That Fire

I
remember my time at school, we had our fair share of boring classes, pointless
meetings and assemblies and unhelpful teachers. Sometimes, we did have some
lecturers and classes that we enjoy and cherish even after our time there; but
honestly, who really enjoys waking up early and staying back late for classes?
Nobody enjoys their last day of holiday knowing that they have to get up early
for school tomorrow. Well, that was West Malaysia for me, classes are not our
No. 1 interest, and the teachers’ No. 1 fans are definitely not all of their
students.
Bario
was the first time I ever jumped into an East Malaysia classroom. I have some
experience in teaching for private tuitions, but that was with at most two students. Knowing that I would have to teach a class of more than 5 students
did scare me. We always have those trouble makers sitting at the back of the
class in the West, making lots of noise, not paying attention to the speaker,
even disrupting or skipping classes. I was unsure of how I could handle these
people, considering that it has been less than 2 years since I graduated from
high school. Putting aside my inexperience and young age compared to my elder
teammates, I stepped in my first class with YC and Kit May, my two teammates. The
class we had: Standard 5 of SK Bario.
Our
class of 5 boys and 3 girls was surprisingly receptive to us, even though we
had some difficulties teaching Science in Bahasa Malaysia. They ran into their
class and sat in front, anticipating us big brothers and sisters to teach them
something. The students may be older than the others in the other classes, but
they are very polite, which surprised us a lot. If we entered a West Malaysia
class, there are high chances for half the class to be missing, either skipping or genuinely
having some more important commitments than us. The polite and relaxing class
atmosphere in Bario is a rare sight in West Malaysia; I have never seen so much respect
to any new outsider before. Although we struggled to translate the words we
knew into Bahasa Malaysia to the class, they were very patient towards us. They
even did the class activities and exercises with enthusiasm.
Our
next assignment was Form 2B in SMK Bario, which was a much bigger class. The
sight of 25 students was intimidating to me and Ai Jin. However, just like the SK
students, they were receptive even when I struggled to teach them about air pressure in
Bahasa Malaysia. They were also smart and grasped concepts easily. However, we
discovered an ugly truth of what our education system has done. The English
standard in the schools are poor; poorer than our already deteriorating
standard of English in West Malaysia. They struggled to even construct simple
sentences in Form 2, and heavily relied on the Bahasa Malaysia-English
dictionary. 

Then, Ai Jin realised the standard of the class after she saw their
recent examination results at the back of the classroom. The passing rate in the
class was very low. Maybe, the students there have the enthusiasm to study, but do not have the adequate resources to strive forward. The situation in the West is
absolutely opposite; many do not have the enthusiasm to study, but are flooded
with private tuitions, extra classes and workbooks. I am really worried about the
English standard there. Over here at where I live, I struggled to get into an international school and
getting a decent score in IELTS because of my lack of proficiency in English.
However, these children in Bario cannot even score high in our low English
standard examinations, what more competing with the world.

Teaching
for the last time to the Standard 5 class, we taught them to aim higher and
strive for the best. I cannot hope for any different for them, they have the
enthusiasm to strive and succeed. To the urbanites, I can only advise you to
appreciate what you have; respect your lecturers, appreciate what your parents
sacrifice for your education, and attend those classes. You have no idea how lucky and
fortunate you are. To the students I taught in Bario as well as those of you in similar situations, well done in your enthusiasm, never die down,
in fact strive for more and more. Never stop improving, push away those that undermine you, ignore the criticisms and follow your dreams. Sooner or later,
you will all become great people, and it all starts with that enthusiasm to
learn, that fire in you. 

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