Reflections on Challenges Buddy College Programme is a series of self evaluation and sharing by the youth volunteers who participated in disability advocacy activities with Challenges Foundation. In this compilation, we share the thoughts of three youth namely Nur Alyaa, Siti Aishah, and Nik Nur Athirah Binti Nik, who participated in a social engagement project under Challenges Foundation in April 2018.
By Nur Alyaa, 20
The activity I participated in was the drama activity with the students of SMK Bandar Sunway. Going into the activity, I was expecting a lot of difficulties in terms of teaching and controlling the students. There was also the concern of the students not being interested in the activity and wanting to go off due to boredom. Moreover, I expected many difficulties when teaching them due to the fact that I have not dealt with people with disabilities before. So, going into the activity I did not have much knowledge on how to teach them.
However, in contrast with my concerns, the students were very interested in the activity. Some even contributed additional ideas into the drama script and were also well-behaved without giving us any problems at all. I felt enlightened after meeting the students for the first time. They proved all my misconceptions wrong and showed me that they are incredibly intelligent students. As I said before, I did not have prior experience teaching and caring for people with disabilities, but throughout the whole activity I found it fun and easy-going with the students. Also, I felt moved when I saw that the students were very helpful amongst themselves; for example, when some students had difficulties in reading or speaking, the others would gladly help guide them.
They also had no problem explaining to us about some difficulties they face so as to help us conduct the session. For sessions in the future, I expect to bond even more with the students and continue on with our relationship even after we finished our project with them. I also hope that throughout our project, we can help spread knowledge about people with disabilities and contribute to the increase in accessibility especially in education and their participation in the arts.
By Siti Aishah,20
When I was introduced to this course, I was terrified of what will happen as I am not used to community work. I was even more terrified when my group were planning on how to complete the work. However, when the first day of our work arrived, I felt different.
I was still a nervous wreck but I enjoyed myself teaching drama to the special kids. Even though it was not what I expected, I still enjoyed talking and laughing with the kids. They were really outgoing and comfortable with new people. I expected them to be uninterested or bored because we will be teaching them drama but they looked as if they had fun. It was different than I expected as well because I thought they were going to be too active and we couldn’t control them. However, they were pretty much like me and my friends.
I couldn’t really see why they were “special” except if it’s really obvious, but other than that, they’re just the same like us. The script we did for the drama was, in my opinion, too heavy for them and I felt very guilty. But we will be improvising and tweaking things so that they will feel less burdened and could have more fun! I hope during the next session, the kids will be as excited to see us as we are to continue this project.
By Nik Nur Athirah Binti Nik, 20
Before we actually went to the school to go through our drama class with the students, honestly. I felt a bit nervous. I thought it would be an exhausting experience and since we are handling disabled children it would require more effort and different means to handle them. But I was wrong. It’s true that the children are different and require different kind of attention but at the bottom of it all, everyone was still a child at heart and honestly wanted to have fun with us.
I also thought that we would have to improvise on the spot, considering that the children might get bored with our planned activities. Surprisingly, the children were very excited about the method we taught drama and were really into it. Something else worth noting is that we prepared a simple play for the students but we received a bit of a shock because of how it was not suitable for them.
We realized that our play needs to adapt and showcase the talent within each of the students. As I’ve stated before, I was sure at first that we would have a hard time handling the students but when we were given 12 high-functioning students, it was not something I expected. I was motivated when I met these diverse group of students and now I’m personally investing in the drama class.
Earlier on, I expected this social engagement project was something I’m doing for university credits. However, it feels more than that and I really felt the connection with the students. By the end of this project, I really hope our play can propel the students to greater heights. This experience has shown me a new outlook on disabled students.