By Celine Woon Sue Lin and Nur Alyaa binti Talat Mahmood,
Department of English, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, University of Malaya
The time span of three weeks in conducting the volunteering programme in SK Taman Medan was indeed life changing to all of us from the football team. Despite the occasional conflicts in our team and the time constraints, we were able to overcome those challenges and ensure that our football activities with the children were successful. We were indeed honoured and grateful to be given a chance to be teach and play with these special children from the school. Despite not being professional football players, we equipped ourselves in basic knowledge of dribbling, aiming, shooting and kicking. It was absolutely eye opening for us as previously we did not know much about football other than kicking. It also sparked our interest in sports and to delve deeper into the world of football. The children were skilled in football, displaying great cooperation and sportsmanship throughout the programme. They were also very helpful, assisting us in carrying the football equipment. Moreover, they were really friendly and approachable. It made me feel that children with disabilities are just like normal children, we should treat them equally.
The society should not perceive them as incapable of doing many things but instead view them on a more positive manner. The teachers were really supportive, giving us full support in our activities and keeping the children at watch. We think that being a teacher to a group of special children is indeed very challenging. One has to be patient and understanding in order to guide them. The teachers deserve a great round of applause for their never-ending efforts. Volunteering has made us better persons, we feel much more connected to the society and it evoked our sense of humanity. We felt as if a part of us has been completed by our experience in volunteering. Nothing felt much more accomplished than the feeling of satisfaction after guiding the children in playing football. After the football activities, we would have a documentation session at SECITA building in Kelana Jaya. There, we begin to cooperate with not only the members of our team but also with Challenges Foundation staffs in SECITA building. Overall, it was a memorable experience and it left us with a long lasting impression of life and society.
For the drama session, it was also our first teaching experience, both generally and in the area of drama no less. To be honest, before we conducted the activity, we spent days worrying about whether we were actually qualified to teach these special needs students. We were not sure of what to expect at all; we made a script without knowing what kind of difficulties the students could face in terms of reading and speaking. Nevertheless, the first day of the session surprised us all; the students were very well-versed in the English language, speaking to us in fluent English with no problem with pronunciation and enunciation. They presented themselves with so much confidence from the moment we had our ice-breaking session on the first day albeit they were still quite shy on the acting part.
However, these students from SMK Bandar Sunway showed so much interest in performing; we found out later that these students are no strangers to performing in front of a crowd as they have had dance performances before. With this, there was no problem at all with the dance number of the drama. The students were actively participating in the choreography of the song “I Love My Teacher”, making the main point of the chorus. Other than that, the students are not only helpful to us, but to each other as well; or example they would help the others if they have any difficulty with any of the activities we conducted. One such scenario was when some students had trouble reading, the others would help us guide those students seeing as they are familiar with his hardship. In addition, we are thankful for the teachers’ presence during all three sessions in order to advise us throughout our activities.
It is no lie that Challenges Media made it convenient for us to conduct our activities with their continuous, unhindered communication with our team even before our project started. Challenges media also made it convenient for us in terms of relations with the schools; setting up the time and venue of the activities we needed to conduct. The documentation sessions after the activities with the students at both schools contributed with the growth of team-bonding not only amongst ourselves but with the generous, hardworking people of Challenges Media.
This article was contributed by Celine Woon Sue Lin and Nur Alyaa binti Talat Mahmood, Department of English, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, University of Malaya as part of their social engagement project with Challenges Media.