Budaya Beat September-October 2017

Page 1


A Word from National Director


ahatma Gandhi said, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world”. Here at AFS Malaysia, the Board and National Office are working hard to embody that change to keep us relevant and encourage growth and progress. We are working actively with governments, other nonprofit organizations, international agencies and individuals to make educational exchange program more widely accessible. AFS Malaysia Annual General Meeting took place recently on 30th September 2017, the same weekend as a Chapter Presidents Meeting, ensuring a good turnout and a smooth session. The re-election of Pn Khalilah Talha, Chairperson and Elena Shamsuddin, Board member for another two year term, provides continuity and stability to the organization as we embark on our 60th Anniversary Celebration in 2018. For the last year, AFS International has been working on a new AFS Network Strategy in an inclusive process with the entire AFS community. This is a bold step our Network is taking to seize the full potential of our mission as a strong, cohesive and diverse international education organization. The new AFS Network Strategy, endorsed by the AFS Board of Trustees and created Network Strategy Designed to deliver mission-driven impact, our strategic framework repositions AFS as a stronger, more cohesive and connected international education organization. The Volunteer Congress this year will be held on the 25-27 November and is organized by the Returnees of AFS. The highlight of the event will be the Volunteer Appreciation Dinner on 25th November at Vitatel Hotel. If you’re interested to join the dinner, kindly register at http://bit.ly/2zzvTpx. It is always challenging in AFS, and it is heartwarming to see a lot of support from volunteers and Board members for us to move forward. “If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” ~African proverb. Atty Sulaiman AFS National Director



Short Term Experience But Long-Term Impact


hort-term exchanges (STE) are held for students to experience a different environment and culture during their stay in Malaysia while taking a short break from their host family and host school. The recent STE saw Chapters providing an enriching and memorable experience for students in Pahang, Kedah and Sarawak. Pahang Chapter arranged for an educational engagement for Misato Shibune and Chi Haru of Japan and Justin Immig from Germany, which included interactions with indigenous people, a wildlife adventure that included discovering flora and fauna, and meaningful conversations to help the students get closer to each other while also bonding with volunteers.

“We started in Cameron Highlands to hunt for the Rafflesia at the Lojing Kelantan border, visiting Orang Asal settlements along the way as well as Mossy forest, Sg Palas Tea Plantation and a Strawberry Farm,” said Vincent Chiam, Pahang Chapter President. The students were then placed with host families around the area to experience family and school life. “The STE program ended with more adventure as that is what Pahang State is famous for,” Vincent added. “We organised a Cherating River activity where we did kayaking by day to see mangroves up close and went on a Fireflies tour by night. The students also witnessed baby turtles being released at Rimbun Dahan Turtle Hatchery at Chendor beach. We also

had young coconuts plucked by a South Malaya short tailed macaque, an experience the students found quite thrilling and a visit to the Kuala Gandah Elephant Sanctuary.” Meanwhile, Kedah Chapter had to resort to creative alternatives when their original programme involving outdoor activities had to be cancelled due to inclement weather. As a result, the programme focused on history, customs and traditions which included a tour of Alor Star’s places of worship like the grand mosques (Masjid Al-Bukhary & Masjid Zahir), a Siamese temple, a Hindu temple (Kuil Sri Maha Mariamman), Pekan Cina, Pekan Melayu and lessons in Malay dance.

The mossy forest is a natural environment that grows only at the highest elevations of Cameron Highlands and other mountain ranges across Malaysia 4

Pahang Chapter organizing the kayaking activity at Cherating River by day and a Fireflies tour by night “The Malay dance lessons were a hit with the students. They enjoyed them immensely which was a relief as we had to cancel many outdoor activities,” said Chapter President Rohayah Yusof. “Students were disappointed that the beach cleaning and snorkelling activities in Pulau Payar had to be cancelled because of bad weather. The Tree Top Walk and white-water rafting in Sedim also had to be cancelled as it is dangerous to carry out such activity for fear of sudden head water. The Walking Tour of Alor Setar also had to be cancelled due to the rain. Very disappointing indeed but we more than made up for the loss with the dance lessons and indoor events that provided greater cultural insight to the students,” she added.

Justin Immig showing off his Ping Pong skills

Kedah also hosted a Chapter Gathering where STE students were asked to cook



Daichi’s blow pipe attempt at Penan hut

food from their country, wear their traditional costumes and give a country presentation. Riho Iwase from Japan enjoyed the Kedah experience. “I learned how a family wedding is prepared,” she said. “In Japan, a wedding planner prepares everything but in Malaysia, especially in the kampungs, the entire community comes together to help prepare the food in the traditional way, using huge cauldrons and open fire. I was surprised when everyone gathered in one house and cooked so many foods! I thought it was a very nice way to keep tradition and the old ways alive.” Sarawak Chapter focused on community service activities


Spending their time at Sarawak Cultural Village for its STE students. These included volunteering in animal shelters at Sarawak’s Society For The Prevention Of Cruelty To Animals (SSPCA), Orphanages, tree planting and forest conservation activities. They also had an opportunity to visit the Semenggok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre, Jong’s Crocodile Farm, Matang Wildlife Centre, the historic Brooke Gallery at Fort Magherita, Sarawak Natural History Museum, Cat Museum, Sarawak Cultural Village, national parks and hot springs, and factories making the famous layered cakes and potteries of Sarawak. “The students are made to enjoy their activities by getting them to understand the purpose of their visit, to engage

in each activity and reflecting on the outcomes,” explained Sarawak Chapter President, Mr. Bahtiar Afandi. “We reminded them of AFS objectives and to promote peace and understanding wherever they go. With such heightened awareness, they approached locals to befriend them and thus created a healthy, pleasant, and enjoyable atmosphere around them”. The students overwhelmingly agreed the exchange was lifechanging and impactful, even suggesting that it be extended to more than two weeks because of the variety and intensity of the programmes offered. Many vowed to return in the future to foster further ties with their host families.

