Venessa Sambai: Nation-building starts in the classroom

“We need more youths to take on this challenge to build sustainable change in communities, and eventually, a better system for all.” – Venessa Sambai, 2013 Alumna

Venessa edit

The idea of social change has always been on my mind since I was in university. I’m the first to graduate in my family,  and all the privileges I have are because of the sacrifices of others who want to see me succeed. Therefore, it is my duty to pay forward what I have received to the younger generation, and I have always believed that education is the key to a better life.

However, the sole measure of success should not be academic achievement, but also character-building, such as resilience. This inspired me to give back to the community through teaching because it is one of the most meaningful channels to reach others.

Teaching is a noble profession. It provides you with opportunities to transform other people’s lives and yours, indirectly. However, to establish relationships with young people and their communities, you must have passion and patience.

We need to mobilise people to spark social change through education as our younger generation are no longer competing against themselves, but against global citizens. We need to step out of our comfort zones to help them be prepared for the digital economy.

One of the best times I had during the Fellowship was when my Form 4 students and I co-organised a learning trip. Some of my students had never stepped out from their kampung, so this was the best opportunity to give them some exposure. When I proposed the plan to them, they were excited and offered to help me with the planning, by forming a committee.

The trip indirectly showed their ability to lead. The following year, one of them was appointed as Head Prefect of our school. He proved that everyone can be a leader if they are given the chance.

To initiate social change, you need to understand the context of the community that you are working with. You need a local champion to make sure the process of change is sustainable. (If you decide to join the Fellowship, you need to have the right mindset and love for learning.)

We need more youths to take on this challenge to build sustainable change in communities, and eventually, a better system for all. Nation-building starts in the classroom.

Venessa Sambai Anak Usek is a 2013 Alumna who taught in a school in Selama, Perak. Venessa graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Cognitive Science from Universiti Malaysia Sarawak. Teach For Malaysia recruits, trains and supports Fellows to teach in high-need schools across the nation. Beyond the Fellowship, our Alumni continue to champion education in different ways. To date, we’ve impacted over 44,000 students, working with the Ministry of Education and other partners.

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