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Saturday. First day of volunteering. I put on my nicest outfit on and aboard the infamous Uber, travelling through the heavy traffic within KL in the midst of the smoggy humid air, my friends and I anxiously make our way to Taman Suntex on a mission to educate refugees kids. We had to bail out of our initial planning which was to help educate the people of MCKL on issues related to HIV/AIDS as we could not get approval from the Malaysian AIDS center. As we were driving, minutes away from arriving at the center, I become overwhelmed with personal thoughts… What are the children expecting? Are a bunch of young college students qualified/capable to teach the kids? How are we going to start the lesson? What am I doing? For a few never-ending seconds I wish that we pick another project as not a single one of us have any experience in teaching.
My thoughts are halted abruptly as the uber took a sudden turn at a laundry shop and into a shady looking street and stopped in front of a really old building. The weird feeling of uneasiness skyrockets as I step out from the uber. We were welcomed by a guy and in no time we were brought to a room where kids were waiting for us. I was given the task of teaching children whose age range from 9 to 11. I started the class with the old/typical self introduction process. In my class there were 8 kids, 4 girls and 4 boys. Their names are Amber, Grace, Jen, Sara, Simon, Jordan, Bryan and Thomas. I taught them mathematics. We learn multiplication and division. During extra time, we also play games like hangman, Uno and Pictionary. There were this one girl who were particularly bright and smart. Her name is Amber. She mastered how to solve multiplication question in the shortest period of time(not to mention she is super polite too). She is my favourite of all those kids. My favourite moment is when I got tackled by a sweet little boy who comes out of no where to hug me. He has the sweetest smile that I ever seen. The children that I have been involved with are super co-operative. These children have touched my heart so easily. All of them have amazing stories and dream. One of the boys in my class told me that he wanted to become a teacher so that he can educate future generation with a similar faith as him so that they can gain knowledge and use those knowledge to pursue their dream.
We found that students in migrant school are extremely poor and were sent to this free programme to learn as their parent could not afford them education. They also do not get to spend a lot of time with their parents due to their long-working hours. They are super independent and way more mature than kids their age. They even have to clean up the classes after the lessons. However that doesn’t stop them from coming to learn. The kids have a strong desire to learn. Due to this experience, it made me more grateful for what I have. Seeing the conditions that some people live in makes me truly value the things that I have taken for granted. The tuition center was not equipped with ceiling fan and air conditioning. It was just four walls with a tiny fan, a floor and a roof. Yet, as simple as it was, the kids was very grateful, something which many people don’t feel. We the lucky ones have become such a materialistic individuals that it sometimes sickens me to think about it. It’s time that we, as a human, look out the window and stop complaining about what we could have when what we have is what some dream of. Volunteering brings with it a deep appreciation of all that I have in life and helping those in need is a firm reminder of what really matters – like family, friends, and health. It’s not uncommon for me to see their own lives in a different light, perhaps taking notice of the small things or moments that bring them joy. Futhermore, it’s actually really easy to make someone’s day. It just takes a willingness to show up, and give them your time. So, if you’ve ever questioned whether your work really matters, remember this: if you don’t show up, that’s a zero in the impact category, which, no matter how you frame it, is less than if you had shown up. It can be easy to become overwhelmed by the staggering number of people in need, but your job is to focus only on the one person who is standing right in front of you — to love, serve and encourage. And that makes it easy. As Mother Teresa put it, “If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one. ” When you show up to volunteer, really be in the moment. Forget everything that may be happening on your phone, and decide to truly be present, whether it’s for an hour or the whole day. Your presence is more a gift than even your skillset.
I feel really honoured to have been given the opportunity to be a small part of this project and to be able to work alongside with my friends. I personally find this experience worthwhile and meaningful as we are contributing to the problems of educational inequalities faced by migrant students and we are improving their self-confidence to gain knowledge. Also, it is a rewarding experience in that we can improve our patience and communication skills with strangers. I am really glad to involve myself in participating such a meaningful and valuable activity.
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