By Kyle Petrozza
Kyle Petrozza and Jenifer Jordie are the spectacular volunteer duo who spent over a month in Kampung Genting, Tioman, teaching the locals English. This is their version of events:
When it comes time to describe the class that we have taught for the past month many adjectives come to mind. None however fit better than a noun: success.
Imaginary boundaries in language, culture, and abilities were broken. Skills taken for granted were put to the test while new ones were developed, on both sides of the classroom. Throughout the duration of the class there was much more than learning going on, both inside the minds and hearts of the students and possibly even more-so inside those of the teachers.
Before we arrived in Tioman, we were fortunate to have another volunteer, Stewart Green teach a week’s worth of class which provided us with some background knowledge on the students. When we finally arrived in this picturesque community we were pleasantly surprised to find that there was already a moderate level of English spoken among the people who we would eventually teach and more importantly, befriend.
Classes were attended by people of all walks of life; from a 7 year-old getting ready to start school, to Mohammad, a 56 year-old boatman who trekked to and from Genting each night from his home in Kampung Paya, never to miss a class. Because of this the two hour class time had to be devoted to all abilities, a task which was attained by introducing new material and then focusing on partner or group conversations that were overseen and corrected, if need be, by one of us. This allowed the students to be in a comfortable speaking environment as they usually paired up with friends or other students who matched their speaking abilities.
The materials provided to us by MNS allowed the students to have something to take home with them that they could practice with and share with their friends and families. They also provided us the ability to plan classes around certain subject matters that would be beneficial to the students such as English for Eco-tourism, hospital emergencies, restaurant work, and resort work to name a few. However throughout the duration of the class it was the unbridled enthusiasm of the students and their sheer delight in learning that made this such a success.
Prior to our first class we had heard that many hardships may await us due to cultural differences, the wide range of demographics of the class, and even a lack of interest on the part of the students. Classes have now ended and we can say without a shred of doubt that none of those hardships ever seemed possible.
The people of Genting welcomed us into their community with open arms and as we get ready to depart this wonderful village we feel that they have taught us more than we have taught them. We will now be sharing our last days together with our new friends conversing in English while trying to improve our Bahasa Malaysia and hoping that organisations that have the ability to provide programmes like these will not question the necessity or worthwhile-ness of the benefits that will become of them.
Kyle and Jen have now gone back to the U.S. but we (and the locals of Kampung Genting) are eternally grateful for their time, commitment and energy, in spite of their taking turns to fall really ill while on the island! They truly were the key to this programme’s success.