Budaya Beat May - June 2017

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Intercultural Competence Essential In Today’s Workplace


ntercultural skills and global citizenship are necessary in the 21st century workplace and developing these competencies must go hand-in-hand alongside science, math, technology and engineering within our education systems. This was the main conclusion at the 3rd Annual AFS Asia-Pacific International Global Citizenshop Education Forum entitled “Global Citizenship Education: Essential for Employability & the 21st Century Workforce” which was convened by AFS Intercultural Programs and the AFS Asia-Pacific Initiative (AAI) with the support of UNESCO New Delhi Office. Over two days of keynote speeches, panels, and interactive workshops, participants had a chance to discuss the relevance of global citizenship education for employability and the 21st-century workforce. Sharing best practices in helping learners develop global competencies and providing opportunities for these essential skills to be utilized in the workplace, both educators and employers at the event called for increased collaboration between the two parties. 4

“Let there be light” - dignitaries perform a traditional lighting ceremony to mark the start of the Education Forum

Participants of the Forum highlighted the essential role that organizations like AFS can play in supporting schools and students to develop and demonstrate global competencies in terms meaningful for employers. Its unique study abroad programs guided by research-based learning journeys for all stakeholders involved, as well as by convening similar events on

a regular basis, contribute positively towards the movement. The line-up of speakers included Dr. Anantha Duraiappah, Director of UNESCO Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Education for Peace and Sustainable Development; Matangi Gowrishankar, Director of British Petroleum’s Global Leadership Academy;

Discussions in earnest amongst the participants

Francisco Marmolejo, Lead of World Bank Global Solutions Group on Tertiary Education Sumer Singh, Former Principal of Daly College and many others from both the education and corporate sectors. Together with Forum participants, the latest methodologies, research, programming opportunities and strategies for joint actions were identified that will raise awareness of the value of intercultural and global citizenship skills in the 21st century workplace for both learners and employers.

Energiser session in one of the four workshop rooms

The Forum’s goal is to make intercultural learning opportunities and global citizenship education more accessible, relevant and actionable for all people worldwide, both in and outside of the classroom. It builds on two previous editions in Bali, Indonesia (2015) and Perth, Australia (2016). Younger participants presenting their group discussion findings



Global Competence is Mission-Critical


ntercultural understanding, global citizenship, and global competence are power skills that are essential to meet the world’s major challenges. More people with an awareness of their role in the word and willingness to take action must be developed to meet Sustainable Development Goals and prepare the next generation to thrive in an increasingly diverse society. “As countries turn inward or close borders, as states exit multilateral unions, and as more and more people turn away from the very notion of globalism, we need more people who value diversity and can help us all learn to live together,” said AFS International president Daniel Obst in closing the 3rd Annual AAI International Global Leadership Education Forum.


Forum participants listening intently to panel speakers

“When asked about how important intercultural skills are to their organizations, almost all employers responded Obst called on bringing that they were very or fairly back the focus on the value important. By far the most of intercultural skills in the highly valued skill, placed even workplace. “The British Council higher than technical skills, recently conducted a major was demonstrating respect for survey among nearly 400 others, followed by working employers in 9 countries. Their effectively in diverse teams, research showed that there is open to new ideas and ways of real business value in employing thinking, collaborative.” staff who have the ability to However, there are some real effectively work with individuals disconnects, Obst added. and organizations from cultural Studies show that CEOs all backgrounds other than their indicate that global skills own. are required for leadership roles. Hiring managers, on “International communication the other hand, are mostly is a central function of today’s focused on filling the technical workplace. More than two-thirds requirements of the role. of employers in that study report that their employees engage “I suggest that we need frequently with colleagues, more advocacy to employers customers or partners, outside of to actively screen for core their country.

intercultural competences. We also need more badging, such as our Global Competence Certificate, so that young graduates can demonstrate those skills better when applying for jobs,” he said. Obst also revealed the results of a recently conducted global survey by AFS on the attitudes of Gen Z towards international education. More than 5000 teenagers in 30 countries were polled. Of this, 66% are motivated by cultural exploration rather than academic reasons, citing authentic and intercultural experiences. “One of the best ways to gain global skills are through international experiences and programs that have intentional, facilitated intercultural

education is the key variable. This is what makes AFS different. Our educational goals focus on developing personal, interpersonal, cultural and global realms. Our programs and work equip people with the intercultural skills and awareness that employers need and that the world needs,” Obst added. He concluded by reminding the audience that the work of AFS falls into three main areas: •Empowering active global citizens through exchange and the volunteer opportunities. •Strengthening schools and institutions through our work with teachers and educators and •Expanding access to intercultural education, by finding innovative ways to make sure that not only those who can study abroad have an intercultural experience.

