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Putting the WOW in Tawau

Youth Services recently took a trip to Tawau, Sabah to bring our Financial Education, Computer Literacy and Cyber Wellness programs to 681 students in 2 schools.

Spirits were high as we made our way to the airport. One flight away from our next adventure of connecting with students and some pisang goreng shops on the way.

Richard (tallest at the back) and the Youth Services team at the airport before departure.

My name is Richard, resident Youth Services trainer and blog contributor, who will be introducing the rest of my team on adventure to Sabah.

Firstly, Fabian, our very own resident 'James Bond' for the week complete with sunglasses, headphones, all the bells and whistles.

Coolest story ever, Fabian William Story (his real name by the way)

Fun fact, Fabian used to be learn martial arts so most people think he's scary. But hey, big guys have big hearts and so does he--a heart for his people in East Malaysia!

But even the best super agent couldn't have been prepared for what we faced next. A challenge commonly known as: Air Asia Plane Seat Leg Space. *inserts horror face emoji*

Guess it's always a tall person's challenge and the girls on our team would probably never understand our pain. As we endured the 2 hour flight, it was Goodbye KL and Hello Tawau!

If James Bond had a nice cool vehicle to announce his arrival, our team had an equally nice cool (read cute) vehicle to announce our arrival in Tawau. You have to admit, it's not everytime you get to sit on a LINE AirAsia plane.

Day 1 We arrived at our first stop right after landing. A quick set up by the team and we had soon transformed what used to be a humble IT lab into a humble IT lab with laptops. Leading our Computer Literacy program, was Jee Wang!

Jee Wang in a training session

A bit about Jee Wang, he likes to get personal and he's a program trainer, so I guess you could say he's a personal trainer.

And after a morning flight plus sessions right after, the team was really grateful to have a quick refuelling before we headed back to get some rest. But of course, not before we caught a glimpse of the sun going down by the sea.

Day 2

Kicks of with our computer literacy program 'XLR8' (in partnership with Microsoft) teaching youth how to use Microsoft Office and apply it in practical settings - including writing a resume, giving a presentation and working out a financial budget - at the same time, instilling values in them. XLR8 is one of our many Lifeskills programs which equips youth with 21st century skills.

The experience was very 'F5'. (Refreshing) ;)

But not as refreshing as...

Mango Sago! A welcome break in between sessions and such a wonderful provision by the schools we went to. Thank you!

Day 3 Begins with our Financial Literacy Program, Duit Right (sponsored by Prudence Foundation). Throughout this program, we teach youth about 4 fundamental finance concepts; earn, save, spend and donate. The program is conducted by a certified trainer while students are divided into smaller groups and guided by a facilitator.

And our personal trainer Jee Wang take a break by taking on the role of a facilitator for the day.

Here is Huay Phing, our longest-serving team member, receiving a token of appreciation from one of the staff at the school, who was ever so grateful that we could come in to run our programs for them. But really, the schools and students taught us so much too!

Huay Phing receiving the token of appreciation from the school. I think he's a real man, cause real men wear pink.

You know how some say they work out and train in order to eat? Well yeah, same concept applies for us--after we train, we eat!

Only a 'grate' man would have thought to put cheese atop Pisang Goreng! Tawau continues to wow us. Okay, thats enough puns for one paragraph.

Day 4 Time was flying by but we had work to do and youth to reach out to, so we headed off to the second school on our list. Kicking things off with our financial education program is Charlene in her element bringing financial education (and microphones) to youth. You go girl.

When she's not training, Charlene can be found facilitating icebreakers or modelling our Yayasan Generasi Gemilang Tshirt, sometimes even both at the same time. (See below)

During one of our Duit Right sessions, the principal of the school mentioned to us that some of her students had issues with online gambling. The principal also mentioned that some of these students had been kicked out of previous schools and sent to her school. In one of our Duit Right topics, we stress on the importance of 'working hard and earning money honestly.'

Towards the end of our session, during a time of reflection, one of the students shared with all his schoolmates that he wanted to quit his habit of gambling. It was an impactful moment and a good reminder to the team about WHY we do what we do, and how just a 2 hour program could potentially change someone's life.

Two Duit Right sessions later and we moved on to our next program, Cyber Wellness.

As one of the pioneers of Cyber Wellness programs in Malaysia, GG aims to educate youth on the dangers of cyber space as well as how to use the internet positively.

Fabian engaged 150 students on the topic of Social Networking and Gaming, which was a growing issue mentioned by the principal in school. A great end to a packed day before catching a view of Sabah's famous seaside-sunsets.

Day 5

Marks our final day bringing computer literacy to students in Tawau with the help of Brian (below), our newest team member, as learning facilitator.

Having facilitators is a crucial element to our sessions, because it gives students the attention and assistance they need when learning a new skill. But facilitators don't just coach, they also serve as a mentor and encourager while taking time to hear out students' dreams and ambitions, another crucial element when working with youth.

Finally, Joseph (below left), our volunteer extraordinaire, who served with us throughout our 6-day trip.

A professional swim-instructor and businessman, Joseph is an example that our volunteers come from all walks of life, from different backgrounds, but share a common vision with us - a passion to raise an exemplary next generation who will positively impact our beloved nation of Malaysia.

While glorious Sabah food and sunsets were definitely highlights in our #TeamTawau adventure, it's still the people we served, that remain our most valuable memory. Thank you for the privilege, Tawau students!


Editor's Note: Passionate about all things youth while being of the Gen-Z himself, Richard blogs regularly about his on-ground work with our Youth Services team. After witnessing the impact first-hand of his team bringing vision checks to under-served school-children who couldn't afford glasses, he wrote a poem. He also voiced on behalf of other youth, sharing with parents a different perspective in hopes to reconcile the generation gap that families often face.

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