo: Richard Medland)

Saturday afternoon (3 October)

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QUT Team with the QUT Alumni in Malaysia (Photo: Dennis Ong)

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.

Nik Ezar Nik Bolia welcoming the QUT team and the QUT Alumni to his restaurant

Nik Ezar Nik Bolia welcoming the QUT team and the QUT Alumni to his restaurant

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, Matrix Model Management System: Guide to Cross Cultural Wisdom

For more stories: https://theseeproject.org

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