Wednesday, August 30, 2017

It's still so good to see you being good over there even though we don't talk anymore.
Seeing you guys always makes my day.
I am looking forward to the day that I could see you smiling, studying, playing, joking, laughing again. Thinking about this relieve me :)

Monday, August 28, 2017

It changed within two days.
Just two days and everything changed.
I dont know how people does it. It was devastatingly heart breaking.
People said he would never lie but those words became jokes within one day.

I can feel that my heart shrinking and being crushed.
This is just one of the saddest moments I had in my life and one day it will be fine again. 

Monday, June 19, 2017

Week 1 of teaching in Maesot

Standing on the top of the Knowledge Zone has widen my vision to look into the distance and appreciate the beauty of nature. More importantly, it reminds me of the sweetness of humanity.

A week has passed. The first week of my teaching ended and it ended perfectly.

This is the very first time I teach in a proper classroom. I have done tutoring before but never try to teach a class of students. I always think that teaching is such a challenging job and I would never ever do it. It holds so much responsibility to make sure students really learning from you. I even think that teaching is tedious and a low-paid which definitely does not match with my ideal way of earning living.

Now, my perspective towards teaching does change because of my lovely students.

On the first day of class, I asked my students to write a short paragraph to introduce themselves because I need to know them a little bit more before I plan my teaching methods, I need to know who has better English and who has only learnt very basic English before. Some wrote me longer than others, some explained to me why they want to learn English, some told me about their family members.

"I try very hard", " I want to go to Hong Kong University", " I want to speak English with foreigner", "I want a better job". These are what my students told me on the first day, they want a better life, a better future. A future that can help them to get rid of the current situation, a future that can ease their worries of life, or perhaps a future that get them out from the discrimination by others.

When I read through every stories from my students, I feel moved. There's one especially grip my heart "Soya, I believe in you that you can help me. " - One of my adults student wrote this to me. This is the first time someone told me that she put her hope on me, the first time I feel the responsibility of being a teacher. Students here are asking my help. They need me, a foreigner who can speak English, to lend them a hand on the path of learning English.

I know what I cant do much for them. The only thing I can do for them is to prepare more interesting and useful teaching material every day and conduct a relatively interactive English class for them compared in school.

The classroom is small and without air-conditioner, around 30 students has to cram into it and sometimes the hot air makes staying inside the classroom become so unbearable.

My students' age range is huge - the youngest student I have is 15 years old and the eldest is 40 years old. All of them has a very different English level and this has increased the difficulty to teach them all in a same class. They are always late as they have to rush here after their daily work, but this has inevitably procrastinated our teaching progress.

It's okay. However, all of these is nothing.  Like what one of my student told me " It's okay. It's okay that I don't have money to study and need to work because now I can learn English in Knowledge Zone." It's okay that the learning environment is not as good as in Hong Kong. It's okay for them to come here and learn everyday after their tiring work and school because they see this as an opportunity to change their life.

During the raining season, the weather in Maesot is pretty bad. It rains and stops raining and almost rains again every hours.

They make my day. Everyday, their learning attitude never fail to make my day. I feel so content to see them learning eagerly every evening and this also motivate me more to do better for them. Some students always seek opportunity to talk with me, to ask me question because they know that it's not easy to have a foreigner to speak English with them. From every single action they do, I can feel that how keen they are on improving English but I also feel guilty. I feel guilty because I never appreciated what I had when I was in high school and how I used to dislike my teacher when he asked us to speak English. Students here are completely different from how I was. They have taught me never take granted of education at the same time always be content with what you have already had. They never complain of their life but appreciate what they have already had.

They are kind. Last Wednesday, as usual I finished my class at 8pm and I prepared to walk back to my hotel and buy my dinner at the nearest 7-11. Most of the restaurants close after 8pm in this little town, so I often buy my dinner at the convenient store as my tiredness and laziness persuaded me not to walk farther just to look for food. When I stepped out of Knowledge Zone, I saw a student preparing go back home by motorbike.

She saw me and asked, "Teacher, how do you go back?" 

"I walk. My hotel is just 10 minutes from here, it's near."

"Come up, teacher, I send you back ! It's going to rain soon. "

This is the first time I was sent back by my student and it has been a long time since the last time I was sitting on a motorbike :) Along the way back home, it was raining, we're slightly wetted. We had a small chat and I find out that this is the student who long for getting into University of Hong Kong - my university. She told me that she wants to learn critical thinking but not only English skill. I want to help her, but I have no much idea how can I help her because it's quite difficult to come out a English lesson that fulfil every students' need within 1 hours and 30 minutes per day. But, I prayed that she can attend HKU one day even though nobody knows when's the day as the chance of getting a scholarship is small for the Burmese migrants due to the high competitiveness.

