as told by CHEAH WAN LI, SK Tumunda Salimandut volunteer
Waking up at 5.30am with super heavy eyelids – I was not used to this early bird lifestyle. While my hands were unwilling to brush my teeth, the standard 6 students were already prepared to take on the day. After breakfast, we started our day with some teamwork games. The students were split into 5 teams, and within each team, students were required to cross their own arms before holding onto someone else’s hand. They then had to ‘untangle’ all the hands without letting go of their teammates’ hand. This game required the students to communicate, listen and coordinate with their friends. It was also a game that the students can easily play by themselves, as it does not require any additional equipment or material. The second game was ‘Passing the Message’. All teams were arranged into lines. The first person in the line was shown a short sentence and they had to act it out to the second teammate, and the actions were passed all the way to the end of the line and the last person had to guess the sentence. We wanted to show the students that everyone plays a role in a team and in order to achieve success, every member has to contribute.
After the morning game session, came the highlight of the day – senamrobik! Under the guidance of our senamrobik master, Jacklyn, all students and teachers of SK Tumunda Salimandut, as well as the volunteers, danced to the fun choreography under the sun. I was standing in front of the standard 1 and 2 students who were, most of the time, trying to catch up to the upbeat rhythm. It was obvious that they were enjoying themselves. The cuteness laced in their smiles definitely made my day brighter. By the end of the hour, most of us were drenched in sweat and some in mud as well. Whilst standard 1 to 5 students went back to their respective classes, standard 6 students and volunteers went back to the dormitory to freshen ourselves up before our Mathematics lesson in the computer lab.
I had three students in Mathematics class, Amy, Chris and Fairuz. All of them were similar in the sense that they were very keen to learn; yet they were each slightly different in their own way. Whilst Amy and Chris were quick learners, Fairuz needed more explanations before he understood the concepts, but he was never shy to ask questions. Amy did not like to write down the multiplication table like the other two, therefore, most of his mistakes were found within the topic of multiplication and Chris often makes careless mistakes here and there. Seeing them applying the knowledge and skills I taught them the day before was satisfying and motivated me to do better.
After break time, a few other volunteers and I went into a standard 5 class for an English lesson. We read Peter Pan together and explained the vocabularies by translating them into Bahasa Malaysia. This was the same method I used to teach my English students during the extra lessons after school. When I had to translate some English words e.g. when, where, why, what etc. – which seemed undeniably easy to me to the point that even my little cousins in kindergarten could understand – it made me realize that these students sat in front of me were the victims of unequal education opportunities in my own country. I wish I could do more for them, but we only had two weeks and there was only so much that we can achieve.
Like all other days, sports sessions were the motivation for the students to pull through the after school extra classes. We played captain ball today and like every other day, the students had lots of fun. What was different today was that we had our first first aid kit user as one of our volunteers, Miss Elaine, whom fell during the game (I shall skip the details if I want to see her again). Fortunately, she did not sustain a serious injury.
As usual, after dinner, we had our Mathematics extra class. However, we suddenly found ourselves learning in the dark, as there was an abrupt power shortage. We, the volunteers, switched on the light on our cellphones and together with some torchlights from the teachers, we continued our session despite the blackout. Thankfully, the power outage did not last long and we were able to finish the rest of the lesson as usual. These are one of the very few times I consciously appreciate Mr. Edison’s genius invention.
Before the students went to bed, they did their prayers and had their supper. Additionally, before we, the volunteers, went to bed, we had our daily reflection session, planning and briefing for the next day, and included some volunteers’ bonding session via healthy gossiping!
Lights off! Another day closer to civilization but another day closer to parting with the kids and my comrades – my constant dilemma throughout my two weeks on Project Tumunda.