Finally! After a nearly two weeks in Kuala Lumpur (KL), we had a chance to get out and work with students! I think all of the ETAs were beyond excited to ditch the conference room for the classroom.
Our task was simple: plan, prepare, and implement an all-day English Camp for approximately one hundred Malaysian students. We were split into groups of nine and assigned secondary schools across KL. My group was assigned to SMK St. Mary’s.
SMK St. Mary’s has been around for a very long time. In fact, the school was first established as a missionary school in 1912. Students in Forms 1-5, or grades 7 through 11 in the American school system, call the school home. Additionally, St. Mary’s is an all girls school, making the fact that four out of nine group members were men even more interesting. (This is especially true considering there are only around 20 men in the 2015 ETA cohort.)
Our group’s camp theme was “American Field Day” and centered on games and activities that American students would encounter at summer camp. After arriving at SMK St. Mary’s at 8:30, we had tea and met with members of the school’s Senior Leadership Team. At around the same time, the girls had begun arriving and either ate breakfast or hung out in the assembly hall. After finishing out breakfast, we met the girls in the assembly hall. After quick introductions and a whole group ice breaker, it was time to split into smaller groups.
We split our group of one hundred girls into six groups and guided them through three different activity rotations. The three stations were: a paper airplane-flying contest, a charades and telephone accuracy contest, and team-building activities. Each rotation was approximately thirty minutes long and pitted two groups against one another in head-to-head competitions!
As as common practice throughout Southeast Asia, and high schools in general, there was plenty of time set aside for selfies.
My team of 14 girls was awesome! Although they were shy at first, we were all smiles by the end of the day. Our team name was “The Fast and Furious Cheetahs.” We crafted a beautiful team poster and a group of girls wrote and incredible team chant inspired by the theme song to “Fast and Furious Tokyo Drift.” (Did I mention I had an awesome group of girls?)
We absolutely dominated the competition on our way to clinching the first-place trophy. I don’t know who was more excited, the girls or myself. Probably the girls although I gave them a run for their money. After handing out awards and thanking the St. Mary’s senior leadership team, staff members from Malaysian-American Commission of Educational Exchange, and the Malaysian Ministry of Education, we said our goodbyes and headed back to the hotel.
The energy in the van on the way home was through the roof. Our English camp experience was a reassurance for all nine of us ETAs. While we will undoubtedly have tough days over the course of the next year, we will also have many days like today. I cannot wait to see what the rest of 2015 has in store for my colleagues and I.
I start at SMK Badak in Bachok, Kelantan in just over a week!