The next day, there's also another student saw me walking back and offered me a ride back home. He even asked if I want to eat something other than the fast food in 7-11 so that he can bring me to have dinner at restaurant. But I rejected him as I thought it's not good to trouble him more as he already offered me a ride. The day after that day, he even waited for me after the class and sent me back once again.

I'm touched and impressed by their kindness. It is like the raindrops of that silent night, falling into my heart, touching my soul and reminding me of the beauty of humanity.

I love them :)We love because He first loved us - 1 John 4:19

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Day 3 - Chilling in Borderline

DK hotel, a budget hotel where I gonna spend two months with other volunteers.

I have arrived this little town for 3 days. My teaching day starts next Monday, so before it starts I am kinda free to do anything I want to do. Today, my mission would be finding the location of Knowledge Zone by following a super duper simple map which was drawn by my friend. 

This is the map that my friend showed me. At first, I was quite amazed that she managed to get there by using this "map", but after I tried using it, I also successfully find the location.

On my way to Knowledge Zone, there was an old granny who works in a conner store shouting a bunch of Thai words to me. I was thinking that she might talking to someone behind me, then I realised that she actually was talking to me and wondered why. Then, I walked towards her and showed her the address of Knowledge Zone. Immediately, she continued speaking Thai, pointing the way left to me, trying to tell me that Knowledge Zone just locates right ahead of the road. I guess that there must be a lot of foreigner coming to volunteer in Knowledge Zone, so that the granny knows I am finding it. Feeling so warm and touched at that moment by her kindness of showing me the direction. 

Here, I arrived Knowledge Zone Vocational Training Center :) It's an education center which aims to help the Burmese migrants in Mae Sot to acquire Computer skill, Tailoring training and languages skill such as English or Thai. I met the principal's sister and my teaching partner, Lucia when I went in there. Originally, I came here earlier than we are supposed to meet to seek more information about the class that I gonna teach but it seems like I have to wait until Saturday to meet the principal. They said that we are going to evaluate the students on Monday, divide them into different levels, then only prepare the teaching material. "We have been waiting for you", she told me when I was about to leave. Her words remind me again that I am here, holding the responsibility to do my best, to share all the knowledge I have possessed to the Burmese people who have expect to learn something from me. I am a privileged one, who have the chance to receive basic education since I was six years old, who able to study aboard in Hong Kong after high school. How blessed am I. 
Since I have nothing much to do before the class starts, I came to visit a local cafe Borderline for lunch. Borderline is not just a cafe, it is rather a non-profit collective of women's organisations, artists and community groups living and working along the Thailand-Burma border. It includes a store that sell the handmade crafts and arts that are made by different ethnic groups along the Thai- Burma border. All the profits from this store and cafe goes back to the women's collective and a child-asistance foundation. 
There are only a few tables in this open-air cafe, and most of the seat are set on the floor with the coffee tables  :) Although the weather was extremely hot at the noon, staying inside the cafe is still pleasantly cooling even without any fan. It is pretty serene here, definitely a good place to chill and enjoy some quiet time *though the whole town is quiet enough compared to other city. 
So far, this is one of the very rare restaurant in Mae Sot that provides English menu, so I ordered a fried rice with sunny side-up egg and a cup of iced Burmese milk tea. It costs me around 90 Thai Bath for the whole meal :) After having the lunch, I was just chilling there, doing some bible study and reading.
All my renovation team friends had gone for their renovation project early morning, so I had been feeling quite lonely these two days without talking much to people. After spending one semester in Europe and being alone most of the time there, I find out that being alone has become such a intolerable thing to me right now. I used to like staying alone and not seeing anyone for a week, but now I just feel so bad for not talking to someone within a day.

Now, I am not ashamed to say that I love being with people and I do enjoy being with people. Human relationship undeniably is one of the sweetest thing that God has designed for us :) I have learnt that human are born to be with each other, encourage each other, support each other and LOVE each other. 

Thank you, heavenly father, thank you for teaching me how to live for you day by day, so that I could taste the joy of living in Christ. 

*Can't wait for the teaching trainings that last for three days and start from tomorrow :)

Day 1 Mae Sot - Border between Thailand and Myanmar.

