Sunday, June 28, 2015

Kazakhs connection 4

Time flies when you are having fun, or so they said.

I consciously & constantly realize that for each day that  passed, our 3 weeks time inch closer to an end. I guess I've never really mentally prepared for the closure, so by day 21 we were caught off guard. And again, oh the beautiful mixed feels.

The end felt heavy. In the past 3 weeks we've formed a rather special bond with the students. As  friends, as families. I believe Afiq, Anira & Ira might found the situation more difficult to dealt with, since in these 21 days they've let their guard down maybe too much & have involved deeper with the students as play mates- while l (being me) have maintained a distance between us to balance things up. For me instructors & TAs could not afford to be disillusioned (happens when you enjoy things too much) because it would affect your performance & compromise everything. So I did what I need to do. But no matter how composed & professional I appeared when dealing with the students, I felt it all inside. Ouchh.

So after an emotional farewell where tears rolled down from cheeks, hugs, selfies and exchange of gratitude & best wishes, the camp was finally over.

And immediately after that, the void was felt as our life reverted to 'normal'. No more morning rush to open the laboratory, no more anxious wondering how to keep the students interested, no more talking in English all the time. The laboratory that was then merry & happening is now empty. The students have went back to their home Kazakhstan.

I want to admit that I profoundly miss the 3 weeks. And right now I'm having the withdrawal syndrome for not being able to move on from the memories. The perks of being a hopeless nostalgic. The students left handwritten letters to sum up their whole experience in this camp with us, and everytime I read them I was taken aback into that exact moment all over again.

I miss the moments dearly because this whole camp thing has made me feel my self worth. I managed to keep up with the high expectations. The challenge & experience that it gave me was cathartic.

And I miss the camaraderie of my team too..Afiq,Anira & Ira. It was nice working with them & I learnt a lot about human dynamics from them. I hope they feel happy working with me too.

I miss the students because I feel that they liked me, they really liked me. And to have that group of people who appreciates you for who you are is the utmost blessing. You see, I don't have this previllege often.

Abylai, Madi, Assel, Inara, Moldir, Aigerim K, Aigerim, Aruzhan Y, Aruzhan K., Nargiz, Nurailym, Nurzhanna, Alina, Aidana, Akulpa, Akbike, Alma;

I wish you all the best for future endeavours. Pursue your passion whatever it is & keep your colorful personalities with you. Thanks for everything, I learnt a lot as much as you do. The chance for any of you to actually read this is next to zero, but who knows maybe one day? That's why I write this account in English.

I now have 17 extra reasons to visit Kazakhstan,
You are all my Kazakhstan connection.


Thursday, June 25, 2015

Kazakhs connection 3

I still remember how I felt when the management introduced me to the kids & we met each other for the first time. Oh that beautiful mixed feelings, which I believe was mutual. What kind of experience we will possibly have for the coming 3 weeks together? But I played my cool, gave a warm welcome & good 1st impression despite the uneasiness in my stomach.

I think the first two days was the most challenging part for me & Safida. It was then when we learnt the true nature of the whole ordeals; how things supposed to work, the expectations of the Kazakhs teachers+students & the fatigue omg. We were under some  pressure to perform in a certain way that we are still trying to process. The lack of information, resources & time all this while had built up a tough situation for us.

But we did not fret. The way I see it,  there's always two components in learning experience: (1) The approach and (2) The contents. The best asset in teaching is not the modules or the contents, but the people who deliver them- they make the difference. Everything else are just accessories that meant to help. And I truly believe I had the ability to lift the mood in class, be it with local audience or in this case- a new foreign crowd! Well I better be or else screw me because I don't have any other choice :P

While Safida and I still shaping up the contents and maintaining the class engagement in high spirits at the same time, we also made some arrangements to recruite reinforcements too. At day-2 we invited Yufi the genetics maestro to fill in for the night session. We then justified the addition of another 2 people permanently into our team, and by day 3 we managed to land Afiq & Ira to help us. They will act as Instructor & Teaching Assistant respectively, and with our resonating minds, different expertise & the resources at our disposal we will undoubtly will be able to override all odds. Firing on all cylinders!