Learning how to make Kuih Kapit

First time learning and trying to wear Kain Batik

Host students also learn to go fishing with wearing a Malay traditional clothes 7


Relay For Life 2017: One person can make a difference By: Shridha Nair (YES’16)


elay for Life is an annual cancer walk and fundraising event organized by the National Cancer Society Malaysia (NCSM) dedicated to celebrating the lives of cancer survivors, remembering all those who have passed on and to raise funds to aid NCSM in their mission to rid the world of cancer. An overnight event, it brings communities together for 16 hours, from dusk to dawn, where participants take turns to walk around a track continuously, symbolizing that cancer never sleeps. This year the event was held at Dataran Petaling Jaya and AFS Malaysia was there to lend its support. Despite a persistent drizzle that made the field soggy and dark clouds looming above, all volunteers and participants remained upbeat and determined. The event began at 6.00pm with the Survivor lap, with Cancer Survivors taking the first lap. Other participants stood all around the track, boisterously cheering them on as they made their way.


Everyone then joined in to walk around the track as the Survivors finished their first lap, signalling the start of the event. AFS Malaysia with other organizations

like Astro Kasih, VitaHealth, Cancerlink Society of Malaysia took part, proudly waving banners in a show of support. Just outside the track, fundraisers were selling all sorts of things from food items like donuts, popcorns, sandwiches, to souvenirs like tote bags and key chains. All funds raised were for the National Cancer Society Malaysia. The AFS Malaysia booth run by AFS volunteers sold popcorn, orange juice, as well as Braille bookmarks and greeting cards, prepared by

one of our volunteers, Celine Lean Yew Lin. It was around 8.00p.m when the Luminaria Ceremony began. Everyone lighted their Luminaria bags, which are small paper lanterns, in remembrance of those who have died of cancer and honoring those who have survived. Participants wrote little messages and decorated their bags before lighting them and placing them around the track. A moment of silence and prayer

followed. The night continued as participants took turns to walk around the track while being entertained by performances on the main stage. As the night progressed, survivors came up on stage to share moving stories of their battle with Cancer. They inspired those still fighting the disease to always have hope and never lose faith. At midnight, participants started to take short naps in the tents provided around the field. Others stayed on the track, taking slow strolls despite the mud and rain. Games like dodge ball and captain ball were also organized for participants to have fun during the wee hours of the night. For those who slept, the wakeup call was around 6.45a.m. Participants gathered by the stage for a session of Zumba, followed by aerobics which successfully got everyone awake and energized for the rest of the morning. Nearing the last ten minutes of the 16 hour Cancer walk, all participants were gathered, taking their last few laps around the track. The emcee ended with a few closing words, thanking all participants for their endless support to this event. The Relay for Life Kuala Lumpur drew to a close at 10.00a.m with the last lap being run by the Cancer survivors. It was a remarkable sight to see so much love, compassion, kindness and warmth among our community throughout the long night. This event has truly been inspiring as it showed me the power of hope in people who are facing great obstacles in their lives. It has also taught me the importance of standing by those who are fighting against Cancer. Together we can all raise awareness about this disease. 9


Terengganu Chapter:

Shaping The Lives of Tomorrow’s International Leaders By: Mr. Long Tin Piau


FS Terengganu Chapter started off in the mid-1960s. The founder is none other than the late Madam Wee Beng Tang, a US returnee in 1958. In 2001, AFS Terengganu Chapter was officially established by Mr. Jody Lim, a hosting coordinator and a Japan returnee. In 2013, Terengganu chapter hosted Mr. Richardstone and

Mr Barry, both educators from New Zealand, in 2003 and 2004 respectively. Miss Victoria from New Zealand in 2005, Mr. Karaoly Rosta, a 2012 Galatti award holder from Budapest Hungary and Mr. Roger Borell Anglada, an educator from Spain in 2013. These educators stayed in families of different ethnic backgrounds and attended the National and National Type schools in Kuala Terengganu to gain better

insights of the rich Malaysian cultures and the education system. Organizing the 50th Chapter AFS Anniversary, Parade for Peace, in 2007 is another of chapter’s great feat. Special mention to Madam Lucy Lim for managing 26 AFS students from all chapters, finding 26 host families and oversee the smooth running of the entire show where 26 AFS students paraded

Back To Nature - Cemerung Waterfall expedition with host students and volunteers 10

in Malaysian batiks were no easy feats. It was a grand function, attended by more than 400 guests and officiated by the late Minister of Education, Dato’ Razali bin Ismail after the grand welcoming lion dance. The chapter also holds roadshow throughout the year. The volunteers and committee members work hand-in-hand with other

NGOs and no-political organizations to spread the wings of AFS. Mr. Long, an active scouter, will grab any opportunities to conduct AFS roadshows at any school, district or state scouting events such as scouter training courses, scout camps, jamborees, and corroboree. Organising STE is also a chapter’s pride. STE students

were placed in school for a week, just to let them experience a new school environment and getting more friends. Optional paid trips ‘re organized such as a 3-day 2-night Redang Island trip and Kenyir Lake boatride or Cemerong waterfall and River Cruise. Other visits : Floating Mosque, Crystal Mosque, Islamic Civilization Park, Losong Museum, Ziq Bakery Factory, Nor Arfah

Right: Volunteering with Terengganu State Level Interview Below: Organizing the 2-day 1-night Bird & Nature Quest


Batik, Climbing Bukit Besar, Boat-making industry, Kerpok lekok industry and Batu Buruk beach. The chapter also organizes a 1-day KT Walk from 9 till 5 pm, exploring Chinatown plus the Central market and Bukit Puteri. The biggest challenge that the chapter faces is the school levy and visa for AFS students placed in our chapter. We work hand-inhand with the National Office to solve the problem.

