Category: Teamwork


What’s a MAP?

The tables and chairs for the night

What is a MAP?

No, I do not mean the peta, or the “visual representation of an area – a symbolic depiction highlighting relationships between elements of that space such as objects, regions and themes.” (Wikipedia)

What I mean is:

MALAM ANUGERAH PELAJAR (MAP) XIII: 1Malaysia

Ahhhhhh, you say now. Well, what is it? would be your next question.

Malam Anugerah Pelajar (MAP) is Tun Hussein Onn residential college’s annual dinner which was held on the 17th of March 2010, Wednesday (exactly a week after NTLP XIII – now you see how busy I was in March??), DECTAR main hall, at 8.30pm. It is not just a dinner, but also an award-giving ceremony ala The Oscars, as its name suggests. During the dinner, awards are given out for many different categories – Best Academic for Science (Male), Best Academic Arts (Female), Best Sports (Individual) etc.

This year’s theme was 1Malaysia. So as a dress code, we were supposed to wear national costumes or traditional attire. I found this theme better than last year’s (Corporate: Red, Black and White).

The red carpet-way πŸ™‚

Last year, I was involved in the Performance section as part of the choir. But this year, I joined in the committee for the evaluation of my co-curriculum subject as well. I was (again) under the Protocol Secretariat as the Assistant Treasurer. Which was rather ironic since throughout the event I did not deal with anything monetary matters at all.

However, being under Protocol, there was a lot to be done. My Head of Protocol, Lim May Lee, was overburdened with work. And so, for this event, I was at least better informed of what to do (compared to MKK) and was therefore, more involved in Protocol work.

Last semester we were already busy trying to earn funds for the event by selling burgers, helping the Marketing Secretariat. We all cramped together in one of the FELO’s room, cooking delicious-smelling burgers (just like the Prosperity Burgers at McD !!) with hair that smelt exactly like the burgers themselves ! >.<

This semester, Protocol of course, is in charge of securing the perasmi for the event. At first we tried to get in contact with the Pengerusi Besar FELDA, Tan Sri Yusof Noor, who apparently was the ex-Deputy Vice Chancellor of UKM, and also a PALAPES – which was rather fitting since our Tun Hussein Onn college (KTHO) was home to all the PALAPES students of UKM !

However, after weeks of trying, making frantic, desperate calls to the FELDA office, the personal assistant to Tan Sri told us that she was sorry, but she could not help us. Tan Sri would not be able to be our perasmi for the night. We were devastated. Our Principal, Kapt. Dr. Azahan was hoping very much that we would be able to get Tan Sri to attend and officiate our humble ceremony. Unfortunately, it was not to be. 😦

As back-up, I drafted and then finally sent a letter of invitation to the Deputy Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs of UKM, Prof. Dato’ Dr. Mohamad Abdul Razak to be our college dinner’sΒ perasmi. In addition, I sent letters of invitation to the three other Deputy Vice Chancellors, Prof. Ir. Dr. Hassan Basri, Prof. Dr. Rahmah Mohamed and Prof. Dr. Saran Kaur Gill. But before I could, I had to ensure that each letter was signed by our Kapt. Dr. Azahan.

As follow-up I went to the offices of all the Deputy Vice Chancellors in the Chancelory to confirm the attendance of the Deputy Vice Chancellors. Prof. Dato’ Dr. Mohamad Abdul Razak very generously agreed to be the perasmi for our MAP XIII. However, the other three Deputy Vice Chancellors were unable to make it.

The tables decorated with balloons the colours of our Malaysian flag ! πŸ˜›

The several times I went to the Chancellory (when I sent the letters of invitation and to confirm the Deputy Vice Chancellors’ attendance) I was pleasantly surprised. Past experiences dealing with administration offices have not been very good. However, even the security at the entrance of the office was very polite and friendly. What more the personal assistants for each of the Deputy Vice Chancellors ! They were very friendly and made me feel welcome πŸ™‚ So much so that the second time I needed to go to the Chancellory, I was actually looking forward to it πŸ˜›

Then I prepared the list of names of the staff and FELOs of KTHO for the first rehearsal on the 14th (Sunday). After obtaining that, I prepared the invitation cards for all the FELOs and staff members of KTHO. Then I delivered the invitation cards personally to each one of them.

Then I contacted them for the follow-up to confirm the attendance of the staff members as well as the FELOs.

I was also given the responsibility to prepare the salutations for the night. Before this, I had no idea what a salutation was. For this event, I learned that a salutation is basically a piece of paper that listed the names of all the VIPs that are to be mentioned at the beginning of the speech, including their titles. This piece of paper is to be pasted on the rostrum on the stage for the reference of whoever is giving the speech.

Therefore, I had to do several revisions of the list, printing and reprinting, until the confirmed list was obtained on the day of the event itself. Then I pasted it onto the rostrum all ready for the big night πŸ™‚

Finally, finally, after all the stress, the Big Night was here.

Me in my orange Punjabi suit πŸ™‚

We rushed back to our rooms only with enough time to shower and change before we had to be down in DECTAR to be on standby for the event. The hall was by then decorated very simply and elegantly for the dinner. Everything looked nice and it felt nice to have been a part of the committee that was responsible for this.

All the committee members had dinner earlier before the event started because, once it did, we would be running around making sure everything is going smoothly so we would definitely not be able to sit down and chat and eat. >.<

We were nervous, afraid that something might go wrong during the event.

Nevertheless, we tried to enjoy ourselves watching the entire event as it unfolded before us, and the evening went well. πŸ™‚

It was time for the award-giving ceremony. I was on standby to give cues to the FELOs and JAKSA who were supposed to go up on stage next to announce the candidates.

Suddenly, I heard my name being called. I looked up at the screen…and there was my hideous face ! ARGHHHH

Apparently, I was nominated for the award of Β Best Academic for the Arts (Female) !

And I won πŸ˜›

My trophy ! Anugerah Akademik Kategori Sastera (Perempuan)

Wow. Imagine how surprised I was ! I had sent in my resume the week before with my CGPA of 3.80. I guess that was the best in the college ! πŸ™‚ Yay !!!

