Biaki, from India, just concluded her volunteering assignment in Kuala Lumpur, which she took up after finishing her Masters at Kings College, London
I spent two months volunteering at a school in Kuala Lumpur and I can say that the experience I had will remain unrivalled to any other for a very long time. My short yet memorable time spent teaching at MRCLC taught me things about myself and life in general which one cannot learn within the four walls of a classroom. The experience tested me in innumerable ways for which I will be forever grateful. I would like to extend my sincere appreciation to Just Volunteers for accepting me to the program and allowing me to have this opportunity of a lifetime.
Looking back to my time spent in Kuala Lumpur from the very first day to the very last, the first thing that comes to mind is warm hospitality. Everyone associated with the school played an instrumental role in making the experience as memorable as possible. Miza Rashid, the volunteer coordinator, played a major role in making my stay as pleasant as possible. From picking me up at the airport to inviting us to her home for the weekends, she readily welcomed me with open arms and a warm smile. Dr. Saradha and Raja Noorma from Soroptimist International were also very welcoming and provided invaluable insight to the culture and lifestyle of the place. One could always have a nice chat with James Wong, the school’s founder, about any and every topic under the sky, and it was undeniable that the kids loved his presence whenever he came around to the school. Speaking of people who made my stay at the school so pleasant, I cannot leave out the other volunteers I worked and spent time with. For the first two weeks, I had the pleasure of making the acquaintance of a volunteer from Scotland who taught me the ropes of everything there was to know about the school and neighbourhood. After his departure, I was joined by a volunteer from Hong Kong who was also a delight to live and work with. The bond shared with the people I met through this program is special as the circumstances under which we met are in itself special.
I have nothing but fond memories of the teachers and students at MRCLC. I taught years 2, 3 and 4 but the other kids also left their own unforgettable imprints. Though not a huge establishment, the kids make up for it through their amazing characters and personalities. Although a day at the school could wear you out at times, especially on a hot day, the bright smiles on their faces more than make up for it when they wave you goodbye (which they never fail to do) after a day’s work. Full of energy which never seems to diminish, they instantly welcome you with open warms. Never forgetting to include you in their games during break time, it was always fun to play old childhood games with them and teaching them new ones. Some liked to play during break while others liked to read storybooks, draw or colour. Little by little, one is able to paint a picture of each student’s personality which were all so diverse. Despite their circumstance, they will always come up to you to offer sweets or snacks that they had brought to school. Their love and acceptance will amaze you. They also love giving you little gifts of their drawings which have now become some of the most cherished gifts I’ve received in my life.
Teaching at the school itself can be a challenge if it is your first time but one gradually learns the ins and outs through the help of the other teachers, volunteers and the students themselves. For my first teaching experience, I couldn’t have possibly asked for a better environment. Making a lesson plan might come across as tedious work after a tiring day at work but the end result is always so rewarding. I learned a lot when it came to making the exam papers for Mathematics and Geography as well. Lunch is provided at the school and the volunteers are provided with a monthly allowance which more than covers for outings in the city. Though I was brought up in the sweltering heat of Delhi, I still cannot get used to the heat. As a result, I
did not travel much because of the hot climate. However, one should always have an umbrella ready when you go out because when it rains, it pours.
Although I spent only two months volunteering at MRCLC, the experience that I got from it will last for a lifetime. Not only do you get to have an amazing time but you’re also making a difference in the lives of the students who deserve nothing more than love in this world. If the least we can do for the kids is providing some sort of quality knowledge, then I would urge others to do the same. I was very fortunate that my last day in Malaysia coincided with the school trip to the city and beach of Malacca. The entire day was spent with bright smiles and laughter, and I couldn’t have asked for a lovelier ending to my short stay in Malaysia.
Editor’s Note: Due to visa issues Biaki stayed for a shorter period than most volunteers in Kuala Lumpur – The usual minimum is 3 months.