And we did! From there it was all better. We formulated the course content as to expose students to core concepts of modern biotech, each concept is like a piece of jigsaw, which later will fits together forming bigger process, the ultimate understanding. All theories sessions will be followed by lab practicals, experiments, activities, games & presentations & we arranged some visits & invite guests to share their scientific experience too! We tried to promote two way interactions in whatever we did, and also encourage creativity & expressiveness in conveying their understanding.   No questions or answers that were thrown in during class are wrong. We gave our all in connecting to them in all sorts of level, as a teacher and as a friend/host. We didn't just learn Science, we learnt a lot about our different languages, cultures, cuisines etc as well. We let loose from any form of rigidity and stereotypes of a teacher should be, instead we become our natural selves- fun, friendly & helpful.

The students wrote daily reflections by the end of each day for us to keep track, and the response was all great and positive. They enjoyed each day and learnt new things in total joy and casualness. We all had a really good time in the mutual love of Science & friendship!

-to be continued

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Kazakhs connection 2

The memory of how did I get involved in this itself is noteworthy for me.

I was just keeping terms with my extended bout of uninspiredness from the same daily routines & stuffs, when a friend tagged me in an elaborated Facebook post about the apparent urgent vacancy for a Biotech Instructor at PPpN. Not all details were provided at that time, just some description that emphasise on the handsome enumerance offered. Well that bait works. That was the beginning of how this whole thing catches my attention. Applicants were required to submit CV & show up for some 'interview'.

Well tbh I was fairly hesitant in the 1st place. The camp will run for 3 friggin weeks & I was contemplating about my other commitments as well. Plus the students are the chosen groups from the Kazakhstan's Nazarbayev Intellectual School for talented youths, so yeah that was a lil' bit intimidating..or was it thrilling & exciting? *Dr.Evil's expression* :P
Because nevertheless I gave it a go. I applied, called up to PPpN the next day, interviewed, accepted & then set to start teaching in 72hrs++..friggin 72hrs! It was Friday, and the camp start on Sunday!

So in the following 72hrs I was on fire like the human torch on steroids. While I was still trying to learn the working culture there, I was scrambling all over the place preparing the lessons and myself. The communication hierarchy was barely there for me to get any useful help, I didn't have assigned superiors or mentors that I need to report to or ask things, there weren't any documentations about previous editions to refer to since this was acually its first edition- so as an Instructor it's all on me to determine the course of Biotechnology syllibus for whole 3 weeks. The nature of work is equivalent to University lecturer. I was given a lab & could request just anything that I deemed necessary for teaching aids. With a bunch of brainy Kazakhstan students as respondents. SWEET. The bar was hight. I swear to god I had not worked that hard for something quite a long time.

But I'd never doubt my own ability & potential. I was raring to dive into this new experience. I wondered how cathartic this would be to my soul. I believed I am the right person to take up this challenge. I am fairly eloquent in spoken English & I always have this unconventional yet engaging way to articulate my knowledge to students. I've taught Biology to local students for years & they liked me so I have the confidence. Pep talk monologue.

At that time the only better news was I'll have Safida, a colleague of mine to share the weight. You see, every Instructor will have one teaching assistant, to well- assist. Safida joined this camp as TA but she had previous experience as Science Instructor for local students in PPpN. That's a leverage. We were never close tbh, but we've known each other in several work-related encounters so that will save the awkward ice breaking finding chemistry part.

And in a last minute desperate attempt to get some foresight on the students' knowledge level, I managed to get help from an old friend Muadz Adzim. He just got back from his studies in Russia, and was willing to help me with googling up some helpful content. Kazak used to be under Russian annex, so basically they share somewhat almost similar education system & language. I've tried googling it up with all my  googling skills but ended up in vain.
With Muadz's help in translating and googling, I managed to secure a very useful syllibus outline about Biology for Kazakhs secondary school. Thanks brother.

But it was tad late for the newly acquired outline to be of any help anyways, since we only found it around Sunday midnight & the students will be arriving at Monday 8.30am.

