If I were to summarize my MTP journey into one word, it would be “affirmation.”
Prior to my Fulbright, I was a teacher at a secondary school deep within the jungles of Borneo. My students were children from one of the most marginalized people groups in my country. During those six years, I designed and initiated multiple education programs which aimed to holistically develop my students in ways that their homes or the school could never do.
Being a guest to the U.S., I am naturally curious about education programs that exist for children from marginalized communities in this country. Therefore, my project during the MTP journey involved visiting and learning from organizations working to bridge education disparities for at-risk communities in the U.S.
Despite my extensive experience, I refused to generalize my opinions on what works at home with what will work here. I believe that every child is unique and so is the community that they are from. Therefore, their needs are unique and education programs which cater to them have to be bespoke, least a one-size-fits-all approach fails to meet the unique developmental needs of individual children.
At every meeting during the journey, I emptied my cup and became a student of the local heroes who are fighting to keep a generation of youth from being sucked into a perpetuating vicious cycle. I listened to their stories, felt their pain, shared their triumphs, and became inspired by their purpose. I gained so much from the people I met in each individual city. I managed to find common threads between my work at home and the work that is being done here in the U.S. It affirmed the programs that I worked so hard on for so many years, gave me many new ideas, and encouraged me to press on and think about how I could scale in order for more children to benefit.
I can’t wait to finally apply everything that I have learned during my journey. However, I have another year to go in my masters program so I will resort to sharing what I have learned and my ideas on my blog for the time being. Additionally, I will work on bridging students in the U.S. with students in Malaysia in a video exchange project. If you know a teacher in the U.S., please help bridge the youth of both nations by sharing this project with them.
If you are a Fulbrighter, I fully recommend taking part in this journey. It is an enrichment program like no other. You will be able to explore more of this country in days than many citizens of the United States would in a lifetime. Finally, you will also walk away hoping that someone would replicate this program in your country and empower the new generation instead of merely shaming them for being different.
Feel free to contact me if you have any questions. Let me know if I can be of any assistance. Remember to tell a teacher in the US about my video exchange project! God bless you!