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Social Entrepreneur Changemakers Workshop By Ang Zheng Feng The long journey to attend a Social Entrepreneur Changemakers Workshop in Westin, Arlington was worth it. It took almost a day of flying but jetlag was not really a big problem for me as we had enough time to recover before the workshop. DAY 1 Meeting 11 YES Alumni from YES countries including Egypt, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Malaysia, Mozambique, Philippines and South Africa was great. There were also another 3 YES Abroad Alumni in which two were hosted in Indonesia and one in Thailand for a year. Our trainers were Nancy Levine, Carolyn Rehn, Jim Laden and Najmuzzaman Mohammad, and they were really helpful in facilitating our learning journey and helping us to develop our project ideas.


The trainers began with setting expectations for the workshop. The goal of this workshop is to provide participants with the tools and skills to create and implement a social action project. We were introduced to what a social entrepreneur is and the characteristics of a changemaker. What inspired me when I watched the introductory video was that everyone can be a changemaker, we just have to think big and be creative. The session for the day continued with “Community Mapping” to help us identify issues and assets available in our own community. After lunch, we had a session for us to identify our passions and relate it to problems around our community. When the problems were identified, a “Needs Assessment” was done to check our assumption and understand the needs of our customer. First impression of the session might have seemed like sitting down in front of your computer and just doing research but it was

more fun than that. We needed to interview our partners to get their preferences so that we could make a perfect wallet for them. The key learnings from this session was asking specific questions to get solutions we aim for and to keep getting clarification if you don’t understand. Thanks to Jorjani from Philippines who did a nice wallet that fulfilled all my requirements. This activity was a practical learning and an overview on how to carry out a needs assessment before starting our project. One thing to remember is that never ever make your own assumption, always ask if you are unclear. Next up, we had “Idea Generation” and “Group Dynamics” to further develop our project idea and to know how to better the team that you will be working together with on your project later. I liked the “Group Dynamics” session where we had to build a tower from marshmallows, stars and Play-Doh. In a short 20 minutes, it was amazing to observe different feelings from different individuals while doing the same thing. I learnt that when we are managing a team, we

have to take care of 3 Ps which are the Product, People and Process. Putting too much emphasis on only one element will cause imbalance and eventually cause conflict among the team. DAY 2 The sessions on day 2 were basically about telling a good story and making our project idea more concrete. Telling a story is easier to said than done. You need to be able to catch the attention of your listeners and keeping them engaged by your intonation, eye contact, the story line and body language. Storytelling is the foundation for you to start a public awareness campaign. If you want your campaign to be successful, then you need to follow the rules of S.U.C.C.E.S(s). Before you can engage your audience, you need to make sure your audience understand what you are trying to deliver so you have to keep your message SIMPLE. To catch their attention, you need to come up with something UNEXPECTED and CONCRETE otherwise they will not remember and picture it


FOCUS in their mind. Now that your audience are attracted to your campaign, you need to convince them that what you are doing is going to be helpful and achievable so it should be CREDIBLE and you need to add some EMOTION with the help of good stories. To narrow down our ideas, we were taught how to use SMART Goals while planning for our project. Then, Nancy shared with us the differences between a good budget and a bad budget. It’s good practice to always include in-kind donation for documentation and future reference. After learning most of the elements to execute a project, we had a fun session on fundraising. I was in a group of seven to help come up with a fundraising plan on animal shelters. The session was intense but fun as it was a real-life simulation of fundraising. Things that I learned from this session is that we need to have clear goals on what we need from society and whether it is beneficial to society. Always ask for more as we would never know what else the community can offer us unless we ask. DAY 3 Day 3’s sessions involved a lot of practical experiences throughout the day such as “Storyboarding”, “Elevator Pitch Practice” and “Journey of a Changemaker”. The trainer taught us how to visualize our projects using storyboarding which functions like a comic. During the elevator pitch practice, we were told to prepare our pitch and then took turns sharing the pitch to our partners and gave suggestions to produce a better pitch. Since the journey of being a changemaker is not easy, the trainers prepared us with some challenges that we might face such as criticism, discouragement and so on. After that, we continued to prepare our pitch for the pitch session the next day. DAY 4 Everyone was nervous because we had to present our ideas to international partners of AFS-USA. I was grouped with alumni from Mozambique (Edilson), Turkey (Ege), Indonesia (Denisa) and one YES Abroad to Indonesia (Emily). The project that I presented to the panelists was 6

