Community service diary 

In Malaysia, the government requires every student to do community service before they graduate their tertiary education. I did mine over the summer, and this is a collection of my reflection journal for my 3 days spent at PDK, a non profit organisation centre for disabled children in Semenyih

DAY 1
On Monday, at PDK were the cerebral palsy kids. These kids struggle with their minor muscle movements and can’t walk, some can’t even sit. I was in awe to see all the children incapable of their own voluntary movement – I felt grateful for being born healthy with all 4 limbs attached and well- functioning.

When we came in, they were all on the floor surrounded by 2 ladies (one teacher, one nanny/caretaker) each child giving the kids massages. The massage softens their muscles and also, their joints because with cerebral palsy their joints tend to tense up. We then learnt how to massage the joints too with guidance by the caretakers. We also bought some whistles and some bubbles for them to exercise their minor muscle movement of blowing. They were all so excited when they saw the bubbles, and tried so hard to blow. Some failed while other succeed, but everyone including the caretakers were laughing and enjoying our simple act.


I spoke to one of the mother of the children  about an operation available for the cerebral palsy kids. I asked whether she was considering it, she simply shook her head and said “God gave me him for a reason, to love him and care for him. Not to fix what was already made perfect by God.” It truly touched me, and left me stunned for quite a while. That someone could actually have so much faith, and be so grateful and accepting towards life and what God gave them.

That was my lesson for day 1 – to simply be grateful. Be grateful for whatever life has given, in whatever condition God gave it. Everything happens for a reason I’d like to believe. Sometimes life gives you problems that you don’t even need to repair or fix, but just accept.

 

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The theory of “Happiness Quota”

Amirul once spoke me about his theory of Happiness Quota. He told me, in life we only have a limited chunk of happiness that we’re allowed in a period of time. He theorised that Happiness acts like quota of data, where it starts full and gets lowered as more induced happiness events come around. Like great birthday party – 30%, long streak of good relationship with friends and family – 15% or a bit chunk would be something like marrying the love of your life 90% !

Lately, my happiness quota has reached its lowest ever and it’s taking a while to recharge. Sadness has been my common visitor and has stayed longer than anticipated. Sometimes sadness doesn’t even come with problems, it comes alone and unpacks Aunt Nostalgia, and all the uninvited guests.

So, I’ve made a list on recharging my happiness quota or maybe even it could be a list of  how to cope with sadness around.

  1. Simply, do not do shit you don’t want to do. Be it, seeing certain people or finishing the chicken breast part of rather than the skin of fried chicken.
  2. Leave the things/ people/ situation that makes sadness linger.
  3. Take time for yourself, and all the things you want to do that may charge your happiness. Activities can range from taking a walk, or shopping. A day at the park with ice cream is the perfect charge for my happiness.
  4. Be grateful. Take the time to acknowledge all the blessings and good people in your life.
  5. Don’t keep Sadness locked up at your home, bring sadness out and introduce him to others. Maybe sharing your personal sadness with others can ease the burden. Everyone just wants to be heard.
  6. Charge others’ Happiness Quota – while you do this, yours might charge too.

 

Here’s a video by one of my favourite youtubers Anna Akana on How to talk to people with depression. 

 

Summer 2k17

I’ve always waited for inspiration to kick in before I start writing. BUT BLANK. My mind has been blank. Thus, no update since the last post in April. IT’S JUNE ALINA. But I’ve been meaning to write about my few final days before the summer holidays. So here is the post, that will commemorate my Summer 2k17

 

To start off, it’s difficult being friends with international students. Once it’s summer, they’re all gone. Each and everyone boarding on a different plane going back to places they each call home. Be it Singapore, Brunei, Sri Lanka, Dubai or even Jordan. Spread across the world, all we had was our shared final night in Nottingham. It was my final night at the place where I spent the first few weeks crying and struggling to find comfort in a home away from home, only to find myself surprisingly… dreading to leave.

 

It’s surprising what a foreign place can turn into when you put the right people in it. A room is only a room, but with the right people it’s a home. I discovered my love for my first year of degree reaching it’s peak during the final weeks of exams season. This is where we bond most I guess, while everyone face their own struggles. We tend to depend on each other more for emotional support. The Core Crew (lame I know), but we literally spent everyday with each other – breakfast, lunch, dinner. With piles of books, and empty packets of snacks on the table. Sharing movies in-between revision breaks with 12am quizzes, and 2am naps. Stress was instantaneously paired with laughter.