The rest of the event passed by smoothly. There was not much work left for us to do except for after the event when all the committee members were required to stay back and clear up the hall. But before that, En. Rahim (our college FELO and a PALAPES) gave us a talk. He told us that we all did a great job in pulling this off. Although it was not perfect, we had all given our best to make MAP XIII a success !

So, we were all hyped up and happy when we started clearing the tables and chairs πŸ™‚

Phew. It was 1.00am by the time we got back to our rooms. It was tiring.

Our whole committee of MAP XIII 2010 !!

Although there were many problems throughout the planning and implementation stage, I have certainly learned a lot as a committee member for MAP XIII. I am actually glad that it is over, such a relief. Just in time for Study Week. πŸ™‚

I’ll leave you with one crazy photo πŸ™‚

Posing like models? XD Crazehhh times πŸ™‚

As part of my co-curriculum evaluation assignment, I have to write a report of what I have been involved in during the planning and preparation of MAP XIII. So I have attached it here, if you are interested to read in further detail πŸ™‚ (However, it is in Bahasa Melayu). Happy reading !

Laporan Ko-K

Alice In Wonderland

I heart New Tune !

Another programme I was involved in was:

NEW TUNE LIVE PERFORMANCE XIII: Sparks of Melody

which was held on the 10th of March 2010 (exactly a week after Choir Concert), Wednesday, DECTAR main hall, at 7.30pm.

This was an even crazier programme. My first solo live performance. (My solo debut was for Mewah Idol in F5 – but this was a live performance, with live music !)

The backdrop for NTLP XIII: Sparks of Melody

It all began when I first saw New Tune when they held an introductory performance for the benefit of the first-years in Keris Mas (KKM) last semester. The performance was actually to entice the first-years to join New Tune Β – a Chinese society under Persatuan Mahasiswa UKM – but instead….I was hooked.

New Tune is an association of students whereby it acts as a platform for students to showcase their talent in every area – composing songs, writing lyrics, arranging music, singing, playing the keyboard, electric guitar, bass guitar, drums, percussion, background singing, dancing etc.

The best part about New Tune is that, every single song we perform is 100% original – composed, written and sung by our very own. You will never hear any of these songs elsewhere – unless some producer picks it up and decides to make it famous ! πŸ˜›

But yes, that was what drew me to New Tune. A talented bunch of students who also share a love for music.

I auditioned to be a vocalist last semester, interested in being a part of this talented group of people, if just for the experience. πŸ™‚

And I made it through after several rounds of auditions. First round was a face-to-face audition where you had to sing any song you liked for them. I sang Crazier by Taylor Swift πŸ™‚ After getting through that, what they did was give you a demo of a person singing the song, and you were supposed to sing and record your version of the song and send it back to them. Passing that, you would officially be one of the vocalists for the performance ! πŸ˜›

However, the song that I was to sing at the performance was not up to me. They would choose the song for me. Unfortunately, the song they gave me was a song that I did not personally like. The beat and the melody was strange, and the lyrics made no sense to me.

Yes, it was a Chinese song. Which is ironic, because I am not Chinese-educated, and cannot speak Mandarin. >.< To sing in Mandarin would require me to seek the help of my room mate in translating the lyrics, and then memorizing the lyrics from its romanized version. Which is more difficult, in the sense that you do not understand what you are singing and memorizing. But it was part of the challenge, one that I had expected (New Tune being a Chinese association and all) and am willing to rise to the challenge ! πŸ™‚

Me and Fish

Practice sessions were heavy. At the beginning, there was not much for me to do. My arranger, Yun Xin (whom we affectionately call Fish) had yet to arrange the music for the song. You see, the demo of the song came with nothing but the melody. There was no music – no keyboard, no drums, no guitar. Everything had to be done from scratch – which is the job of the Arranger. She would have to listen and try to get the “feel” of the song, and come up with the music – what the keyboards will play and when, what should the guitar play, what kind of beat the drums should play, how the background singers should sing.

In other words, everything else besides the singing (which is where I come in).

I basically got to know my musicians: Kai Yuan, Shereen, Arif (an Indonesian who knew even less Mandarin than me !), Witter, Vincent, Hooi Ling and Joanne, during the first few practices when I was pretty much relaxed.

Then full rehearsals started. That was the first time I was meeting all the rest of the vocalists and musicians for the other songs for the performance. And boy, did they mean serious business. >.<

There were seniors there who took charge of the entire rehearsal and they were extremely strict. They took the rehearsals very seriously, asking us to treat them like they were the actual event itself. And this was several weeks before the actual event (Choir Concert in comparison to New Tune, was waaayyyy more relaxed !) !

I was feeling really nervous. It was scary, singing a song you were not really sure of, that you did not really like, in front of people who looked like they would yell at you should you make a mistake, and people you do not really know. Terrifying. >.<

But with every practice, with every rehearsal, I gained more confidence, and the song I was singing began to take shape. It began to have its own unique sound and quality, had its own “feel” and mood, and an attitude to go with it.

Me in my Alice in Wonderland dress looking wistful~ πŸ˜›

When deciding on my costume, my arranger turned to me and said,

“Lisa, do you have anything that looks like Alice in Wonderland?”

HUH? Alice in Wonderland? Where on earth was I going to find something like that?

After being clueless for a couple of weeks, I finally managed to find something absolutely perfect ! My cousin sister had done a can-can dance performance a few years back and still had her costume with her. It was bright red with frills underneath the skirt to make the dress “poofy” and it was such a thrill to twirl around in ! It was very princess-y and cute-sy which was exactly what they song needed πŸ˜›

Practice sessions continued to be grueling. Every week, we met at least 3 times outside of UKM in our little band room that had no air-conditioning, not even a ceiling fan. We sweat bullets every time we go there, almost died of the heat. Yet, all of us (there were almost 60 of us including dancers) all cramped in that little room upstairs and we went through the whole programme from beginning to end. During weekday practices we each worked on our individual songs as vocalists. The most tense were the musicians, some of whom had to play for 7 different songs !!