Flying to Chiang Mai from Hong Kong and caught the sunset on the flight. This marks the starting point of my 2-month service trip in Mae Sot. May the Lord keep us safe and sounds during this trip and use our hands to serve the local community wholeheartedly. 

My summer break have started officially, but this summer break gonna a little bit different from the previous summers I had. I will spend the first two month of my summer break to volunteer teaching English in Mae Sot, Thailand. I had never expected myself of doing this, until I applied the volunteering programme through HKU Connecting Myanmar and bought the flight ticket to Chiangmai. 

HKU Connecting Myanmar is a non-profit initiative programme that organised by HKU students to recruit passionate volunteers with the mission to bring the best out of ones' life chances. It aims to to support Myanmar people towards a sustainable livelihood by connecting Hong Kong students with Myanmar people and nurture university students as global leaders with humanitarian characters by utilising their potential in addressing the problems in the Myanmar community. It's under a very occasional situation that I get the chance to join this programme and know more about the situation in Myanmar: My friend, Angeline who previously joined this programme asked if I am interested in doing volunteering service in June/July and said that CM was recruiting volunteers. Immediately I said yes, then the next day I joined their training section and get recruited without going through a official application and formal interview like others volunteers. So, in this summer, I will be teaching English in a vocational centre calls Knowledge Zone. 

Some people asked me why I decided to participate this but not doing internship since I was already a third year student. To be honest, I don't really know how to reply because my answer might sound very superstitious. Of course, literally it can be  "I want to help people" or "I want to explore the local culture" or "I want to gain experience" or "I want to do something other than internship before graduate from university". But, in the bottom of my heart, I know the answer should be "God guides me to do this and it's not about me but Jesus". I can't deny that I do feel a bit nervous and worried to come to Mae Sot and teach the working adults alone while two of my friends are teaching together in another migrant school. I do fear that what if my arrival fails to provide any help to the locals, or my volunteering actually burdens the local community. However, every time when I have such anxiety, the next thought comes into my mind would be "God has his best plan for me, He is in control. I can always take refuge in the Lord", then I find peace again. Yes, nothing to be feared when I am deeply loved. 

The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. - Psalm 18:2

When I first arrived here, I find it a bit similar with the kampung in Malaysia, especially my mum's hometown and it isn't as rural as I imagined. Mae Sot is a district in Western Thailand (Tak Province) that shares border with Myanmar in the West. The town has a substantial population of Burmese refugees and economic migrants. The exact number of Burmese in Mae Sot is unclear, but estimates say that over 100,000 exist in addition to the 106,000 already recorded in the official census. In recent years the ongoing refugee situation has prompted NGOs and international aid agencies to establish programmes in the town and surrounding area. (Information provided by Connecting Myanmar). We took 6 hours bus from Chiang Mai to Mae Sot. Along the trip, we passed through greenly hills and winding roads with great views and also lots of construction. It feels good to be back to nature after spending few months in big city like Hong Kong. I can't help to think of my hometown, Malaysia which is also largely covered by dense rain forest and various plants. When we arrived the bus terminal at Mae Sot around 7pm, a school teacher and his wife from STTC, had already there waiting us in order to pick us up to DK hotel. It's the first time I have ever sit in the back carriage of a mini truck, it was so exciting and chilling as the summer breeze gently blowed towards my face. The teacher welcomed us with open arms and invited us to his place to have dinner together. Although I am not a member of the renovation team, I still followed them and had dinner with them together on the first night. My first impression towards this small town: People here are so friendly and nice although they can only speak simple English. We tried to communicate with the locals by using google translate, but failed then realised that body language and face expression are even more useful.
My first dining-out meal in Mae Sot. I tried to order a bowl of soup noodles by using English but once again it failed. Luckily I still managed to order it by showing the waitress a picture of noodles and it tastes nice with all the veggies and half-boiled egg :)

After coming back from exchange in Europe, the coming two months would be another brand new experience for me to explore a new culture. So far, I have only learnt two Burmese phrases which are "Min-ga-la-ba" and "Kyei-zu-tin-ba-de" - Hello and Thank you :)

Not knowing Thai/Burmese makes communication become so difficult, just hope that I could successfully communicate with my students when I start teaching next Monday. Anyway, I do believe that love always is the common language among human being :)

Thursday, May 4, 2017







現在只要想起祂無時無刻都會和我一起走每一步,就會覺得沒有什麼事是不可能的,更沒有什麼事是過不了的 :)

" My grace is sufficient for you " Thank you.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Joy in Christ

"But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that come from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ - the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith."  - Philippians 3:7-9