Support for schools in Fiji following Cyclone Winston

We are helping children at this school

We are helping children at this school

With the assistance of family and friends, the SEE Project supported three schools in Rakiraki and Tailevu following the devastation caused by Cyclone Winston in 2016. Children at Ellington Primary and Tatiaya Primary schools who were affected by the cyclone were served cooked lunch over a few weeks to help the families  This program was a partnership between the staff, committee members of the respective schools, and the SEE Project. Mr Pushp Dass  – a community worker who is always willings to help others was instrumental in getting this initiative underway. Many homes in the area – including Mr Dass’s was severely damaged in the recent cyclone.

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Path followed by Cyclone Winston [Source: http://www.abc.net.au/news/image/7187114-3×2-940×627.jpg%5D

Lunch was prepared daily by the members of the school community. Groceries for the cooking was obtained from a local store and the SEE Project meets the cost. The rationale for this operation was to ensure that children were well nourished so that they could engage productively in school activities during the day.

Soon after the cyclone hit the islands, a proactive member of the SEE Project team based in Fiji shared some of his thoughts as follows:

“The farmers of western Viti Levu were just coming out of prolonged drought when they were struck by the ‘monster’ cyclone. Many sugarcane farmers were left with nothing as about 80% of the houses in the sugar cane belt were damaged”.

“Many stories and experiences have been shared over the media ranging from ‘magic mats’ that saved lives. Heroic stories of fathers and mothers risking their lives for their children. There was a touching story from Rakiraki where a mother dropped her two daughters (one of them was a two year old) – at an evacuation center and returned home.  After the cyclone had passed, she was found dead at her home clinging to a bag of clothes for her daughters. In another instance, a 70-year woman watched her home blown away as she clung to her husband who has been paralysed for the last 15 years. Later, some able-bodied shameful men took off with their boots and other belongings”.

“It is heartbreaking to hear stories of devastation and knowing that students cannot make it to school. The principal of a school in a devasted area mentioned that following the cyclone less than 50% of students have been coming to school.  Many families have lost their houses, belongings and have no means of cooking. Students are not coming to schools because they have lost all their books, uniform, bags and shoes”.

“One of the reporters from the Fiji Sun mentioned how some students still helped on the farms after school and then get to do some schoolwork. It is still something to think about as there is no electricity and there are rumors that electricity will be fully restored by April – end of first term of school holidays. By then, many schools on the other parts of Fiji would have finished half of their syllabus. Schools are operating without electricity and connectivity is very poor”.

“In the Tavua/Rakraki area most of the students come from families that rely on sugar cane farming. This has been affected by a series of droughts and other problems in the last few years. Farmers that used to harvest 300 tonnes of sugar cane came down to as low as 50 tonnes – meaning a return of $1000 for the year and less if they had purchased fertilizer, rice, etc. Many other students are children of part-time cane harvesters and workers – their situation is even worse.”

“There are many individual case studies of students and parents that we can write about and their experiences during and after the cyclone – but the worry is how these students will come to school, how they will cope and learn during these trying times”.

Accounts such as this were widely shared through the social media. This was one of the reasons why the SEE Project became proactive to make a small difference in bringing normality to the lives of some families.

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Posted in 2016, Uncategorized, Winston | Leave a comment

It was the first time I felt like I really experienced the culture of a foreign country…Casey Chamberlain

Casey Chamberlain is a second year Bachelor of Fine Arts student. In this blog she is reflecting on her experiences in Malaysia in October 2015…..

I taught in the grade 5 classroom with my team: Kate and Afiq from QUT and Syu, Ain, Kim, Aishya, Nadhirah and Munirah from UPM.

Pages created by students for their digital story

Pages created by students for their movie clip

Our lesson plan included a combination of the narrative structure of stories, deforestation, and movie making. The result saw the children create their own story based on the theme of deforestation with which they created a movie clip, using drawings, popsicle stick characters and a voice recording. They edited their films with the program Open Shot by syncing the pictures to the voice recording and adding transitions.

When we first entered the class, the children were very shy and reluctant to speak to us in English even though they could understand us. This made the existing language barrier even more of an issue to begin with. But after the second day, the kids opened up and felt so much more comfortable communicating with us. It also made a massive difference to have the UPM students translating to make sure no one was left behind.

The greatest moment for me was seeing the kids use the laptops and learning how to simply use a touch pad. They saw dragging and dropping a file as a game and gasped when the cursor went outside of the file box. It was so rewarding to see the mini movies they created and I felt like they accomplished so much in such a short amount of time.

Although playing with elephants was an all time favorite moment, I would have to say the homestay was the highlight of my experience. At one point I remember sitting at the dinner table, surrounding with piles of dishes of amazing food, with everyone around me speaking a language I didn’t understand and it was the first time I felt like I really experienced the culture of a foreign country.

A photo with the host family and friends from UPM

A photo with the host family and friends from UPM

 

Posted in 2015, Malaysia, SK Temai | Tagged | Leave a comment

Jessica’s reflections of her Malaysia trip

Jessica Davies is enrolled in the Bachelor of Information Technology course at QUT. She is majoring in Computer Science and Mobile Applications. She is very talented and many of her intellectual and personal qualities were evident on this trip.  Here are some of her thoughts about the trip.    

Assisting one of my students

The ten days spent in Malaysia as a part of this project have been one of the highlights of my degree. My particular team focused on teaching the year six students renewable energy concepts in a way that promoted digital literacy and hands-on learning. The day-to-day teaching team consisted of three students from UPM – Hamiza, Zaitun, and Celementina – and three students from QUT – Anthony, Mitchell, and I. Over the three days of teaching, we introduced the students to circuit building using Little Bits, programming using Scratch, and a combination of the two, where Scratch was used to program an Arduino board connected to a Little Bits circuit.

Pleasing to see the change in my students

Pleasing to see the change in my students

Our team encountered many challenges throughout our time teaching at SKT, most of which arose from technological issues. We found that the skills and capabilities of the year six students were far better than we had anticipated, with the students picking up concepts much quicker than we had planned. This was a challenge in itself, as it meant that we were having to come up with increasingly challenging tasks that we hadn’t previously prepared. Overall, things went really well, and we all had a lot of fun learning with the year six students.

Planning with my team

Planning with my team

For me, the absolute highlight of the experience was seeing the year six girls grow in confidence over the course of the week. On the first day I noticed that the female students were very hesitant to ask questions or engage with the hands-on activities, outside of what they had been instructed to do. By the end of the week, they were laughing and asking questions, and playing with the Little Bits in a much more confident and creative way. Something that I’d also like to mention is that I really appreciated everyone being so lovely and welcoming, especially during the homestay and our arrival at the airport.

Moved the hospitality of the Malaysian students

Our warm welcome at KL airport

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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

Posted in 2015, Malaysia | Tagged , | Leave a comment

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

For more stories visit: https://theseeproject.wordpress.com

Posted in 2015, Malaysia, STOMP | Tagged , | Leave a comment

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.

Posted in 2015, Malaysia, SK Temai | Tagged , | Leave a comment