After every rehearsal, we had a feedback session where we gave comments (positive and negative) for each song, all with the aim of improving each other’s performance. This, was what I feared the most every rehearsal. Because, every time I went up, I received the same comments: “Pronunciation.” “Performance.” These were my two biggest weaknesses.

Pronunciation was expected, since I was not Chinese-educated. They complained that I had an “English” slang when speaking Mandarin. I can hardly be blamed, can I? I did not choose a Chinese song for myself ! >.< But I worked on it anyway, wanting to do the best I could. Performance-wise, I needed more help. I was not used to singing as a solo live performance. In choir, I did not need to perform. All I needed was to stand properly and project my voice from within. In a live performance, I was definitely required to do more than just stand there and sing. The song, being what it is, needed me to be cute-sy and frisky, jumping and dancing around on stage – which I was not used to.

I worked on it every day. When my room mate was not around, I changed into my costume and practiced. I practiced very hard, I knew. I felt this pressure to do well. How could I mess up when the musicians had worked so hard to play well for me? How can I not give my best when my arranger, Fish, has done so much to make the song what it is now? How can I make mistakes when the composer of the song wants it to be the best??

On the night of, my family came to the performance to watch that night, to give me moral support (especially since I was singing in Mandarin – a historical moment !) πŸ˜›

All of us in New Tune were actually exhausted from lack of sleep, physical fatigue, mental tiredness. We had been up practicing sometimes even till 1.00 am in the morning for rehearsals. Some of us have even lost our voices due to the strain, myself included. Even up till the night of the event, my voice had not returned to its original state. It was husky and hoarse, which somehow worked well for the song πŸ™‚

My song is the last song of the night. Which is both a blessing and a curse. A blessing because I have a longer time to lose my nerves before I get out there to sing. A curse because the anticipation of waiting is worse than the actual performance itself ! =.= Plus, more importantly, I am pressured to do even better than everyone else because I will be the lasting impression on the audience before they leave for the night ! >.<

Me with the dancers ! They were reeaaalllyyyy good !!

Finally, after such a long wait, it was my turn. The dancers stood behind me on the stage. The musicians waited in the darkness and the silence.

All my friends were out there, I knew. College mates, course mates, Choir members, PERKEB members. My family members. My hands began to shake. Then I heard:

“Lisa ! Lisa ! LISA !! WE LOVE YOU !!!!”

I laughed out loud with the rest of the crowd. And suddenly, just like that, all nervousness left my body. I felt ready to get out there, do my thing and put on a good show !

And so I did. I sang the best I could (what with my pronunciation problems and all). I danced like I never danced before. I gave the crowd suggestive moves, naughty winks as part of the performance. I twirled around in my bright red dress. I did everything I thought of.

Everyone looks stunning !!! πŸ™‚

And it was a great finale to our months of hard work and practice and losing our voices and dying of exhaustion – that one moment was the end of it all.

Everyone applauded and I never felt so self-conscious in my life, standing up on stage by myself !

Then the rest came on stage and everyone was cheering and clapping and jumping around and smoke from the smoke machine was blowing and enveloping us till it was hard to see but I could see my friends waving at me from the bottom of the stage and they were still shouting “Lisa ! Lisa !” and my family was there too with my friends, my mum and my dad and my two younger brothers who were standing there looking lost and my fellow choir members as they waved and yelled secret jokes that only I could understand and it felt wonderful and great and I felt proud and happy and relieved that it was over and at the same time sad that I would be missing all those fun and stressful times with these new friends of mine.

But, it was finally OVER.

Everyone told me how great I was up there. How they didn’t know I could perform like that. That they had finally seen a side of me they never knew before. πŸ˜› I was so touched for their moral support. I could not have done it without them πŸ™‚

You can definitely see me in that bright red dress ! πŸ˜›

It was a great experience. Being part of New Tune has made me realize that there are so many of us who share that love for music. That we all show them in different ways – through dancing, singing, playing musical instruments, composing and writing songs. Music also knows know boundaries, whether it is in English or Chinese or Malay or Tamil, music touches everyone of us. It was such a great feeling to be part of this group, working so very hard together to make NTLP XIII: Sparks of Melody a success. We helped each other, we grew together.

Close-up of me in full make-up and dress - all ready to perform ! πŸ˜€

Yes, it was the most tiring and stressful event I have ever joined.

But it was also the most rewarding.

I am so very proud of these people who are all so very talented. They can make a song I dislike into a song that is fun and cute and good.

I enjoyed myself these tiring few months. I made a lot of new friends, got to know talented new people who share that same passion for music. I grew as a person as well, conquered my fear, pushed myself to go beyond what I thought I was capable of.

And I also picked up on some Mandarin πŸ™‚

This is definitely one experience I will never forget !

Eugene conducting during Choir Concert 2010 !

After months of planning, meetings every 2 weeks…we successfully had our:

ARTISUKMA CHOIR CONCERT 2010: Music, Speak To Me Now

I was the Head of Programme for the Artisukma Choir Concert 2010 held on the 3rd of March 2010, Wednesday, Panggung Seni, DECTAR at 8.30pm.

At first, the responsibility of Head of Programme seemed pretty intimidating. But thankfully, I had the rest of the committee to help me out. We had meetings quite often to check on each other’s progress and updates.

Since last semester we have been planning, anxious and excited because, truth be told, this is our FIRST time conducting a concert !

Surprising, isn’t it?

So, why did we suddenly decide to have a Choir Concert?

We realized that although we were the university’s official choir group, no one outside of Convocation had ever heard us sing ! >.<

Every year, the university employs us to sing during the Convocation of the UKM graduates (and we actually get paid for it !)

But outside of Convocation, we do not really perform in public. Hence, the only people who see and listen to us sing are the Chancellor, Vice Chancellor, the Deputy Vice Chancellors, all the deans of faculties, lecturers, parents and the convocating seniors !