“I suggest that we need more advocacy to employers to actively screen for core intercultural competences. We also need more badging, such as our Global Competence Certificate, so that young graduates can demonstrate those skills better when applying for jobs,”

- Daniel Obst

ICL The Choithram School Way


ealising the benefits of intercultural exchanges but accepting the reality that not everyone can be presented with the opportunity, a private high school in India has initiated its own intercultural learning experience for its students. Spearheaded by its principal Rajesh Awasthi, the intercultural aspect of student exchange programmes is brought to life through indirect learning opportunities via online collaborative projects and celebration of international days. “Choithram School has embedded intercultural learning into its curricula, with the lesson plan involving activities that are conducted individually as well as in groups and linked with various subjects,” explained Rajesh in a workshop session. “These activities include making a scrapbook, organising elocution, debate, talk show or declamation sessions, learning folk songs and national anthems of different countries and related skits or drama.” The objective of these activities is manifold, Rajesh added. These include developing respect for and appreciation of another culture, nurture curiosity and readiness to learn a new culture, willingness to share about one’s own culture and to accept cultural differences.

Formative assessment is also conducted by peers, teachers and the participating students themselves to ensure the benefits from the learning are maximised. “Only through this assessment process are we able to evaluate if the intercultural knowledge he has gained has helped in his personal growth, maturity and understanding,” said Rajesh. He concluded his presentation by sharing some of the successful activities his students had conducted online with high school students in Sweden, Romania and Australia.



Amirah Clinches AAI’s Inaugural Best Volunteer Award


FS Asia-Pacific Initiative (AAI) introduced a Best Volunteer Award for deserving country recipients at the recent AAI Regional Meeting in New Delhi, India as a recognition to AFS volunteers for their dedication, commitment and achievement. Malaysia’s young and dynamic volunteer, Amirah Sukurdin, was not present to receive her award personally from the President of AFS International, Daniel Obst, at the awards ceremony but AFS Chair Khalilah Talha collected it on her behalf and later presented the prestigious inaugural award to her in Malaysia. In her citation, Amirah who is a returnee of the YES Program 2010/2011, was praised for her numerous volunteer work at both chapter and national levels, including her involvement in a flood relief collection drive and organising events like the YES Conference 5.0,


Winning ways - a bubbly personality and strong determination

The first recipient of the AAI Best Volunteer Award from Malaysia Soundsgood, Youth for Elders, the AFS Carnival and the YES Think Tank 2015. Amirah was also the YES Alumni Vice President from 2014 - 2016 and completed a stint in the National Office recently. “Amirah has a sweet personality that makes her a likable person among her peers,” said Annie Yap who headed the Malaysian Selection Commitee. “She possesses a quality that can inspire others from her words and actions. She leads and guides her volunteers and can often be seen on the ground ensuring they understand the essentials and is always with them throughout the event. She is mature beyond her years with her ability to make good judgment calls in critical situations,” Annie added. Amirah dedicated her triumph to everyone who was involved with her on her AFS journey. “I want to take this opportunity to thank all YES Alumni committee members, camp volunteers, GYSD volunteers, mini community service volunteers, project volunteers, YES Conference volunteers, AFS Malaysia National Office staff and everyone else who contributed to my self-development which has led to this unexpected accolade,” she said. “I can’t be where I am now without your support, inspiration and motivation. I gained a lot of experience but there is much more to learn and I still want to spread positivity and the message of hope and peace that AFS brings. Thank you so much.” She also dedicated the award to her parents. “Thank you for being such cool parents and understanding my passion in this. Both of you are the greatest!”

AFS MAS now represented on AAI Board


t the recent AAI Board elections in New Delhi, India, AFS Malaysia Chair Khalilah Talha was nominated and elected as one of AAI’s two VicePresidents, the other being Hector Dimacali, board member of AFS Philippines. The new President of AAI is Angela Roye who is also Chair of AFS India. She was unchallenged and replaces AFS Philippines Chair Bonnie Guerra who has served her two terms

but will remain as AAI Past President and adviser for another year. Angela pledged to continue the good work done by the Past President and to take AAI to new heights. “I have big shoes to fill but with the support and encouragement from my team and from all AAI partners, I am sure we can live up to expectations and our reputation as the cluster region with the most growth potential,” she said.

The rest of the line-up remains unchanged, with AFS Australia Chair Henry Moser retaining his post as AAI Treasurer and Nina Nasution, the National Director of AFS Indonesia, as Secretary. The new office bearers took their oath of service before the commencement of the Best Volunteer Awards ceremony.

Newly elected Secretariat members take the oath of service before AAI members



AFS Carnival for Public Awareness By: Lee Zi Xin


lthough the first AFS Carnival took place on April 1, it was no joke as members of the public came to find out more about intercultural programmes and spoke to volunteers and staff about the benefits of such international exchanges.

throughout the two-day event.

