23

Ups and downs

Hey guys, check this out! Most hardworking (retired) blogger in the world man, blogging once a week! Though admittedly I have zero energy to talk about anything right now but when I saw the comments where so many people (all 8 of you wtf) encouraged me and said such nice things, so I felt a tad guilty if I don’t blog. And it’s good because I know for a fact that if I start typing, I can never stop one. Seriously, I can just go on and on about everything and nothing until my fingers die on me. The problem is always just finding enough motivation to start typing.

Speaking of motivation, I started something last week. So you see, this is the context. Ever since I became a teacher, I’ve been piling on weight like nobody’s business. I also found out that I have super high cholesterol (trust me, higher than anyone I’ve ever known) and my metabolic rate is so low that my food takes a week to digest or something ridiculous like that T___T

So I started cutting carbs from my life (only allow myself 50g a day) to see what happens. I’ve been eating normally before this (and if you know me, you’d know that my normal is below an average person’s meal portion), and I’m STILL putting on weight which baffles me to no end. I realize that if I want this to be successful, I need to announce my new diet plan to everyone I know. This is most commonly known as a commitment device, and since my reputation is on the line, I’d have no choice but to stick to it.

Except that unfortunately, in Msia, it’s almost IMPOSSIBLE to have a low carb diet. The other day, everyone wanted to go to the noodles shop and I had no choice but to drink fishball soup and almost starved to death mid-day. Went to check my weight at the end of the week, guess what? gained 0.6 kg. WTFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFffffff

But I’m sticking to this and upping my exercise routine (from once a week to hopefully 3 times a week….soon lol).

———–

Anyway, on a completely 180 degrees unrelated note, I’ve been very obsessed about the MH370 mystery. In the beginning, I was crazily disturbed by it since a few of my colleagues actually are close friends with someone on the plane and she also works in our next-door office. We had an interfaith prayers the other day and almost everyone had wet eyes by the end of it.

So for the past week at work, I’ve been refreshing my twitter feed every 3 mins or so, hoping to finally hear something come out of it. Not only nothing positive did, things are starting to get more and more bizarre everyday that it’s painful to read anything on the news anymore. The worst blow is when the pilot is connected to Anwar and it was insinuated everywhere that he did it as a political revenge.

Horrible on all fronts. What if he didn’t, and he either comes back to see that the entire country turned against him, or to have everyone doubting and blaming an innocent man? If he did, we are in no position to make that judgment based on some weak statement by “an unidentified official” or his “friends”. It always always comes back full circle to Anwar doesn’t it? How terribly creative.

Seriously, after spending so many years in solitary confinement patiently, and finally getting a chance to fight for what’s right and being pushed back by the ruling coalition over and over again, to getting sentenced another 5 years yet again – and now this.

As an agnostic, it’s very difficult for me to pray to nothing but I really sincerely hope that 1. this has nothing to do with politics , 2. that they are all safe somewhere awaiting rescue, and while they’re waiting, they have been feasting on delicious food in an island somewhere and living in oblivion to the chaos that has befallen our country, and 3. that we remain united and steadfast in our strong support for each other in this difficult time, and will not let anyone, especially not our “leaders” and media divide us further.

 

 

21

Better late than never

Yesterday, I stopped by Audrey’s place to visit baby Fighter for a bit, which has become my favourite hobby these days. Tim came home and we started talking about blogging for some reason, and he tried talking me into blogging again. I got inspired a little but that fizzled out as soon as we ended the conversation. But tonight I’m home alone, and I have Spotify on (bought the monthly subscription – best decision ever!) and I don’t know why but the songs that are playing now are setting a very comfortable and conducive mood to blog. So I guess here I am, finally!

It’s really such a pity that I had to write a whole paragraph to justify why I’m blogging, but it just feels so weird to be writing again after 2 whole months of not doing so. I’m sure those of you who are now taking time off blogging will know exactly how I feel. You know, blogging has consumed a large part of my life since I’ve been blogging since I was 16, and it’s so funny that I couldn’t care much about it now. And when that decline has begun, it’s extremely hard to want to do it regularly again :(

Anyway, what’s up everyone? It’s been a pretty good year for me so far, with my new job and new office and somewhat new life. I’m no longer teaching, no longer traveling back and forth for hours every week to my rural school, no longer living in a completely different environment, and honestly, it does take some getting used to now that I’m finally living in KL for the first time in a very long time (4 years in the US, 2 years in Jelebu)

You know, I don’t even know what to blog about anymore! Last time, I could talk about anything I want because I was a student and had no restrictions. Then, I could talk about my experiences as a teacher cos it’s super exciting and I had tons to share. But now that I’m an average person, who is a working professional so can’t be as stupid and silly as before, I really don’t know what to talk about anymore.