High-angle view

We wanted to introduce choir music to the rest of warga UKM and hopefully instill a love for music and the Choir. In addition, we hope to stimulate the interest of several people to join the Choir as well πŸ˜›

As a committee member, I sincerely found it such a good learning experience to be part of the committee. There were many things that I did not know. Thank God for our President and Vice President, as well as the rest of the seniors who offered us guidance and support. πŸ™‚

As Head of Programme, I was in charge of deciding the programme for that night. So, I liaised with Eugene, our Choirmaster on the choice of songs. We also decided to maybe include a few special items in the programme by inviting the Modern Music Club to perform with one of our choir members singing solo, the Chinese Traditional Orchestra to play a few pieces, and have another of our members do a piano recital πŸ˜›

After several meetings with the committee and after having confirmed with Eugene, this was the programme we came up with:

PROGRAMME FOR ARTISUKMA CHOIR CONCERT 2010

Folk Songs:

1. Arirang (Korean folk song)

2. Pokare Kare Ana (Mauri, New Zealand)

3. Rasa Sayang

Other Performances:

4. Piano Recital (by Leong Kim Ling, Ooi Siew Win and Lai Wen Teng as background singers)

5. Chinese Traditional Orchestra

6. Solo performance (Tie Ling Mei) with Modern Music band

Miscellaneous:

7. Ave Verum Corpus (Mozart classical piece sung in Latin)

8. Close To You (by the Carpenters)

9. Aku Bukan Untukmu (Rossa version)

10. Varsiti Kita (university song)

11. Music, Speak To Me Now (finale: theme song)

Presenting Artisukma Choir Club ! (Can you see me? *front row second from left*)

I found the planning part a bit stressful, but an enriching experience ! We discussed and had our ideas challenged and thought through. I felt this sense of belonging and working together towards a goal that was very motivating πŸ™‚

Conducting the practice sessions were also rather stressful. Every week, the Choir met twice, once on Sunday and another day during the weekdays. There was only me and Shu Jun, the two pianists, to conduct the practices when Eugene was not around. Which was every weekday practice. I would be in charge of the warm-up, and then proceed to revise and refresh previous songs that we have learnt, and work on them until they were almost perfect. It was a tiring task for certain. But thankfully, there was Shu Jun to help πŸ™‚

The rehearsalsΒ rehearsal (singular) was frightening, because we only managed to go once through the entire programme before it was Show Time >.<

So during the event itself, I was nervous and afraid. Will everything go smoothly? Will there be technical difficulties? Will we make mistakes? Will we sing well? Will I play the piano well?

Oh, yes. Did I mention that I was supposed to play the piano for the first part of the programme (folk songs)? >.<

We were all nervous standing behind the curtain in the dark. Everyone was huddled around, fidgety and anxious for the show to get started. We could hear the audience out there in the hall, chattering in anticipation.

Me? I could hardly breathe. I was going up first, as pianist. I was worried that I would make a mistake and spoil everyone’s hard work. I was worried I would make a mistake and ruin our first impression as Artisukma Choir Club ! That is a lot of pressure, to say the least. =.=

I wanted so badly to do great, and not let everyone down.

I had to literally tell myself to breathe, take deep, deep breaths. Tell myself,

“It’s okay, this is nothing, no big deal, I’ve practiced tons of times, this is a piece of cake….”

1-2-3-1-2-3 SINGGGGGG πŸ˜›

Finally, the show was starting. I walked out into the spotlight, followed by Eugene. We both took our bows before I took my seat at the piano stool. I cracked my knuckles and placed my fingers lightly on the keyboard, poised in position for the first chord of Arirang. I sneaked a look at Eugene, who gave me a silent nod and his hands and baton went down on the first beat of the song. I started playing.

Although I was extremely nervous and was terrified of allowing my nerves to get the better of me, I allowed the music to take hold of me, to relax and enjoy what I was playing.

I seriously thank God. Because I did not make any jarring mistakes and the first part of the concert went well ! πŸ™‚

The Choir sang the best they could and we did the best that we could.

At the Miscellaneous section, it was finally my turn to sing. The second pianist took over from me, just as nervous as I was. I gave her a hug and told her to break a leg. She smiled nervously. But I knew she would be fine πŸ™‚

Up on the stage, with the spotlights shining in our eyes, I could barely see the audience. In retrospect, I suppose it was a good thing. I focused all my attention on Eugene and his baton as he conducted us. I sang my heart out, watching for dynamics of soft and loud, and tried my best to smile despite how hard my legs were shaking from nervousness.

When it came to the finale, our Alumni seniors were asked to come up on stage with us to sing the last two songs: Varsiti Kita and Music, Speak To Me Now. Unlike many other warga UKM, I actually LOVE the university song. I find it one of the most beautiful school songs I have ever come across. The melody is soothing and sweet, and brings a feeling of nostalgic memory when you sing it, don’t you think so? πŸ™‚

VARSITI KITA

Lihat kampusku yang tenang

Damainya alam ciptaan Tuhan

Paduan ilmu dan keimanan

Amal dan teori digabungkan

Lautan ilmu kita harungkan

Sumber ilmuan berkembangan

Inilah varsiti kita

Ditengahkan hasrat rakyat kita

Dari mula untuk semua

Bagai tanda perjuangan kita

Bangun berbakti membina

Memupuk insan jiwa bertakwa

Memimpin manusia semua

Kenal akan adat unggulnya

Membina negara sentiasa

Maju berilmu dan bahagia

Acting a lil' crazyyyy after the show XD

I also LOVE Music, Speak To Me Now. It is the theme song for our Concert, and coincidentally is the theme song for our Artisukma Choir Club as well. I feel that it embodies the love for music that we all share in the Choir Club. Music is in every part of our lives, music looks beyond all size and colour, and is certainly the magic that makes life worth living.