Returnees talked about their excitement prior to departure, the culture shock upon arrival, their adjustment cycle, personal growth and learning experience in their host countries. “The world has become our classroom. The AFS Carnival was As an exchange student, held to create greater you will discover that our public awareness about education reaches far intercultural learning and beyond the limits of national understanding. More than borders,” said exchange 200 visitors came to the student, Maria Pangalos National Office and took part from the United States of in various knowledge sharing America who is currently sessions that were arranged hosted in Malaysia.


Staff were on hand to explain programe options to members of the public

Exhibition booths promoted AFS programs and alumni information as well as countries AFS Malaysia is affiliated with. At the Intercultural Learning (ICL) Booth, visitors explored “the Malaysian way” of pulling teh Tarik, took part in traditional games and learned about the ice-berg concept in a fun and creative way. The carnival was supported by partners like TeenEdge Malaysia, World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Picha Project and iM4U which also set up booths to showcase their programmes and activities.

Returnees turned up to offer support and man a booth

Building Bridges Through Shared Experience By: Khoo Swee Lyn


ridges of understanding can be built through shared educational and homestay experience, a formula that has impacted the lives of many who have participated in the AFS intercultural learning programmes since its inception AFSMAS Adviser addressing the cocktail attendees 100 years ago. The cross-cultural experience removes prejudices through greater interface and understanding, said Datin Yasmin Merican, adviser to AFS Malaysia at a cocktail reception held for embassy representatives, education ministry officials, corporate supporters and chapter leaders in conjunction with the recent AFS Carnival. A representative of Turkey’s Embassy in Malaysia chatting with Maria “AFS mobilizes a different Pangalos, a YES Abroad student perspective to intercultural understanding, not through geopolitics or media intervention, but through a simple homebased people program. Up close, you realize that people are the same rather than different,” said the returnee to the United States.

Merican also shared how the programme has helped in her personal growth and outlook on life. “AFS was a life changing experience and has helped shape the person I am today,” the brand strategist and author of The Right to Brand added.

A sharing session by Matheo from France and Maria Pangalos from the United States



From Chicago To Alor Setar: Living La Vida Local! By: Kara Timrick


am one of several year-long exchange students in Malaysia, but I was born and bred in Chicago. I consider myself lucky to come from such a diverse city because I got to be exposed to people of different backgrounds, ethnicities, sexual orientations, and religions. One group of people that I often encountered were those that followed Islam. Throughout my life I have seen many different perspectives surrounding Muslim people, both good and bad. This prompted

me to start studying this religion in high school, and eventually choose to spend a year in a Muslim country. I wanted to truly understand this religion. But the reason I chose to study in Malaysia specifically, is because this country offers a unique opportunity to experience and learn about three cultures: Chinese, Indian, and Malay. For the past 10 months I have been hosted in Alor Setar, Kedah. I was worried it might prove difficult to move from a big city like Chicago, to what has been

Family ties... Kara with her large host family


described as “a small, rural town� in northern Malaysia. I could not have been farther from the truth. I stepped off that small Malindo airplane in the Alor Setar airport for the first time, stared at the vast padi fields surrounding me, and smiled because I knew that this was exactly what I needed. Living in Alor Setar has been incredible. Here I truly get to feel like I am living like a local; running into people I know all the time while I am out and always having conversations with the owner of shops I always go

Blending in... with schoolmates who helped Kara improve her language skills

to. Alor Setar has become my home in every sense of the word and the two most spectacular things about living in Alor Setar are of course my host school and host family. I have felt like I am truly a part of my host family since the first week I was here. My family welcomed me (and my craziness) with open arms and have given me all the love and support I needed and then some. I still remember during my first few weeks when I was having a bad day, all I needed to do was talk to my older brother or mom and they would

help me through whatever I was going through. Of course, no family is perfect, but whenever we encountered a problem we worked through it together and it made our bond even stronger. I have laughed, cried, danced, sang, and truly lived as a member of this family and part of me will always be with them. Now onto the second reason why Alor Setar has truly become my home: my host school. To say my school welcomed me with open arms is an understatement. I still remember my first day of

school (which also was my birthday) everyone around me in the hall started singing happy birthday and pulled me on stage to celebrate with cake. This is just one example of how caring my school is towards me. Even though a majority of students do not speak English well, I have become very close friends with many, especially my classmates. This has also helped me improve my Bahasa Melayu. I often end up staying in school late just to hang out and and laugh with my friends. In addition, I participate 13

