So let me resume my story. I continued volunteering at Pandawas Academy again, and I taught back Miss F. from last week. Today, we moved on to action verbs, whereby I would teach her how to answer when people ask "what did you do" ? We learned 15 of them in total, including peeing. Haha. It was quite fun, and I have to act it out, and it takes a lot of time for her to get my questions at times, but I am quite persistent eh. So *pats on the back for me* :) It started with initially requiring me acting out a lot so you can imagine me being quite animated on the desk. But it was good, because this sparks her learning interest, and every time if she forgets and I reminded her she will have the "AHHHH" moment. So probably she is learning something. We did some math questions too, addition and subtraction - but more to explore regarding her math talent in the future for our engineer to be! When we ended the session, I spoke good bye to her in Farsi, and she cuddled around me and gave me a big hug, which was kind of a heart-warming moment for me. :)
Other additional info I have learnt about refugees in Malaysia :
These refugees can't get any sort of qualifications coz they don't take any formal examination in Malaysia, so they would be leaving with whatever the refugee school has taught them. Even though education seems to be of least importance in the priority ranks for the refugees, but education is most important in helping them move up the social ladder in the future. If only they can see the world beyond this.
So, today is my first day of volunteering at Pandawas Academy. Pandawas Academy is a school for refugees founded by Robert Levitt, and Jeanette Chan, Francis Tay and Jessica Wee with the aim of using advanced teaching methods to cultivate the students ability to think independently, innovate and solve problems beyond the traditional techniques taught in schools. As of current, Pandawas Academy has approximately 70 students, majority of them who comes from Afghanistan, with a minority of students comprising of refugees from Iraq and Pakistan.
I was assigned to F., a 10 years old girl from Afghanistan. It started with an introduction session where I shared my a bit of my life to her, and she has to reciprocate by telling me her life too. She left Afghanistan when she was young, and stayed a few years in Australia as refugee before coming to Malaysia. At the age of 10, she seemed to be extremely cheerful and polite, despite having limited English vocabulary, she makes her best effort to communicate. We spent the first hour which was supposed to be an English tutoring session talking about her family, with me teaching her on how to construct sentences talking about her family. We started with 5 sentences about each other, with me telling her about myself, and she on the other end, has to learn how to construct simple sentences about her life. When the proper lesson is supposed to begin, I asked her what is her preference, and she said she would love to learn how to construct sentences, and that is how it began. Her topic was family, and her face lights up when she mentioned about her family. I taught her about surnames, family members, hobbies, occupation - so she would be able to link them to her family, and would be able to answer those questions when people ask her about her family. I had a small giggle inside when I she tells me her whole family loves to eat hamburgers, which I think is really cute. When she did not know about a word, she would shake her head and give me a sheepish smile, and I would assure her that it is alright and I would try to understand her, despite us having language barriers.
The second hour of the tutoring was a Math session, and we played some games which required calculation instead. Whilst playing, I tried to ask her which part of Afghanistan she came from, trying to get a better understanding of her life before she came to Malaysia, but she did not respond - possibly because she did not understand what I was talking about. But : I managed to ask her what is her ambition, and where would she want to be when she grows up. She told me that she wanted to be an engineer, and she wanted to go back to Australia and study as an engineering student when she grows up. I told her that she needs to speak fluent English, and she has to be good in Math, and she nodded her head vigorously, and told me that she is very good in Math, which was inevitably true. We ended the game and before she left, she taught me a few words in Farsi as well : "thank you, teacher, and good bye"; which was really sweet of her, and we made a pact to teach each other new words in our future sessions. It was a good experience, after all.
This is my second time volunteering with Afghanistan refugees, and my second time tutoring the underprivileged, and somehow having doing it again 2 years later, I feel that I am more capable of handling the communication barriers that were present. I also noticed the difference between treatment of refugees in United Kingdom vs. Malaysia. In United Kingdom, refugees would be placed in government schools and receive proper education up till college level; whereas refugees in Malaysia would have to turn to refugee schools set up by NGO for education. Refugees in United Kingdom would be given a stipend of 20 pounds per week too, and would be assigned to council house for their accomodation. The benefits provided to refugees in Malaysia remains unanswered whereby pertinent aspects of their life such as accessibility to healthcare, job prospects is still unknown, to me. With 150,000 refugees in Malaysia, how is the government managing them as a whole?