By EDMUND LEE
A group of Malaysian students studying in Australia decided to forego their holidays to conduct a five-day camp in Nur Lembah Pangun Eco Resort for underprivileged students in Malaysia.
The Malaysian Student Council of Australia’s Victoria chapter (MASCA Victoria) initiated the Inspire South-East Asia project to help students from rural schools improve their proficiency in English and explore mathematical and scientific concepts through hands-on experiments.
Project director Azzah Khalid, 23, a first year Masters of Environment student at Melbourne University, believes projects like these are important as they help raise awareness on education inequality in Malaysia.
“More efforts should be directed towards teaching underprivileged children English so that they will be able to converse in it confidently,” she said.
Azzah also stressed on the importance of promoting soft skills such as strong work ethics, communication skills and time management among secondary students.
Continuing from last year’s efforts, 22 new student volunteers were brought in to facilitate activities and English lessons.
“I went there to inspire the students but I ended up being inspired myself by the amazing people I met,” said volunteer Gowri Chitra Martin, 21.
The educational camp garnered huge support as it was attended by around 60 students from SMK Gunung Semanggol in Perak and SMK Tengku Idris Shah in Selangor.
The long trip from their respective schools to the camp site in Hulu Langat, Selangor was worth it as the five-day camp was jam-packed with activities that promote interactive learning, centred on the theme “discovering possibilities”.
Aside from the usual ice-breakers, participants also witnessed live experiments like the Diet Coke and Mentos eruption and the fire resistant water balloon.
Professionals from the medical, engineering and business community were also invited to share their personal success stories to motivate the children to pursue their dream jobs.
On top of that, students were treated to a full day trip to Petrosains and the Petronas Art Gallery in KLCC.
Another interesting component of the camp was the Dear Diary session before bedtime, during which students were encouraged to gather their thoughts and form simple English sentences under the tutelage of volunteers.
“I truly enjoyed the camp as I learnt many new things throughout the camp. I am also surprised to find that learning English can be quite fun after all,” said Muhammad Aqil, 14.