MUSIC, SPEAK TO ME NOW

Music is language we all understand

Music has wings it can soar

Music is strength and a gentle hand

All of these things and more

Music, speak to me now

I don’t want your magic to end

And music, speak to me now

Think of me as your friend

Music is magic, a flame burning bright

Music can open the door

Music is singing a voice in the night

All of these things and more

Music is a part of all of our lives

It makes our dreams come true

Music, speak to me now

I don’t want your magic to end

And music, speak to me now

Think of me as your friend

Music, you’re my friend

When we sang those two songs, together with the Alumni who added to our vocal power, I felt this strange sensation. I do not know how to describe it. But my heart felt full and happy, and I sang my heart out during the last two songs. It felt….different somehow, to the other 49574357934 times I have sung before. I felt a part of something great, I cannot explain it.

It truly was the climax of the night.

To hear the applause of the crowd and to know deep in my heart that we have done the best that we can, I could not help but look around the hall and feel immensely proud of everything we have accomplished.

WE DID IT !!! whooohooo~ πŸ˜›

This was our first Artisukma Choir Concert, and it was a SUCCESS ! πŸ˜›

Love Is A Verb

Love is a Verb

Love is not just flowery words and sweet promises that are never kept.

Love is not just between a boy and a girl of the “I’ll climb the highest mountain for you, swim the deepest seas,” variety.

Love is not “I need you, therefore I love you.”

Love is not “You’re beautiful, therefore I love you.”

Not merely between boy and girl

Love is none of those things that the shallow world of today seems to say.

What love is, is a verb.

Allow me to define:

VERB: a word or phrase that describes an action, condition or experience. (Cambridge International Dictionary of English)

Love is not merely verbal, but rather, it has to be an action. Something that has to be done, shown instead of spoken.

Love is only really love if it is demonstrated. Love means nothing if it is only words that come out from a person’s mouth but disappear without meaning to the person it is spoken to.

That was the message that was intended to be conveyed for PERKEB (Persaudaraan Kristian UKM)’s annual event this year:

Malam Kesempurnaan Kasih: Love Is A Verb

It was held on the 2nd of March 2010 at Dewan Anuwar Mahmud, FST at 7.30pm.

I was one of the committee members for the Protocol Secretariat. πŸ™‚

Love between friends

What is MKK? It is PERKEB’s annual event, held during the second semester of every academic session – an evening of dance, music, drama and singing. Our goal for every event we conduct is to bring a meaningful message to the students of UKM as well as to showcase and hone the talents of our very own members in the arts.

Last year, we had Malam Muzikal Krismas where I was involved in the tambourine dance. It was a great experience ! I had never been involved in such performances before and it was a new learning experience for me πŸ™‚ Although the practice sessions were tough and time-demanding, I enjoyed myself dancing with friends in putting on a good show for the audience ! πŸ˜›

This year though, I was horribly disappointed in not being able to commit myself to the dance team. I had too many other events that I was involved in to be able to give my best in performing and coming for practice sessions.

So, instead, I decided to help them out by joining the Protocol Secretariat.

I did not have much to do, except for some last minute rushes in securing the perasmi Dr. Kadderi Md. Desa, the Director of Pusat Perkembangan Pelajar.

Love among family πŸ™‚

Unfortunately, due to my un-involvement in the event, I had no idea what I needed to do. And my Head of Protocol did not inform me of the updates and to-do items for MKK. And so it happened that, on the morning of 2nd of March, Wednesday, Christina (that’s my Head of Protocol) called me and asked me to do her a favour.

“Sure, what do you need me to do?”

“Could you call Pusat Perkembangan Pelajar office and ask them if Dr. Kadderi is our perasmi?

Silence.

“You mean, our perasmi is not confirmed yet??”

The fact of the matter was, on the day of the event, the perasmi has yet to be confirmed. The details on how that happened is fuzzy to me, since I was not directly involved in the goings-on of the Protocol Secretariat. But suddenly, I was needed to step in and settle everything.

I kept calling and calling the office. At first, no one picked up.

When finally, after an eternity several failed attempts, I managed to get through. The personal assistant to Dr. Kadderi told me that he would not be able to make it, and that she would find a replacement to go in his place instead.

“When can you let me know the name of the replacement?” (I needed to know the full name and title to put it into the speech text for the perasmi.)

“I’ll call you back,” she told me. That was not reassuring enough, but what choice did I have? >.<

So I waited. And waited. No sound from the PPP office.

Love is colour-blind

I called again at 2pm, after lunch hour. I was beginning to panic.

The event was in about 5 hours.

“Hi, kak, it’s me again. Em, has the replacement been found?”

“I’m sorry, I will have to get back to you.”

I was utterly desperate. Christina was pestering me to get the nameΒ ASAP.

Kak, I really need to get that information as soon as possible. TheΒ event starts in 5 hours, do you think you could help me?”

“Okay, I will call you back.”

Then began a flurry of calls between me and the PPP office (burning up my handphone credit >.<) trying to POLITELY push them into giving me a name soon.

At 4.30 pm, I saw the office number on my handphone screen.

“Hello, kak?

“Ah, good news. Dr. Kadderi will be able to make it after all.”

Love is beautiful

I almost cried with relief. In less than 3 hours before the event started, we had our perasmi.

Cutting it a bit close, that’s for sure. But at least, everything was settled and cleared πŸ™‚

I thanked the kak profusely for her trouble and thanked God for Dr. Kadderi being such a generous person who somehow, for whatever reason, changed his mind and chose to attend our event instead.

The whole event was smooth-sailing from then.

I was one of the ushers for the night, and wore my orange Punjabi suit to greet the VIP. πŸ™‚

And being the usher, my most tense moment was at the beginning of the event when the Opening Ceremony was about to begin. There were a few things that absolutely MUST be done according to protocol – where the ushers must be standing, where the Program Director and President of PERKEB have to stand in relation to the VIP, which usher will receive the token of appreciation etc. There is the right way to do it, and we had to do it right, or otherwise give a bad impression to the VIP.

I was supposed to be the one who led the VIP to his seat, and then would receive the token of appreciation for the VIP and keep it with me for safekeeping, until the end of the event, or when PM Dr. Kadderi decides to leave.