about improving the menus in primary school to ensure the children will have access to healthy food. Other projects that were presented were teaching children how to code by Edilson, improving health care system by Emily, encouraging intercultural learning in teachers by Denisa and spreading the awareness of animal welfare by Ege. The panelists provided each of us with constructive feedback and suggestions which made us more confident to carry out our projects. Moving on to the next session of the day was the closing where there was a certificate giving ceremony followed by the evaluation of the workshop.

ECA SPONSORED PROGRAM CONFERENCE After the workshop ended, we had an ECAsponsored program conference. Among the sessions during the conference were an international bazaar, country sharing session and Capitol Hill visit. The AFS-USA volunteers and international participants liked the songket pouches and banana chips we had brought and we had a blast walking around and exploring the booths of other countries. Now you know what you can bring when you visit the states next time!


The biggest take away throughout the workshop and conference is to always believe Austin Haeberle and Wendy Jacques shared in yourself and always push yourself beyond their knowledge on digital storytelling. The your limits. Nothing is impossible until we give it session before lunch was about photography a try because we are capable of accomplishing and the session after lunch was about more than we know. We will discover it when we videography. We were introduced to the Adobe keep stretching ourselves to unleash our own Spark which is very easy to use and it contains a potential. lot of free features such as music and pictures. Our final video would be shown to everyone coming to the conference in the last few days. 7


YES Leadership Workshop By Shrida Nair (YES16) The YES Leadership Workshop 2019 workshop began with an icebreaking session and introductions at KL Sentral. We were then briefed on what would happen the next three days. Right after, we were each given a checkpoint around KL Sentral to go to. This, I found out later was an activity. We were separated into two teams. It was a little bit of an explorace that consisted of finding our teammates and regrouping at a final meeting point. It was interactive, a little puzzling and a lot of fun. Despite being tired of running, we were very enthusiastic about our next task. It was a breakfast hunt! Each team was tasked to prepare breakfast for the next two mornings. We had to come up with a recipe and shop for groceries on a given budget. Using the money we were given, we had only 20 minutes to shop for groceries before heading off to our


workshop location. It felt like a task on the Amazing Race but we all managed to pull through! About an hour later, we arrived in the house that would be our home for the next three days. We were introduced to a point system that would be in play during our workshop. We were each given an initial amount of 50 YES dollars (or points). We had to excel at sessions or do something good to gain more YES dollars and even had to “rent” our rooms by paying with YES dollars. It was such an interesting concept and it really had us motivated to try and win by getting the most amount of YES dollars individually and as a team. The day was spent carrying out sessions that taught us the importance of teamwork, effective communication skills as well as collaborative communication. The last session of the night was on alumni and team building. Right before lights out, a bombshell was dropped. The two teams that had planned our breakfast had to switch recipes with each other! We were unprepared for the twist but excited to try something unfamiliar. Tired, we slept immediately after the sessions had ceased. The next day, our team was in charge of breakfast. It was a bit of a struggle as we were not experienced in the kitchen and working with a recipe we were unprepared for but it was a lot of fun. After having breakfast together, we started off with our sessions. The next few sessions were centered on teaching us how to build and maintain teams followed by problem solving skills. Both sessions collected were announced and prizes were given. My team didn’t win but being part of were done creatively and we learned a lot. this workshop was already a big win to me. We After lunch, we played an oil pricing game which each gave our feedback and expressed our taught us how to give and take, collaborate, take experience in the workshop the past two days. risks and give in when we had to. We continued the workshop exceeded my to learn more about how to take a stand by being Overall, open, brave and understanding. Then, we learned expectations. The fantastic learning experience about stress management and ways to find peace I had is truly rewarding for me. Learning all these from stressful situations. Our last session of the day new ideas through creative sessions that our was on writing proposals, learning to use excel facilitators had prepared was an experience not and event management. It was very informative to be forgotten. We bonded so well during the workshop and it was bittersweet to part ways and something we all needed to know about. after spending 3 days together. I hope there are We began our last day together with breakfast more opportunities for alumni to come together prepared with full of love by the other team and this way to bond, learn and grow together in a then started on our last session of the workshop. workshop like this. At the closing, winners of the most YES dollars 9


