Lim Mei Jin: What I want for my students

In their second year, our Fellows kickstart initiatives to address a problem in their communities.

Mei Jin, a 2016 Alumna co-founded Project FLY to address the need for better discipline and diversity among students, through camps and community project workshops.

Mei Jin 1 - cropped

Mei Jin wrote this poem to commemorate the past 2 months she spent with her students working on Project FLY—

一直以来,
老师最想要给你们的礼物是-
希望的种子。
有时候,
不是有了希望
才坚持相信
而是坚持相信了,
才有希望。
当我们什么都没有,
剩下的只有希望。但也因为希望,
我们才能够拥抱世界。

*
这是一场赌博游戏。
当你拿这群孩子,
他们没有好成绩,
没有跟你好声好气,
一翻脸就像世界末日,
也没有所谓的礼貌规则,
跟你大声就是天性。
打架的,顶嘴的,
骂粗口的,吸烟的,
基本上,
这是一个很吃力的工程。
我和同事曾经开玩笑说,
“What do we have to lose,
if they have little to begin with.”
但是我們也看见了,
没有所谓的“坏”,只有大人的
不明白。

My dear students,
the gift I wish to give to you
is the seed of hope.

Sometimes,
we cannot rely on hope
to inspire us to persist,
but we must persist regardless
to inspire ourselves to hope.
When we are left with nothing,
remember to persist, remember to hope
and you will have the world to conquer.

*
At the beginning,
this choice seemed like a gamble.
The students I was tasked with teaching
were not passing with flying colours;
in fact, many didn’t pass at all.
The students I was given to guide
had no concept of respect or
proper classroom behaviour;
instead
they yelled and swore
and quarreled and fought
and smoked in school.
I quickly learnt that teaching
is such a demanding job.

Exhausted, I would confide in my colleague saying
“What do we have to lose,
if they have little to begin with.”

But then we saw it too –
the students we label “bad”, are in fact just misunderstood.

Mei Jin 2

也因为他们什么都没有,
他们很感恩每一次的机会。
也因为他们什么都还没尝试过,
每一个机会都是他们的第一步,
就像地球人踏上月球般那么历史性。
也因为他们不懂礼貌,
每一次的说教他们都
瞪大眼睛看着你,
然后过几天,
再用回你的话回应你。
我们有的是默契,
我知道他们的故事,
一个表情,一个犹豫,
知道有事发生了。
他们也知道一个眼神,
知道老师生气,
该听老师的话了。
也因为他们从0开始,
就算只突破至1%,
也显得那么无比巨大,
无比的有意义。
有时候,不是有了希望才坚持相信
而是坚持相信了,才有希望。
老师祝你们平安快乐,
这是我们能给你们的礼物。

我們以你们为荣。

明年再见!

Because they’ve only ever possessed so little,
they appreciate every chance they’re given.
Because they’ve only ever seen so little,
they take each step with wonder as if they were
venturing across the moon itself.

It is inexplicable,
the feeling of uncertainty when I look at my wide-eyed students in class –
Am I being heard? Does the way I talk surprise them?
Only to be pleasantly surprised myself a few days later,
when they mirror my words back to me.

Slowly but steadily,
my students and I developed a special bond;
one that enables us to understand each other
through the smallest cues –
expressions, eye contact, body language –
when they see me tensing up,
they would quiet down and listen to me.

It is inexplicable,
because these are the same students that I couldn’t reach at the beginning.

They began at 0,
so every 1% in improvement is
incomparably monumental and meaningful.
Their confidence and their hunger to learn
fills me with hope for them.

My dear students,
you make me so proud;
I wish you happiness and security always.
As teachers, these are the gifts that
we strive to give to you.

Let’s meet again next year in school!

 

Mei Jin is a 2016 Teach For Malaysia Fellow, who currently teaches English at a high-need school in Pasir Gudang. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from University of Nottingham Malaysia. A former Head of Talent Management at AIESEC Malaysia, Mei Jin believes that with guidance, every student has potential to succeed in life. She co-founded Project FLY, an initiative to address disciplinary issues and encourage diversity amongst students through workshops and community projects.

Everyone deserves a #fightingchance. Get in the front line in the fight against education inequity. Apply for the Fellowship today, or donate RM50 monthly to help empower one Fellow to impact two students.

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 73,000 students, working with the Ministry of Education and other partners.

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