Truly Malaysia at my glance

by Ms, Irene Indriasari

            Getting the chance to  present in an international seminar abroad for the first time was quite a big burden – for me and Ms. Nina. Last 28 and 29 of May, we had to travel to Kuala Lumpur Malaysia to present our papers in MELTA (Malaysian English Teaching Association). Both of us had neither been to Malaysia before, nor had presented in an international seminar abroad. Thus this would be our very first experience.

            We arrived at 9pm, receiving a very good courtesy from a Malaysian bought us shuttle ticket to our hotel knowing that we were strangers in his country. We met our friend, Mr. Eric Bray – an American living and teaching in Japan. Roaming KL at 10:30 pm, we headed to Bukit Bintang- the busiest district of KL. We were amazed watching people were still busy strolling around the streets as if it was 7 o’clock in Semarang. We had nice dinner in a restaurant called “The ship” – waiters dressed like captains and sailors – of course we had scrumptious free seafood as Eric paid for our dinner.

            The conference was held in a lavish five star hotel, Sunway Putra or the Legend hotel. The red carpet signified the presence of a royal. HRH Raja Zarith Sofiah bt Almarhum Sultan Idris Shah gave her inspiring royal speech – quoted by many presenters later in parallel sessions.  The part I remember most was when she emphasized the importance of English for Malaysian youngsters thus they won’t be the laughing stock for international community as their predecessors. One of the example was the translation in the Malaysian official website for “pakaian yang mencolok mata” into “the clothes that poke eyes”- thanks to translation software.  She also stressed the importance of teaching the learners of English “critical thinking, thus we don’t teach “This is a chair” only but beyond that “Why is the chair there?”

            We met interesting people on day 1. I attended a session by an Indonesian presenter, a junior high school teacher from Bandung. She was so confident with her presentation about environment education. I also met Mr. Roger Palmer – our old friend who attended the seminar on behalf of Pearson. Mind you, He was the keynote speaker in the previous LIA Semarang Candi International workshop in February 2012. He introduced us to JALT president (The Japan Association for Languange Teaching), Mr. Kevin Cleary. We had tea and cake chosen by Mr. Cleary. It was delicious and we had a very nice conversation on the teacher for teacher program, and how Mr. Cleary – who actually took up accounting as his major in university ended up in teaching English. Indeed an international seminar is the perfect place for us to develop our network.

            The second day was tense for us, because early in the morning, the very first slot was our show. Ms. Nina and Mr. Eric Bray presented their Indonesia- Japan cultural exchange on Facebook, and I had a workshop on applying Competence Autonomy and Relatedness in combining graphic organizers and cooperative learning to enhance students’ comprehension. My workshop was attended by multirace of teachers – as Malaysia is a melting pot of Malay, Indian and Chinese. We shared our experience and we did the workshop so lively. They were wonderful audience and doers. In short, our presentation and workshop were successful, thanks to long preparation and exercise.

            Actually we still had so many stories to tell, but in short, this journey was very impressive. MELTA respects LIA as the only prominent Languange School in Indonesia. As LIA representatives, we were treated so special. The hospitality showed by the Malaysians I met melted the stereotypes we heard of a country that is our close neighbor as well as our close rival. But what concerns me most are the facts that now, this close neighbor is more civilized in their transportation (they have subway/ MRT and less motorcycle on the streets), and far more advanced in their education (MELTA –unlike TEFLIN - is fully supported by the government and royal member). The two things that we still can only dream of here in our beloved mis-managed country.


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