First Meeting of Sunway AFS Club By Quek Hon Seng (Vice President AFS Club @ Sunway)


FS Sunway Club had its first Orientation meeting for new members recently. It was attended by 30 participants, 22 of whom were new members! The orientation started with club president Lavenia welcoming the participants and introducing them to AFS. She touched on the history of how AFS began in World War 1 and how the movement evolved into intercultural exchange programs. An ice breaking session followed where games like Human bingo and chicken tinge got everyone to mingle and laugh. A briefing on the events and activities that were planned throughout the year was next. The response was great, with many participants volunteering to conduct the events and activities. After that, the first session, “Maneuver the Mind Field” was lad by Shirleen. The session’s objective was to teach participants Introduction by Lavania, the club president

10 A team discussing which 3 items for survival should be selected if they were stranded on a deserted island

on the importance of teamwork, leadership and how to solve problems together as a team. The game was conducted in a dark room, where a route was drawn out on the floor. Obstacles in the form of chairs, tables and paper were placed along the route, all which the teams had to avoid and navigate their way around. Teams of five participants each were formed and held outside the dark room. Within the teams, a leader was chosen, tasked to guide his/her team along the route and around the obstacles to the exit. The catch was that all participants except the leader were blindfolded. The leader was only allowed to give verbal commands in leading the team to the exit. Everyone enjoyed the session very much, with many funny moments of teams taking the wrong path or walking into obstacles. Participants learned how important it was to follow orders and how difficult it was in leading a team. The final session was Desert Island. As the name implied, participants imagined they were stranded on a desert island. Each team was given a paper with a list of essential survival items but could only pick three out of the list of 20 items. They then needed to explain why the three items were selected and how they could help in their survival. A new situation was then thrown to them which required teams to think of how they could survive on an island full of poisonous snakes. The only safe place was the beach but at high tide the beach disappeared, leaving them high and dry and facing danger all around. The orientation ended on a high note with Lavania thanking everyone for their participation and urging them to Above: Team 3 during a session on maneuvering the Mindfield sign up as committee members. Below: A participant crossing underneath a desk, one of the obstacles faced during the mindfield session




Another AFS Club Opens in High School

MK Bukit Mewah Seremban has just established an AFS Club as part of its cocurricular offerings to students. This is the first high school AFS Club located in the Central Region, and the third in the country. Headmaster Mr. Tan Chee Kheong spearheaded the initiative and after just three months of meeting with AFS Malaysia’s representatives, the school had established an AFS Club. “I strongly believe in the values and principles advocated by AFS and that is why this club was fast-tracked,” he said. “I also recognise the need for intercultural understanding and knowledge in an increasingly divisive world and AFS has the right formula to bring greater insight, appreciation and respect among the various races in Malaysia as well as bring the world to our school through its exchange programmes.” The launch ceremony took place during morning assembly when the school was also celebrating its achievements in a recent Statewide Sports Meet where its athletes had swept most of the medals in various track and field events. Cultural dances performed by the school’s pioneer batch of AFS club members followed the launch gimmick and dignitaries comprising state education representatives, PTA committee members and AFS Malaysia officials later visited an intercultural fair organised by the newly minted AFS Club in the school hall. Exhibits consisted of the history of AFS researched and put together by club members, local culture including games and food, and an international corner where Korea, India, China and Germany were some of the countries highlighted by families who had previously hosted students from those countries.