That’s one of the biggest reasons why I’ve stopped, but I’m going to try starting again, one step at a time. I actually really love to write, and ever since I’ve stopped, there’s this lingering sense of emptiness trailing behind me and I feel like there’s no way to get rid of that until I actually start writing again.

So yeap, I guess this is a start :) I’m so serious about this that I’m literally putting it down in my weekly goal – to blog at least once every week! Once I start, I’m sure the writing mojo will come flying back!

p.s:

IMG_4558

I finally have my long hair back again! After 4 years of cutting my hair super short, the day is here :D

Image
399

2013, the year that was

I don’t know why it took me 3 days into 2014 to write this post but here it is!

2013 had been an amazing year, and I dare say, the best year I’ve ever had in my 25 years of life. I went through a tremendous amount of ups and downs in that one year alone, and I feel like I’ve overcome and accomplished the most in that year. I’ve dug out a lot of pictures to talk about my 2013!

IMG_0464

I started cooking a lot last year cause I found out that I have high cholesterol (7.6 – normal is below 5.0, this is considered dangerously high). I had a shock of my life when the doctor said I will get my first heart attack when I’m 40 if I don’t take care of myself. So yeah I started cooking, eating healthier and exercising. The latter has failed miserably though T___T

IMG_0617

In March, my choral speakers showed me that determination and passion were more important than the trophy. This year we didn’t win the championship despite working crazily hard but we went home very happy indeed. My kids never ceased to make me very proud :)

IMG_0619

I found ways to better manage my challenging class. I started reading to them story books and they really enjoyed it!

IMG_0765

Voted for the first time :D :D :D

IMG_0875

Had my second teacher’s day where this kid who never paid attention in class surprised me with a gift. He also told me that he came that day just so he could give me the gift, and that he wrote the note himself.

photo

Wept in class for the first time in 2013 and it was the hardest I’ve ever cried in class/school. A kid I’ve put a lot of effort and faith in told me to go to hell after a particularly difficult day in class. I lost my cool and punished everyone by making them write essays after essays. I later said sorry to a few good students and a girl wrote this back to me.

I feel like I failed this particular student though, since shortly after she left school and never came back. She’d lost interest because she kept falling further and further behind and I couldn’t do anything to help her. I lost a lot of my kids this way and it made me lose faith in a lot of things.

IMG_1219

Sat in class alone for hours just thinking of the fate of my students and thinking and rethinking of different ways to help them. This is the place where I’ve learned the art of reflection.

IMG_1420

Started a reading program where I fundraised RM 10,000 to get thousands of books for my students!

IMG_1792

Found little joys that continued to give me strength to go to school with zest and optimism everyday.

IMG_1543

Wore a saree for the first time!

IMG_1895

Wore a tudung for the first time too! Haha

IMG_2065

Met the most beautiful baby in the world and discovered how much this tiny being has changed my best friend’s life.

IMG_2073

Also discovered how much my boyfriend loves babies :D

IMG_2095

For my birthday this year, my students pretended to ignore me THE ENTIRE DAY and got me so sad before they surprised me with a cake during extra class!

IMG_2098

We also worked really really hard, for days and nights, for their PMR.

IMG_2917

Brought my kids to KL for the weekend and was so humbled by their genuine appreciation for everything in life.

IMG_2541

Fighter grew to become a happy chubby healthy baby :D

IMG_2984

Was given the opportunity to be featured in a documentary on my life as a teacher!!!!

IMG_3046

Did a play with my kids, which was the most strenuous and challenging thing ever especially when the kids don’t speak English AT ALL. But they did it!! Super duper proud of them!

IMG_3118

My kids helped me pack and I bade farewell to them and the school, the people and place that had taught me so much more than I’d expected.

IMG_3123

Also said goodbye to the books that all my readers have donated to me. THANK YOU FOR THE SUPPORT GUYS!!!! <3

IMG_3130

Said a very difficult goodbye to a student I’ve had the privilege to work with (he was the conductor in my choral speaking team and was the sole reason why we’d won so many times). I’m mocking him here for crying cause I don’t want to cry myself haha. He sobbed really hard when saying goodbye to me and my heart broke and I knew I’d be in such a gooey mess too.

IMG_2573

Went to the paddy field for the last time ever and teared thinking of my two years here. I never knew how attached I’d grow to this place and how much I’d love a place so different from what I’m used to and so far from my own comfort zone.