Phew. It was extremely stressful, but everything went smoothly πŸ™‚ The Opening Ceremony went on without a glitch as well ! Thank God !! πŸ˜›

Me and the Protocol team πŸ˜›

After that, my job was to basically be attentive to the VIP to see if there was anything he needed during the event. If there was not………..I was free to enjoy the show ! πŸ˜€

The dancers were great ! Everyone looked so beautiful in their costumes and the tambourines looked extra shiny that night. I felt a pang of disappointment for not being a part of the team of dancers this year, but at least I could watch them and give them moral support πŸ™‚

Then, there was the drama. I was seriously in awe of each and every one of the actors and actresses involved in our little sketch – because they were all darn GOOD !!! Seriously, the two main characters were excellent in their acting. The evil demon had the most chilling laugh. And the set, although simple, was effective.

And when it came to the climax, when one of the main characters was dying, I honestly could not help crying. There were tears at the corners of my eyes which I had to wipe away ! Thank goodness it was dark and nobody could see me >.< The story was touching, and the acting skills of these girls brought out the emotion contained within the story, which was a wonderful feat indeed ! Bravo to the drama team ! They were absolutely GREAT that night !

Me with the Assistant Director of MKK, Evon πŸ˜›

And of course, I cannot forget the MIB (Men In Black) team, who helped out with the stage props and smoothened the transition from one scene to another. They were quick and as silent as possible, and made the flow of the drama continuous without too long an awkward pause between scenes. They did an awesome job too !

The band was absolutely great ! I found myself clapping and tapping my feet and swaying my body and singing along to all the songs they were playing ! Felt my heart thumping along to the beat of the drum, and soaring together with all 8 of the lead and back-up singers. They did a wonderful job of getting the crowd warmed up πŸ™‚

And the emcees for the night did well too πŸ˜›

All in all, I felt a sense of satisfaction after that night. Yes, I was not in the dance team. I was only in the background, handling the Protocol Secretariat responsibilities like securing the perasmi and being the usher. But I felt like a part of something good that night, and I left the hall smiling πŸ™‚

Me with the Head of Protocol, Christina!

I hope next year’s is even better !! πŸ˜›

I saw this posted on my friend’s Facebook profile today. I was curious, because the title of the video said:

The Girl Who Silenced the World For 5 Minutes

I watched it.

I cried.

I don’t know. It was more like, I felt extremely emotional.

There were things she said that felt like a slap to my face. Made me think. Made me ashamed.

In 1992, the world was already experiencing problems.

The ozone layer was disappearing, the animals were going extinct, innocent children were dying all over the world. There were still wars, people were greedy, people were unwilling to share.

In 2010, nothing much has changed, has it?

It seems that people are still blind and near-sighted. We do not think ahead. We only care about the here and now.

What are the consequences on the future generations if we continue doing what we are doing now?

It may be difficult for some, but I can imagine a world where animals will be a rare sight (it already is), sky is no longer clear, no more grass or trees or lakes or rivers.

What do we have?

Buildings and skyscrapers, factories, smoke and haze, unbearable hot temperatures.

Death. Poverty. Hate.

How can we want a world like that, if not for us, for our children? For our children’s children?

We must do something. We must.

Or at least, STOP doing what we are doing now.

“You DON’T know how to fix the holes in our ozone layer. You DON’T know how to bring the salmon back up in a dead stream. You don’t know how to bring back an animal, now extinct. And you CAN’T bring back the forest that once grew where there is now a desert.”

~Severn Suzuki, 12 years, representative of ECO (Environmental Children’s Organization)

Day #2

In contrast to the bright, enthusiastic kids who greeted us on the second day with Hi, Kak ! and Selamat pagi, Kak, we were exhausted from the day before. I remember thinking, Is it me or am I getting older? I don’t seem to have as much energy as I thought I did. >.<

We started off with a writing activity, bright and early in the morning after taking their attendance. Two of the boys had suddenly disappeared; his friends had told Jess and I that they would not be coming. It was rather disappointing and discouraging as well. Did we do anything wrong? Did they not enjoy themselves yesterday?

We had them sit down quietly in the canteen (because the classroom that we had occupied had only 4 tables and chairs =.=) to complete their written assignment. They were to write a short speech for an assembly on the importance of keeping the environment clean and ways to do so. The points for the essay were already given – guided writing, as it were. A very typical Form 3 essay topic, I would say. However, due to their level of proficiency, we knew that we would have to give them a lot of guidance especially with the vocabulary.

As expected, we were often called over to help them with translations for almost every sentence:

β€œKak Lisa, apa perkataan β€˜mencemarkan’ dalam BI?” β€œKak Lisa, apa tu β€˜recycle’?” β€œKak Lisa, macam mana nak kata β€˜Jika mencemarkan sungai, hidupan air akan mati’?”

So you can imagine my surprise when I saw one boy quietly scribbling furiously, pausing only for several seconds before continuing. I looked over at his work and was amazed to see the blank A4 sheet half-filled with his writing ! And he had not asked me, nor Jess, for help at all !

I silently read his work thus far and, aside from some grammatical mistakes, his writing was actually rather good !Β  I was very impressed and praised him: β€œWow, Lukman, that’s really good !” – which may not have been such a good idea, because the rest of them who were sitting in close vicinity to him started craning their necks to look over at his paper and copying whatever he had written.

β€œEh, don’t copy his work ! Jangan tiru la !”

β€œAlaa, Kak, susah la…”

Well, how could I blame them? This was way too difficult for them. I tried to motivate them by telling them that we would play more games later after this writing task. There were cheers from all of them πŸ™‚

We taught them 2 games after that – which they enjoyed. πŸ˜›

A’AH: The aim of the game is…to NOT make any mistakes. This is a game that requires keen attention and quick reflexes. All students are to sit in a circle. One student starts by saying β€œOne,” and the student next to him says, β€œAh!” The next student then says, β€œTwo,” and the following two students each say β€œAh!” Therefore, around the circle, you should hear this: β€œOne”-β€œAh!”-β€œTwo”-β€œAh!”-β€œAh!”-β€œThree”-β€œAh!”-β€œAh!”-β€œAh!” and it goes on until someone makes a mistake. Those who make mistakes will be asked to carry out a forfeit.

