Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Back in the days of TKC: House Party 1994.

I'm going to tell you about my high school.

Before continuing, I would like to state that these are MY memories from MY point of view so it may differ from any other person who might have went through the same experience.

From the age of 13, I went to an all girls boarding school in Seremban, Negeri Sembilan. The five years that I was there was an important experience that shaped a lot of the person that I am today. When everyone looks back at their own high school days, they look back in fondness of the memories but of course, it was never all sweet and honey. Going through the experience in your teenage years multiplied the emotions tenfold, it was extra in every way. That is why it is all so memorable.

Although the whole point of school is study, I don't particularly remember that part. Maybe because I was never the studious type and being in the top school in the country makes my academic achievements pale in comparison to others, therefore not worth mentioning. I remember the other experiences that are mostly outside of the classroom. The fun part. If asked what was the most valuable experience that I would hold on to in my high school years, it would probably have to do with the performances that we did for the many occasions we hosted for whatever reason may be.

All year round, there were parties. House parties, CS parties, table parties, class parties, birthday parties, dorm parties..... and then there were celebrations, Teachers day, Friendship day, OGA day, April Fools, Merdeka...... and then there are competitions, English Drama, Talentime, Sports day.... and depending on your chosen curricular activities, for me it was Police Cadets and Art Club. And all of these occasions were always presented is the grandest most spectacular scheme available. I later learned that that was where our ferocious need to excel beyond expectations in every single endeavor in our life came from.

After 3 paragraphs I figured I had to break down the story into parts. I can't squeeze 5 crazy years into 1 entry. I've put off writing about this for so long until I saw the pictures of my old school on Facebook uploaded by my ex Biology teacher, Mr Tan Hock Ann (thank you Sir, I am grateful). So for this entry I would just tell of 1 memory.

Tun Fatimah (Blue) House Party 1994.

Late one night, the fourth formers who were the party organizers came to our dorm Canna after lights out. All 30 of us first formers came down from our double decker beds to listen to our secret mission for our first ever house party. House parties are costume parties. Each house (there are four) tries to outdo the other to throw the most elaborately decorated themed party. Each dorm in the houses are given a specific theme for our costumes and we also have to come up with a performance to perform in front of the others. All this is done in secret and no other dorms are supposed to know of any one else's theme until the day of the party. Any leaked information would be forfeited (so they say).

This was all exciting stuff to me. Our given theme was - ghost and ghouls. Being someone who loves to dance, only one image popped to my head, Michael Jackson's Thriller. Through our dorm meeting discussions over late supper (air Wahi & Sugar Bun pastry from the dining hall), we decided to do a dance number involving the whole entire dorm that will be opened by a short sketch by 3 witches ala ala the Hocus Pocus movie we watched earlier during Film Show held every 2 Saturdays at Dewan Budiman. The three witches would be Irah, Oya and Ipah for their excellent acting capabilities and Chipook as the Book of Spells. The rest of us ghouls was lead by me as the choreographer along with Olin, Zureen and Sausan.

Unfortunately, it was a time before broadband and downloadable MP3s and one year before Michael Jackson's Dangerous compilation, so we couldn't get the Thriller soundtrack. We made do with what we had - Ace of Base, I Saw The Sign. Yes, laugh people (hey it was the 'in' song at that time okay). We were given a month to prepare, amidst classes, we managed to practice our routine and sew our costumes at the same time. The dorm was a horrible mess, 30 girls trying to dance in the dark aided only by corridor lights trying to be as quiet as possible so as not to piss the 5th formers studying in the lounge with our 'membadakness' (stomping). We pushed all the double decker beds together to make space. It was a feat. For me, choreographing a dance that was easy enough for everybody to follow yet cool enough for the audience was a tough challenge. I wish I had Youtube, haha, I could have done so much better.

Under the stress and pressure, fights broke out. I remember one particularly involving Irah and Ipah where I actually saw Irah literally flew accross me and Oya to attack Ipah. Its funny when I think of it now, but it was quite dramatic when it happened. I think it was something about Irah's stuff on Ipah's bed, I'm not sure. But I remember Oya's face holding a needle and thread when that happened. Priceless.

And the day came for the House Party. One of the coolest tradition for House Parties was that the fourth formers had closed off an entire flight of staircase from the fourth floor of the building and had tranformed it into a tunnel complete with slides and surprise pranks. All the people had to go through the tunnel to be presented at the end of it for the fifth formers and the rest of the house members.

I remember Sausan's black lipstick became public property as all of us tried to get ready in front of the limited mirrors at the front of the dorm. With my limited sewing skills, I decided to become Eddie Munster, a teenage werewolf from the show Munsters Today. All I needed was jeans, t shirt, a jock jacket and lots and lots of hair gel. I taped my ears and put on the makeup. I was a bit of a tomboy (hard to imagine huh?) so it was easy. I remember Olin dressed as a pretty fairy and everyone else was ghosts, zombies, vampires and such. When the time came to go through the tunnel I was actually really scared, scared of the unknown, all this was so new to me, I remember being confused at the end of the tunnel, I was going to do a howl or something but I totally forgot because I was so overwhelmed by all the eyes on me when I came out from the dark.