IMG_3799

Went to Cambodia for the first time and really loved it!

Screen shot 2014-01-04 at 1.12.00 AM

Saw myself crying on TV hahaha not very flattering!

 
unnamed

Went back to school to see my kids when they get their PMR results. They did really well!! (though we didn’t reach our big goal, but we really did aim for the stars!) This year, we got the most number of As in English in the history of my school, ever!!!

That’s all for my 2013. It’s been an amazing year and I have so many people to thank for making it so awesome.
Thank you to my parents and friends for believing in me, thank you to Karthik for without him I couldn’t have gone through these two difficult years, to my students for showing me how to love unconditionally, to my readers for the constant encouragement, to everyone out there who had donated me books, stationery, printer, projector, postcards and money and had strengthened my faith in humanity, to Teach For Malaysia and my school for the opportunity to make a difference, and to all teachers out there who continue to persevere and labor their love day after day for years!

I’m so thankful I chose to start this chapter in my life and although I will no longer be teaching as of now, I know for a fact that this is a chapter I will never close and will get back to writing in the near future.

Happy new year everyone!

243

The once in a lifetime opportunity

Sorry I’ve been missing again! I went to Cambodia two weeks ago and had an AMAZING time, which I promise I’ll talk about soon cos it’s so amazing I want everyone to go there!

Anyway, while I was away, the documentary came out! THANK YOU SO MUCH to people who watched it that day!!!! But I know a lot of people will not have the opportunity to watch it since it’s on a weekday night so here’s the link to watch it online:

http://www.tonton.com.my/#/home/channels/ntv7/magseven_2013_f7d56dd54bbf4edcadc8a17700de76a8/episode_39_e40a07ef8472441ca27fa17700de7c6f
(It’ll probably link you to the homepage if you’re using your phone, so search for magseven and it’s titled “episode 39, magseven 2013″)

Unfortunately, I can’t upload the video on youtube due to copyright issues, so you’ll have to watch it on tonton.my. The sucky part is you’d have to sign in but you can use my account if you want! (username: sweatlee, pswrd: sweatlee)

Tell me what you think of it! Some parts’ voiceover are done in the studio so it sounds a bit different. And yes, don’t have to tell me I look fat and have a lot of pimples, I’m aware of that! For some reason, people think I don’t know and find it crucial to point them out wtf. I barely have time to put on makeup for this T___T REALLY not easy to be a teacher.

Alright I hope you’ll like it! And I’m really happy that all the students featured here did really well for their PMR too!! :D

Video
737

Thank You Teacher promo video

I was very very fortunate to be approached by NTV7 a few months ago to do a documentary on a teacher’s life. The producer for the show interviewed me early last year for Malaysia Hari Ini and thought it’ll be nice to do a longer feature!

Honestly I’ve been super stressed up about this since the filming took about two weeks (spanned over a few different months) and already I was super busy in school. But I’m glad I did it cause it pushed me to try harder for my kids and of course I could also use it as an incentive.
“Do better cause you’ll be on TV! Do you want your family and friends to see you not putting in your absolute best??” and it REALLY worked!

It’ll be shown on NTV 7, 7.30 pm, next Tues 10 DEC. The promo is out for it too!

I won’t be here next week (going to Cambodia for a week!!) so let me know how it goes :)

p.s: yes I cried A LOT during filming hahaha. Emotional lah this teacher.

p.p.s: please ignore my fat face and pimples T__T

Quote
373

Since I’ve changed my entire commenting system, thought I’ll change everything about my blog! I’ve been super out of touch with all these editing/coding thing, so I don’t know how to make this page beautiful! All I know is I want this header (it’s a combination of all my previous headers since 2007, and my new picture in the paddy field!). Sigh, help?

399

A brand new start

Hi guys!

So as you can see, my blog is under a huge spam attack! Every post has HUNDREDS of comments now, mostly spam. There are posts with THOUSANDS of comments!! Wah such a popular blogger huh now. People who are here for the first time would think I’m a super big shot. Talk about teaching also can get 1030 comments wtf

Anyway, I’m changing my entire comment system to Disqus to prevent spam now and sadly, it would wipe out ALLLLLLLLLL my precious comments from my entire blog. It was a really hard decision to make since I really REALLY value all my readers’ comments very much. In fact, I hardly care about page views but the number and quality of comments are very important to me.

But after I found out that even my readers who left comments are getting spammed too, I guess I had to do it.

Disqus is awesome cause you can like comments too!

