The overdue article

An article that I recently wrote for school..

Dreams are for those who fight;
an ISLP journey to Batam, Indonesia.

By Nurul Amira Binte Md Ibrahim, DCA- SEG

Tidak ada yang mudah, tapi tidak ada yang tidak mungkin” which translates nothing is easy but there is nothing that is impossible. Those words hung on a handmade poster were the first thing that caught my eyes when we first entered a gloomy classroom in SMP Nongsa 48, Batam-Indonesia. It was the 2nd day of a week’s journey during the school’s first two week break. The 22 of us set off to another island to impart our knowledge of basic computer skills to government officials and teachers. As well as teach English to students of various age ranging from pre-school all the way up to secondary school.


A strange fusion of excitement and nervousness set in as I met the rest of the team. How poignant yet ironic it was to see total strangers around you and yet, we were all attracted to the same goal. Strangers turned to comrades as we toiled together to prepare ourselves for the ambiguous trip. Strings of thoughts tackled our confidence with what-ifs; what happens if we went all the way to Batam and discovered we were unprepared?!  The string of worries was not the only thing that caused a thorn in the leg. Daily, slightly more than half the team faced language barrier as Indonesia’s primary language is Bahasa Indonesia and of course, topping off our challenges with a bang was of course the constant blackout during lessons. 

As time and days peels away, exposing all of us to what we have never seen and felt. Classrooms with no fan nor lights, but filled only with students whose energy and spirit were as bright and fiercely as the sun. Children who wanted to show you how they valued your presence, by coming to class in their one and only Sunday outfit each day. Showers of warmth hugs and salaam (handshake) fall upon us each day, because they have learnt grammar and how to create animation effects on their PowerPoint slideshow.

There, in the classroom of SMP Nongsa 48, was story of struggles and strength hidden behind each smiles, each sweat and each challenge. It finally occurred to me that the children wore the same shirt each day to show us the best of them just like how they only wore their Sunday’s best for church. They shared about how there opportunities is waiting for them out there, and how they can never admit defeat. At the tender age of seven years old, how is it possible to be thankful for a table that have been worn out that you can barely see its skin? To excel in academics when there was no lights and fans? To remain cool among your friends but yet wearing the same outfit each day? 

Often times when we set off on a voyage with an objective in mind, to perhaps visit new sights, to mend what’s broken or simply just to fill the missing pieces but this journey definitely did more than what we anticipated. It completed me.

As cliché as this may sound, this International Service Learning Trip made me return home filling my heart with much more love. It made me feel like every single aches and pains have been absorbed by the Earth’s atmosphere. And it definitely taught me to give change, a chance.

On behalf of the ISLP-Batam team, I would like to thank Republic Polytechnic, The Service Learning club, The students & government officials for welcoming us into their country, class and hearts. Last but not least, the two amazing ladies for making this trip possible, Ms Emily Tan and Ms Sharmia Karna for giving us all the opportunity to discover the beauty of life. From the bottom of my heart, Thank you.


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