Then came the time for the performance. I remember the 3 witches acting was awesome. The dance, I don't know, all I remembered was I had fun dancing with my dorm mates, all 30 of us, hehe, I think we pulled it off. There was food, and the decorations and costumes were fantastic. I remember Selindang Delima (Green) house did a Disney theme and they built a ship in the lounge. It was all so impressive and overwhelming the amount of effort and detail that was put into it. And all this was done by hand by the students. I was in awe and dumbstruck and couldn't wait until I was a fourth former and it would be our turn to plan the party.

But alas, the House Party was banned when I reached Form Four, under the basis of wastage and amidst complaints that students were paying to much attention to the parties than to their studies. So when it was our turn, we were only allowed to wear our school uniforms and had a normal makan-makan. Dissapointed, yeah. but at least I got to experience it.

It was my first year in Tunku Kurshiah College and I came to love it more and more. It was the people that made the memories and my 29 dorm mates in Canna, Block C Tun Fatimah made it all worthwhile, they were my first friends in high school and we shared so much more than just a cramped fire hazard space.

To  (in bed location order), Alfieya, Sauce, Nogha, Juan, Murni, Effa, Wanie, Sheeda, Ddee, Luna, Dayang, Azah, Jaja, Zehan, Oya, Ilmi, Olin, Adel, Zureen, Nikky, Ipah, Irah, Aidah, Chikot, Chipook, Hani, Rabia, Eni and Enol..... thank you.

p/s: Any of you have the picture from that day? It'd be great if I could 'lampirkan' here, hehe...

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Things I have learned from my students so far.

I had an incredible roller coaster week.

The past 2 years have been crazy, my whole life was turned upside down ever since I started teaching.

Yesterday, I had a final presentation class with my students. This semester I gave them a project, a conceptual book that also acts as their resume as fresh graphic designers. In the book, they were supposed to design an infographics CV, a magazine interview, a catalogue and an advertisement about themselves. When I gave the project, I just thought of it as a fun way for them to learn the different layout styles.

But I got more than I asked for.

Despite struggling with a new software (Adobe InDesign) and juggling 4 to 5 other subjects with equally challenging projects, they did an AMAZING job. It was way more than I expected, they totally surprised me. But what strikes me most was during their presentation.

I was a bit pissed at first because they seemed to have forgotten a lot of details that were required in the project. I was looking at all the minute details and was starting to get all angry with their typography errors and a whole lot of other things. But slowly as I paid close attention to what they were saying, I realized something more.

They shared their experiences while explaining the infographics, and I found out a lot about their backgrounds. Most of them have worked doing various jobs before and some of them are still working. They worked at restaurants, became gas pump attendants, supermarket promoters and some were even construction workers at some point. I felt a bit unsettled. I'll explain why later.

They also had various education before coming to UNISEL, some were studying architecture, computer science, engineering and one is even a certified accountant. Most don not even have an art background. Some were from other art institutions but continued their studies in UNISEL for the financial factor. It is the cheapest private art and design program in the country, with relatively low syarat kelayakan masuk (entry requirements). This saying that the cream of the crop students would not normally choose UNISEL Art & Design program if they had a choice of other more established institutions like UiTM.

When it got to the magazine interview part of the book, where I gave them a series of questions to answer, like "Why do you want to be a graphic designer?", "What is the area of design that you are most interested in and why?, "Why should you be hired?", "Who are your influences?" and the last one was "What is your ultimate dream in life?", it got more interesting.

I observed that a tie that binds these students together is their love and passion for art. You may not see it in their work, as they are still in the learning process and as is the norm, of course some students are more skillful than others. But these students love art with a vengeance. I am in awe of this. Through their presentation I found out a lot more about them and that besides studying, they do a lot of art and design activities outside on their own. Some of them have online shops selling their own designs, some of them freelance for magazines and newspapers, some of them have their own art collective (ARUS) and whole lot of other things they do for the sake of their love for art. I find this awe inspiring.

Regardless of their age, background or which batch or class they come from, there is no such thing as seniority basis, most of my students get along well with all the other batches, something that I did not have the privilege of experiencing when I was a student. They organize events together, almost every month the Art and Design faculty of UNISEL has events and exhibitions organized by the students themselves. Just this year, we had Gunex (Gundam exhibition), Alam Selam (underwater photography exh), Screenshots A Stop in Motion (a stop motion typography and animation screening and just last Thursday was the fourth Cinemini (screening of students' animation, documentary, film, video... etc) and more to come.

And all of this while still doing their projects and assignments. I am envious of their student experience. They have a lot of opportunities and resources to do many great things that I wished I had the courage and willpower or desire 'keinginan' to do when I was a student.

I am still a new educator, but I have learned so much from my students.

Some have gone through a lot of hardships before ending up where they are now. They had to take the long winding road before finding their call in the field of art and design. These students are brave, street smart, tough and have a resilient attitude in life which I am full of respect for because I live a life full of privilege and chances and my choices in life were pretty much straightforward. I don't think that I would have been as strong as them given the same circumstances.

