First Day Stories: Reflections

At the start, like all our Fellows, Jess Yim watched a video of Chaitra Murlidhar, a Teach for India Fellow on the experience that she has gained. Teach for India is a sister programme that has already been in operation for the past 4 years. This is what Jess had to say after watching the video again now that she has begun her own journey as a Teach For Malaysia Fellow.


When I initially watched the video, I felt it was very informational as Chaitra had already experienced the process of going into a school. However as it was based on her experiences in a school in India, I never thought that the literacy levels would be that severe here as well

Watching the video for the second time, I was nodding to the description of Chaitra’s first day in school. I experienced the same feelings and had mixed emotion going to different classes throughout the day. Entering the classrooms was an eye opener as Chaitra’s words rang strongly in my head. Even the classroom amenities were just as bare. My classroom has basic amenities with doors that have punch holes, window frame without windows, and tables that are filled with graffiti. At the end of the day, I was shocked when I realised that I would be facing almost the same literacy challenges that were affecting the children in India, in a small town secondary school here in Malaysia.

Ultimately, it dawned on me that no matter the number of challenges I was going to face for the next 2 years, just like Chaitra, “I’ve chosen to be here” and I want to see change for the rest of my students here in this small town.

My own frustrations were summed up perfectly by Chaitra when she was asked “Why do you stay?” and she replied, “It’s like an uphill climb. You’re climbing and climbing, you’re tired .Then when you come down and stand back and see what you’ve climbed, it’s a very fulfilling and gratifying moment…every little victory in the classroom will get you through these two years.”  My kids will be my source of inspiration and I will work relentlessly and never give up on them.