Can I say “grow the fuck up” to a friend?

How much can you push the “politeness” boundary to a friend? I find myself to be someone that cares a lot about people, especially friends. So I introduce to them an opportunity that I know they will excel in, and beyond that love it at the same time.

Then they flake, then they give excuses, all the while banking on my passion and energy to help them along the process.




#TIL Sports Science was literally, Sains Sukan.

I dragged my eyes to the alarm clock that rung at 6:30am. Last time I woke this early was… who knows when. Today was special because I didn’t wake up for work. I woke up for class, but with a twist.
It was the week of Teacher’s Day and Teach For Malaysia staff were encouraged to visit our Fellows or Teaching Alumni to be their personal assistants for the day as a sign of appreciation. For convenience sake, I chose a school in Banting where Adibah, a 2012 Alumni was teaching. Diba has been teaching since 2012, one among the pioneering cohort of TFM.  Undeterred with the challenges, she answered “I stay for the kids” when I asked her why she remained as a teaching alumni of 4 years after her 2 years of Fellowship. 6 years in the same school, Diba is now a Ketua Panitia for Sejarah, a step up that comes along with responsibilities.
In the short few hours that I was in Banting, I experienced what I’ve surmised to be the unexciting part of teaching – prep. Diba was so relieved that we offered to help out today because she was supposed to cut up almost 40 pieces of smiley faces, a new classroom tool her and her colleagues are expected to utilize in lessons. We also aided some of her colleagues to build a Teacher’s Day photo booth. Even though I grew up being the child of a teacher, I’ve severely underestimated the sheer amount of work that goes into being an educator. I realize that the job is more than standing in front of a classroom, it was managing stakeholders (principals, students, parents), it was project management (the various events that teachers take on to do – Hari Guru), and on top of that, shaping our nation’s future.
I had the honor of being in one of her classes. Diba brought us into a her form 5 Sejarah class, where it was made up entirely of girls. Girls from various backgrounds, but with some important similarities — they didn’t have much to strive for due to their circumstances. Dibah broke them out into groups and I had a bunch of quiet girls to talk to. The other groups chatter and laughter could be heard from the corridor, but my group was just silent. I am often labeled an extrovert but at that moment I didn’t know what to say. I just started sharing my university reflections and stories, until I realized the reason they didn’t respond was because they didn’t understand what I was saying – I was speaking in English. I asked one of the girls what she wanted to pursue after her SPM, she said she didn’t know. Then she said, “Cikgu, sekarang saya dalam aliran seni dan ERT, ada masa hadapan ke? Saya tak pandai sains.” I was stunned. I’ve taken for granted that I had options even though I myself was not a science-oriented person. I immediately went into detail what she can do and opt to study for after SPM, then suddenly another girl who was silent the whole time piped up and said she had a passion for sports. I pulled out my phone and started searching up sport science courses in Malaysia, and together we researched which university she can strive and work towards.
This isn’t the first school visit I’ve done but it’s certainly not any less meaningful. I’m constantly awed by the work our Fellows do and constantly humbled by the students.
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One of the roads that we took to go to a high-needs school, felt like the middle of nowhere, yet at the same time it felt like we were in the middle of something important.

lima kupang worth

“Kakak! Nak beli cupcake tak?”

“How much is this?”

“Err… 5 kupang kak!”

“Kalau awak boleh bagitau saya 5 kupang tu berapa dalam bahasa omputeh akak beli”

“Kak… five-ten kak!”

“Salah tu.”

“Kak…..Five ten… five-ty…FIFTY, KAK! FIFTY!”


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Its time to celebrate our third parent.

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” — Maya Angelou

A great teacher has the power to transform the trajectory of your life. I slugged through school thinking I was never going to make it in life, constantly failing my maths subjects.

If my English teacher in primary 3 didn’t catch that I was a good speaker and made me enroll in story telling competitions, I don’t think I would have knew that I was comfortable speaking in public. I thought I was just a naughty girl in school that could’t stop chatting.

If my teacher in Form 2 (Ms Victoria) didn’t bring me to a debating competition, I would have not known that speaking well was a skill. (I didn’t join debating though, it wasn’t a thing in SMK St Columba). Ms Vic, you gave me the confidence and the determination to accept that I didn’t have to score straight A’s to be a good person.

If my English teacher in senior year, Ms Libby didn’t introduce me to literature and poetry, I don’t think I would have the courage to take up World Literature as a minor for my undergraduate.

If my lecturers in Sunway Uni, (Dr Malissa and Ms Yati) never told me to go and grab my dreams, I would never have changed my major from Psychology and I would never have fallen in love with what I decided to go into, Communications. (Its not just Mass Comm ok)

Mainly, the 2 most important women in my life are teachers. The work and the impact that I see  my grandmother has made in the lives of her students is astounding. To the point where she now has 8 grandchildren and STILL people refer to her as Cikgu.

The lives that my mother has changed over the years, making strides in the education for special needs children in Malaysia is humbling. Seeing my mother fight for her the rights of her students with the corrupted officials who give 1001 reasons and delaying what should be the rights of students. The Malaysians that we don’t want to think about, teachers who willingly go into schools to educate and be advocates for our children with special needs are truly heroes.

I truly don’t think that I would have an interest in social justice, specifically education without the influence of teachers in my life. When Li Ying interviewed me about my motivations to be a part of Teach For Malaysia even just as a teacher, everything that I researched into “How to speak in an interview” went out the window. I just talked about my mother. I talked about how I realize education is the key to success and while we sit in mamaks and lament about society is apathetic and how we are losing faith in humanity (I roll my eyes so hard when I hear a dudebro says that) I realize that there ARE avenues for us to give back. Its only either we want to grab the tools that are provided or not.

There are a lot of powerful women that has impacted my life, and the path that I’m going down now. It saddens me that society doesn’t see teachers that way, it’s insulting to see people see teaching as last resort for a job.

So today,

today is for the teachers who don’t give up,

today is for the teachers who go into places that nobody wants to go,

today is for the teachers who left their cushy jobs to go into teaching,

today is for the teachers that never gave up on their students,

today is for the teachers that open their home to their students,

today is for the teachers who become co-parents to hundreds of students every school year,

today is for the teachers who opened their hearts and don’t receive enough recognition on how much emotional labor they’ve put in to raise the next generation of Malaysia’s leaders.

So today is for my mother,

for my grandmother,

and the teachers that transforms our lives.

Selamat Hari Guru, semua.

Malaysia needs our collective effort to improve. Shameless plug but Teach For Malaysia IS working towards it but we can’t do it without you. Apply or donate at