It started out as just a class project. I was a lecturer who was easily upset and disheartened and got mad at the many mistakes my students made. But now, I have learned to look beyond that and look at the effort of each student, at their journey from the start until the end of the program. The many mistakes they made only helps them to be that much better than before. They are still learning, and it is my responsibility as an educator to make sure they know how to learn and most importantly, to WANT to learn on their own. I learned to be patient, open to other perspectives and empathize with them. I also learned that sometimes you just need to chill, relax and laugh.

To my students, past and present, thank you so much. You have made my life a living hell yet heavenly bliss all at the same time. No matter what they say about students who study Art & Design in UNISEL, I know that these students have so much to offer the world because, hey, look what they did to me.

Date A Girl Who Reads

Raiha gave me this link she found ( thank you so much Raiha!!!) , I think it is extremely beautiful, I wanna share it too....

“Date a girl who reads. Date a girl who spends her money on books instead of clothes. She has problems with closet space because she has too many books. Date a girl who has a list of books she wants to read, who has had a library card since she was twelve.

Find a girl who reads. You’ll know that she does because she will always have an unread book in her bag.She’s the one lovingly looking over the shelves in the bookstore, the one who quietly cries out when she finds the book she wants. You see the weird chick sniffing the pages of an old book in a second hand book shop? That’s the reader. They can never resist smelling the pages, especially when they are yellow.

She’s the girl reading while waiting in that coffee shop down the street. If you take a peek at her mug, the non-dairy creamer is floating on top because she’s kind of engrossed already. Lost in a world of the author’s making. Sit down. She might give you a glare, as most girls who read do not like to be interrupted. Ask her if she likes the book.

Buy her another cup of coffee.

Let her know what you really think of Murakami. See if she got through the first chapter of Fellowship. Understand that if she says she understood James Joyce’s Ulysses she’s just saying that to sound intelligent. Ask her if she loves Alice or she would like to be Alice.

It’s easy to date a girl who reads. Give her books for her birthday, for Christmas and for anniversaries. Give her the gift of words, in poetry, in song. Give her Neruda, Pound, Sexton, Cummings. Let her know that you understand that words are love. Understand that she knows the difference between books and reality but by god, she’s going to try to make her life a little like her favorite book. It will never be your fault if she does.

She has to give it a shot somehow.

Lie to her. If she understands syntax, she will understand your need to lie. Behind words are other things: motivation, value, nuance, dialogue. It will not be the end of the world.

Fail her. Because a girl who reads knows that failure always leads up to the climax. Because girls who understand that all things will come to end. That you can always write a sequel. That you can begin again and again and still be the hero. That life is meant to have a villain or two.

Why be frightened of everything that you are not? Girls who read understand that people, like characters, develop. Except in the Twilight series.

If you find a girl who reads, keep her close. When you find her up at 2 AM clutching a book to her chest and weeping, make her a cup of tea and hold her. You may lose her for a couple of hours but she will always come back to you. She’ll talk as if the characters in the book are real, because for a while, they always are.

You will propose on a hot air balloon. Or during a rock concert. Or very casually next time she’s sick. Over Skype.

You will smile so hard you will wonder why your heart hasn’t burst and bled out all over your chest yet. You will write the story of your lives, have kids with strange names and even stranger tastes. She will introduce your children to the Cat in the Hat and Aslan, maybe in the same day. You will walk the winters of your old age together and she will recite Keats under her breath while you shake the snow off your boots.

Date a girl who reads because you deserve it. You deserve a girl who can give you the most colorful life imaginable. If you can only give her monotony, and stale hours and half-baked proposals, then you’re better off alone. If you want the world and the worlds beyond it, date a girl who reads.

Or better yet, date a girl who writes.”

— Rosemary Urquico

There are just so many parts in it that I love, especially the last paragraph but the ayat yang

"If you find a girl who reads, keep her close. When you find her up at 2 AM clutching a book to her chest and weeping, make her a cup of tea and hold her. You may lose her for a couple of hours but she will always come back to you. She’ll talk as if the characters in the book are real, because for a while, they always are."

rase cam nak nangis coz it is SO TRUE.

I've never read Murakami, Yeats, Neruda and almost all of the classic references stated except maybe Alice. But I enjoy reading nonetheless. I love fairy tales, kids stories, Harry Potter & Enid Blyton. I did not get through the first chapter of the Fellowship. I like some, not all of Neil Gaiman's work, I read mostly non fiction works and the encyclopaedia is my favorite read because I can choose where and what i read about. I like stories that are magical and fantasy but happy in outlook. I am starting my own collection of local writers works like Amir Muhammad, Adibah Amin, Farish Noor, Karim Raslan, Hishamudin rais and Zurinah Hassan in my effort to know of my own country's story. My favorite writer is actually my best friend Ainul Huda and Oya when she used to blog.

So yeah, the article touched me in the way it tells of the experience of joy when reading. Although I don't know most of the references given and sometimes I do try to read the classics but I don't get them, actually, but that does not make me less of a reader.