The other problem is the succession plan. The chapter had done its best to train potential leaders by sending them to meetings, retreats, camps and guiding them in the administration work, hoping that they would gain experience over the years and ready to take over the helm. In term of intercultural opportunities, a student who actually lives in a local home for almost year gets to glimpse into the everyday

Promoting AFS Programs at Peranakan Terengganu 2017 event 12

life of an average person in the community. To truly get an authentic and educational experience, the student has the golden opportunity to immerse himself in the local culture. He gets to be placed in different ethnic homes for certain ethnic festivals, thus gaining better understanding of the different ethnic cultures, religions and customs in Malaysia. Not only are festivals fun, they’re also culturally enlightening, be it music,

Above: Riki and Misato, both from Japan, participating in 34th Malaysian Chinese Cultural Festival Right: Chapter outing with host families and volunteers to Kenyir Elephant Conservation Village art, religion, history or something else that interests him. Thus, a student gets the opportunity to explore and be part of the festival itself and may help him understand why a certain practice or ritual is in place. He would be able to attend and witness the many wedding ceremonies and dinners of the various ethnics. This would eventually lead to maturity. In the next 3-5 years, Terengganu Chapter is aiming to recruit more volunteers and host families and to fully utilize the returnees for the roadshow also to spread AFS wings to at least 8 schools in each districts



One Place, Different Cultures


am Justin Alexander Immig. I am 17 years old and I come from Germany. I have been here since February 2017 and it is proving to be the biggest adventure of my young life. After my school in Germany gave me advice to do an exchange year, I researched about some countries but no country fired my imagination like Malaysia. I was intrigued by the culture, the food, the climate, all in one place...everything Malaysian was calling for me! I go to a government school SMK Seri Ampang. The school is perhaps the single most different environment from Germany. The religions that meet in school, the rules, the way of teaching, the uniforms and the technical possibilities are just some of the stark differences that challenged me. Yet school was for me the place where I learned the most about Malaysia and its culture because this is where the real Malaysia is with no pretension of a tourist attraction. I had the chance to live like any other student here and am being treated like a Malaysian. I tried to blend in and school was a great place to make friends and learn about the


many aspects of Malaysian culture. After school I would go back home by bus. My host family is Indian and I have three host siblings (two older sisters and one older brother). My host brother went to Germany last year so I can talk in German with him sometimes. I consider my host family as my second family and I now have a second home for the rest of my life. The toughest challenge was how to handle all the cultural differences. There is nothing that is not different. The food, the people, the attitude and behaviour‌ it was overwhelming in the beginning because everything was new and different and created problems for me. However, over time, I learned to take these differences in stride. I have had so many adventures and experiences here in Malaysia, so many moments that were special in their own way. Moments that made me really happy or that let me grow in my personality. A really breath-taking moment for me was when

I was standing in front of the Petronas Twin Towers for the very first time. I was awed at its sheer height and beauty. I can still remember how sunlight reflected off the building and made it look surreal. Another special thing is the welcoming culture that I was able to feel here. I went to many houses of my uncles or aunties and I was always made to feel welcome every time. No one gave me a bad feeling because everybody

was so caring that I felt really happy right from the outset. There are so many moments I have had here in Malaysia, moments of happiness and moments where I could not stop laughing. Each one is special as it made me grow as a person and learn from the experience. I believe every AFS student has a really big decision to make: Which country should I apply for? I would advise everyone who is interested in adventure and want to

go somewhere special and totally different to apply for Malaysia. Malaysia is a challenging country to do a gap year because the differences that I explained earlier are hard and not all students can overcome them but I think with the right attitude and character, Malaysia is a country that will surprise you. In just one place, there are many different cultural experiences that will enrich you and give insight into the country and its peoples.

Left: With my host family at my sister graduation day Left below: KLCC, the must visit place in Malaysia! Below: Going climbing with host family



“Now I Can Understand What Spicy Means”- Monica


y name is Mónica Vargas, I am 36 years old. I am a preschool teacher who loves working with children. I am from Costa Rica, a small and beautiful country located in Central America. When I decided to be part of 18+ AFS volunteering programme I didn’t know exactly where to live my adventure. I had a list of countries, all of them very interesting, so, it was a difficult decision to make.

Then, I shared my plans with a very good friend, Ellen, who had had the opportunity to work for one year in Kuala Lumpur. Suddenly, everything was clear. I asked her to tell me EVERYTHING about Malaysia. She described it very well: weather, food, culture, her life in KL. After that dinner, I can recall vividly, my heart started to feel a special interest in that exotic and friendly country on the other side of the world. That’s how I chose

Malaysia! I remember It was my first option when I filled in the forms. Today, I still thank God for listening to the desires of my heart. Continuing with my experience in Malaysia I have to mention that being placed in Penang has been the best. AFS found a great CPO for me in this beautiful island. Penang Chapter did a fantastic job choosing my project. I feel here that I can really help the children and at the same time I grow professionally and personally. Here in Penang I have had great time, it’s a very friendly and lively island. There are plenty of activities in town, friendly people and delicious food. Talking about Penang and Malaysia I have to admit there are some challenges I have had to face. It’s part of the intercultural experience, it’s part of the adventure. One of them was ‘the wet toilets’. I knew about them before coming, however, adjusting to them was challenging. I needed a bit of time to get use to them. Nowadays, the wet floor is something completely normal for me.

One of the famous paintings in George Town. I love them! 16

Above Left: Surrounded by love. They have so much love to give! Above: Reading a book it’s always fun! Left: Teaching phonics. Doing what I love teaching!

