Day Six: Katrina Tan


Can’t believe it’s already our 5th day here in the school, and in a little less than a week, we’ll be bidding this place goodbye.

Today was slightly less tiring than the previous days, as it’s a Friday. School ends at 11:20am on Fridays so we had a very-needed short break before the afternoon extra classes commence. Our first class of the day was a Standard 4 class! Ahh the Standard 4 kids are so adorable. Today’s class was slightly longer than the previous Standard 4 class that we had to take over – which was only half an hour long, so this time, we actually had to come up with an actual plan on what to teach. We started our class off with songs! Not surprising of course, children love singing. We taught them the ‘Banana’ song and they loved it! Most of the kids were singing along, except a few who were either distracted or didn’t know how to pronounce the words as well as their friends, and they felt ashamed to sing it out. I found this out by asking a few of the kids why they were so shy to sing, when the rest of their classmates were having so much fun. Our theme for this class was ‘Care for the Sea’. Firstly, we went through a few words from their textbook to test them on their vocabulary, and then proceeded to split into groups to carry out a speaking exercise. Two of the kids I had were extremely shy, they wouldn’t speak a word at first! But they slowly warmed up to me, which showed me the art of patience when it comes to connecting with younger kids. However, it was sad to see that even at 10 years old, they could not read and understand basic English, and it was something that I slowly learnt to accept over the past few days. The kids were so happy to receive their files today! Especially this adorable boy who was so excited to receive a pink file!

The Standard 4 kids!
Crayon – he has the cutest name

After recess, we had our usual Standard 6 class. I’ve recently switched kids with Dot because our initial kids were at strikingly different levels, so it was much easier to teach after the switch. It has only been the fifth day with Zizie, and second day with Wani, but they’ve already opened up to me so much more than the start. Zizie is extremely smart, independent, but can never shut her mouth; Wani is much quieter, but also very bright and motivated. Zizie happens to be 3rd in class, and technically in the whole year, so I don’t have a problem teaching her at all because she gets everything I teach almost immediately.

Elycia – my initial kid, with Zizie

After class, we played netball (more like netball with no rules) with the kids as usual, but I ended up with a swollen, sore, bruised foot by the end of it – unlike the game itself, the bruise was not fun. The extent of competitiveness among the kids is crazy, at least one kid will end up crying after each game, whatever the reason may be. My group is called ‘Kumpulan Kudis’, which is apparently the scabby wounds of animals when they get fungal infections? The kids come up with the weirdest names…

We showered in the river again today! And as usual, it was raining again. I’ve come to accept the fact that this is probably the cleanest we can ever get here in Teringai, because I found out that there were ticks swimming in the water from the teacher’s toilet. Thinking about it makes my skin itch haha.

At night, we had our usual bonding session after reflection, but I feel like today, we’ve come to the climax of our relationship as a team because we’ve finally bonded over stories of our love lives. As usual we did what kepo girls do – interrogate each other, while the guys sit in embarrassment. Just like every other night in our wooden house, we found another huge insect in our room. Shouting “Tyson!!!! There’s an insect!!!” has become a norm, and we’ve all grown used to seeing Qiao Hui scream and run from one side of the room to another. The funniest part is Nick being trampled over by us again, but apparently he says that our ‘elephant stampede’ has gone from a Grade F to a Grade C. Still an improvement!

It’s only my first week here but I’ve grown so attached to the kids, I guess seeing their faces so often does that to you. Most importantly, being here has shown me not only how privileged I am, but also the needs of the people living in places like these. Sometimes I look at the kids, wishing we could do so much more, because there’s only so much we can do to help them. But I believe that as long as we plant the seed in their hearts, there’s always a chance that it’ll grow into something more.


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