A reflection by 2015 Fellow, James Choong on his journey thus far.
Maybe it takes time to process. Maybe it just hasn’t settled in.
Me, the kid who slept through lessons, who skipped class at any opportunity, who thought high school was a waste of time. Yes, I teach. (My former teachers will probably be shocked to hear this!)
It’s been a challenging ride so far. From students who can’t speak Malay or English, who have no ambitions in life, who answer buah tangan when asked for examples of fruit, to students who just hate school, and teachers who go into empty classrooms due to student boycotts. From endless administrative duties, to surprise changes in schedule, to working six or seven days a week.
Yes, it has been tough. I didn’t think I’d be worn-out, disappointed and demotivated so early on. I see Fellows experiencing anger, frustration, disappointment, fatigue, sickness, low self-esteem; the list goes on and on. As more and more obstacles and frustrations pile onto my plate, I find myself asking, “Why am I even doing this?”
But I think it is precisely because of these challenges that I signed up for this. Every single hurdle that I encounter tells me there is still more to be done. I am given an opportunity to impact lives and change mindsets, the platform to influence policies and procedures, and the support to help us bring tangible and intangible changes to the system and our country.
It is good that we are angry, that we are frustrated. This means that we have passion. This means that we haven’t given up. We have to rise again and again from each and every upset and disappointment. The harder the battle gets, the stronger we have to become, because there is a greater mission. We are fighting for our brothers, our sisters, our sons, our daughters. We fight for all generations to come. We fight for education equity in Malaysia, we fight for a better Malaysia.
This is not a sprint. It’s a long, challenging marathon that will demand every ounce of our strength and determination. But the end result will be worth the sweat, blood and tears.
Today we might fall flat. But tomorrow, we go again.