Ramadan in Ohio

To be able to experience Ramadan in America reminds me that each one of us have our own challenges to face in our everyday lives. Without the struggles, the little things that made my By Wan Aisyah Adlin Binti Wan Mohd Hazim fasting days seem facile would not be fully This year marks the first time I am experiencing appreciated including the abundant food, the Ramadan in America, a non-Muslim majority chilly weather, the warm camaraderie and many country. Undeniably, the Ramadan vibes in other indescribable blessings. Malaysia keep lingering in my head including the scents of honey-barbecue chicken in the packed Ramadan bazaars, the solemn recitations of prayers and Adhan, the early morning meals and the much anticipated iftar. Though the vibes are irreplaceable and I keep longing for home, it makes me contemplate the bigger picture of the reasons I am given the chance of fasting here. After several days of fasting and adapting to the routine of waking up early to have pre-dawn meals (suhoor), I start to discover the essence of self-discipline in taking care of myself along with finding my way to be closer to God as it is the ultimate purpose of Ramadan. I am still struggling to wake up early, with only my phone alarm insisting I should get off my irresistible bed. But I understand and appreciate that Ramadan challenges me to balance my time between sleep, school, family and spiritual demands. In Akron, Ohio, the fasting period lasts 16 hours because Ramadan falls in the summer solstice where the days are the longest and the nights are the shortest. This is almost two hours longer than in Malaysia. Fasting will start as early as 4.15 am and will end as late as 9.00 pm. Meanwhile, the Isha’ prayer starts when I am ready for bed which makes it even more challenging. I used to take for granted the acts of breaking fast with my family and friends back home but now I am starting to miss those occasions. However, I had the chance of breaking fast with my host family and other Muslims at an Islamic Community Center in Kent as well as with the family of my American Muslim friend. All feelings of homesickness and missing iftar with familiar people disappeared as I was warmly welcomed by everyone and made to feel at home. The openness and acceptance from both families assuaged somewhat my feelings of being alienated as everything seemed different.

These are the pictures from iftar at a mosque with families in America. The man in yellow robe (top picture, far left) is one of the mosque committee members who welcomed us at the iftar. The last picture is of me and my Muslim American friend, Daleelah and her siblings. Tamari (far left) is a non-Muslim; she just wanted to experience wearing a hijab



Ramadan in the Arctic Circle, Alaska By Raja Aziera Syahfiqah, YES19

You are hosted in Alaska? Is it snowing all year long there? Are there igloos?” That’s the usual reaction I get when I tell people in Malaysia that I am an exchange student in Alaska. And no, it does not snow all year long and I have yet to see any igloos nor do Alaskans ride a polar bear to school. Admittedly, we receive more snow than other parts of the United States and the temperature is definitely lower here which means it’s colder and breezier. However, during the summer, Alaska experiences long daylight hours and warm weather. It’s also the start of season for outdoor sports like baseball and softball. Even though I am living far away from my natural family and am not surrounded by a people with the same religion as mine, I still observe Ramadan. This is because I wanted my host family to understand up close and personal what Ramadan is all about. Although the fasting hours are longer, it actually makes me more eager to fast as I am delighted to share my culture with my host Travelling to a game in Ketchikan, Alaska by ferry

My host mum and I having dinner together after sun-down


With my teammates after our last game. We won four games throughout the whole season

family and friends here. I fast from dawn which is at 3:30 a.m. until sundown at 8:45 p.m. I follow Seattle, Washington’s prayer times as do many Alaskan Muslims here. Being an exchange student also means you have to be as active as you can in high school and grab any opportunity that will allow greater interaction with the locals. Thus it was that I joined a softball team and as luck would have it, the season started exactly in Ramadan. We had to travel a lot for games and we practiced every day in order to bring victory to our school. To be honest, I was usually exhausted by the end of the day because we had two games daily and I was fasting but I persevered anyway. It made the moments of breaking fast all that much sweeter and more meaningful. You feel a sense of accomplishment that cannot be aptly described. I was also fortunate that there was another exchange student from Egypt on the softball team and we shared the highs and lows of fasting together, encouraging each other when the going got tough. My host family is also very supportive and would wait for sunset before breaking fast with me.