 

 

Other than my friends, I did fall in love with the place too. I found comfort in Nasi Kukus in front of Tesco, RM4 uber rides to McDonalds, RK Fatima Roti Telur for 3pm breakfast and all-day fluffy Pancakes at Breakfast Club. Although, I hated how far away UNMC was from the city, and I’m sure I’ve mentioned this numerous of times previously. But being in the middle of nowhere do have its perks. One major one as the visible starry sky. The stars that would accompany me during my pitch black walk back to my room from the Core, made me want to study longer into the night. Because the later the night, the darker the sky – hence, more stars. It would scatter all around, and sometimes cluster at one side. At the UNMC bridge, I would stand there for hours feeling so small comparing myself to the universe.

 

 

 

On my last night in UNMC, we did exactly that. But rather than standing on the bridge, we sat at the rooftop. Lied on the metallic roof, with the sounds of sniffling mice and stepping into the unseen puddles on the floor. We stayed there for the whole night. Only left to eat right before dawn. We lied flat on the roof, and tilted our head up to look above and noticed how infinite the universe is – realising the sphere shape of the world. Contemplating the existence of other creatures of God and how lonely it would be if we were the only living thing in the entire universe. Whenever, a bird would fly across we would be startled and, if we were quiet enough we could hear every plane that flew above us.

 

 

 
However, it was Aimin’s Penis shaped constellation, Izran’s philosophy class and Mali’s laughter echoing across the night – that made it an incomparable night. The comfortable silence, of nothing but our heavy breathing accompanied with Coldplay’s music. I also finally found the sole purpose of it, it’s to be played for moments like this. To feel nostalgic for something that hasn’t passed yet, but we know will. We were harmonising to Yellow, and whispered all together “I want something just like this.”   And in that moment, while we stared into “forever” and celebrated each shooting star we didn’t miss – I felt both immortal and mortal all at once.

Lit teacher 

I went to teach refugee kids last week Saturday, and it was such a life changing experience. I went in there, with no teaching experience other than memories of teaching my cousins and friends during Alevels. Thanks to Hari, who nudged me with a “go on – teach” and nothing much else – I did. I stood up infront of all 9 kids with a marker in my trembling hands and introduced myself after they all stood up to greet us “Good Morning Teacher”. 

They all just stared at me after that. Each beady eyes, blinked right at me after every few seconds. Waiting for a direction, waiting for a command. I realised being a teacher requires a lot of thinking at the top of your toes moment. I stood there with Khadijah (we were in it together), began with a long “Sooooo……. we’re studying English today”. Slight lift in tone stretching the end syllable, questioning my own command. One of the students gave us the book they use, and we flipped by a random page and thought okay this seems simple let’s start with this. That was my teaching plan. #litteacher. Get it ??? Lit – literature but lit??? I bet they would’ve laughed.. 

After skipping pages and teaching 3 chapters of English and fractions for maths, the kids kept asking if they’ll see me next week. I WAS SO TOUCHED. They wanted to see me again. Or maybe the just wanted to know what week to skip.. Nonetheless, it was so satisfying when they said “I got it.” Especially when they started with arched eyebrows, scratching their head with their pencil. I tried to apply as much psychology as I could – Vygotsky’s Scalfolding methods. Methods of teaching ADHD kids (even though they weren’t, it’s just to keep their focus on me) and operant conditioning (Skinner). 

I’ve always found it selfish to not share your knowledge. It was an honor to be able to teach these children, and share the slight percentage of knowledge that I have. Generally, I’m a blabber mouth, to the point that if I learnt something new I would tell the first person I see after that and pass on the knowledge. Not necessarily teaching, but I always have this need to tell – OTHER PEOPLE SHOULD KNOW THIS TOO! Kinda feeling. Trust me, after 33 months of my blabber to Amirul, he can graduate with a Psychology Degree too once I’m done. 

These children’s age varies from 12 to 14 years old, mostly from Myanmar. And they’re learning primary 3 up to primary 6 work. It’s upsetting, they have so much potential just not equal opportunity as others. Everyone deserves the right to education. Being brought up in a family where education plays a huge role – (my dad working for the higher education sector in the government). My dad has always taught me the importance of knowledge. It’s the only thing you have that no one else can take away from you. And for others to not have the same opportunity to acquire knowledge as I have ? Makes me grateful for my upbringing and the opportunities I’ve been handed on a silver platter. These kids, they pay RM 20 ringgit per month, for this education and which frankly should be free. Education should be free and to all. But for this foundation called Blue Skies, to gather volunteers every Saturday – our efforts are just a stepping stone.

