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Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Mr Yeo's Visit: February 2015

This Sunday we were pleased to welcome Mr Yeo from our Sister School in Malaysia.  After a long flight, and a long drive from Melbourne, we welcomed him to our school with a traditional Australian BBQ - lamb, chicken, corn, beans and salad, followed by cheesecake and chocolate cake.

We are looking forward to a busy and productive week this week, working with him, and showing him the high life of Tallangatta and Wodonga.

The "Tallangatta Secondary College - SMK Datuk Peter Mojuntin Teacher Exchange and Curriculum Development program (2014) " was supported by the Australian Government through the Australia-Malaysia Institute of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Looking forward to 2015

The next step in our Sister School program will be a visit to Tallangatta by Mr Peck Cheng Yeo in February 2015. Mr. Yeo is a very experienced Senior Science and Chemistry teacher. We look forward to his visit for the opportunity to share pedagogy and return the SMKDPM hospitality.

Day 10 - 1 October - Thank you from TSC

After another smooth flight, we arrived at Tullamarine, Melbourne at 5.00 am to collect the car and head straight up the Hume Highway to Tallangatta. Another wonderful exchange with our Sister School had all too quickly come to an end. Thanks to all of the teachers and students for your overwhelming hospitality, enthusiasm and friendship.

Also thank you to the Form 6 teachers who allowed us to shatter the peace and quiet of your staffroom.

Special thank you to Pengetua Fauziah Derin, Fay Mogindol, Nainey, Badinah Nianis, Judy Liew Su Tsin ("The Boss") for your welcone, warmth, fun and laughter (and the educational sharing). Thank you to Fadley for the time spent with us and the farewell lunch.

Thanks to Dannielle Venaskie, Yanti Grant and Jan Sorenesn for sharing the journey. I hope you will come to value your wonderful new friends in Sabah - Land below the wind - as much as I do and our Sister School relationship will continue to blossom.

Yanti Grant, Judy (The Boss), Dannielle Venaskie, Jan Sorensen

The warmest thank you of all to my wonderful colleague and dear friend Surie Aziz for your quiet kindness, professional interaction and inspiration as well as your willingness to share your home and your family with me. Your friendship will always be treasured.

 All the best to you, Badinah and all the form 6 teachers who are moving on to a new stage in your educational journey.

Day 9 - 30th September Last chats with students and a fond farewell

Waking up on Tuesday, we reluctantly packed our bags and headed to school for our last morning at SMKDPM. The final breakfast in the school canteen was followed by visits to the Maths and life skills class. Dannielle and Yanti visited the Kemarihan Hidup class. In this class students learned about a range of basic technology skills. ASpects of this curriculum could be modified to suit Year 7 students in Tallangatta. We also said a last goodbye to the students during their English day activities.

Our last official function was to attend the morning session assembly where students performed several singing items and we said our farewells and thanks to the school for their outstanding, warm hospitality.

After a final farewell lunch prepared for us all by Fadley, we headed to the KK International Airport to board the plane for home. We had time for one last snack at the airport restaurant before our emotional farewells. Impossible to believe that such strong friendships could be forged in only 9 days.

Day 7 - Curriculum discussions and a river cruise

This morning we met with key personnel in the school to discuss ideas for further development of our Sister School program.  Mdm, Fauziah stated that it is critical that we can develop our program so that it is embedded in our schools and continue regardless of possible changes in staff in both schools. We would like to look at common projects that can focus on innovation, building shared pedagogy and possibly participating in international competitions.

We also wish to continue with an environmental focus to extend projects such as the "Green Box" and mudballs, as well as sponsorship of orangutan and koalas. Sharing information on common threats or issues in the environment such as bush / forest fires and recycling projects were other suggestions.  Due to Dannielle's expertise as a chef and hospitality teacher and the interest that created amongst the SMKDPM students, a recipe blog has also been suggested.

Our next major focus will also be a visit to TSC by Mr Peck Cheng Yeo. Details of his visit in February 2015 were discussed.

Next we visited the Sabah State Museum and the Balai Seni Lukis (Art Gallery)

After lunch we headed off with our hosts and several other staff to Kota Belud about 100 kms from Kota Kinabalu to look for the proboscis monkeys. These monkeys are one of the most endangered species of primates. They are distinguished by their large protruding nose. They can be found among the mangrove trees foraging, resting and feeding. They are the most aquatic of the primates and even have webbed feet.