MALAYSIA MOMENTS in many programs like choral speaking, my school radio, sports day, English camps, and many more which makes me really like I play a part in the school community. Of course any intercultural exchange will have its ups and downs. One of the toughest challenges I had to face and adapt to while in Malaysia was my level of independence. I am used to being a very independent person. For example, in Chicago I would make the one-hour commute to school alone every day using public transportation, and here my school is a one-minute car ride away. In Chicago I was used to doing many things alone and independently, and here I am almost always

surrounded by people and doing things together. However, about three months into my exchange I realized that I am given independence here, just in different ways. For example, I am trusted to travel around Malaysia using buses and planes, which is something I have never done alone in the States before. I soon adapted to the different kind of independence I was given here, and now this is no longer even seen as a challenge in my eyes. As for the up moments, one of my favorite has been my family trip to Terengganu. In December, my family took a 4-day trip to Terengganu to visit my father’s hometown. The whole trip was filled with non-stop laughter. We got to

visit beautiful beaches, eat delicious keropok lekor, visit monuments like the Crystal Mosque, and I got to meet many members of my family for the first time. This trip will always remain a highlight of my stay in Malaysia. If you are thinking about spending an AFS year in Malaysia, I highly encourage you to jump in and do it! Things will not always be easy, and this culture will take time to adapt to, but I promise you, you will end the year not wanting to go home. You will learn about three distinct cultures, get to celebrate incredible holidays, eat delicious food, make life-long connections with people, and grow exponentially as a person.

Road trip to the East Coast



A mosque visit

Weekend family outing



Learn while exploring a whole new world

By: Tiffany Chin

1: Can you introduce yourself and where you went for your AFS exchange experience? I’m Tiffany Chin (19) from Selangor and I recently came back from Switzerland (AFS SUI YP 16/17). 2: What was your biggest challenge and how did you overcome the problem? My biggest challenge was to understand the language in Switzerland. I was placed in Zurich, where they spoke Swiss-German (a German dialect and relatively difficult to understand at first). Although I completed the online German course offered by AFS before I embarked on the exchange 16

journey, I still spent the first few weeks expressing myself through sign language. Other than hard work and much effort, I was lucky that many kind souls around me gave me full support and showed great patience while teaching me Swiss words. I’m glad I was able to overcome the language barrier (at the same time I learned a new language and a new culture). 3:Tell us about your favorite moment of your exchange experience. I had so many but the most remarkable would be the New Year countdown I spent in Colmar, France with my best

exchange friend from Thailand and her host family. They were very kind and invited me to tag along on the trip and we grew closer as the days went by. The view was great, the company was great, the food was great, everything was perfect. We strolled the city on 30 December and spent a lot of time laughing over some of the goofy pictures we took. The first day went by in the blink of an eye. On New Year’s Eve, we were extremely excited to put on our traditional costumes - I wore Baju Kebaya & my friend wore her Thai costume. Then

we went to a fine dining French restaurant to wait for the countdown. The meal took us 5 hours to finish as it was served dish by dish. Despite the presence of policemen patrolling the streets in case of any riots or troubles, we waited until we saw the fire crackers before greeting everyone in the restaurant (it is considered polite to wish everyone a Happy New Year), and we went back to the hotel, amazed and in love with the entire experience. 4: In AFS we say, ‘Send us your student and we will send you back a Change maker’. How has the AFS Program and experience impacted your future? I totally agree with the statement. Change makers are not only people who make changes in their own lives, they make an impact on the lives of others too. Personally, AFS impacted me (& my future) in many aspects. First of all, I grew to be more independent than I thought I could ever be. I learned how to manage my time better and socialize with other people during weekends

Best friends in their traditional best!

(which I wouldn’t have done if I were to stay in Malaysia). Although I was already able to overcome big crowds when I was in high school, my social anxiety reduced drastically after I went on this program. I am able to express my opinions less aggressively and more confidently now. I also learned to respect different cultures across the globe. In the multicultural society in Malaysia, I learned the importance of understanding and accepting differences. I am more curious than ever about our way of life, background and histories. We all have interesting stories to share. In addition, my own personal development increased after I went on this program. There were many people that I came across, be it teachers, exchange students, classmates, family members or random strangers who all helped me to gain confidence and improve my communication skills.

