Making a Difference: Jiak Hong with Jia Hong

After completing a physics degree in 2006 and working as a trader with Citigroup in London for a few years, Jia Hong realised that there was a lot more about the world that he wanted to explore, namely to understand the building blocks of our society and economy. After much thought, Jia Hong decided to travel the world for two years. His book, “Jiak Hong with Jia Hong” is a story of a curious Malaysian travelling across several continents from 2012 to 2013. We recently asked Jia Hong to share some insights about his book “Jiak Hong with Jia Hong” as well as his views about education in general and here’s what he had to say:

Note: Jiak Hong is a direct translation of “makan angin” in hokkien; “makan angin” means to travel in Bahasa Malaysia.

How did your two-year journey impact your life?
A long journey certainly gives one perspective. I am grateful to develop a better sense of appreciation for nature, meet new people, learn about the many things the world has to offer, and try to stitch together the puzzle of the world through the experiences I’ve gathered with the presentations from media, books and hearsay (which are not necessarily always true!).

I can’t say exactly how the journey has impacted my life, but I can say that what determines a life path is due to choices, and our choices are usually a reflection of one’s state of mind and one’s world view. After travelling, my state of mind probably is more open and accepting of possibilities. My world view: we are just one world, all interconnected. Now, the next thing is making the right choices.

What are some key points from your book that you would want your readers to take away?
Go jiak hong!

Why did you decide to pledge RM10K to Teach For Malaysia?
My intention is for all the book proceeds to be used for social and educational initiatives, ideally those which are exploration based (which embodies the same spirit of my travels). I chose Teach For Malaysia because they are an organisation that has this element and is close to home.

Teach For Malaysia Fellows are exploring Malaysia whilst contributing to their nation. Besides delivering formal education, Fellows are sharing their global experiences with their students, inspiring them to do better and to explore. I believe that the best learning experiences happen when Fellows and students are jiak hong (travelling) together, through stories, insights and experiences.

In your opinion, why do you think education is important?
Education (not in the form of qualifications, but of learning, acquiring skills and development of character) provides the best opportunity for a better livelihood.

What are your aspirations for education in Malaysia?
I think a person has obtained good education if he or she can achieve two things. One, is to be able to learn anything. This means that if one decides to learn something, be it the ukulele, programming or complete peace of mind, one has the foundation of knowledge to do it. Two, is to be able to reflect. If we continuously reflect on our experiences, learn about ourselves, I think we will know each other better. You can say this is the path towards development of character, being human or perhaps enlightenment. Education is the means and process of achieving that.

My aspiration is for everyone to have the opportunity to explore, and achieve these two things. This applies beyond Malaysia.

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All post-distribution proceeds of the book will go to education initiatives, Teach For Malaysia being one of the initiatives. Jia Hong will also be donating books to school libraries, and plans to share his experiences with schools/colleges through talks and open sessions.

Visit www.jiakhong.com for more information.

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