So here it goes!

-to be continued

Monday, June 22, 2015

Kazakhs connection 1

Kazakhstan connection

Before this I just knew some general stuffs about Kazakhstan . You know, the stuffs that you usually stumble upon on the internet. Things like it is the 9th largest country in the world, it used to be under Soviet reign for a long time, the Baikonour space launchpad, the story of Aral sea, capital city Astana that is said to resemble Putrajaya, Fynn Jamal teaches in a school there, and the infamously misleading 'Borat'.
And my FB friend Zahariz Khuzaimah who travels around the world by his bike was there in the continent recently & he shared some beautiful photos of Kazak too. So yeah, I kinda silently wish to go there someday.

Fast forward. I got involved with STEM Kazakh-PPpN's Summer Camp 2015 programme as Biotech Instructor and guess what- all the participants were Kazakhs students flown all the way to Malaysia to spend  3 weeks here with yours truly. You see, I don't have the time & resources to really go anywhere right now (since my last backpacking to Japan in Feb, I am relentlessly itching for new experience) so it's like the Kazakhstan came here to me instead...His plan is the greatest. For me travelling is always about the human experience rather than just being places so this is exactly what I am psyched for. And this is how it all began. My kazakhs connection..

-To be continued

Sunday, June 21, 2015


Acknowledge the wrongs but focus on the rights.
See the humour first in jokes instead of  being offended.
Cling on to hopes in unfortunate tragedies.
Find light in dealing the weight of pressing issues.

Relax, embrace with compassion.

This is the way of Gestalt. Be sensitive to realize both the good & bad around you, but be selective in taking what to appreciate.
It will not solve the problem right away for you. But it will make them more tolerable. It saves you from overanalyzing, worrying, burning out and hitting the wall of depression- all that wreck & wrench your soul, draining out your life force.
This faculty of mind centres on positivity & sensitivity to openly appreciate what's healthy for your mind.

Because all that matters in life is how you feel.

Oh yeah you are alright! :) 

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Sunday, June 14, 2015


Penyakit pelik ni dah lama dah aku alami..tapi sejak dua menjak ni rasa makin menjadi-jadi.

Penyakit bila terdengar lagu yang sesuai terus laju je aku bayangkan lagu tu jadi track untuk video travel. Siap buat storyline semua lah dalam kepala ni..scene by scene transition ikut progression lagu tu. Sepet2 mata berkerut2 dahi jadinya masa organize semua tu dalam otak. Memang detail habis..kat mana moment slowmotion, moment timelapse, scene yg guna trick kamera, semua kena hit betul-betul kat part music yang tersendiri untuk bagi 'feeling' dan 'pengalaman' aku sampai kepada penonton.

Dah lengkap lah semua idea tu.. tunggu aku ada masa free je nak pegi berjalan & shoot video travel tu semua. Haiihh..perks of being a spasmodic backpacker.

Geraaam je aku tunggu masa free seterusnya..gatal2 otak nak solo backpack again

Kalau perlu cadangan, antara lagu yang aku dig -
Beautiful Day (U2)
An Eluardian Instance (of Montreal)
Happy Ending (The Strokes)

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Smells like youth spirit

Bila masuk je dalam kawasan sekolah/kampus ke atau berada dalam kelas tuisyen ke, aku tak dapat elak dari berdiri kejap dan tarik nafas panjang sambil perhatikan manusia-manusia depan pandangan aku.. Mata sepetkan sikit masa perati tu..kumpul power dari sekeliling lepastu lepaskan dengan depakan tangan sambil jerit "AHH YOUTHFULNESSS!!" Peghh

Boleh terasa semangat belia dan orang-orang muda kat sekeliling ni bila aku masuk dalam environment diorang. Rasa macam nak high five je sorang2 macamtu dia punya semangat tu.
Nak je bagitau yang korang tahu tak betapa golden nya korang ni..betapa powernya potensi masing-masing yang boleh diexplore. Macam-macam kena experience..kena buat..lesen besar punya bila muda ni..walaweiii

Aku ni dah kenapa tak tahu lah. Saje tulis sini sebab bila cerita kat orang pasal perasaan ni dapat pandangan pelik.

