When Your Child Teaches for Malaysia: Joel

It took four long-distance Skype calls for 2013 Fellow Joel Ryan Lee to convince his parents about his decision to join the Teach For Malaysia Fellowship. The question is: Did it work? Read on to find out!


JOEL LEE

“My dad especially was quite skeptical about me wanting to join the Fellowship. When I told my parents about TFM, I already had a lot of options – the Bar, CLP, a Masters or heading straight into the corporate world. I guess they thought this plan would be sidelined from my ‘bigger’ ambitions on the table and did not think much about it. It took about four Skype calls home from the UK to convince my parents that this was what I wanted to do for the next two years of my ‘prime’ 20s. I was relentless as I felt it was a great opportunity for me to learn something. I don’t think a negative reaction would have deterred me as I usually won’t give up when I am passionate about something.

My dad is one of my biggest supporters now. I think he’s changed his opinions of my experience after reading my stories on Facebook and www.cikgujoel.tumblr.com.”

JOSHUA LEE CHIN BAN

“We were surprised as we expected Joel to be in a hurry to start a ‘normal’ career after graduating, being a naturally competitive person. Our biggest concern was the new environment that he would be tossed into. Being placed in an environment unlike KL to teach unmotivated kids would definitely push him out of his comfort zone. We also wondered if he would be accepted by existing teachers.

However, after finding out more about the organisation, we were delighted that he had decided to join TFM. We felt that it was a noble thing for him to want to dedicate two years of his working life giving back to society. We were also glad to know that the Fellowship is an excellent leadership development programme and we were impressed by the calibre of the leaders heading the Fellowship. We felt that he would be in good hands. Interacting with highly motivated trainers and other Fellows during some of the TFM functions also affirmed our belief that he has made the right choice. There is strong sense of conviction, encouragement and motivation among the Fellows to fight education inequity.

We have seen him grow in passion, character and willingness to go the extra mile for a good cause. He has adapted to a different environment and learned to adopt a softer approach to people. Most of all we think he has learned to handle disappointments and been able to pull himself up when he is down. We have always advised him to ‘never give up’ on any worthy cause in life, and we are glad he is putting that into practice. TFM seems to be bringing out the best in him.

My advice to parents? Support this great program! It has the potential to change lives, and the life of your child. We believe TFM has the capability to train your child to be a future leader and make a difference in our society. It will prepare him or her to face greater challenges in life and provide a strong base to launch his career.”