The other challenge was the spicy food. Oh my God! Now I can understand what spicy means. I decided to try it, and my CPO is the best place, we have Indian style food all the time. After a couple of weeks, I can say I started to enjoy it. Today, I love spicy food so much, and I am thinking, I will definitely miss it a lot when I go back to Costa Rica! I have been in Malaysia for about 7 months and I have so many good things to remember and share. Therefore, if I have to choose one favourite moment I can say without hesitation that it is when I went hiking to Station 5 for the first time. That morning I could see the mountains and the sea, the high buildings and the big ships, the monkeys and the trees, all of them in the same picture. And I was part of it! That day I started to fall in love with this beautiful country. I felt I was in the right place. I feel blessed!

My time here has been amazing. I have so many stories to share with my family and friends when I go back. I think I will need at least one more year to share them all. Malaysia is a fascinating country. I keep on saying one of the reasons why I chose Malaysia was that I wanted to smell something different, I wanted to see different people, I wanted to taste different flavours and I wanted to hear something different... And here I found what I was looking for and even more. That is why I can recommend Malaysia as an AFS destination for those interested in joining AFS programmes in the future. If you are willing to have a rich intercultural experience Malaysia is the best place.



The First Step Toward Changing The World By: Narenderan Mageswaran (YES16)


verything seems so surreal even today, my memories and experience never seem to fade even a bit as I feel they are deeply engraved and close to my heart. Everything seems like a dream and there can never be a dream as special as my exchange experience. Hence, being granted the chance to be a participant in the Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study programme batch 2016 (YES16) to the United States

of America. I was hosted in a lovely Midwestern state, Michigan, which is better known as the state of great lakes, and blessed with a beautiful family. The city was comparatively small from where I reside currently and that made my journey even more interesting and wonderful as the differences were embraced. Culture shock was one of the very challenging part of my experience. I still remember the first time I entered the

My Host Parents and I during my graduation ceremony 18

school entrance, it was heavily snowing outside and being bundled up with a few jackets, sweatshirt and a huge winter jacket, I dashed through the doors to get myself warm but as soon as I entered the doors, I was dazzled by the differences that I encountered. I came across students with no uniforms and couples holding hands, and the hallway were stacked with lockers and the walls were well maintained and the classrooms were fully air-

would definitely say that maintaining a substantial amount of positivity in life is important especially when you are in hardship because it keeps us going with a smile.

A family portrait of the Reitenours

Preparing ourselves to brace the snow conditioned. As a person who is eager to try new things, I participated in the track and field team for the school. We usually trained under a very cold weather, which is a little too extreme for a boy from the equatorial. During my track and field session, I had sore quads, pulled hamstrings and lethargy due to the unusual weather. All the differences that were thrown to me, I conquered them by being positive. I

Reminiscing back, there are so many sweet and memorable moments which I would cherish and appreciate throughout my life. For instance, graduating from a High School in the United States was indeed a very beautiful experience. I still remember being stranded in the middle of Cincinnati around 2am after an exhausting 20 hours’ journey from Florida in the hope of finding a hotel but we were unfortunate that we couldn’t secure one, so we had to continue driving for another 5 hours till we reach home. Besides, I felt like a champion when I managed to compete among the Americans in the 100M dash and successfully securing 2nd place in the race, which made me feel like nothing really is impossible until you put in effort and focus on your goals. However, the best moments and the sweetest memory would be every minute I got to spend with my beloved host family and host community. It’s well known to the world that AFS creates changemakers. I personally feel that after being with AFS for almost 2 years, I feel that AFS has instilled a lot of good qualities in me, which makes me closer to becoming a citizen of the world. I have enhanced my leadership skills as well as my confidence. After the exchange program, I became a more practical person. I acquired these qualities throughout my experience on the program. AFS helped me make choices, which are wise and practical which I will always will be grateful for.



A Patriotic Picnic By: Nur Basyirah Roslan (YES’17)


t was just two months ago that we had returned home to Malaysia but I was already missing my YES’17 family so much. They had taught me about love, appreciating each other’s differences, understanding one another and most of all, how to truly appreciate being Malaysian. Thus, when the opportunity arose to join the YES Alumni Picnic on Malaysia Day, I did not hesitate. Being with other YES participants who understood the emotions I was going through was a relief. The flashbacks to those amazing days during our exchange year were sharp and real. The picnic Above: This was when we were having a short sharing session in a circle right after an ice breaking activity Left: We were so relieved to cups of icy cold air bandung on such a hot day wasn’t just about meeting my own batch mates, but also connecting with other senior Alumni who had gone through similar experiences.

Me (in the light blue coloured blouse) and my batchmates together with some of the new alumni members that I met during the picnic 20

Since it was a potluck event, we had to bring our favourite Malaysian dish to the picnic. The first thing that came to mind for me was Aiskrim Malaysia, the flavoured icicle packed in long cylindrical plastic and tied at the end. That icicle defined my childhood and I was sure everyone else felt the same way. The icicles have always been cheap and I was delighted to

discover the many varieties offered nowadays; Oreo and Choki-choki being just two of the more exotic flavours. Of course as in every Malaysian buffet, there will always be the popular Nasi Lemak and the crispy Mamak Roti Canai present in the line-up. There were also traditional cakes and pastries which made it a perfect fusion of culinary cultures that day. It felt as if I got to experience the best of both worlds – American lifestyle and scrumptious Malaysian cuisine. Aside from going down memory lane with all the sharing and reflection sessions, I still think the best part of going to these events

is getting to know others and widen one’s network of friends. If it were not for this event, I would have not known Ke Shin from YES’13 who volunteered at our National Selection Camp and Ana from YES’13, both studying in the same university as I am now. In fact, Ke Shin lives next to my college and this makes bonding much easier as we can now hang out whenever possible. To be frank, I used to be very shy when talking to people who are older than I am but the exchange program had taken me out of my comfort zone and I was determined to start a conversation with other Alumni at this

event. Despite the different places, exchange year and experiences, I understood the tongue-in-cheek tagline from AFS Malaysia that “There is no right or wrong, just different-lah!” The YES experience has indeed been life-changing for me, not the least of which is being more aware of my love and appreciation for my own country, Malaysia. Despite its many flaws, there is no other place I would call home and I will forever be grateful to our founding fathers for championing autonomous rule and achieving independence for us. Happy Malaysia Day to all!