A picturesque spot in Colmar



Changemakers Social Entrepreneurship Workshop By: Lim Ke Shin


or a week in March 2017, I attended a YES Alumni Social Entrepreneurship Workshop and ECA Conference in Westin, Alexandria, a packed and fun-filled event. YES Alumni from YES countries including Egypt, Ghana, Mozambique, Indonesia, Philippines, Turkey, Kenya, India, Thailand and South Africa were joined by two YES Abroad alumni that have previously spent a year in Indonesia. They were the most energetic and amiable bunch of people that you would ever want to be with. Our facilitators Nancy Levine, Wendy Hyatt, Carolyn Rehn and Nina Dullaphan did a wonderful job in managing our excitement and delivering the sessions, constantly providing us with helpful information, constructive feedback, motivation

and always showering us with the support that we needed. I was suffering from jetleg on the very first but thankfully, the sessions were not delivered in lecture style only but were embedded with fun activities that did not put us to sleep. The sessions for the first day were “Community Mapping”, “Passions and Problem”, “Needs Assessments”, “Action Plan” and “Group Dynamics” which are basically the foundations and steps to start a project. Community mapping was a great session and left us wishing that we had more time to listen to what other participants had to say about their respective communities. We started by drawing on a flip chart what our

The participants are ready for the butterfly effect


community looks like. Then each of us had to find a partner to explain about the area, cultures and problems that exist in the community. Everyone was totally engaged and curious about each other’s issues that we did not have enough time to share more insights with each other. The next session that impressed me was “Needs Assessment”. Although “Needs Assessment” sounded boring at first, it turned out to be the best part of the day. The activity for the session was to design a customized wallet for your partner according to his or her needs. It is a practical activity for people to learn to check their assumptions and identify problems accurately. This session also enhances one’s creativity and problem solving skills. Before designing, we had to ask each other hard and deep questions on preferences and problems regarding the wallet. The findings were very interesting. I never knew people would prefer to still write short notes on paper as reminders and keep it inside their wallet despite having a smart phone. I would also never expect my wallet partner, Andrew to solve my problems with

find it one of the best activities because it revealed our true character. It tested our limits and made us discover our weaknesses and strengths when we work in a team. It is an activity that made us step back, question our flexibility and the actual roles that we should play within the team.

Mallory and Dhruv preparing for their presentation

Keshin and her groupmates discussing about what makes a good story

such a great idea which was to create different compartments for different denominations of coins for my wallet, a very practical way to organize my coins! The second-best session of the day was “Group Dynamics” as it made us discuss in-depth

on what makes a great team and ways to accommodate different working styles. While we were building towers by using straws, play-doh and marshmallows, we got to see different types of people with different leadership and communication styles. Despite there being disagreements and various challenges, I still

The morning of the second day started with Mallory McEwen, YES Abroad Alumna sharing her multimedia and video making skills. She introduced us to ways of making videos and spreading news in order to create public awareness and to reach to a wider audience. This session introduced us to the many other functions and opportunities of social media. After the sharing session, we learned how to tell stories about our project by using a narrative voice. This session basically introduced us to different strategies on how to make a project appealing to an audience. The following sessions were “Developing Leadership and Trust” and “Fun with Fundraising and Budgeting.” We did a trust walk for the developing leadership and trust session. The leaders came up with different ways to direct blindfolded participants without speaking a word. After the activities, we reflected on trust and leadership styles in a team. The “Fundraising and Budgeting” session was a challenging one as we were required to plan our activities in a team, list down the items needed for an event, come up with a budget and persuade some parties to provide us support in terms of man-power, advertising and so on.



The ice breaking session, with Evan, YES Tanzania

My team’s task was to organize a charity run. We were given 200 bucks as a start-up capital and also a target of funds that we needed to raise. There was a newspaper publication manager, a restaurant manager, a beverage company worker and a school principal open for the teams to bargain for deals. This session equipped participants with planning, budgeting, decision making and communication skills that are needed to run a project. For the third day, the session that caught my attention the most was “Elevator Pitch�. Elevator pitch is basically a brief, persuasive type of speech used to spark interest in the audience and determining the support you would get for the project. It might be just a short pitch but it has the potential to make a huge impact.


At the end of the workshop, participants would present the projects we came up with to be evaluated by the representatives of the state department and AFS partners. I came up with a project to raise awareness by using creative technologies among young Malaysians about the importance of 3R to reduce pollution and the cost of waste management in Malaysia. The projects that were presented were well planned and helpful in easing the problems of their respective communities. For instance, Rufus Adducul from Philippines presented a project to raise awareness and educate teenagers in Philippines on the significance of Folic Acid on pregnancy to prevent the high rate of birth defects in the community. Ibrahim Kombo from Kenya came up with a water harvesting project to cater to the lack of water during drought season in Kenya. One

of the projects that I found really interesting is by Mallory McEwen on creating an event that acts as a platform to expose her closed community to different cultures and ethnicity. The ECA conference and workshop which followed was graced by the presence of Senator Lugar, one of two visionaries who made the YES program possible. We were honoured and excited to be able to chat with him before his opening address. All participants also went on a Capitol Hill visit to find out the stand of state senators and representatives regarding sponsor programs and its future. At a debriefing and sharing session after the visit, it was fascinating to hear stories especially from volunteers who have never been to the congress. Rachel Butler from AFS USA, Ibrahim Kombo of Kenya