So I hope you like this brand new start to my blog! And I’m also going to be moving towards more posts unrelated to teaching too, so yeap, a new start!

684

My kids’ first trip to KL

HELLOOOOOO

I miss my blog! And my readers! (anyone still reading? haha)

Truth is I really really want to start blogging actively again but you know what happens when someone stops exercising for a long time, they just get super lazy. Even when I’m relatively free now because of the school holidays, I much prefer just posting on facebook/instagram instead.

BUT! I want to blog more often again since having them on here is a much better archive than on other social media platforms. So here goes!

It’s been a pretty crazy month since I last blogged. In fact it’s been a SUPER crazy two years since I last blogged actively (a post a month doesn’t quite summarize how it had been). I’ve fallen so much that my knees are all scraped and bruised now, but I’ve also been picked up by numerous people along the way that has made this journey more tolerable for me.

So let’s see, where do I begin? I think I’ll start slowly, by posting bit by bit on things I’ve been wanting to talk about. I’ve even thought of writing more personal stuff so I’ll put them in protected posts and send the passwords to those who subscribed last time! But scared they don’t read my blog anymore and I’ll be spamming people >.>

—-

I started the above three days ago and got distracted by things and forgot to continue T___T HOW lah like this.

I was mainly distracted by this:

photo (1)

Haih so cute how to abandon him to blog instead?? Since I’m so free, I’ve been camping at Aud’s place to help take care of baby Jude (aka Fighter) and he’s become soooo adorableeeee! He now knows how to stare at you with big round adoring eyes and knows how to smile to melt all your worries away!

Speaking of adorable, let me tell you about the time I brought two of my students home for the weekend! Actually I feel so lazy talking about it on my blog cause I’ve already talked about it on my facebook/instagram/twitter. How to feel semangat to blog with the existence of bite-sized social media??

Anywayyyy, so I’ve always wanted to do this before I stop teaching. Early in the year, I told the kids that one of the rewards for doing well and showing improvement in class is a trip to KL and I’m glad that my mentor, Sawittri, organized an outing for us so that I finally have a reason to bring the kids back!

Honestly, I REALLY didn’t want to do so at first. Of course it’ll be nice for the kids but at the same time, I wasn’t sure if I was ready to mix my kampung cikgu and my urban city girl’s lives together. I’d have to bring them back to stay in my house for 3 days and they’d follow me everywhere you know!

But I’m so glad I did it because I know for a fact that they will remember this for life.

First of all, it’s because I chose the two students who have NEVER been to any city before, much less KL. They both come from challenging backgrounds and are still one of my best students ever. One of the girls’ family cannot even afford spending RM 46 for school trips so all 7 siblings have never been to KL before. When I told them about this trip, they couldn’t sleep for nights (reported by their families hahaha) and were so excited!

IMG_2800

This is when they got to my house and I gave them ice cream. They spent the next 30 mins or so just watching the pool and commenting on everything that’s happening. SO ADORABLE LIKE CRAZY!

You know, coming from the city and from a more privileged background, I don’t think I’ve met anyone quite like these kids. Not just these two girls but most of my kids in general. They are extremely extremely respectful, caring, helpful and humble. Everytime I think about them, I always feel like I’m the one who is so incredibly lucky to have met them.

IMG_2816

We went to 1utama that night with my family and walked around!

The next day, we went to FRIM for jungle trekking! Not really anything new for them since the jungle to them is like a “kebun” behind their houses hahaha

IMG_2841

Then we had scrumptious food at Hotel Armada! It’s their first time at a buffet so it was really overwhelming at first. Doesn’t help that I forced them to try food like pasta (hated it), sushi and wasabi (they almost puked lollll), and mint ice cream (TEACHER why the ice cream got angin?? HAHAHA)

IMG_2847

But I think they did enjoy getting to eat as much as they want :) I know I did *glutton wtf

IMG_2850

Then we went to the TFM office in KL Sentral!

IMG_2855

“WOW teacher, your office can see the whole city! We want to work here when we are adults too!”

You have no idea how much I want you to be able to do that too when you grow up..

IMG_2893

We went to KLCC next using the LRT and it was my kids’ first time on a train. They were very very impressed and it made me feel sad a little that I hardly use the train now and always resorted to driving instead.

IMG_2894

I’m like their paparazzi lol.

Made them order the drinks on their own (in English!) if they want me to pay for it.

IMG_2917

Finally, the magnificent KLCC!