A group photo of all of the alumni who attended the YES Picnic 21


New Alumni Committee


reetings to all AFSers out there. My name is Sudha, president of the AFS Malaysia Returnees committee. This team will be serving a 2-year term from 2017-2019. The AFS Malaysia Returnees Committee is relatively new, still a little shaky and very young. Despite all that, we still have big dreams and high aspirations when it comes to AFS Malaysia Returnees. Our main mission is to empower the spirit of volunteerism within individuals to engage sustainability of AFS volunteers. That is a big goal to achieve but has to start somewhere. The team consists of AFSers with vast experience, to fresh returnees who’ve just been back for a little over a year from their exchange. This enables us to view issues and aspects from various perspectives. With this, it represents the voices of the returnees from all programs, and from different age categories as well. As the president of the committee, I do have grand expectations. Regardless of how 22

fresh we all are and the responsibilities we bare, the expectations I have for the team is highly achievable. I believe that we as a team will be able to achieve our mission, of instilling that spirit of volunteerism. This is mainly because we are all so motivated and have that very same spirit of volunteerism mentioned above. Together as a team, we expect to see returnees more dedicated and high spirited whenever the opportunity to volunteer with AFS is provided. AFS provides an amazing platform for returnees to contribute towards a world that stresses the importance of global citizenship. We hope to create a platform where all returnees can return to AFS and give back to the community and to the organisation itself. As a president, I am truly grateful and excited to work with my team to expand and stabilize the AFS Malaysia Returnees as a whole. We hope to receive a positive response from AFSers for future activities that are on the way! Stay tuned guys.


St. Nicholas’ Home, Penang


stablished in 1926, St. Nicholas’ Home began its ministry of caring for seven or eight crippled and blind children in Klebang, Malacca. The Home had then moved to its current location at Bagan Jermal Road, thanks to a generous donation from Lord Nuffield. St. Nicholas’ Home then became the first in Malaysia to establish a school and rehabilitation training for the blind in Malaysia. The Home also pioneered many innovative and ground breaking programmes and services such as the Deaf Blind Multi-Handicapped Children Centre, Taska for BVI Children, Information Technology Courses, Pastry

Training and also Senior Citizen Care to meet the evolving needs of the visually impaired in Malaysia. St. Nicholas’ Home Services The services rendered by the Home are aimed to help the blind and visually impaired to integrate into the society and to be independent with the skill training they received at the Home. One of the services, Vocational Training & Employment Unit (VTE), is to help enable visually impaired persons to acquire sufficient skills and techniques to find employment and to enhance their day to day life. VTE provides trainings such as orientation & mobility,

Our newest volunteer from Germany, Hivi, is helping out with the DBMH children

vocational skills, Braille literacy and also social & communication skills which are all crucial for them to survive in the outside world. The Home’s Information & Resources Unit on the other hand aims to provide the blind and visually impaired persons access to information and resources through books, magazines, news and other reading materials in accessible format such as Braille and audio. The Home believes that no blind and visually impaired should be left behind when it comes to gaining knowledge just like their sighted counterparts.

Pauline is supervising one of the children from the DBMH programme during their tea break 23

CPO SPOTLIGHTS Another highlight of our services is our unique Deaf Blind Multi-Handicapped Children Centre which provides a range of education service and training to these often neglected children to empower them to achieve their optimal potential. We train the children for their daily living skills, motor skills, orientation & mobility, communication and also social skills. Being a charitable organization which depended upon public donation and volunteers to sustain its many programmes and services. St. Nicholas Home has to

reach out to the local as well way from Germany in early as international community February 2017, who would for support. be with us for 11 months and subsequently our third AFS St. Nicholas’ Home and AFS volunteer in July 2017. St. Nicholas’ Home has always welcomed volunteers As St. Nicholas’ Home from all walks of life with provides its services free of open arms to help us charge to all the blind and out with the many areas visually impaired people available and one of the regardless of their creed and Home’s recent partners was background, our volunteers Yayasan AFS Antarabudaya get to learn and experience Malaysia (AFS). We were from this multicultural and approached by Datin Teo diverse community. As we Hwee Ai, the president of provide accommodation for AFS Penang Chapter and our AFS volunteers within we could not be happier the Home itself, they fully to partner with AFS to integrate themselves in the provide their volunteers a Home’s surroundings and platform to learn and grow. life. The volunteers would We welcomed our very experience everything from first two volunteers all the the local food to the works that we do for the blind and visually impaired people. Although the volunteers are in a different country, we noticed that they adapted themselves and conducted themselves in a polite manner during their times here. For instance, the volunteers would join us during our weekly Monday assembly where we would sing our national and the state anthems. AFS volunteers have demonstrated their willingness to embrace our culture. Our newest volunteer, Hivi Baker, expressed that it was an interesting experience and she felt like a part of us during the Home’s Merdeka procession where everyone wore traditional clothing and paraded around St. Nicholas’ Home while singing patriotic songs.