and I were “representatives” for New Hampshire State. Both representatives of Senator Maggie Hassan and Senator Jeanne Shaheen were extremely friendly to us and supportive towards the program. Other than sharing the impact of our exchange in New Hampshire, we also talked about skiing at Pats Peak and of course the crazy weather in New Hampshire. Friday night was livened up with one of the highlights of the week - an international bazaar! YES country representatives set up booths with facts, flags, attire and pictures of their respective countries as well as offered desserts, beverages and snacks. We also gave out souvenirs like keychains and postcards that were brought from home to visitors that

came to our booth. This was a great event to expose the participants and bring them closer together to learn about each other’s cultures. The following day started with hour-long Culture and Program Specific Concurrent Sessions offering participants an opportunity to take a closer look at specific countries and programs, learn about Islam, dive into hosting or sending topics or consider Area Team strategies for managing social media and developing diverse and inclusive teams. Volunteers and international partners led the presentations for specific countries, namely Egypt, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Malaysia, Mozambique, Philippines, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Thailand and Turkey which focused on cultural

contexts and values in each particular country in order to better prepare the students that are going to these countries. The Malaysia Session was hosted by Farah Nadia Samsudin from AFS Malaysia with my assistance. On the last day, there were two sessions. The first session covered the information that volunteers needed to know to send American students abroad with NSLI-Y, YES Abroad and CBYX Scholarship. The other was Alumni Panel Discussions where perspectives from abroad and best practices were shared so that participants can understand how to pass peace forward.

Giving each other feedback about our challenges and solutions


REACHING OUT Snippets about Malaysian returnees now living/working abroad 1.Your name? Muhammad Shafiq Najib 2.Your exchange country and year? Los Angeles, California, USA 2010/2011 3. Where are you working/residing now? Job title and share a bit about your work. I am currently working and residing in England as a London and European Entertainment Correspondent for Us Weekly, Entertainment Tonight on CBS and E!News on NBC Universal 4. Most memorable experience during your exchange year? Meeting lots of different kinds of people especially the Jewish community, experiencing American High School and road trips around USA 5. How has the AFS experience helped you in your personal life and your career? AFS has helped me to open up my thoughts and broaden my horizons especially in my views about the world. It has definitely helped me to become who am I today as a journalist and TV Host.

First experience building a snowman with his host brother

6. Your advice to future participants? Enjoy yourself, have fun! And please remember to always be open to learn new things and let new people from all walks of life into your soul. 7. Motto in life or favourite quote? “Whatever you are be a good one� #kindnesswillalwayspayoff

Rubbing shoulders with singing sensation Yuna, also an AFS returnee


A memorable outing with school friends during his YES exchange experience

On the red carpet with Shafiq, who interviews international The TV journalist at work, reporting live the wedding celebrities at red carpet events ceremony of Pippa Middleton for Us Weekly



Weaving An Appetite By: Rahim Ab Rahman


ong after the official first two days of Eidul Fitri are over, Malaysians will still be in the Eidul Fitri festive mode. It has long been a tradition that Hari Raya is celebrated throughout the entire month of Syawal, the 10th month of the Muslim calendar – only because the fasting in Ramadan lasts just as long! With the festival comes the feast – food galore of course! This is the season where unusual, complicated, relished, favourite traditional spread make their annual appearance. Ketupat being the most prominent of them. Ketupat casings are made of either young coconut or palas (licuala sapinosa) leaves. These leaves will be subjected to an intricate weaving technique, otherwise its fillings will ooze out.


The palm size casings from coconut leaves are usually of rice (hence, ketupat nasi); patiently washed, tossed, drained and painstakingly inserting them into the casing via a small opening. They are then boiled to cook for about 3 to 4 hours in a huge pot. Ketupat nasi takes several shapes and names; ketupat bawang (onion), pasar or satay (square/diamond), jantung (heart) and many more. Some aficionados even go as far as to weave shapes of cat, goat and cube for their ketupat nasi! Ketupat palas are of glutinous rice. The glutinous rice is steamed, later coconut milk, sugar and salt are added before they are packed and wrapped into the palas leaves in a triangular shape. Additional

Inserting the washed rice into casings

Left: Close-up of the weaved ketupat Below: The finished product

ingredients such as cashew nut, corn, fish or meat are known to be added for that extra oomph. Once secured in their enclosure, it is time to boil them. Both ketupat nasi and ketupat palas are served with either rendang, peanut gravy, kuah lemak, and the list goes on. Indeed, weaving the humble ketupat is an art form, difficult but possible to master. Once the form is shaped, and the contents filled, they are then cooked, consumed and relished as THE signature dish of Eidul Fitri in Malaysia!