We made them sing their school song as a forfeit πŸ˜›

LAI CHEE KANG: This is a fun song that is sung together with accompanying actions. The aim is to perform them as a group as synchronized as possible without making any mistakes.Β  The lyrics go like this: β€œLai chee kang semangkuk dua kupang, Lai chee kang semangkuk dua kupang, Lai chee kang semangkuk dua kupang, Makan sikit tak kenyang, Semangkuk dua kupang !”

Somehow, they really enjoyed this. And they kept singing it faster and faster and bursting into giggles when it got too fast and their hand coordination got messed up. πŸ˜›

After the lunch break, Jess and I carried out a (sophisticated) Treasure Hunt game.

TREASURE HUNT: This game is for enhancing reading comprehension. Students are divided into groups. Each group’s aim is to bring back 3 clues that are hidden somewhere within the classroom. To obtain these clues, students are required to read the Hints given to them that describe the place where the clues are hidden. For example: β€œClue #1: I am used by the teacher. I am made of wood. I am rectangular in shape.” If the students had understood and guessed correctly, they would be able to find Clue #1 underneath the teacher’s desk. Once all 3 clues have been obtained, the pieces of paper are opened up to reveal possible answers to 3 fill-in-the-blanks questions. Using the possible answers in the Clues, students have to work together to fill in the blanks correctly. The fastest group to obtain all 3 clues and answer all 3 questions correctly, wins !

It was interesting to watch them. Some groups tried really hard all the way to the end. Some groups started off well and then gave up half-way. Jess and I tried to encourage them, spurring them on: Faster, Quickly, Find the Clues ! You’re almost there ! Just one more !

I was mostly impressed by their teamwork and their enthusiasm. Jess and I rewarded them with Choclairs that we had bought at a store in Tangkak town the night before just for this purpose πŸ™‚

After that was going to be the Closing Ceremony and each group was required to perform something. We had practiced hard the day before and even today. I was personally excited to see them perform. It was really simple, but their enthusiasm in participating made it a hundred times grander !

Since after that the kids would be in the big hall with the rest of the groups, this was our final hours with them as their Facilitators. So we had a short sharing time. Jess and I expressed how glad we were to have them as our group, how much fun we had had being their Facilitators and apologized for anything that we may have said or done that might have hurt them. We gave them more chocolates for each question they got right when we tested them for certain things they had learnt during the 2 days with us.

Then, just for fun, we played Lai Chee Kang until it was time for the Closing Ceremony. πŸ˜›

[Continued]

A Good First Day (PKAPS 1)

We were all set and ready to go ! I was thinking,Β Come onnnn !!! Let’s get the show on the road ! Show me the kids ! I’ll show them a great time learning English !

My partner, Jess, and I πŸ˜›

I sound pretty excited, don’t I? πŸ˜›

Then. We arrived at the hotel we would be staying in for 3 days and 2 nights starting on the 8th of January (Friday). That first night, we just had a nice dinner together and prepared our instructional materials. We were going to be working in pairs (my partner was Jessica), handling groups of 10-15 kids each, of either Form 3 or Form 5 kids. Except for the Standard 6 kids – there were 32 of them.

Some of our classmates were fighting to get the cute, adorable little 12-year-olds. Me? I wasn’t sure I could handlemyself, what more overactive hyper little kids who would be running around all day. Jess and I were hoping to get the Form 3 class. The Form 5 kids would most likely tower over us both (since we are both, em,Β vertically-challenged :P) and we would never be able to control the class. It would be safest to have our first try at teaching with Form 3 kids, don’t you think? Wouldn’t be such a traumatizing experience then πŸ™‚

And, what do you know? We drew lots and got the Form 3s πŸ™‚

DAY #1

The following morning, as we donned our striking greens (we looked like chlorophyll =.=), I was feeling rather nervous. Can I really do this? Can I handle a class of 15-year-olds and make themΒ not dislike English any more than they already do? Or will I make things worse??

Thank God that we were working in pairs, and I would have Jess to help me πŸ™‚

I was stunned to see so many kids there. The entire hall was packed to the brim. They were all sitting on mats, chattering excitedly – it was pure cacophony in the hall ! Boys were on one side, girls on the other (It was a combined program with 3 schools; theΒ Agama school was the host).

Dr. Hamidah gave the opening talk, and were soon assigned to our classes. Then, we were free to do whatever we wanted with them πŸ™‚

Smart Team

We of course started with introductions. They called us Kak Lisa and Kak Jess. Gosh, these kids were sweet. But we quickly realized that their proficiency in the English Language was seriously poor. However, we had already been told to expect that. These were kids from rural schools around Tangkak and Kundang Ulu. The fact that they had signed up for this English Camp showed their genuine interest and determination to learn the language.

We tried speaking to them in English, but knew that some of them really had difficulty comprehending what we wanted to say. In the end, Jess and I resorted to translating our instructions into Bahasa when we saw their confused, perplexed eyes staring at us. πŸ˜› Nevertheless, as far as possible, we spoke to them in English, hoping that the little exposure to the language would still do them some good.

We had ice-breaking games and had them come up with a group name and cheer. They finally called themselves β€œSmart Team” and came up with a cheer: Come on, come on, Smart Team, to be the best !

We had them learning English through songs. Jess and I thought it would be a good idea to combine with another group so there would be some fun competition. The Form 3s and the Form 5s had a good time singing along to Miley Cyrus’s The Climb (I had that song stuck in my head for weeks ! >.<). I was proud of my group. They sang really well and with enthusiasm. In that aspect, I think we beat the Form 5s flat ! Hurray, Smart Team !! πŸ™‚

We had more games in store for them, like the Chicken Goggles game. I personally like that game ! It’s really hilarious and a great ice-breaking game to get everyone warmed up.