 My dad has been working for decades in the higher education, and day by day I hear and see people complain about the Malaysian Education System – the local universities standards not being of quality. The lack in facilities, and complaints about lecturers being boring. The main aim of the government is to provide opportunities for all the children in Malaysia to be able to attend higher education. Education for all, no matter the social status, and opportunity. Everything else is secondary.

Let’s leave with a note my dad once advised my brother when he first got Mi’qael – the most important thing you have to provide for your children, is their education. It’s an investment for their future. Start up the bank account, the moment the child is born and you won’t regret it. 

February diary 

Broga Hill – last minute trip ! Not prepared at all, but found an awesome Uber driver who picked us up at 4.30 AM and willingly guided us through the hill as he called it his playground. It was so risky, trusting an uber driver at such hour. Alhamdulillah it turned out well, he’s even a photographer who shot Malaysia’s Astronaut guy’s wedding. Crazy right? So he took the pictures of us as a group. Thank you Randy!

Monopoly deal – card games were what we played to kill time. Courtesy of Mali. (I still don’t know how to play)

My best friend’s birthday ! Aimin Omar Ali – We celebrated midnight by going to TREC the night before his birthday for the Nottingham’s charity event of Lock and Key (where all the girls get a lock, and boys gets a key and you’re meant to find your match). Pretty cute way to meet if you were single. But oh god the innuendos !!!
Picture of first day of sem 2. S02E01


Mahlstrom gear launch party – I was Amirul’s +1 for this event. The room was filled with tetesterone that night, Mel and I hovered just next to the buffet table eating away nibblets trying not to be awkward. The collection of the sportswear were of great quality, (as I am told by Amirul and Mateen). You can get more info – @mahlstromgear on instagram.


Valentine’s Night – First time celebrating Valentine’s Day with Amirul. And I got to say, never doing it again. Everywhere was packed ! I didn’t know Malaysia took Valentine’s Day so seriously. It was crowded everywhere, but we did manage to get a nice dinner in the end. I got flowers from him, after a long time of me saying I didn’t want any more flowers. And I gave him his favourite donut, a card (YODA BEST) and a luggage tag with a picture of Yoda on it. Since that week he was trying to convince me to watch Star Wars… Atlas now I actually know who Yoda is. Good enough right?

Highrollers – how did I go through a whole sem without half of yall ?

 

Q & A #1

I have a friend, Alia Soraya, an aspiring living the dream fashion journalists who would pop up out of nowhere in the group chat and bombard us with random questions. I thought, I would publish this one. Make it a Q & A series, interesting no ?

  1. What’s your philosophy in life?
    You are not truly living unless you’ve changed other lives.
  2. What was the best phase in your life?
    My gap year phase. The search for  myself phase. 2016- the whole year was a phase. Discovering my style, my individuality, my self confidence, my skills, myself. 
  3. What was the worst phase in your life?
    The cringe worthy year of 2011. When I was 15? Thinking I’m an adult when I truly was not. Obviously. Wearing clothes that didn’t fit me, trying to conform to a group that I myself didn’t understand. The year I was running away from who I truly was. 
  4. Is what you’re doing now what you always wanted to do growing up?
    Getting a tertiary degree was never a question, having education be the most important aspect of life was what I was taught. But at this age, 21 this year.. my younger self would’ve expected something far greater than just studying. Like Justin Bieber was famous at what .. 16? Malala won a nobel prize at 17? What have I achieved? I just wanted something greater to do.. well I saw myself doing something much greater than this.
  5. What makes you feel accomplished?
    The feeling of not knowing the time and realising it’s time to go home to head to bed after a long tiring day.
  6. Would you ever take back someone who cheated?
    No
  7. When do you think a person is ready for marriage?
    Once they’ve truly fallen in love with themselves and is willing to share that love with someone else. 
  8. Who is that one person you can talk to about just anything?
    Amirul
  9. Do you judge a book by its cover?
    Yeap, literally – I like minimal book covers if not artistic ones. Or old looking ones. People – I start judging once they start talking. It’s like judging the blurb.
  10. Are you confrontational?
    I’m confrontational if i believe that’s the best way to handle the situation.
  11. Do you believe in second chances?
    Hopeless romantic in me – yes. Realist in me – no
  12. What did your past relationship teach you?
    Don’t be blind. You’re worth much more than that. He ain’t all that.
  13. What do you think about when you’re by yourself?
    Why am I alive… why is my soul put into this body… why this body… why can’t I stop eating