Habiba, an exchange student from Egypt, and I at our softball field with glaciers in the background












AFS: Amazing, Fabulous, Sensational By Alberto Lombardo


had so many amazing moments during my exchange year in Malaysia. It is not easy to describe this experience because, really, how can you describe so much in just a few words? When my friends in Italy ask me how life in Malaysia is, I just say “Amazing” but that does not even begin to describe the experiences I have had here. I am very happy to be in this country and after eight months of being here, I know I am going to look back and see all the things I am going to miss: my family, my school, my friends, my roti canai. My host family has been one of the most important parts of my exchange experience. In Italy my family is made up of just my parents and I, and they are often at work. Here I have such a big, noisy, kind family, which is wonderful for me. I do love spending time with them, they always have fun, even when doing simple chores like grocery shopping.

This is the family who hosted me for Chinese New Year in Seremban. All my short exchanges have been wonderful: Deepavali, Christmas, Chinese New Year and my STE. I’m so grateful to all the families who hosted me; thanks to them I got to know Malaysia fully

Above left: This is my class, 5 Akas English College, the picture was taken on my first day of school. I like my school, between my teachers and my classmates. It’s very fun and I always laugh Left: During my STE in Ipoh the family where I was hosted brought me to this amazing Indian wedding. The presence of all these cultures is one of my favorite things about Malaysia Above: This picture was taken at the AFS Gala Dinner right after performing traditional dances.. I’m very close to the other exchange students, we have been sharing a lot of amazing experiences together


During my STE in Perak I was hosted for a few days in Kampung Orang Asli Batu 5 which was one of the best things I have ever done. The village is very traditional: just a few wooden houses in the jungle, no telephone line, and just a little bit of electricity. There is not much to do there, so I spent most of the time playing around with the children. I even gave them English lessons, but they gave me much more in return.

fast though as I am now at the final sprint before my AFS journey in Malaysia comes to an end. I truly enjoyed every moment, every second, every smile.

I’m infinitely grateful to all the people I met during my exchange: first of all to my host family, without whom this year would not be the same, then to my classmates and teachers, to AFS, to all the families who opened their doors to me Even though I have lived here for months, even for a few days. This country and its people sometimes it still feels like a dream. Malaysia’s have given so much to me that I feel different, many cultures are wondrous to delve into and that I have grown in confidence and matured in explore and I keep seeing, discovering, trying a good way. new things every single day. Time moves very

Left: I love spending time with people, especially children from the Kampung. They often come to play football with my host brother’s son and build with Lego at home Below left: I have always felt at home and especially close to my host mum. Mama has always been there for me and I will never forget any of the moments we spent together Below: This is one of my host sisters. Since my host mother has a shop in Singapore, we often go there, and have a memorable time together



My Volunteer Service in Malaysia By Thies Reisemann


am one of nine German volunteers from the summer batch of 2018/2019. My CPO in Malaysia for the eleven months of volunteering was Outward Bound Malaysia, an International non-profit organisation with outdoor centres in 33 countries all over the world. OBM is located in Lumut at the west coast of Malaysia in Perak. The organisation emphasises on the outdoors and outdoor activities, doing stuff like trekking, kayaking, wall climbing, sailing, solo camping, group camping and repelling. Participants come for courses from 2 to 25 days. During that time all participants stay at Outward Bound and they have to give away all contraband items like their phones, reading materials and their own food. My job here is mostly to support the instructors during the courses, conduct my own small briefings and play games with younger participants. When there are no courses running, there are always other things to do like repair works for some of the facilities, training with the Instructors or working in the main


office. There is always a lot going on here and in the low-peak periods, I would join the other instructors and play volleyball or practice my kayaking skills at the beachfront.

