9th APRYSF 2018
Recently, on 8th October 2018, 6 of my friends that were selected through the National Youth Forum 2018 and I, went to the 9th Asian-Pacific Region Scout Youth Forum in Tagaytay Philippines to represent Malaysia. Following are the reflection on what I’ve experienced through the whole program:
The journey had been fun but there are challenges that I have faced that I believe most international representatives will experience when they first come to any international program. I would like to share some of the challenges that I’ve faced so that next time, any representative might think of a way on how to tackle them. My writing is mostly focused on problems that Malaysian representatives might experience, but I’m sure the problems are similar for other international representatives as well.
First and foremost, as the challenge that every international representative will has to face is the cultural shock I had to go through while I adjusted myself in a new country with lots of different people from other countries too. The culture in Philippines is quite welcoming and anyone will be respected. It is our responsibility as representatives to try to make an understanding of these differences and jell in as quickly as we can. The food itself is differ from what I’ve been consuming in my home country. Their cuisine tends to be sweet and quite bland meanwhile Malaysian’s tends to be savory and spicy. One time, the caterers served pork to everyone with other food too. However, most Muslims couldn’t eat as they were feeling doubtful of the halal of the food. It’s a bit hard for Muslims to eat as they need to be confirm the halal of the food first. Other than that, as a Muslim, I can’t be touchy-freely with other men aside from my family members. Therefore, I had to wear gloves even though it’s a bit hassle for me to do that. It was a bit shocking for me to shake other men’s hands as I haven’t done that in my whole life before. However, for the program, I had to do it as it’ll be a part of my responsibility to socialize with other and gain their trusts and friendships. Fortunately, the representatives from other countries do respect my religion and opinion on that.
Another problem that I saw was some of the representatives were struggling with communication. Whether it be a language barrier, difficulty understanding an accent or being too shy to talk, communication in a new country with different people from other countries too can be a little overwhelming. Thank goodness I already equipped myself with lots of languages that I’ve learn before I went to the program. Some of the representatives from other countries couldn’t speak English very well but it’s not hard to understand either. However, to break the communication’s wall, I had to learn the language from other countries as well because I will have to use communication as a weapon to approach the other countries’ representatives. They would be delightfully open and be comfortable if anyone that approach them could speak their language. Once, I could find similarities in me and the others, we could easily bond a friendship that could boost their trust in Malaysian. Hence, communication is one of the key a successful friendship.
Getting used to currency differences is also a challenging process. As I didn’t bring much money to the program, I need to be careful on how I spend my money even though the Philippine’s currency is lower than Malaysia’s. I did work out a quick conversion system for myself, so I could mentally figure out the prices when buying things. As I’m visiting Philippines for a brief time, it didn’t really hurt to do some mental math.
IMPACT ON MYSELF
I successfully interact with people who are culturally different, and it was one of the remarkable skills that I acquired from the program. This “intercultural competence” will serve me well when I’ll be working soon. As I’ll be working as a teacher, the school itself is a culturally-diverse place in Malaysia. If I have students who come from a different culture or different family background as well, by properly navigating these interactions will be crucial for my work. Even though I have been learning other languages by myself before, there’s a quite positive relationship between communicating with foreigners and building intercultural competence. Hence, intercultural competence gives me the ability to communicate and behave properly with those from diverse cultures, and increase my strength in co-creating “shared spaces, teams, and organizations that are inclusive, effective, innovative and satisfying”. Being interculturally competent can bring me more increased emotional intelligence, more meaningful connections, and a greatly enriched life overall – all positive additions to my personal life toolbox.
Aside from that, Theodorus Clarence Tessensohn, one of the Malaysia’s representative as a delegate volunteered himself for the Recommendations Committee in the program. Then, he was appointed as the chairman of the said committee. Furthermore, I also been watching our Young Adult Member Group, Muhammad Naufal bin Othman, who was going for one of the seats in YAMG for 9th APR Scout Youth Forum 2018. Watching them from afar doing their job as leaders really made me learn something. Indirectly, I learned on how they bring themselves with the crowd, how they handled things when there’s disagreement between other people they’ve been leading, and their leadership and communication skills included These theorical skills that I’ve learn will benefits me a lot since I’m a teacher trainee. These skills can be applied in my teaching practically and it would be great if I could boost myself with these skills to strive forward. Indirectly, I also learned on how to be a great scouts leader and indulges deeper into the scout’s world itself. Scouting isn’t just being survivalist, camping or doing some gadgets, but scouting is a lot more than that.
Whole fully, this program teaches me a lot about scouting itself, how to be a leader, how to approach people with diverse culture and how to make a better world through scouting.