Day 5: Aily Nadira

After a few days of normal studying sessions and tests, today is actually a little more exciting for the kids because………. It’s dancing time! We had senamrobik session at 7.20 am, and that’s the moment I realized that the kids (and the teachers) here are pretty much obsessed with singing and dancing! While the other volunteers were getting ready for this session, they played some songs and out of a sudden, the whole school just started singing and dancing together, roughly 200 of them – and it was so beautiful.

The students dancing and singing with one of the volunteers, Shazlin.

This was great for us because most of them were just very quiet and shy on the first day. So when we get to loosen up by dancing and laughing during the senamrobik session, it was so nice to see them breaking the ice with us! Also, after the senamrobik, this is when the quiet ones began to talk… The jokers began to show their belang(stripes)…and everyone just started being themselves!

Then, after this session, we gave some souvenirs we got for the whole school: a pencil case filled with stationeries, a file and a couple of exercise books. (Thank you, Charisma Movement!). And oh lord, that feeling when you get to see them utilizing it and writing with proper pencils and erasers during the subsequent days… it’s just so comforting.

Anyways, getting back on the schedule, we had to teach the children from other standards for a bit after that. Our team always try our best to make the lessons as fun as possible, so since we’re teaching English that time, we decided to play charades to test the children’s vocabulary. They learnt so many new words and had so much fun while at it.

During the afternoon and night period, we used it for extra classes. English during the day, and Maths at night. I have 5 kids with me for Mathematics, they’re the top students in the school. So my study session with them usually goes smoothly as they are very eager to learn new materials. They keep calling me, “Kakak Aily, macam mana nak buat ini”, “Kakak Aily, apa maksud ini”, “Kakak Aily, this”, “Kakak Aily, that”!! I was actually taken aback at first because I’m not used to this. But I tried to remind myself on why I’m there. So, I did my best to accommodate to all their questions. However, while I was busy doing this, I noticed I have one student who’s very quiet. And I mean, very very VERY quiet. When I asked her to do any questions, she can do it. But she’s always so slow, and she’s always putting her head on the table, like she’s not interested. I tried to study her behaviour for a while, until I learnt (from my friends), that she actually has really bad eyesight to the point she has constant headaches. And she has other illnesses, as well. Which explains her slow movement and why she’s always tired and sick. My friends told me that her family could not afford to get her proper spectacles and medication. And that broke me apart. A very bright student, but she couldn’t go to her full potential due to her illnesses. At that moment, when I found out, I wish I can just carry her and drive her to the nearest hospital, and get her all the medication she needs, but then again, there’s only so much that we can do. And I guess one thing that I could learn from this is to not judge too quickly. I thought she wasn’t interested in learning and not appreciating the volunteers’ effort to come all the way to Sabah to teach them, but I was very wrong. I learnt that there’s always two sides to a story, and especially with the kids here. Some of them are going through really tough times, so we should understand first why they’re behaving the way that they did.

With my Mathematics students! From left: Cartika, Claysera, Nanie, Me, Absten and Frank

We talked about this during the reflection session after the night class (over snacks!), and then the volunteers played some games together before bed (One of my favorite memories here) and there you go, that’s the end of Day 5!

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