spend some time with these two students and we tried to make the best out of it. It was a bit disappointing that we could not really experience a lot of the Deepavali celebrations. But I would say that I experienced most of Malaysian culture The work here is mostly very physical. I spend through my CPO, because I live so closely with nearly all my work days completely outside all these people and during the courses too, you for all the different activities. That’s definitely get the opportunity to know people from all over something you have to get used to and requires Malaysia. some commitment. A completely new thing for me here was that I Cultural experience was nothing I had to worry was completely on my own for the first time in my about, because I was the only foreigner here at life. I had no other fellow foreign volunteer in my Outward Bound Malaysia and surrounded by surroundings. That was one of the challenges local people all the time. So I could really witness for me but on the other hand it proved a big how the people live here, especially when I live advantage; I would have never got to know the at the staff quarters with all the other Instructors. people at work so well with if there was another One great thing here at the staff quarters is that volunteer around me as my “crutch”. As a result, there is always someone around and you never I made a lot of new friends here and sometimes have to spend time alone. it’s better to go through things on your own and carve your own personal experience. Of course, My biggest cultural event here was my Deepavali it also felt very good to have all the other German hosting in Ipoh. I was hosted by two women volunteers once in a while to talk about all the together with Inori and Mia, two exchange new stuff we were experiencing and the great students here in Malaysia. It was really nice to Christmas we celebrated together! 25


Aqilah Alya: China

on My Mind


was one of the lucky students selected for a sixweek exchange program to Chengdu,China. I am from Tapah Road, Perak and have been involved with the AFS Club in my school since 2015. Like any other teenager my age, it has always been a dream of mine to go abroad and experience a new culture. Through the AFS club in school, I was able to learn about other cultures within Malaysia but when I was offered to go on an intercultural exchange program, I jumped at the chance. My experience of living there for six weeks was truly an eye opener as I discovered many layers to the Chinese culture. Living in China is definitely very different from living in Malaysia. The first thing I noticed upon arrival was the cold weather. Coming from a hot and humid tropical country like Malaysia, winter came as a shock to me. My body had to take time to adjust to the freezing temperatures there. I remember on my first night, I did not have thick clothes to wear and I felt like I would freeze to death when I tried to sleep. Fortunately, my host family noticed my misery and provided suitable warm clothing for me. Another aspect about life in China is the school system which is very different from the one back home. I was shocked when I got to know that students have to be in school by 9 am and go back home at 8 pm! That is a total of 11 hours of learning. It showed just how seriously the people here take of education and the emphasis placed on doing well academically. As for the food, it was a bit difficult for me as I am a Muslim but I quickly adapted to a diet that did not have any meat. Thankfully I was placed with a very caring Chinese host family who understood my religious requirements. Of course, there were times when they forgot that I could not eat certain foods but I understood that it was a learning process on both our parts. But I certainly developed a liking for ther ou (steamed bread) and mian tiar (noodle) throughout my stay there. They are really 26

delicious in my opinion. I was also provided the facility and space that I needed to do my prayers which was something I was grateful for. The process of learning Chinese, traditional dance, doing some sight-seeing and even learning how to draw Chinese drawings and writing Chinese calligraphy was really fun and were the highlights of my stay. Su Lao shi (teacher Su) was a really helpful person and was always there when I had any problem or question. My classmates were also a great help throughout my AFS journey. They were always patient and guided me on doing things that I was not familiar with. They even brought me and other AFS students to eat hou guo (hot pot) during our very first week in the country. It was a memorable outing and

showed just how happy they were to receive us as exchange students there. Throughout my AFS experience, I have learnt so many new things that I never thought I would. I have improved my English-speaking skills, gained a new confidence, learned a new language that would surely help me in future, experienced a new culture, made new friends all around the world and most of all I have discovered a new side of me‌ a side that is ever ready to take on new challenges, more patient and accepting of people and cultural differences and not afraid to try the unknown. I also began to understand that although we have different cultures, creeds, religions and backgrounds, we are all essentially the same, humane and kind at heart.

scholarship to China. I hope others would also be given the same opportunity to experience what I have experienced because it is truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. My final week in China was bittersweet as I knew I had to part with my host family and new-found friends. I still miss the people, the culture, the food, even the long school hours as I have fallen in love with China. I hope I am able to visit my Chinese family and friends there someday soon.

