Mah Sing Community Centre, located in Anjung Singgah-Kuala Lumpur, got its identity thanks to our previous Community Centre Manager, Yassin Medhouny-Laouina. From the beginning of 2018, our students and classes became really diverse. Every one of my students are unique and I am deeply curious and passionate about them and want to get to know them more.
For the next few months, it has been agreed to conduct a partnership with a Somalian community (refugees). We started to schedule classes in the last three weeks and started to meet our new kind students, a family of seven, who attends every single class. Their youngest child is five and the eldest, 13. The father, 45, is the only one who speaks English. They arrived in Malaysia four months ago from Yemen.
Because the SOLS English language system uses Bahasa Malaysia to teach English, we had to be conscious of our limits and propose only communicative classes for this family. The father explained why they were longing for English classes and wanted to be strongly exposed to this language. They promised to give their 100% dedication to learning English, even if it took them extra hours. Their dream was to join their family members in the United Kingdom. Here in Kuala Lumpur, they were alone and in transit. They don’t work and the children don’t go to school. As Malaysia did not sign the UN refugee convention, refugee children can not attend public school and adults cannot work full time.
After having several discussions with the father, I explained that my main concern was that his children may feel that they are not learning English in this class, that the level was not suitable for their expectations and in a way, they may see it as a bad learning experience.
These episodes have for me as much importance as the teaching process itself. I see each of our class as a whole painting and I need to understand how it is made of, the colors used,and how it has been drawn. That is why I give attention to the social background as well. I am frustrated I cannot help this family in a better way, but I want to thank them for reminding me what is teaching about. They always come on time, write everything down, even some of the children, willing to show that they deserve to learn. Of course they are. They will always be welcome in our class.
Mah Sing Foundation Community Centre, Estelle Lewi.