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M ARCH 2015, N O 3

Black Board JungleTeaching in Malaysia The Malaysian Organization of Voluntary Exchange (MOVE) organizes international voluntary services in Malaysia since 2006. They want to improve the local situation in the country by voluntary helpers through cultural, knowledge, and experience exchange. They work together with the Dignity for Children Foundation in Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia.The emphasis of the two week long project is the support of the refugees in terms of cultural, knowledge, and experience exchange. This gives volunteers a unique opportunity to learn more about the cultures in Malaysia and the versatile history of this country and its people.


focus of the two week long project is promoting awareness on refugees and children’s education need to break poverty. Dignity for Children Foundation provides school education for 1000 refugees mainly from Myanmar, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka in the age between 4 and 16 years. Language barriers and educational differences of the students are a big challenge for teachers and volunteer assistances. Volunteers can support the schools management, administration, and teachers. It is also possible to teach some classes directly to exchange experience and knowledge, but also to interact closely with refugees and students of the school. This is also described as the main volunteer activity within the project. Unfortunately, the foundation needs to do improvements in this regard. Some volunteers did not teach any students at all, but did rather administrative office work in the background with little to no interaction to the local students. Other volunteers assisted the teachers and joined one class for the entire duration of the project. A few were teachAIN

Black Board Jungle - Teaching in Malaysia B

ing students from 6 to 16 years and interacted therefore with each class for a short period of time, mostly 1 to 5 hours per day. This gave some volunteers a good overview about the different classes and students in the school and they had the opportunity to learn a lot about the students.


information was provided by MOVE. After arriving at Kuala Lumpur airport a fast train brought the volunteers to the main station in Kuala Lumpur, from where they needed to take another train to Sentul station. The district is north of the city center and not part of the tourist regions of the city. You will see mainly locals, typical daily markets and no hotels or fancy shops. The camp leader picked everyone up at Sentul station and brought us to the school and the close by dorm, where all volunteers stay.



dorm is part of the school and a secured building. There are bathrooms and a living room available for the guests of the dorm. Unfortunately, there HE

is no kitchen available. Rooms are simple, clean, and equipped with closets and usually two bunk beds. You are going to share a room with maximalthree other people. This can be hard at times and often the people need to adapt to each other in the first days, but it is not a problem for two weeks. HE camp leader provides 15 Ringgits (4 Euros) per day for food for each participant. 5 Ringgits per meal is usually not enough, especially if you leave Sentul district and visit the city center. The volunteers have to organize breakfast for themselves, depending on personal preferences. We often had sweet bread, fruits (you have to try the fruits in Malaysia), soy milk and coffee for breakfast. Lunch is provided by the school. They only offer one dish and some food might be hard to stomach for Europeans. However, you can find plenty of cheap lunch places around the school. They offer Chinese, Thai, Indian, and Malaysian cuisine and one dish costs around 2 Euros in Sentul. Be prepared for plenty of spicy dishes and seafood!


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were a group of 4 volunteers (3f/1m) in the age between 23 and 33. Two were from South Korea, one from Hong Kong and one from Germany. It was our first time in Malaysia and we worked well together in a group. We went grocery shopping, exploring after work, and on a weekend trip to Melaka together. We learned a lot about other cultures, habits, and traditions while we were having breakfast, lunch, and dinner together. Everybody was interested in and curious about the background and story of the others. A solid level of English is a good base for communication. E

Country Information Malaysia is divided into two parts. Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia, is located on a peninsula, representing the western part of the country. The eastern part of Malaysia is an island and contains several national parks and UNESCO World Heritage Sites.There are only slight differences between the seasons, due to its close location to the equator. Moderate temperatures and high humidity are the results of the surrounding oceans. Malaysia is a melting pot of Malaysian, Chinese, Indonesian, and Indian culture. It is also influenced by European culture due to the Portugese and Duth occupation, and after that colonization by the British Empire.

Black Board Jungle - Teaching in Malaysia B


starts at 8 am, there is an hour lunch break around 12 am and school usually ends at 5 pm. Thus, we had a full 8 hour working day, after which we usually took the train into the city center and explored Kuala Lumpur. There are many things to see and we were out exploring every evening. Local markets, butterfly park, bird park, the famous Petronas towers (KLC), shopping malls, China Town, and little India are just a few examples of beautiful and unique places to visit. We usually came back to the dorm at 10 pm and tried to get enough sleep for the next day. We had a free weekend and decided to visit Melaka in the south of Malaysia by bus. A two hour bus drive from Kuala Lumpur to Melaka costs about 2.50 Euros. There are also a lot of other things to see close by Kuala Lumpur, like the Kepong Forestry Park with hikes and bike trails through the jungle, or tea plantations in the north of the city. Public transportation tickets, taxis, hotels, and clothing are just like food relatively cheap end affordable. CHOOL


included costs for the project are flights to and from Kuala Lumpur, train tickets, vaccinations, food expenses (partially), entrance fees, and souvenirs. Malaysia is not an expensive country, so you will not need a lot of money. Be careful with your money and personal items, pickpockets are a big problem in Kuala Lumpur.



organization of the project could be improved. Communication between MOVE and the Dignity for Children Foundation was not working properly. The Dignity Foundation needed a few days HE

to find activities were the volunteers could support the school, because they were not aware of incoming volunteers. We were able to give feedback after one week and again at the end of the project. MOVE was interested in feedback and appreciated criticism to fix some of the occurred problems.


enjoyed the two weeks a lot, because I learned not only about different cultures and traditions, but could also support teachers and interact with students. The camp leader provided guidance, but also enough freedom to explore and make own decisions and experiences. We had time to wander around the city and get to know Malaysian culture. There is room for improvement, but I am confident that the next project will be organized and planned better by MOVE and the Dignity for Children Foundation.


total I would recommend this project to everyone who is interested in new cultures and countries. You should not be scared of foreign food or insects and wild animals, as they occur frequently in Malaysia. A background in teaching (preschool up to university level) would be highly preferable for this project to ensure that the school will allow you to teach classes and contribute to the education of refugees. Otherwise you will assist the teachers or support the school in administration topics and school management, which will not necessarily include interaction to the students of the school. N

by MB

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Malaysia 2015  

Erfahrungsbericht aus einem Workcamp in Malaysia 2015

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