PETITE FRANCE: Korea’s French connection


Statues depicting characters from “The Little Prince” dot the gardens


fter travelling 10 km from Seoul along a lakeside road from Cheongpyeong Dam, in the direction of Namiseom Island, you will come across a cluster of colorful, exotic buildings built on a hillside. From its outward appearance, it resembles a village that belongs on the Mediterranean coast or in a pastoral area of the Piedmont Alps but Petite France here serves as both a French cultural village and a youth training facility (Goseong Youth Training Center). It

consists of 16 French-style buildings where visitors can lodge and experience French food, clothing, and household culture. Petite France gained international recognition after it was chosen as a location for many Korean dramas, the most notable of which is Beethoven Virus. If you watched the drama, you will be familiar with Kang Maestro’s working room. In this room, everything is about music, from a guitar shaped desk, piano, music books and note sheets. There are also photos and signatures



of the actors and actresses of the drama, including Jang Geun Suk. Other dramas shot on location here were Secret Garden, Personal Taste, Running Man and The Man from the Stars. The concept of Petite France encapsulates ‘flowers, stars, and the Little Prince.’ The village contains a memorial hall dedicated to SaintExupery, the author of the celebrated French novel, Le Petit Prince (1943) which is much loved by Koreans and as such it is called the Little Prince theme park. There are statues, artworks, different versions of the book on display and photo zones!

Testimony of Korea’s popular dramas shot on location here


It also has a gallery displaying sculptures and paintings of le coq gaulois (the Gallic rooster), the national symbol of France; Orgel House where a 200-year-old music box plays a sweet melody; a shop that sells herbal and aromatic products; a souvenir shop with dolls and figurines; and many other locales where you can experience French culture. The village can

accommodate up to 200 visitors with 34 guest rooms that hold four to ten people each. Visitors can also enjoy a marionette experience and hear percussion instruments from around the world at the outdoor stage area.

Left: Illustrative vintage plates are on sale at a makeshift flea market area of the village Below: Colourful buildings reminiscent of a French village




This year-end holiday, Andalusia Travel is taking spiritual journeys literally out to sea! 30


alled the SoulCleansing Cruise or Pelayaran Penyucian Jiwa, the giant travel agency credited for single-handedly popularising umrah tours in Malaysia will sail on a Libra Superstar Cruise ship from its historic port in Penang from 17 to 20 December on a 4 day-3 night cruise to Phuket and Krabi before heading back to Penang. This floating holiday resort will be properly “cleansed� before Muslim passengers can board the ship for their spiritual experience. Its pulsating night spots and burlesque shows will be closed for the duration of

The grand dining area


TRAVEL - INTERNATIONAL the journey but all other facilities and amenities including its award-winning restaurants, immaculate suites and cabins, duty free shopping (sans alcohol), wellness, pampering and sporting facilities, will be available. Its kitchen will also undergo cleansing rituals and serve only the best of halal cuisine. Activities on board will not be confined to just preaching, prayer and teaching sessions by an impressive line-up of celebrity clerics and motivational speakers but will also involve a host of other recreational activities designed to keep the entire family engaged in fun and learning.

Many families activities are organized around the pool area

The main deck overlooks the swimming pool


Passengers will also be able to take part in a community service project upon landing in Phuket where they will visit a local religious school, an orphanage and a mosque and make donations to their education and development funds. This is the second time Andalusia is organising such a cruise after its inaugural offering sailing in the waters of SingaporePenang-Langkawi proved a success. “The experience of praying on an immense open deck as the sun rises or goes down on the horizon while gently swaying on the laps of waves is an opportunity not to be

Fruit carving is one of the activities onboard for female participants

missed,” said Andalusia Travel’s Executive Director Dato’ Ustaz Hj Md Daud Che Ngah. Performing Qiyamulail in the middle of the night with only the stars to illuminate the deck is another memorable and once-in-a-lifetime experience, he added. The cruise ship has a passenger capacity of 1,700 and 695 cabins. Package prices start from RM2,590 depending on the type of cabin selected. The reservation hotline number is 03-92831588 or 92854530.

There is a good selection of cabin accommodation to suit every budget



Penang Tropical Spice Garden:

A Flavourful Experience Penang’s best kept secret is now out in the open and visitors are loving the experience!



et just up the road from the Teluk Bahang junction, Penang’s Tropical Spice Garden is an eight-acre collection of secondary jungle with some 500 species of flora and fauna. Southeast Asia’s only tropical spice garden is a good place to spend the afternoon with your kids – the nature conservation complex features three garden trails

that take you on 20-45 minute journeys past stream crossings, waterfalls and structures made of recycled organic materials. The ecotourism course has three jungle trails; the Spice Trail, Ornamental Trail and Jungle Trail that take you past different sections of the compound. Each ‘room’ features special plant collections such as spices and herbs, aquatic plants and jungle flora. You can choose to explore the park on your own as there is instructional signage exhibiting the names and uses of each plant to guide you or you can take part in the guided tours available.