My growth as a person was made possible by the good people of AFS who had offered me a 27


Intercultural Learning Needs Interfaith Dialogue By Melissa Liles, Chief Global Engagement Officer, AFS Intercultural Programs

Despite this, the voices of religious leaders have largely been absent in intercultural events and debates, and the perspectives of nonnstitutions of faith are critical but often formal educators like AFS, who facilitate these under-recognized actors in the learning to discussions, are often not included in religious live together movement. Many of our most circles. fundamental values—especially around what’s considered “good,” “bad,”and other issues Colombo, Sri Lanka. Christchurch, New of morality—are deeply and unconsciously Zealand. In the last two months these places rooted in the spiritual beliefs of our families and were added to our mental maps for a similar communities. For billions of people around the reason. Everywhere, everyday, at any given world, these important lessons are first learned moment, we can point to an example that makes and discussed in temples, mosques, churches, it tragically clear that we must make room at the and other places of worship. intercultural and global citizenship education table for interfaith discussions.



AFS does not advocate religiosity or any one faith, but recognizes how crucial this dimension is to peace and productivity. Facilitating successful interfaith dialogues is a critical tool that supports of our mission to provide people with essential intercultural competencies for the modern world. With this in mind, AFS pledges to put more emphasis on the role of religion in intercultural learning as we gather at the AFS Global Conference (911 October in Montreal, Canada) to discuss the role of global competence in educating active global citizens.

This article was originally published (in a slightly modified format) in the AFS Connect magazine in 2015. Given the urgency of the topic, AFS believes it is now more important than ever to restart this conversation that will culminate at the AFS Global Conference.



I Believe I Can Fly By Charlie Teo


have just earned my wings!

My earliest memory of aviation as a kid was when I was sending off my cousin to the airport when That is to say, I have obtained a Private she was going to the USA. Back then the whole Pilots’ License (PPL) issued by the Civil Aviation kampung followed you to the airport when you Authority of Malaysia (CAAM). It did not come leave the country. When it was my turn to go to easy, as there were a lot of sacrifices I have had USA, however, no kampung folks followed me to make to achieve my dreams. I hope to share because by then, ‘Everyone Can Fly’. It was my my journey and inspire some of you to pursue first time ever stepping foot in an airplane. That your own dreams whatever they may be. trip to my host family took three days of flying, including the layovers. I am an AFS volunteer as well as a returnee. In 2005, I went on the Youth Exchange and Study Despite the long journey, I remained elated Programme (YES) with AFS. I was hosted in Wells because I already knew back then I would love County, Indiana, USA by the Fiechters, a farming to learn how to fly. family who earn their living growing crops and livestock. I ain’t bluffing when I tell you that the Fast forward years later in 2017, after clearing nearest big town was called Bluffton! I attended some obstacles and harboring the thought for Southern Wells Junior-Senior High School. All the longest time, I decided to make the dream AFS students experience some culture shock a reality. I consulted my mentors and after in our new environment. But my shock came some research, I enrolled with Elite Flying Club before I left Malaysia. I was told I was going to in Senai, Johor Bahru. I did ground school on be hosted on a pig farm! Monday evenings and flew on weekends. On 30th December 2017, I took my first flying lesson.

