I started volunteering with the Beacon of Hope Community Tuition Centre as a teacher and mentor two years ago and have watched my kiddos (i.e. students) grow in character, competence and confidence. When Altel Malaysia very kindly gave me a cheque in October as part of their 'Hero-Hero Malaysia' campaign, I decided to use part of it on gifts and school supplies for my kiddos and on a field trip, since they have not had a field trip in 3 years.
Gift bags and prizes all ready for the End-of-Term class party on 23rd November. Didn't think I'd be able to single-handedly pull off a class party AND a field trip for 45 children and 8 adult volunteers, but everything came together as nicely as could be without affecting my office work or other volunteer commitments at all.
My little'uns performing a dance number to "Wanna Be My Chammak Challo" during the End-of-Term class party.
Field Trip Day! I took the day off to pull this off, since the KL Bird Park and National Planetarium get really crowded on weekends. We served breakfast to the kiddos before the bus arrived. Many thanks to my friends Hui Leng for the muffins, MamaTom AJ for the buns, Nicole Tai for the apples, Nasreen Mydin for the Milo, Nadia Zamri for the juice, and Alison Sandra Murugesu, Angela Rima, Rudhra Krishnasamy, Aravind Vasudevan, Jen Li, Irene Kam , Vince Adam, Pikwun Chin and Hari Shanmugam for the goodie bag contents.
The goodie bags were packed to bursting point. There are healthy snacks (raisins, granola bars, fruit) and less-healthy snacks (chips, sweets, cookies, crackers), something educational (field guide to garden birds), something for cooperative play (card games, board games) and something for active / outdoor play (yo-yo balls), so the fun will last long after the field trip.
1st Destination: KL Bird Park
Everyone wanted a selfie with the peacock.
The peacock kept following Aishah's wheelchair, much to her delight.
Easwaran tried to make a multicoloured lory jump on his finger.
"Don't be afraid of the birds. All you have to do is hold out the drink to them like this. I'll show you."
Waiting for the bird show to start.
Letting off steam at the playground.
2nd Destination: National Planetarium
The awful anti-gravity room which tilted at strange angles. The kids loved it for some reason.
In the middle of the anti-gravity room is a scary-looking hole which sucks you into outer space.... Well, it turned out to be a really fun slide that took you back to the main exhibition area.
My kiddos learning about space exploration at the Space Lab.
In the Space Theatre, waiting for the show to start.
I wish the Space Pod never existed. The Planetarium only allowed 10 riders each hour, so only 6 out of 40 of my kiddos got to ride it and this caused a lot of unhappiness and disappointment. I know, I am working on teaching them emotional resilience, but they are only children, and it is natural that the ones who didn't get to go on the ride would feel resentful.
3rd Destination: SPCA Selangor Animal Shelter and Education Centre
Arief explaining neutering, spaying and adoption processes to my Big'Uns.
A shelter tour! The kids were delighted! It was way past Outdoor Time for the dogs and the dogs had to be back in their kennels, so the kids didn't get to play with them outdoors, but they did get to meet the dogs in the kennels.
My kiddos were thrilled to see the cat play area and the cats loved being handled gently and petted by my kiddos.
The little'uns loved visiting the cattery. Two of them told me later that it was their favourite part of the field trip.
Learning how to approach dogs with gentleness and understanding.
Williem trying to clean puppy saliva off his face while Yugabhavan and Easwaran made a fuss of Ariana the puppy.
We reached Beacon only around 7.30 p.m. and I was somewhat bedraggled, deaf and hoarse after managing the kiddos for the entire day, but what a success the day was, thanks to everyone's generosity and kindness!
On the bus ride home, I gave out prizes and awards (kindly contributed by Shanthini Venugopal and other friends) not only for correct answers to pop quiz questions on things we observed and learned at the bird park, planetarium and SPCA, but also Examplary Behaviour Awards, because unbeknownst to the young'uns, I was taking mental notes all day.
- Williem, our youngest student, received an award for promptly and spontaneously helping us clear tables and tidy up at the Hornbill Cafe after lunch for the next group of diners.
- My big'uns, Ajit Kumar, Muhammad Sharif and Purushotaman, received awards for always being on hand to help with carrying Aishah's wheelchair up and down the bus and horrible stairs everywhere.
- 4 little'uns for helping to clean Kishen and the bus up with paper towels, water and hand sanitiser instead of recoiling in horror when Kishen got carsick.
I couldn't be prouder of my kids. They may be noisy and rowdy but they are big-hearted, unselfish kids. They were cooperative and treated the birds and shelter animals with kindness.
And so school's out for the next 5 weeks. I finally get my weeknights to myself again. Happy holidays to all the kiddos out there and may you have many opportunities to practice empathy, compassion, cooperation, creativity and leadership skills!