Spice Trail, home to over 100 varieties of tropical spices and herbs



Besides that, guests (and more importantly, kids) can also try their hand at Malaysian cooking as the estate recently opened a culinary school where dishes are made using all manner of herbs and spices. Set in an airy building surrounded by the spice gardens, overlooking Teluk Bahang Bay, the centre utilises a handson approach to cooking – you’ll get to prepare meals from scratch in small, personalized classes, using spices from the gardens around you.

Left: Learn to cook local Nyonya, Malay & Indian cuisines from scratch!

Tree Monkey Restaurant serves up Asian-Thai favourites as well as offers unparalleled views of the bay


Alternatively, if you’re feeling peckish the Tree Monkey Restaurant serves up Asian-Thai favourites as well as offers unparalleled views of the bay. Before you leave, be sure to pick up some souvenirs from the gift store – the Gift Shop has spices as well as exclusively designed T-shirts, stationery, toiletries and spa products for sale. Plus you can also get your hands on a collection of horticultural literature for both beginners and specialists. Alternatively, get a potted plant from the Garden Shop as a memento.

The award-winning farm was set up utilizing predominantly natural and recycled building materials salvaged from pre-war shop houses or sourced from local antique stores. There are daily guided tours of the Tropical Spice Garden (in English) between 9am and 5pm. The tour lasts approximately 45 minutes and is limited to 15 visitors. It opens from 9am to 6pm daily. Last admission is at 5.30pm. Admission fee is RM15 per person, RM25 for the guided tour (children RM10/RM15).

Tropical Spice Garden spans over eight acres of secondary jungle and is dotted with more than 500 species of tropical flora and fauna

Interested individuals or organizations may also hold events, team building activities, camping, and wedding ceremonies at Tropical Spice Garden



AFS and ACP to Raise Autism Awareness


FS Malaysia met with the founder of Autism Café Project (ACP) recently to discuss collaboration possibilities and volunteering opportunities for 18+ programme participants. Mohd Adli Yahya briefed AFS Malaysia officials about ACP and how AFS volunteers can play a part in raising autism awareness and assisting autistic children in operating the café which is situated in iM4U Sentral in Puchong. “My aim is to ensure autistic young adults on the moderate spectrum have sufficient skills to earn their own living in the world out there, “explained Adli. “Working in a café helps them build their confidence, develop their social and communication skills and equip them with skills that they could later earn a living from.” National Director Atty Sulaiman said the meeting was enlightening and AFS Malaysia will look into developing a collaborative effort with ACP.

Recce Visit


FS Malaysia Chair Khalilah Talha and National Office staff visited iM4U Sentral recently to check out the facilities and services offered as a potential venue for holding future AFS activities and orientation camps. The headquarters for iM4U, an organisation dedicated to encouraging volunteerism among youths, is a youth hub to inspire creative enthusiasts. Facilities include seminar rooms, a well-equipped gym, basketball, volleyball, sepak takraw and futsal courts, a “chillax” zone, a multi-purpose hall, a creative zone and even hostel-type accommodation. iM4U’s radio station iM4U fm is also located in the 2.25 hectare complex. 38

Spreading the Word


talian exchange students Marharyta Blaha and Matilda Rotta joined AFS Chair Khalilah Talha and Hosting Manager Jasmine Melan at a presentation on AFS to management staff of an engineering firm in Subang Jaya recently. The students talked about their experiences in Malaysia and how their presentation and communication skills have improved with the many speaking opportunities they have had in schools and community events. The captive audience responded with questions on how they could sign on as host families and showed interest in sending their children on the programme. The presentation was made possible by Dr Victor Tan, a returnee to the US and celebrated motivational speaker and author who later presented copies of his latest book to the AFS delegation.

Invested in His Vest


FS returnee, one time staff and frequent volunteer Jamal Harim Abdullah was the centre of attention at the recent AFS Carnival in his all-star AFS patched vest.

Displaying logo patches of almost all AFS partner countries in the world, the vest was a conversation starter with many visitors to the carnival as well as returnees. Jamal started collecting patches when he was an exchange student in the US and it grew from there. Being an active volunteer who served at international camps, he used the opportunity to build up on his collection and he even wrote to AFS offices around the world asking for their respective logo patches to sew onto his favourite vest. The result is a walking history of AFS as logos of some partner countries have changed and logo patches are no longer produced as standard merchandise items. “The previous AFS International president saw my vest and immediately asked if I would donate it to the AFS museum,� revealed Jamal. However, he is hanging on to his much-revered vest for now!






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