Allstars East Meets West Junior Exchange Programme ( East meets West Malaysia)
BINTULU: A few students from diverse background recently put their school holidays to good use by taking part in the Allstars East Meets West Junior Exchange Program.
Ten students, between the ages of 10 and 16, joined the intercultural exchange programme, organised by AirAsia’s Corporate Culture Department, open to children of AirAsia’s staff (also known as the Allstars) from Malaysia.
The objective of the programme was to explore, appreciate and understand different cultures, sharpening their communication skills, strengthening networking skills, enhancing self-confidence, self-esteem and maturity, instilling comradeship and fostering an appreciation for host family.
Captain Mohd Ridwani Kadir from AAX hosted two participants from East Malaysia, Mohammad Zainol Ariffin bin Zamri, 16, and Norasyikin bin Zamri, 12, at his home, under his care, the kids even attended a wedding, which was held in Perak and it was really an eye opener for both of them.
Eight of them, Ros Maizatul Najwa binti Mohd Saad, (10), Muhammad Rohafizal bin Mohd, Saad, (11), Ong Jin Hong,(13), Izni Saufi,(14), Rose Saadiatul Liana bt Mohd Saad, (14) Vinod Shamraaj Rajasegaran, (12) and 15-year-old twins Sherold Sean Soria and Sherald Shane Soria, all from West Malaysia were whisked off to Bintulu for five days.
It was an adventure of all sorts for these budding young adventurers, who were introduced to the caving at Niah National Park, a famous cave with ancient painting, depictions of human-like figures found near an ancient burial site. They experienced sheer darkness by switching off their headlamps and using the sense of smell and sound to appreciate and understand the ancient cave.
The participants also trekked the thick foliage of the coastal rainforest at Similajau National Park with leeches galore, set foot on a longhouse, spotted a crocodile during a river cruise along Sungai Gelam, bathed in a river (a first for some), ate fresh cempedak, donated books to SK Keseng library, tasted local delicacies such as the pansuh, a dish cooked in bamboo, midin ( a type of local vegetable) and had dinner and games with BTU Allstars
For Sherold, the whole experience was exhilarating and he loved every moment of it.
“The most amazing experience was being in the Niah cave and I have never been in cave before.
“Besides the adventure, I also enjoyed making new friends and of course travelling without my parents!,” he said.
Izni had all praise for AirAsia Allstars for organising such an event where he not only made new friends but also learnt to be more independent.
“I hope there will be more programmes like this in future as it allows students like me to gain new experience and appreciate different cultures.
“I enjoyed the river cruise, jungle trekking, caving and swimming in the river,” she said.
The programme facilitator Yvonne Lady Diana said the participants had a great time and some of the kids have never stepped into the jungle or even a wet market.
“It was fun to see the curiosity of a growing child asking about new things. Despite the heavy activities, rarely did they complain about being tired.
“Azhan (another facilitator) and I had to keep up with their boundless energy, and I salute their courage in pushing their boundaries and most of all, I admire their spirit,” she said.
She cheekily added that it will be helpful in the future for the parents not to keep checking on their children every 15 minutes as it can be very distracting for their children.
“Instead of immersing themselves in the programme, some of the participants were engaged on the phone with their parents and it was actually quite dangerous because they were not alert of their surroundings,” she said.