For the past two years our projects in KL have been sustained by a number of hard working and dedicated Malaysian undergraduate volunteers working in person, as well as international volunteers working online.
After two years we are delighted to be able to welcome international volunteers in person again! Rachel arrived at the beginning of July and these are some of her observations after one month.
As I complete my first month here in KL, I want to reflect upon my exciting experience so far.
When I arrived, I was greeted at the bus station by Dr Sarahda and Raja Norma who brought me out to lunch to recharge and get all the information and equipment I needed (including a personal phone with a prepaid sim!) to get started before bringing me to my accommodation to settle in.
With the weekend to get my bearings before starting to teach, I got the chance to explore the area I am living in, only a 5 minute walk from the trendy and famous Pentaling street in Chinatown and right next to Merdeka MRT station. It is a perfect location to explore and see the city – something which I have thoroughly enjoyed after school, in the evening and on weekends. I also got to meet Miza on the Sunday, who showed me how to get to MRCLC school and YTL offices, and enjoyed spending the day with her to get lunch and do some shopping – something which you can spend hours doing between the many huge malls in the city!
The first week was slightly daunting as I had no real previous teaching experience and was thrown in right away on Monday morning! But with the help of other volunteers and simply asking the children and working with them, it became a lot easier to adapt and get used to planning and preparing lessons. Now, after just one month, planning has become a lot easier and I find myself becoming more and more creative with lesson plans and activities to engage the kids. While it was scary at first, particularly feeling unprepared and nervous, I am already becoming a lot more confident and can see the children really enjoying lessons and learning from them – an extremely rewarding feeling!
Alongside the teaching, I have not only been able to explore KL – seeing the Batu caves, Petronas twin towers and the botanical gardens to name a few – but I have also had the opportunity to adventure further afield and see other parts of this beautiful country.
So far, I have taken trips to Penang (5-8 hour bus journey) and to Malacca (2- 3 hour bus) during the weekends. Both were wonderful places, steeped in culture and are UNESCO world heritage sites. As I don’t know anyone here, I travel alone and have never felt unsafe as a solo female traveller – as long as you are sensible and street-smart, it is a very safe place with friendly people!
So far, I am loving my experience here and if I ever have any concerns or questions, there are so many people who are part of the team that I can contact for support and they will always be happy to help! I cant wait to continue teaching the children to see them progress and create more creative lesson plans to teach effectively, also to learn from them as they are so eager to learn and joyful regardless of their situation. Lastly, I am eager to explore more of this wonderful country that I am more than happy to call home for a couple of months!