IMG_2925

We had dinner at the food court (cause I’m quite broke haha) but wow, I didn’t expect my kids to enjoy it that much. They couldn’t stop raving about the sizzling noodle and the variety of food and it just made me feel like I’ve really taken things for granted these days.

Heck, the whole trip was such a humbling experience for me honestly.

When I asked the kids how was their sleep, the first thing they said was how comfortable and nice the mattress is.

When I asked them what their favourite part of the trip was, they said they loved walking around the mall and eating ice cream with my family.

When I offered to buy them gifts, the first things they bought are all for their families first. And then they didn’t want to get anything for themselves to help me save money.

Where to find kids like this these days??

IMG_2928

Around 10 pm, after 14 hours of being out, I asked the kids if they were tired.

“No lah teacher, I usually sleep at 1 am!”

“Yeah I sometimes sleep at 3 am you know!”

Barely 3 minutes into our car ride home, they fell into a deep slumber all the way till we reached home hahahha

The next day when we had to leave to go back to our village, they were SO SO SO sad and promised they’ll come back here again and will study really hard. I have complete faith that they will not let me (and themselves) down :)

IMG_2944

In my next post, I’ll talk about my last trip to my village and the whole week of farewell with my kids (super emotional one haha). Stay tuned wtf

569

Alas

It took me two years to see changes in this one boy but I think I’ve finally seen a glimpse of that elusive light at the end of the tunnel today!

This boy is pretty good in English but he is so super stubborn and refused to do homework for the two years I’ve taught him. He slept in class, was never on task and ignored my consequences. When asked, he said he just doesn’t care that much about English.

1384035_10153372161100106_542991294_n

The crumpled paper on the left was submitted by him a few months ago, after much force and as you can see, he did it very grudgingly.

I don’t know what I did or why he suddenly turned around, but he finished his homework for the first time last month and when I read it, it was actually really good! I read it out in class and was all praises when he finally admitted that he used google translate.

Well….the fact that he even cared enough to google translate was enough for me. T___T (tears of joy)

But things started getting better! I told him I know he can write it well even without help and the week after, he submitted his essay (the one in the middle, written in pencil) and proudly announced to the class that he didnt use google translate this time!

I corrected it immediately and told him I’ll use it to put in the showcase file for this class, but I need him to correct it first and rewrite it in pen. Give it to me next week, I said. No, I’ll give it to you tomorrow, he said.

True enough, tada! I got it the next day. I read it a little; it was flawless and beautiful and was written so neatly and look at that amount of words!!!! Tears were streaming inside me but when he gave it to me, I said coolly, “I hope there are no silly mistakes this time”
To which he replied, “if there are I’ll rewrite it right now”

T__________T *clouds parting *birds singing *harps playing in the background

I swear I died and went to heaven right at that moment. But of course I had to stay alive so I can write about it here wtf

Why oh why did you wait two years to do this?? Right before I leave?? *holds his shoulders and shakes him for answer

But I know exactly what his reply would be. “Better late than never, teacher”
(To clarify, I’ve used all kinds of techniques with this kid. Affirmation, praises, calling home, home visits, disciplinary punishments, serious talks about future, begging on knees, kind words etc, NOTHING has ever worked. But then again, it could be a combination of all these that finally worked. Gosh I don’t know, it’s so hard to tell sometimes with kids! I just hope he keeps this up)

898

Monday Blues

Behold, a sight never before seen in the history of this class and for as long as I’ve taught them (2 yrs). They were all seated, participated in the activities and completed all the work on the board! I told them I’ll take a picture to keep as proof that they too can be successful.

1233365_10153281178255106_1502505380_n

They felt happy that they are now “good” students, but what they don’t know is how incredibly far they are from where they need to be. Two years on, I’m still using standard 3 exercises for them and they STILL can’t do them. No amount of colorful posters, engaging activities, interesting teaching aids, house visits or incentives have helped push them forward. 

I now have a month left with them and though I still have hope that I can still push them a little tiny bit more (if they continue to behave), I know realistically that I’ve failed to close the gap for them. 

I know Rome was not built in a day, but I had no idea coming in that it would be this incredibly difficult. We’re constantly working in an environment where there are just so so so many factors preventing these kids from succeeding. 

Feels like i’m trying to get birds to learn how to swim, upstream, with sharks and crocs everywhere, only to realize that I too, don’t know how to swim myself. 

I’m so close to the end, and yet I’m still an eternity away from any real success with them.

 

p.s: I know this post is a little depressing, but I wanted to paint the most accurate picture of how I feel/how things are. Things are not always inspiring and hopeful, in fact, I feel mostly useless and unaccomplished most times. Le sigh.