Alena is assigned to Taska to be with the children. Here, the children are greeting each teacher by shaking their hands 24

CPO SPOTLIGHTS The volunteers were also assigned duties at the Taska, the kindergarten for the visually impaired children below seven years of age and the Deaf Blind Multi Handicapped Unit. One of the biggest challenge they faced is the language barrier as most of the children they work with do not speak English fluently. Over the months they had spent with us, they had picked up some basic Bahasa Malaysia, our national language, enough so that they were able to converse with the children. This too, requires a willingness to learn and picking up a whole new language is no easy task. When asked what they

learned during the time that they are here, Alena Pyka, one of the volunteers, said “I learnt not to judge anyone just based on their beliefs or religions and to always keep an open mind. This volunteering experience had made me become more tolerant and adaptable to different opinions and habits which I believe would be crucial for me when I enter the working world.” They further commented that they had come to know and understand the many cultures here in Malaysia such as Buddhism and Hinduism which had always fascinated them. Pauline Heine added that local delicacies such as roti canai,

nasi lemak and curry puffs have definitely won a place in their hearts! All in all, having volunteers especially those from foreign countries had always been an invaluable experience both to the Home and also to the volunteers as we had the opportunity to learn from each other’s culture. We hope this experience working alongside the blind and visually impaired will prepare our AFS volunteers to become leaders with holistic and moderate world view.

Pauline, being the pilot for the tandem bike ride with one of St. Nicholas’ Home’s blind trainees 25


Lifelong Impact Goes Both Ways By: Mr. Low Meng Loh


ur AFS host family experience began when my son, Timothy failed to obtain his first country of choice in an AFS program which was Japan but he was offered Denmark instead. Therefore, after his first month in the program in Denmark, the family decided to welcome Japan to our home in order for him and our host son to learn and exchange new cultural experiences with each other.

Being host to a child for a year program was a big commitment on our part as there was always an uncertainty lingering in our mind, whether a complete stranger will be able to fit into our family. My wife was worried on discipline issues as she has to deal with an additional teenage son, as if two was not problematic enough. In the beginning, as with any new relationship, it was a tough going as Tatsuro’s

We gained one more son...and he is from Japan 26

English was rather limited, which made him appear rather timid and quiet. We had to communicate slowly to make him understand our house rules and stressing that he will not be treated as a house guest but always as a family member. Fetching him from school was always in disarray due to his inability to communicate over the phone as there was always a total silence at the other end of the line.

Surprisingly, he adapted to Malaysian school life rather easily and was popular amongst both classmates and teachers. Despite language barriers at school, Tatsuro was always eager to make friends with the different races, learn new things and willing to join in extra curricular activities. Having Tatsuro around taught the family patience and a ‘new perspective’, always having to view and approach things from our exchange student’s eyes. We in turn taught him what it is like growing up in a typical Malaysian family. Nine months into the program, Tatsuro has made vast improvement in both English and Bahasa Malaysia making communication with him a whole Tatsuro with his Short Term Exchange host family lot easier. He is both confident

Visiting Pink Mosque and Batu Caves; some of the must visit places in Malaysia 27

FAMILY HIGHLIGHTS and talkative, unlike the person we met first on arrival. He is having a fun time now and is able to travel independently and has totally immersed himself within the Malaysian lifestyle. We did not journey alone being Tatsuro’s host family. Within the AFS Malaysia protocol, the journey was smooth sailing with the constant support provided by the AFS Chapter president, liaison person and volunteers to assist us all the time. The various AFS activities in place ensured that Tatsuro

Right: Tatsuro with his Hari Raya host family Below: Participanting in his host school activities


Left: Easter at Church of St Francis Xavier Below: Celebrating Holi Festival with felow AFS friends

was able to experience all the cultural activities of the different races. One highlight of Tatsuro stay was that he stayed six (6) weeks with a Malay family to experience fasting during Ramadan, and thereafter Hari Raya Aidilfitri at their family hometown in Kuching. It is a great joy to witness the transition of a quiet stranger into a bubbly family member of ours now. The host family experience has met our original objective for us to experience another country’s culture in our own home.

This AFS program is only made possible when a Malaysian family begins the first step to open up their home and secondly to open up their heart to welcome someone from another culture. We are glad to have done this hosting experience to be able to give Tatsuro this opportunity. We are sure that he will bring home with him fond and lasting memories of his stay in Malaysia



The Importance of Cultural Awareness One of the major steps in creating cross cultural understanding and acceptance is having a cultural awareness. But first, it is important for us to understand what is cultural awareness? There are several levels of cultural awareness that reflect how people grow to perceive cultural differences.


ultural awareness defined by COBUILD Advanced English Dictionary as someone’s understanding of the differences between themselves and people from other countries or other backgrounds, especially differences in attitudes and values. People see, interpret and evaluate things in a different ways. What is considered an appropriate behavior in one culture is frequently inappropriate in another one.(Stephanie Quappe and Giovanna Cantatore. What is Cultural Awareness, anyway? How do I build it?)


While we can never learn everything about every culture, what we can do is know our own values and how they affect us. We can be determined to go beyond auto-pilot thinking and to question our assumptions. We can approach working across cultures with curiosity and the intent to learn about others. Doing all this helps us to communicate more effectively and to avoid misunderstandings that lead to bad feelings and conflicts. In communities, this translates into greater cohesion. In the workplace, it means higher

productivity, creativity, and synergy.

