Visit from a Taiwanese International School
Written by students Rahaditya Raisuli (Secondary 4) & Sharifah Sorfina Al-Abbas (Secondary 2)
As the sun rose on a Wednesday morning, the administration foyer was abuzz with excitement as student ambassadors consisting of prefects and PTPI (People-To-People-International) members talked amongst one another while awaiting their peer guests. “What are they like?”, “Will we be able to get along with them?” and “Is their English good?” were among the most frequent questions brought up among students as news foretelling the visit began spreading like wildfire around the school. When the bus carrying the long-awaited guests finally arrived, the ambassadors proceeded to line themselves up according to the groups they were assigned to. There were 9 groups, which were given 3 different schedules, and most of the groups also included teachers from Kang Chiao International School. As the Taiwanese students arrived, it was a flurry of welcomes and ice-breaking activities as Sri KDU student ambassadors began interacting warmly with their assigned visitor-partners.
After everyone paired up, the ambassadors led the visitors towards the function room for the student representatives of both schools to give their introductory speeches, which were mainly centered around who they are and what their school is like. Although the Taiwanese students were speaking English that leans more towards a second language proficiency, we still managed to understand each other. It was also extremely beneficial in that many of our Sri KDU student representatives also spoke Mandarin (a great plus from our diverse mix of cultures), which helped mitigate the language barrier. After the presentation, we began our assigned schedules.
In my group, the students of Kang Chiao International School were given a mini school tour first. Our Sri KDU ambassadors were diligently guiding their Taiwanese partners throughout the school tour, explaining the facilities and so on. The students were particularly very interested when they passed by our swimming pool.
They were also very fascinated with our school boards which showcase academic projects that our students have done. Our student ambassadors also encouraged their Taiwanese partners to play some sports together with Sri KDU students, who were at that time, playing at the courts. Some of them were playing netball while the others were playing badminton under the scorching hot sun.
After the short tour, the student ambassadors brought their partners to their respective classes to attend lessons. I was having my Malay language lessons when two Taiwanese students, Bonny and Alex, came to join my class. Alex was sitting in my group and was really friendly throughout the class. He looked a little lost at first but he managed to settle in after his ambassador helped to translate everything the teacher said to English. The Taiwanese students experienced first-hand how classes were held in Sri KDU. Our teacher conducted an activity so that they could participate as well. Although they enjoyed the activity, both Bonny and Alex had to leave class to continue their tour.
Our school had also prepared some cultural activities for the Taiwanese visitors, such as “Batu Seremban” or “tossing stones”. In this game, small stones are tossed upwards and then caught back again by the player. There was also a game of “Congkak” which involves marbles and a wooden board. The Taiwanese students were quite fascinated at the type of traditional games Malaysia had. The last but not least game is my personal favourite: hopscotch (or rather, “Teng Teng” if you prefer the Malaysian name)! This game requires you to throw an object - preferably a stone - and hop on one leg till you reach the object. The ambassadors and their partners played the game together. And true to the universal love for fun and youth-ful curiosity, our visitors from Taiwan had big smiles on their faces while playing the games.
At 11:45 am, it was concert time in the school hall. The first performance was Hannah and Jacqueline from Secondary 5 who sang a Chinese song! It was very impressive as you do not usually see a Malay (Hannah) singing a Chinese song so fluently: this inevitably showcases how wonderfully the different cultures and ethnicities have integrated with one another in Malaysia. The second performance was by Roshni from Secondary 3, performing an Indian cultural dance called “Bharathanatyam”, which is an Indian classical dance that originated from the state of Tamil Nadu. It was really an extraordinary and breathtaking performance, full of colours and vibrancy. Next was a modern dance performance by a very popular dance group in our school: Fusion 3.0! The whole crowd cheered as the upper secondary students expressed their creativity, agility and skill in artistic movements. The Taiwanese students were all stunned by the mesmerizing performance. The concert ended with a special surprise K-Pop dance performance by five girls from Kang Chiao International School.
Despite the enjoyment and merriment permeating throughout the school that day, sadly enough, our Taiwanese visitors had to eventually bid goodbye. The teachers and deputy principal of Kang Chiao International School received a memento from our school: a decorative cloth adorned with elaborate batik patterns. Mr. Lam, our school principal gave a heartfelt farewell speech, and so did his Taiwanese counterpart who were equally passionate in her messages of thanks, saying how welcoming and friendly our school is. There was also a final performance by Emily Ng and Benny Tan where they displayed the sharp twists and turns of the Latin dance. Before lunch, we had a mini photo session while the student ambassadors exchanged postcards, gifts and contact details with their partners. It became a little emotional as some of the students shed tears, thus showing how quickly youths from different backgrounds could share and build strong bonds of friendship within a short albeit meaningful time. However, as Mr. Lam remarked, we are truly lucky - we will still be able to connect with one another despite the distance due to advancement in communication technology. It was truly an amazing experience for the students of Sri KDU as we learned to embrace the diversity of cultures in our rapidly evolving world.