Thursday, June 11, 2015


What you think of others might be wrong.

What you think of others think of you might be wrong.

Heck, what you think of yourself might be downright wrong.


Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Ferrari dilayan kancil

Students are like the audience for a lesson given. They follow the course of teaching and they learn things in the process.

For teachers, please refrain from unnecessarily drag the process of knowledge delivery in the class. If you have solid materials and plan then it's alright to extend the lesson with relevant enrichment. But never waste time asking questions about things you clearly haven't taught them yet. Or repeating the same thing over and over again albeit the noticable dull from your the students. Ffs don't drag.

Just like how you get annoyed with the extremely slow and redundancy in plot of the Indonesian sinetron (or in Dragon Ball Z anime) that seems to drag the whole course of all events, that is how students feel when a teacher wanders around aimlessly rather than just going straight to the point.

Time wasting might benefit a party, like in the case when the leading team wastes time by faking fouls or stalling the game during the final minutes of a soccer match. But for the other parties (the opponent and the fans) it was irritating. A downright turn off.


Sunday, June 7, 2015

Uncle John

Ini takde kaitan dengan roti john.
Selain Eja, sorang lagi jiran aku nama dia Uncle John yang duduk kat belakang rumah aku. Memang kami semua jiran tetangga panggil dia macam tu..Uncle John. Nama sebenar aku tak tahu (teruk2).

Uncle John dah umur 60an, dia menyewa seorang diri kat rumah tu. Menurut cerita yang aku tahu dari tuan rumah, Uncle John berstatus duda. Isteri dia yang bersama anak-anak sejak mereka bercerai dahulu. Sekarang ni dia masih keluar bekerja, tapi untuk isi masa je aku rasa sebab yang aku nampak jadual dia macam loose sikit..selalu je dia ada kat rumah all day. Uncle John seorang yang steady la bagi aku kalau kira sebagai jiran, dia baik dan peramah juga..kami selalu bertegur sapa & sembang2.

Tapi aku dapat rasa yang Uncle John sunyi. Dia duduk seorang diri, uruskan sendiri makan minum dan lain-lain dalam rumah (memang terurus, kemas betul rumah dia). Takde pelawat pun datang rumah dia. Aku selalu perasan Uncle John termenung dianjung rumah dia petang2 & malam2 sambil hisap rokok...mengelamun jauh. Kadang-kadang dia pergi lepak kat kedai runcit Kak Ida & berkawan dengan sesiapa yang datang. Kat warung tomyam area situ pun muka Uncle memang regular...seorang diri dia lepak mengopi.

Aku suka letakkan diri di kedudukan orang lain dan guna imaginasi bayangkan macam mana rasanya...apa yang aku rasa

Tuhan temukan kita dengan orang2 yang kita nampak dalam hidup ni untuk kita belajar sesuatu. Itu tujuannya dan pasti ada sesuatu. Jadi bila merenung kes Uncle ni, aku tahu serta merta apa yang Tuhan nak tunjukkan. Kehidupan solo memang boleh rasa seronok time muda, tapi bila dah berusia..bila sekeliling orang lain happy dengan kasih sayang keluarga, kekosongan yang wujud tu besar. Menempuhi hari-hari seorang diri...sangat berat. Jadi aku kena reconsider balik la. Semoga ada.

Selain tu, aku sebagai anak kepada ibubapa aku kenalah muhasabah & jangan biar ibubapa aku terasa sunyi..curahkan sepenuh perhatian kepada keduanya..itu yang paling berharga.

Apapun kisah semua orang tak semuanya sama. Bahkan apa yang Uncle John lalui ni adalah perkara nyata berlaku dalam kehidupan ramai. Jadi the best thing yang kita boleh bantu adalah berikan kasih sayang kepada yang memerlukannya..reach out & don't make them feel alone. 

Seperti kata Faizal Hussein dalam cerita Manisnya Cinta di Cappadocia kat 1 scene ni


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