Degrees of Cultural Awareness As you go through the cycle of adjustment, your awareness of the host country culture naturally increases. This awareness tends to progress through a series of levels, described below. 1. Unconscious incompetence This has also been called the state of blissful ignorance. At this stage, you are unaware of cultural differences. It does not occur to you that you may be making cultural mistakes or that you may be misinterpreting much of the behavior going on around you. You have no reason not to trust your instincts. 2. Conscious incompetence You now realize that differences exist between the way you and the local people behave, though you understand very little about what these differences are, how numerous they might be, or how deep they

might go. You know there’s a problem here, but you’re not sure about the size of it. You’re not so sure of your instincts anymore, and you realize that there are some things you don’t understand. You may start to worry about how hard it’s going to be to figure these people out. 3. Conscious competence You know cultural differences exist, you know what some of these differences are, and you try to adjust your own behavior accordingly. It doesn’t come naturally yet—you have to make a conscious effort to behave in culturally appropriate ways—but you are much more aware of how your behavior is coming across to the local people. You are in the process of replacing old instincts with new ones. You know now that you will be able to figure these people out if you can remain objective. 4. Unconscious competence You no longer have to think about what you’re doing in order to do the right thing. Culturally appropriate behavior is now second nature to you; you can trust your instincts because they have been reconditioned by the new culture. It takes little effort now for you to be culturally sensitive.* *This paradigm is based on work by William Howell. Increasing cultural awareness means to see both the positive and negative aspects of cultural differences. Cultural diversity could be a source of problems, in particular when the organization needs people to think or act in a similar way. Diversity increases the level of complexity and confusion and makes agreement difficult to reach. On the other hand, cultural diversity becomes an advantage when the organization expands its solutions and its sense of identity, and begins to take different approaches to problem solving. Diversity in this case creates valuable new skills and behaviors.





Paris has cobblestone streets, narrow cafe-lined sidewalks and urban planning that in many places thankfully prioritizes historic preservation for within it are many “treasures” often overlooked by the casual visitor to the city.


ne of these gems is the Serge Lutens Perfume House situated in the Jardin du Palais Royal in a quiet enclosure which also houses private apartments, bureaucratic offices including the French Ministry of Culture and Tourism, and high-end boutiques. The perfume house itself is very discreet and elegant, no neon or lavish signs to show that you have arrived at its doorstep. Once inside, the waft of perfume will lure you from its small, ornate mirrored foyer to the opulent and majestic settings of its blue-violet lighted salon. The central focus of the salon is a grand hand-painted circular staircase which dominates the room. Streaked black-gray marble lines the floors and walls. Displays are sparse, dark, and designed specifically to focus all attention on the perfumes. Housed on marble tables in their bottles, test strips are neatly laid out and ready to be sniffed. It’s almost overwhelming to be faced with the entire collection of Serge

The clean but exotically named scents are packaged in bell jars

The stately facade of Serge Lutens perfume house


TRAVEL - INTERNATIONAL Lutens in one place but visitors should take their time and revel in the experience. One either instantly likes or hates it but the niche line has a devoted cult following that is ever growing. The designer has expansive interest and involvement in the arts, film, photography and architecture and they are all evident here‌ from the theater-inspired windows to the glorious bound books of photographs.

A grand spiral staircase dominate the blue-purple lighted salon

A novel in three words : Shakespeare and Company


Yet another experience not to be missed when in Paris is the Shakespeare And Company bookstore

Book-lined shelves every which way one turns! on Paris’ Left Bank. Situated in the shadows of the Notre Dame, the bookstore has been described as “a winding, twisting, climbing labyrinth of books, a literary commune, a shelter for writers, a refuge for book lovers” and “a novel in three words.” Started by George Whitman in 1951, its original name was Le Mistral. However, George changed it to Shakespeare And Company in celebration of The Bard’s 400th birthday and in honor of a bookseller he admired, Sylvia Beach who founded the original Shakespeare And Company. His daughter, Sylvia (named after Beach), runs things today.

Books are also stacked on cleverly-built shelves on the staircase 35


In front of the bookstore, bookstands surround an ornate drinking fountain, erected in the 19th century to service the area’s poor. Here, secondhand books can be purchased at only five euros. Inside, there is scant space to browse around freely as books are piled up every which way you turn… on ceiling-high shelves, on the floor, all along a steep staircase. The lived-in feeling is part of the charm however, and writers, aspiring as well as established, are welcomed to spend a night or three here. George used to call them Tumbleweeds after the rolling thistles that drift in and out with the winds of change. When you’re done browsing, you can retire with your newly purchased reading matter to the nearby restaurant Le Procope. Once the haunt of luminaries like Voltaire, Rousseau and Verlaine, its walls are adorned with author-signed title pages. – By K.Talha


The Shakespeare & Company Café, located next-door to the famed bookstore that carries the same name. It’s the perfect place to grab a latte on the go, rendezvous with your Editor to discuss a new writing project

Above: American expat Sylvia Beach opened the original Shakespeare & Company bookshop at 12 rue de l’OdÊon in 1922, its home until it was closed during the Nazi occupation of Paris Left: Nothing goes together quite as perfectly as a good book and a fresh cup of coffee or tea



Mount Jerai: “D

Ocean View from Mountain Top 38

ifficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations”

The nerve-shredding journey is well worth it once you get to the top of Mount Jerai. At 986 meters above sea level, the view is stunning. Being the only mountain in Peninsular Malaysia that is located near a coastline, you’ll get to feast your eyes not only on the expansive paddy fields below, but also a spectacular view of the sea beyond the fields. If the weather is good, you’ll get to witness a

spectacular sunset over this panorama and catch a glimpse of Langkawi Island. Fun fact: Do you know that Mount Jerai used to be only 23 metres above sea level and was once an island? Till today, sand, similar to that of the beach below, can be found at the top of Mount Jerai as well as in the jungle nearby where people do their hiking. Other evidence proving that Mount Jerai was once an island is the discovery of a species of tree that can only be found along the beaches especially in the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia. The top of Mount Jerai is dominated by a large resort known as the Regency Jerai Hill Resort, which offers various types of accommodation. Its botanical garden

The Regency Jerai Hill Resort is the second highest viewpoint of Gunung Jerai 39


Even under cloudy skies, the views were amazing

is impressive with beautiful flora such as monkey cups or tropical pitcher plants and several species of wild orchids. Mount Jerai is popular among BASE-jumpers and is known as the highest take-off site for para-gliding in the Peninsular. Among other activities that visitors can take part in are jungle trekking, night walking, watching both sunrise and sunset, waterfall abseiling and paintball.

