flyer I designed for an upcoming school camp
A flowery take on my second month…
Orientation was a bit of a fairytale, but my time at my placement in Johor has been no less positive. I am currently a teacher’s assistant at SMK Taman Sutera, a primarily Chinese secondary school in a suburb of the state capital, Johor Barhu. Ball parking, we have 60% Chinese students, 20% Malay and 20% Indian as opposed to most of the other ETAs in my program who are placed in primarily Malay schools. Racial mix up of schools, towns, professions, etc. are always a hot topic since the government created an affirmative action – esq program to raise the economic status of Malays.
Malaysia is infamous for bashful youth, so being put in the vulnerable position of speaking English to a native English speaker is a lofty challenge for students. My primary role as a teacher’s assistant is to help students become more confident taking on various risks, focusing on English speaking. In the classroom that transpires into public dialogues, writing exercises and vocabulary building, but a more critical goal is building confidence outside the classroom. I am involved in choral speaking (YouTube it), English Language Society, English camps, the football team and arts club. A personal goal is to get the students thinking creatively and providing an outlet for self-expression. SMK Taman Sutera has limited creative resources so I’ve taken on the challenge of creating an English Language Blog where students will learn computer literacy, be able to publish their artwork (photography, drawings, etc.), and practice their English writing skills through thematic articles.
Now that the traveler’s honeymoon has ended, many are helping me settle in as a community member; fellow English teachers invite me to their houses for tea, neighbors offer mechanic skills for my rickety motorbike, and hitchhiking has introduced me to many outside my school. I’m still adjusting to the climate (tropical downpours every few hours), food (heavy ambiguous curries, fried rice and stinky durian flavored everything) and constant changing of plans (moving at an ad-hoc Malaysian pace, gearing away from the time-sensitive American mentality), but for the most part every person here has made my comfort paramount, easing the transition.