We ran into our first speed bump during that activity. One of the students refused to participate. The activity of course, involved some funny but rather embarrassing actions (like imitating the sounds a chicken makes) especially for a boy. Jess and I tried as best as we could to encourage him to play; it was just for fun anyway. But he refused. He just slowly shook his head and folded his arms against his chest.

We were told what to do in situations like this:

Encourage, but do not push too hard. Suggest that the student sit aside but still watch the rest of his friends play.

So we did. Jess and I thought it best to leave him alone. He would join us again when he felt ready.

But surprisingly, he didn’t leave the circle that we had formed to play the game. And when we started the game, he slowly, reluctantly, but certainly, performed the actions and joined in as well ! πŸ™‚

Jess and I smiled to ourselves. I bet he secretly wanted to play even from the beginning but was just too shy. Anyway, that speed bump was dealt with !

Then we played Human Scrabble.

HUMAN SCRABBLE: The aim of the game is to form as many words as possible. Each student holds a letter of the alphabet. It could be a consonant, or a vowel. Students are supposed to combine with others holding their own letters and stand in a group to form new words before the time limit is up. For example, a child holding the letter A may stand in a group with 3 others holding the letters F, C and E to form the word FACE. After each round, the teacher checks accuracy of words and may discuss with the students on the meanings of words formed, or make suggestions of better, more complex words.

They had fun with that game, as simple as it was ! They kept asking, β€œOne more round, one more round !”

All too soon, it was the end of the first day. We had bonded with the kids and I was very pleased with all of them. Overall, it was an enjoyable first day. Got to know some of the kids well – some were still shy, some were more outspoken. Some were reluctant to join in at first but gave cooperation in the end. They were a bunch of good kids. πŸ™‚

Jess and I were both exhausted, but I think it was a good start. My heart warmed when I heard one of the kids say:

Jumpa esok, Kak Lisa !

Back at the hotel, all of us were alive with stories of the kids that we all wanted to share – stories of the good kids, the naughty ones, the uncooperative ones, the noisy ones.

It was great fun. And my favourite part was interacting with the kids. I hope that they can be encouraged by these activities and think, Hey, English can be fun too !

A good first day πŸ˜›

[Continued]

The first weekend in January of the second semester of session 2009/2010 – 8th to the 10th – was a weekend that I was not looking forward to. At first.

Us girls lepak-ing by the pool !

We were told that our entire class of TESL/2 has been selected by Dr. Hamidah Yamat@Ahmad (onward referred to as Dr. H) to go for a trip. Not just any trip, mind you. But a compulsory trip. (Read: had no other choice)

Like any other spoiled child, we grumbled and whined “Why meeee??? Why do we have to gooo???” =.=”

It turned out to be one of the most fun trips I had ever had !

This trip, as was eventually explained to us by Dr. H herself, was actually a training camp. Train for what, we asked. Oh, to train you to be the facilitators for the English Camp we are going to conduct in Kundang Ulu, Johor the following weekend of course, she answered.

We were literally speechless >.<

As part of the research project Dr. H was conducting called Program Kecemerlangan Akademik Pendidikan Sekolah (PKAPS), we were to carry out a 2 day English camp at a secondary school in Kundang Ulu – as facilitators.

And for that, we would have to be trained and briefed.

Phase I: Training Camp (8-10 January 2010) at the Bougainvillea Resort, Port Dickson, Negeri Sembilan.

Dearest Yana, Ana and Shan ! πŸ™‚ We make 1Malaysia hehe

For this program, we also joined forces with our final year TESL-UKM seniors, whom we were not acquainted with. Until then of course.

The aim of this camp was to first, brief the facilitators (us !) on what PKAPS was all about, and how the school in Kundang Ulu is like. Next was to train the facilitators (that’s us !) on how to conduct fun language classes with poor proficiency students in rural area schools. Finally, to brainstorm together on activities and tasks that will not only be fun and interesting, but also effective English language learning stuff; which will eventually be published in an activity book of sorts as reference for other educators. πŸ™‚

We were divided into groups comprising of us, second year students as well as our seniors. As a team, we were supposed to come up with ideas for fun activities that we could do with the kids in Kundang Ulu to stimulate their interest in learning the English Language and not to give up, just yet. πŸ™‚

Yes, it was hard work. For hours on end, we would just sit and discuss and brainstorm for ideas for various aspects of language learning – teaching grammar, vocabulary, listening, speaking, reading and writing skills. We had to fine-tune the details of each activity – the materials needed, the aims and objectives, the advantages.

Playing Snap! in our free time πŸ˜›

By the end of the first day there, I felt like all my brain juices had been squeezed out. I was mentally drained.

However, we all came alive when it was our break time ! πŸ˜›

This was our first time out on a trip like this as a class. You can’t blame us for wanting to relax and have fun ! We were at a resort by the beach ! πŸ™‚

Then it was back to work again. Presenting our ideas to the rest of the groups, giving feedback to one another to improve on our ideas. We each had gotten to know our group members well by then, friendship sealed by hysterical laughter and sly teasing πŸ™‚ Discussions were tough, but we each contributed, giving our best to come up with good, workable ideas.

Finally, we compiled everything, the materials for our exciting first, real (well, for me, anyway) teaching experience ready and waiting.

Despite all the hard work, we enjoyed ourselves, fostered friendships with seniors I would not have known were it not for this program, as well as drew closer to my fellow course mates whom I knew, but never really knew. πŸ˜›

Our group: Just Do It ! That's It ! *lol*

The long-dreaded weekend in PD turned out to be one of the sweetest memories I have with my fellow TESLians. I had never laughed so much in my life before !

It was exciting, thinking of all the kids waiting for us in Kundang Ulu. Think of what we had in store for them !

I am honestly privileged to have been a part of this program – it was certainly an enriching and valuable experience I hope I never forget. πŸ™‚

TESL/2 (Can you see it in the sand? ^^)

Enjoying the windy sea breeze of PD air πŸ™‚