Day 5: Meriell Leeza

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The day began with a dose of nostalgia as students for most of us. I’ve definitely missed these moments, those that made up my Monday mornings in high school; singing the national anthem as the Jalur Gemilang rose up to the top of the flagpole, standing at attention, and school teachers addressing students with the weekly announcements. The school principal, Mr. George Elang then introduced each of us to the whole school.

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The Penolong Kanan HEM spoke to the students about poor attendance records. I
remembered my girls mentioning that some students have to work during school hours doing laundry or collecting garbage, just to save up some money for their family. It was quite upsetting to hear that the students weren’t treasuring education, but then again, it’s an unavoidable scenario in a kampong life. Which brings to an important point of Project Teringai-Tumunda, where one of the objectives is to inspire the students and make them understand the need for education, for them to get better jobs in the future.
Senamrobics with the students from Primary 4-6 began shortly after. The senamrobics
was part of Satu Murid Satu Sukan (1M1S) scheme. We then played a few rounds of bola
beracun with the kids. It was so hard trying to play the game with the kids, where you’re
avoiding the ball, at the same time trying not to topple over the kids as well. But, overall it was a good and productive morning.

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Classes with the Primary 6 students began after recess. We prepared action plans for
the day to teach the students how to read the clock. We realized it wasn’t only part of
questions in UPSR mathematics paper, but an essential lesson they need. All these while,
they’ve relied on the warden’s whistle to tell them it’s time to wake up, to go take a bath, to eat – all without knowing the exact time. The students responded very well to the lesson and everyone had a good time.

DSCF8231The extra class in the afternoon was cut short as one of my student (Lovely’s) family
came to surprise her. The other students were overjoyed by the sight of not one, but two
birthday cakes. We sang happy birthday in all three languages; English, Bahasa Melayu and even Bahasa Rungus. The other volunteers and I then decided to give the students a break from studying and conducted some games instead. You’d be surprised to see how competitive twelve-year-olds can be in a game of musical chair! We ate, sang, and played around like a normal birthday party. But what made it different from other parties was the flavour of their culture that I will never forget.

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There’s a first time for everything right? It was the first time most of us showered in
the river. It was a totally new experience, something I salute the kids for being able to do
every day! (Although I do wonder, what is in the water – jokes). We then proceeded with the always-so-delicious dinner at the school canteen.

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We had extra classes for the Primary 6 students after dinner. To be honest, I was upset
that the kids had such a packed timetable. But, they proved me wrong. My girls were so eager to learn and it touches my heart to see them coming into class and asking “Kak, boleh kita belajar maths hari ini?” They’ve treated these extra classes as blessings, for them to gain knowledge and wisdom. For night lessons, we try to incorporate an educational theme into games, as we realized the kids we’re all sleepy 10 minutes after the class started. We played lego with a catch whereby if they want extra lego bricks, they would have to answer mathematical questions.

Despite the bugs, mosquitoes and zero phone lines, we’ve bonded more as none of us
were looking down at our smartphones (and the bugs did bring us closer!). It was a nice
change to go internet free for two weeks, with everyone laughing at each other over some silly joke. I came with the aim to teach and inspire the kids, but surprisingly, I was the one who left being inspired by them and learnt so much from them in unimaginable ways. Thank you for all the fond memories, Charismen and SK Temuno Teringai Darat


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