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