Left to right: Caryn, Irene, Chooi Foon, Charlie 30

Thumbs up after the flight! And doing the shutdown checks On a vacation in Sydney in 2018, I had the opportunity to pick up some flying tips from a local flight instructor recommended by my mentor. It was an eye opener. On the ground, the instructor was as nice a guy as anyone can ever meet. But in the skies, it was a different story. Never have I been yelled at continuously for such a prolonged period. I thought I was going deaf. I was yelled at until I forgot my procedures, which earned me more yellings. From that experience on, things changed. I improved by leaps and bounds. The stress that they deliberately placed on you was to make sure you can handle all kinds of situations, multi-task and do it right. By the end of the 5th hour there, I was almost ready to go solo.

On 4th August 2018, I took my first solo flight. There was no instructor, just me and the GoPro - which promptly failed me. Nonetheless, I took my flight test on the 11th November and completed my PPL. Now I’m legally allowed to bring family and friends on a flight. My first passengers on board were none other than my family – my mom, dad, and sister. And my latest batch of passengers included Johor Chapter President, Irene Leong and volunteers Caryn and Chooi Foon. We flew in the training area close to the airport and Caryn had the opportunity to feel how it was like controlling an aircraft.

The learning journey does not end here, After returning from Sydney, I was armed with however. There is so much more to learn. I hope the knowledge and experience of what is to get instrument rated and multi-engine rated required of me in the cockpit. In July 2018, I took in the near future. Overall it has been quite a my theory papers. There were seven papers journey and I am very glad I acted to make my altogether: Aircraft General, Air Law, Aircraft dream a reality. Type Technical, Flight Performance & Planning, Human Performance & Limitations, Navigation If you would like to know more about what flying & Meteorology, and VFR Communications. It is all about, do follow my Instagram account at was not easy juggling work and having to study Pilot.teo. for the papers. Thankfully I passed them all on my first try. 31


Bonding Through Potluck Klang chapter organized a low-key potluck at Headspace in SS15, Subang Jaya for volunteers, staff and the Chapter president. Everyone brought food to the table including scrumptious delicacies like nasi lemak, fried vermicelli and cucur udang. A discussion on future activities for the Chapter followed, with an exchange of ideas and insights into leadership and event management from Klang Chapter stalwarts. Volunteers from AFS Sunway said they learned a lot from the session and were motivated to collaborate further with Klang Chapter on forthcoming activities.

AFS in Pendidik Magazine Pendidik magazine journalists recently interviewed AFS Malaysia Chair and National Director for a forthcoming issue of the publication. Pendidik is a monthly magazine approved by the Ministry of Education and distributed to all schools in Malaysia. The interview was to highlight AFS, its history, mission and vision, programmes available and the benefits AFS brings to students, schools, families and communities. Pendidik may also feature AFS on a regular basis, under a new intercultural learning column.


Ipoh Visit NO staff, Annie Yap and AFS MAS board member, M. Ellangesh made a trip to Ipoh for a meetup with Perak Chapter committee members. It was an annual visit to express appreciation and to acknowledge the chapter’s good work. The agenda consisted of introductions, a slide presentation on chapter operations, program policies, finance and SOPs. An outcome from the visit was recommendations on activities for the year which Chapter volunteers hope to realize.

Damansara’s Iftar Meeting Damansara Chapter combined its chapter meeting with Iftar at the Royal Selangor Club, Bukit Kiara. Chapter President, Santhi Raju, AFS NO staff, Annie Yap, Chapter Advisor, Susie Thambyrajah, Vice President, Mika Low and Chapter Roadshow Coordinator, Noorazzalea Gazali were present at the meeting which discussed roadshow recruitment, State Level interviews, Hosting matters and chapter activities.





Profile for AFS Malaysia

Budaya Beat E-Magazine (May-June 2019)  

This edition features events and stories from May until June. Some of the highlights are AFS Club @ Sunway - Social Entrepreneur Changemaker...

Budaya Beat E-Magazine (May-June 2019)  

This edition features events and stories from May until June. Some of the highlights are AFS Club @ Sunway - Social Entrepreneur Changemaker...