Following this cruise down the river we set off to another location about 15 minutes drive away on Sungai Nanamun. At nightfall we set off on another boat to see the thousands of fireflies among the trees. They were attracted towards the boat by the guides flashing a greenish light. At the end of this cruise, after a long but enjoyable day with enthusiastic colleagues, we headed back to Penampang for our last night with our hosts.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Day 6 - 28th September - Sunday Gaya Street and the markets

Sunday saw an early start to the Gaya Street market as well as shopping for handicrafts and other souvenirs. We also visted the Kadazan-Dusun Cultural Centre and viewed the area from Signal Hill. We then joined the administrative staff for dinner at the Gayang restaurant.
At Signal Hill with our wonderful hosts

Day 5 Out and about on the weekend

Today was set aside to explore further afield. After meeting up at the school with our hosts and other staff including Fadley, Zawani, Farizah, Umie and Therese we set of towards Pekan Nabalu and Kinabalu National Park. On the way we visited the Rumah Terbalik. Unfortunately the weather was not favourable for us to enjoy the view of Kinabalu.

From there we progressed to the moving Kundasang War Memorial at Ranau. This memorial commemorates the Australian, British and New Zealand servicemen who perished on the infamous Sandakan death marches in World War 2 and also the people of Borneo who tried to support them and were killed for doing so. 

From Ranau we headed of in the bus towards Luanti for the interesting experience of a fish massage in the river. Standing in the river and feeding the fish attracts them to come up to the shallows and nibble the dead skin of your feet.

We then headed back to Penampang and home after a long but enjoyable day.

Day 4 - 26th September Discussions with senior students, traditional culture and another wedding!

Morning classesThis morning began with visits to English and life skills classes. Jan and Janet visited the English class with Teacher Fiona. Students were reading about a Malaysian wild life reserve. Their task was to work in a group to create a brochure to advertise the reserve for tourists. Students brainstormed some great ideas and then began their brochures. Work was done using paper and pencils - different from TSC where students would head straight to their netbooks and use Publisher to do the thinking about design and layout for them!

After the recess break we had a session with the Form 6 students. They were eager to find out about Tallangatta and Australian education opportunities. They were interested to know how the Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE) operated in Australia and also about requirements to study in Australian universities which several were considering as an option in the future.

Monsopiad Cultural Village
In the afternoon we visited the Monsopiad Cultural Village. Monsopiad was a fearsome warrior who lived in the village of Kuai nearly 200 years ago. Monsopiad's main house is dedicated to the life  and times of Monsopiad and his descendants.Displays around the village demonstrate the way of life at that time including the rice barn and threshing process, blow pipes and dance performances.

In the evening we were privileged to attend another wedding celebration as part of the ceremonies liked to a traditional Malay wedding of the daughter of one of the SMKDPM staff members.
A traditional Malay wedding celebration extends over 3 or 4 days. The ceremony we attended was the evening before the actual wedding and involved the preparation and blessing of the bride, which still involved great ceremony and celebration.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Day 3 - September 25 - Out and about - Markets, Orangutan and a special evening.

Today started with breakfast together in the school canteen, followed by a visit to the Tamu Donggongon market to see and sample the wide variety of foods, tropical fruits and crafts for sale. The market takes place twice weekly, with sellers bringing goods from far and wide to service the area.

At 9.00 a.m we returned to school to visit a range of co-curricular activities including aerobics on the oval, as well as visiting classes in Maths and English.

After lunch we headed off to Rasa Ria Resort Conservation centre to visit our adopted orangutan. Rasa Ria play an important role in educating members of the local community and tourists on the importance of protection of the environment and the orangutan, one of Malaysia's most endangered species. Once we had viewed the introductory program, we were able to walk along the Jungle walk to the viewing platform to see our adopted "children". On return from the walk, Jan and Dannielle also decided to adopt a mango tree to be planted in the reserve.

On return to SMKDPM we all returned to our host families to get ready for a special night. We were fortunate to be invited to the Kadazan wedding of Ethelbert Pipin and his new wife Carol. As part of this celebration we were guests at the "Miohon Pinisi" which is the ice-breaking ceremony between the couple. Miohon Pinisi means "Bertukar Suap" in Bahasa Melayu where the couples exchange rice and chicken soup from a wok, feeding each other,symbolising the importance and responsibility for caring for each other in their marriage. The event was a traditional part of every Kadazan wedding in the past and is still often practised today.

