as told by TING JIA, SK Tumunda Salimandut volunteer
We started the day with a second round practice of the song ‘You Raise Me Up’ for the farewell ceremony for the next day with our English group students, and later on had a stage rehearsal at the actual location (Astaka). This song has been part of my life for quite some time, but never meant so much until it was sung by the students. Initially, the song was meant for us from the students, but we had to perform with the students to keep our own performance as a surprise. However, I feel that in some ways, I am dedicating the song to the students, as the experience with them, nurturing them, interacting with them, admiring their innocence and joyful attitude towards life, really ‘raise me up…to more than I can be’, hence singing the song through their shadow was very appropriate.
Later on, we gathered all the students from standard 1-6 to the field for the Wednesday routine of ‘Senam Robik’. Jacklyn, our dancing queen, brought in some fresh tunes, led the session and once again brought the house down. One thing that really caught my attention was the willingness of the kids (standard 1 to 3), to come up to the front to dance side-by-side us, although it went slightly overboard, but as long as their participating, it wasn’t a problem. Unfortunately, this time around we had some technical difficulties in between which we didn’t foresee and had no backup plan for, so there was a gap in between the session where we had a slight ‘rest’ but later on the session resume smoothly.
We then proceed to the regular class with the standard 6 students. At this point of the project, I think all the volunteers’ energy were a little bit drain by the pack schedule we have had in the past, but thinking that this was the second last day of class, really got us appreciating every moment we get to teach the students. For this math class, we let them try out a model UPSR paper 2. Some of them made the same careless mistakes and some had to be introduced or recalled to concepts, but I reminded them that math requires continuous practice, hence my biggest hope is that they will persistently do the exercise from the exercise book I gave them when we’re not around. Through my observation, I believe with their enthusiasm towards learning and a little extra motivation, they will certainly excel in the future.
For the non-standard 6 session, I chose to take the 5Bijak English class, where we decided to play charades. The students were overall very sporting, where they would observe the actor attentively, and discuss amongst their teammates. Most of them would get antsy during the game, hence we had to hold the floor down, and make sure the class is still in order. Despite their struggles when they can’t figure out the word in English, they were overall very sporting. The table that I watched over, caught up in a slight conflict, one even shut her ears to show her unwillingness to listen to her groupmate, but later on when the game proceeded to another question, the friction was gone as if it never existed. The lesson that I took away from this is that somethings cannot be taken to heart, as the friendship is worth much more.
We did a recap on the English Paper 2, writing format we thought throughout the english lessons. I gave my group a test by asking them to rewrite the formats, and if they fail a step, they would have to do a harmless ear pull punishment. To them, is more of a game than a test as they were giggling when the others are being mortified by the punishment. Hopefully, this moment can be instilled in their mind along with the formats that they’d learn.
Late in the evening, some of us had begun ‘keceriaan’ by decorating the bulletin board along the hallway. There is a variety of content on the board, which could be a good read whilst one is strolling along the corridor. The content includes wishes and gratitude from the volunteers to the students, a times-table, some every-day knowledge, words of wisdoms, the ambitions of the students as well as the volunteers, etc. We took up our dinner time to get this up, while the rain shower around us and the mosquitos enjoying our flesh in the open air. Although this seem like a handful of work, but it was never dull as we were in each other’s company, where one would provide the puns or jokes or any interesting thing we did for that day, and the others would laugh or say something humorous or meaningful to keep the conversation going.
To sharpen up our performance of ‘The Cup Song’, we let the students sleep early while we head to the makmal to practice. This song really expresses what we felt later when we left the school, the time we spend with the volunteers and the students for the past two weeks, living under the same roof, encountering each other’s presence on a daily basis, missing each other when we’re gone is a given.
We had forged a bond so strong that separation is unimaginable. I’m writing this after the project, and not a day goes by where I don’t miss being with the volunteers and ‘my kids’. Honestly, it was hard to leave ‘my kids’ as I know that we may never meet in the future. It’s hard bidding farewell to people that you’ve shared your every day for two weeks with and suddenly vanish from their lives. The journey may have ended but the memory lives on, and this experience would no doubt be an everlasting memory of mine.