Monkey cups are so cool and come in many shapes and forms


Nearby places of interest that can be reached either by vehicle or simply

hiking include Sungai Teroi Forest, Alur Naga Waterfalls, Jerai Mushroom Farm, Jerai Orchid Nursery, Jerai Forestry Museum and Bujang Valley Archaeological Museum. From the base, it is only 10km to the the top and you can do this in 20 minutes by driving. Of course, there are many turns, some steep corners, but nothing that a normal car cannot handle. Just make sure there is sufficient radiator water. You can also take a shuttle van up but that will cost you RM10 for a return trip. Parking at the base is free.

The Forestry Museum at the park

Mount Jerai is also the home for varieties of flora and fauna 41


Cheering On Malaysia AFS students helped cheer on Malaysia at the recent SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur with their host families and friends. The 2017 KL SEA Games were historic for Malaysia in that it was the nation’s best-ever finish in the history of the Games, topping the medal tally with 145 gold, 92 silver and 86 bronze medals.

Delayed Orientation Outdoor Style Chapters got creative and adventurous with their delayed orientation programmes by holding the sessions outdoors! Mixing serious business with pleasure proved a hit with host students and volunteers as the natural settings provided an exotic backdrop and social setting for friendships and bonds to be developed and strengthened through the shared experience.


Small Screen Big Impact Shizuka from Japan being made-up and prepped before her interview on Educational TV, speaking about STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) subjects in her host school at SMK Dr Megat Khas, Ipoh. The interview was conducted by Radio-Television Malaysia (RTM) for Curriculum Development Division and Technology Education Division of the Ministry of Education and will be screened nationally.

YES Abroad State Visit Kedah Chapter welcomed a visit by US embassy and State Department officials recently to personally observe the progress of YES Abroad students hosted in Kedah state. The officials visited the students and their schools, speaking with the principal and teachers as well as viewing the premises. They also visited the homes of host families and came away satisfied that the students were being well-looked after and kept occupied.

AGM Matters The 10th AFS Malaysia Annual General Meeting took place recently on the same weekend as a Chapter Presidents Meeting, ensuring a good turnout and a smooth session. Members voted the current Chair’s term to be continued for another two years while board member Elina Shamsuddin’s appointment was extended for another year. Dr Jason Lee however declined to be re-nominated, citing distance and work as his reasons for not being able to continue on the board.


Eating with banana leaves

Experiencing the process to make Indian Murukku 44

Wearing Salwar suit during Deepavali

Posing with a beautifuly made Kolam

Wearing Henna is one of the Indian culture traditions

Helping with decorating house for Deepavali celebration

Helping with making Rava Urundai

Receiving Deepavali money from host family

One of Indian traditions, taking oil bath during Deepavali

Preparing curry for family during Deepavali 45




VOLUNTEER CONGRESS GALA DINNER 2017!!! Its the time of year all AFS volunteers look forward to !!! After a fulfilling roller-coaster ride of a year giving back to the community and being part of the AFS family, we would like to appreciate our wonderful volunteers by welcoming one and all to our very own Volunteer Congress Gala Dinner 2017! This year’s theme for the night is ‘Throwback to the 70’s’! So throw on those bell bottoms, bring your Saturday Night Fever and join us for an evening dedicated to our amazing volunteers and chapters from all over Malaysia, alongside a variety of mouth watering courses and incredible performances which will have you down to boogie! The details are as follows :Venue : Grand Ballroom. Vivatel Kuala Lumpur Date : 26th November 2017 Time : 7:00 PM Theme : Throwback to the 70’s Fee : MYR 100.00 If you can’t wait to join in the fun, simply fill in the registration form right now at http://bit.ly/2zzvTpx. Can’t wait to see everyone looking like they stumbled out of a time machine, strutting their 70s styles!



We the Board of Trustees of AFS Intercultural Programs, the National Boards and staff of 60 AFS Network Organizations and 50,000 AFS volunteers worldwide call upon government leaders, educators, civil society organizations and concerned citizens to reject extremism, inequality and forces that impede peace. On the occasion of our 2017 annual meeting held in Ghana, we ask that you join AFS in the “learn-to-live-together” movement to advance intercultural understanding for a more just and peaceful world.

We are deeply concerned that the world has become more and more divided, as nations and societies that previously encouraged cooperation are moving toward greater isolation.

AFS was created by volunteer ambulance drivers who experienced the ravages of both World Wars —and sought to prevent future conflicts by bringing together people through international exchange programs and intercultural learning opportunities for young global-minded leaders.

Today, AFS honors this noble mission by making a public commitment: To empower people of all ages and all backgrounds with the intercultural knowledge, skills and understanding required to take action and make a positive difference at home and around the world.

After 100 years of building bridges across cultures, we are also proud to partner with organizations and individuals of like mind to accomplish this commitment in support of United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals.

We recognize that our work is needed now more than ever. The great turmoil and conflict we witness across the globe require AFS to be more courageous and purposeful in everything we do— bringing together people, cultures, worldviews and beliefs through life-changing study abroad opportunities, volunteerism, public forums, partnerships and learning journeys.

With more than 1 million active global citizens in 90 countries, we pledge to harness our energies, our resources and expertise to advance our mission through these three strategic impact goals:

1. Develop Active Global Citizens of all ages and backgrounds through intercultural learning and volunteerism to participate in the “learn-to-live-together” movement.

2. Help Globalize Schools and Institutions to deliver programs that build global competence and enhance collaboration.

3. Expand Access to Intercultural Education to ensure that more people from diverse and underserved communities participate in and benefit from AFS programs and initiatives.

We believe a just and peaceful world is only possible when the global community respects diversity, embraces inclusiveness and works together to address the world’s 
 most pressing challenges.


Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.