We were honoured to be invited and enjoyed a wonderful night of celebration filled with outstanding hospitality, delicious food, love, fun and laughter. A night which will never be forgotten. Thank you to the young couple and their families for allowing us to be part of their special occasion.

Day 2 - 24 September Student and Environmental Focus

This morning we had a meeting with the members of the Student Council as well as class monitors and prefects. They told us about the roles and responsibilities they fill in the school. The SMKDPM students fill a far more active role on a daily basis than the students at TSC. After a little shy hesitation, the students enthusiastically asked questions about school at Tallangatta, ranging from classes studied and choices students have in Australia, to extra curricula activities and mobile phone policies!  It was great to catch up with Lisa Nusi, one of the Student Council members, who had visited Tallangatta on our first student trip in 2011.

Next we made a visit to St Michael's Catholic Secondary School which is also in Penampang. Like SMKDPM, St Michael's has a strong focus on environmental programs, working with the students and the community on environmental education and sustainability programs.  After a presentation about the school's programs and its success, we were taken on a guided tour of the school and its gardens.

After lunch we visited Winnie and her support crew to see the activities prompted by CLEAR (Community-Led Environmental Awareness for our River). This organisation was officially established in February 2012 by the people living along the lower banks of the Moyog River. They run community education programs and activities including the use of composting and organic farming and replanting along the river banks to improve practices along the river and protect it from further pollution.   CLEAR 's key objective is to promote greater awareness and practical action to promote greater awareness and practical action to protect rivers in Malaysia and to restore the river to be a central focus in the lives of the people.

Winnie has been an active supporter of the Sister School relationship through previous connections to SMKDPM.  It was interesting to see the progress being made by the group.

Aussie Food in Malaysia
On Wednesday evening we all had the pleasure of visiting the home of Judy Liew (The Discipline BOSS at SMKDPM). Dannielle, who is the TSC Hospitality teacher, supported by Jan who also teaches food classes, worked hard, improvising with different utensils, to prepare an "Aussie" meal for all of the TSC visitors and their hosts. This included prawn cocktail entree, followed by lamb casserole. Thanks to Judy, Boni and Delaine for their hospitality and all of the hosts for their wonderful friendship. A great evening!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Day 1 - 23 September 2014 School introductions and familiarisation.

The day began with a school assembly to introduce out visitors to the Form 3, 4 and 5 students. The welcome offered to us by the staff and student body was warm and for Janet, who was lucky to be on her 3rd visit to the school, it felt like being welcomed home.

After the assembly we met with the school Principal, Mdm Fauziah and Senior Assistant Pn. Fay Mogindol for a briefing and discussion of plans for the week.

The rest of the morning was spent in visits to a variety of classes including Maths and English classes and the school salon.

In the afternoon we visited the Lok Kawi zoo to introduce ourselves to the local wildlife and aspects of the environment.

Visit by Tallangatta Secondary College teachers September 2014

On Monday 22nd September 2014, 4 teachers from Tallangatta set out for another visit to SMK Datuk Peter Mojuntin. After a flight from Tullamarine Airport in Melbourne and a 4 hour stop over in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei, Jan Sorensen, Yanti Grant, Dannielle Venaskie and Janet Floyd arrived at Kota Kinabalu. We were greeted by our smiling hosts Surie, Badinah, Nainey, Judy and Farizah to start an exciting week in our sister school and its community.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Orang-utan rehabilitation project, Rasa Ria

On Sunday we were up bright and early, and off we went to visit our "adopted" orang-utan, at the Rehabilitation Reserve at Rasa Ria.  This is another key part of our Sister School project; Tallangatta Secondary College sponsors the rehabilitation of orphaned orang-utans here, and SMK DPM sponsors koalas here in Australia.

So I was very excited to hop in the bus, and drive off into what I thought would be the wilds of Sabah.

Instead, the resort at Rasa Ria is a beautiful part of paradise!  Wish I had bought my bathers!  However, not wanting to scare everybody off on only my second day in the country, it is probably a good thing that I did not!

Out and about in Sabah

As they say, all work and no play makes Jack (Jacqui) a dull boy (well, girl) - so here are a few photos just to assure all that the cultural side of things did not escape me.  Once again, huge thanks to all of my new friends from SMK DPM for making sure I got a good understanding of your lifestyle and wonderful heritage.


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