Paths that cross will cross again
The day kicked start with morning classes with the Year 6 students conducted by fellow volunteers with their respective groups. I tried to make morning classes interactive and engaging to make them motivated and energized for the day. I brought a globe to the class, showed them the different continents in the world and quizzed them on general knowledge about geography. I went on to ask them questions on time calculation and interpretation, with reference to the time zones in different regions of the world. It was challenging to explain a new concept to the students and this constantly reminded me of the need for simplicity, conciseness and accuracy in our communication with young children.
We went on to teach Mathematics to the Year 5 students. The Year 5 students I was assigned to were playful but jovial. I reinforced the “sifir” (multiplication times-table) with them and gave them simple mathematical operations to solve. These kids greeted me whenever we ran into each other at school, but our initial conversations were mostly about “sifir” questions, which I really enjoyed seeing them pause for a brief thought for the answers and their subsequent sparkling expressions when they got it right. I gave them a helicopter lego model as a souvenir. They were riveted to the lego and assembled it on the spot from scratch using the building blocks and instructions given. I would definitely miss this bunch of adorable kids, especially their excitement in learning which was always etched on their faces.
While afternoon might seem to be a comfy time for a nap, the Year 6 students never failed to attend the scheduled lessons. I made it compulsory for them to bring the dictionary to every English class. Why? Dictionary is always your best friend to learn a language! I found it onerous to teach English given the drastic change in UPSR syllabus. The reference book I bought from the local market (TAMU) proved to be my best companion as I found ease in my teaching efforts. We went through some example essays in the book together. The students took initiative to scribble down notes and new vocabularies in their notebooks. They were very supportive for one another in their studies and even joked around with me at times. I loved their gags in particular when one of my students read the story from “Cinderella” aloud with somehow comedian-like facial expressions. That really made my day.
After the afternoon classes, the students staying at the hostel joined the Year 6 students in a hygiene workshop with the aim to encourage the students to implement good personal hygiene practices daily, including bathing, washing hands, brushing teeth, wearing clean clothing and trimming nails. These simple acts of cleaning and caring for the body could help to keep germs from spreading, especially in crowded areas like hostels, and prevent the transmission of infectious diseases, which could be fatal to children with weak immune systems. The details of hygiene practices were reinforced as one could be easily complacent when they are healthy and will tend to be laid-back with their hygiene. The students were then separated into their respective age groups to have a go on various hygiene practices under the supervision of the volunteers. Sara and the team also demonstrated the correct use of sanitary pads to the Year 6 students.
Hygiene workshop for the boarding school students
The Standard 6 students had a one-hour practice session to prepare them for the performances on Thursday. It was a pleasure to oversee the choir team consisting of approximately 25 students with Sara and Cendy as the students blended their dulcet voices into a melodious resonance. It was undoubtable that Sabahan’s have one of the most amazing singing talents in Malaysia. On top of that, we must never forget the conductor, who was standing independently in front of the choir to direct the performance with passion, patience and enthusiasm. As a past choir alumni of my secondary school, it was indeed a trip down the memory lane recalling my days in the choir team.
The day ended with the night classes until 9 p.m. and the volunteers headed back to the house for a reflection session and discussed the preparations for the next day. Albeit a short 2 weeks at the school, I could feel the benevolence of the students in a small but friendly “kampung”, the enthusiasm they had for the programme and the joy they radiated from their smiles in learning. Each and every one of them has an inherent talent, from singing, dancing, beatboxing, drawing, solving rubik’s cube… any you could name of. My life has never been filled with so much love and cordiality. Thank you to everyone at SK Tumunda Salimandut for the warm reception, the valuable memories and for helping me to discover a newfound passion for teaching. We don’t meet people by accident, they are meant to cross our path for a reason. Sincerely with “Tepuk Terima Kasih”…