Project Teringai 2015: Day Twelve – Goodbyes and Tears

Project Teringai logo final


as logged by Jacklyn Lam


The last two weeks have flown by just like that. Each and every single day has been filled with so much joy and laughter. Normally, I would continue to sleep in despite the endless chattering by the girls outside our room at 5am, who were awake to prepare for school. Today, my eyes were wide open before sunrise. It was very difficult for me to accept reality. We were to leave Teringai today. Without wasting much time, I joined the kids for breakfast before they made their way to school.

All volunteers were donned in traditional Malay clothing this morning. Today’s assembly was conducted as our official farewell ceremony. After a few words of gratitude in front of the whole school, we gave out the UKECharisma Teringai 2015 Overall Award to two very deserving pupils, Mexonel Den Bibi (P6) and Presley Owen (P5). Both of them, we feel, have shown exemplary behavior and demonstrated passion (and improved vastly) in academics and co-curricular activities.

Us in our traditional costumes

Each student came up to all nine of us, whom we then thanked and wished him/her luck. The Primary 1,2 and 3 kids made their way past us cheerfully. The Primary 4 students (whom I taught) followed on.  My regular students (Diego, Masarno, Maxwell, Wecollant) tried their best to smile back when I gave them a piece of advice. As more familiar faces made their way through, it became harder for me to hold back my tears. I broke down at the sight of Johnley (one of my first students on day 1). He was close to tears and tried to hide it when I embraced him with a hug. This episode repeated countless times with the Primary 6 students (especially those from 6 Gemilang, whom I often single-handedly took on for extra classes due to the lack of manpower).

Suhaini crying badly, making our hearts break

Soon, we got ready for the joint Hari Raya celebration and Kembara UPSR event.  After I delivered my speech of appreciation, I changed swiftly into my dancing attire. Our dance went pretty smoothly, considering that we managed to learn and master the moves all in a week. Thank you, Celina for being such a patient and wonderful choreographer. All of us cheered full on for the Primary 6 students who performed and went onstage to receive words of encouragement from KEMBARA UPSR officials.  We were also very proud of our very own Venoshini, who single-handedly wrote, directed and produced a play performed by several P4 and P5 students, which impressed all.

I represented the fellow volunteers to give a speech
The crew of play – ‘Little Red Riding Hood’

The ceremony ended at 11.30am. I rushed out in search of students, who were about to make their way home. Lady Luck was on my side as I managed to spend some time with Diego, Johnley and a few others before their vehicle arrived. When it was time to go, my heart sank.  It was so difficult to bid goodbye to Johnley and Diego. They were very special to me, being the first students I taught here in Teringai. Tears streamed endlessly down their cheeks. Johnley was holding onto his Arsenal jersey (which I had given him the day before as a gift) and using it to wipe away his tears. I did not want to let go when we embraced in hugs but sadly, all good things must come to an end.  I promised both Diego and Johnley I would be back in a year’s time and I really hope I will.  I continued waving at them as they waved back until their pickup truck disappeared from sight.

The Primary 6 students accompanied us for a while as we packed up. Petter stuck to me until his father came to pick him up.  As I watched him take his leave, I longed to see him again one day. Petter, a quiet boy, could potentially be a top chess player and Mathematics Olympiad champion. He is very capable of succeeding in life one day, this, I am sure.

The cool Petter, handsome Diego and cute Johnley

Not long after that, it was time for us to take our leave. The remaining P6 students, who stayed on, bid farewell. Parting ways proved to be difficult as the mini van made its way past Cikgu Larry and kids, who then ran after our van. We managed a final glance at our mural and took a good look at the school, which has become our home for the past two weeks. This place was indeed home away from home. To document my experience in SK Temuno would be a difficult task as there had been so many indescribable feelings, which I had gone through. I will miss everyone. My wonderful teammates. The kids. The teachers. The hostel staff. My daily dose of Abang’s Milo Ping. I will miss the simple kampung life. No Facebook or Whatsapp notifications. Mandi sungai. Life has indeed been very good.

Bye, SK Temuno Teringai Darat

All of us volunteers not only left this place with wonderful memories but also with plenty of gifts and cards/letters from our beloved students. Miceron and Rick Ryneld (my assigned Primary 6 Impian kids) wrote that they would not let me down and would work very hard for their upcoming UPSR examinations. Diego promised to master his multiplication tables and stop looking out for ‘cewek’ (pretty girls) to concentrate on his studies. Johnley promised to be one of the top 3 students in class, only if I go back to teach him in Primary 6 next year. These kids seem to have impacted my life so much in just two weeks, instead of it being the other way round. I headed back to Kota Kinabalu, holding onto hopes that these kids would keep their promises and continue to have proper education and I quote Petter, even get a PhD.

Thanks for all the wonderful memories, SK Temuno Teringai Darat. Till then.

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