Week 29: Visiting an Orang-Asli Kampung, Launching the AFS Club, and Practicing Sports

February 13- 19

One day after school, we drove two of the students who had stayed to help set up to their Orang Asli (indigenous people) kampung! We reached their village after several kilometers into the jungle on a long, very bumpy gravel road. They showed me around the village and introduced me to some family.

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Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday I attended cross country practice with the other runners from the district. The first day was just an information session, and afterwards I was thrilled to realize that I had understood most of what the coaches had said— even though the information was given in Malay!

Each following day, our school sports teacher drove me to a school about 20 minutes from our school, and coaches led the two hour practice for the 36 of us runners (6 in each age/gender group). It was as pleasant as running eight 800m L-shaped laps on a road can be, and I enjoyed making new friends.

After school we had field hockey practice, which was exciting, and we had a fun scrimmage.

On Wednesday, we launched the first-ever AFS Club, a joint effort between our school English club and our AFS state chapter. Several people from the AFS National Office joined, along with district education department officers and our AFS state chapter president and vice president. This project was mostly Amma’s brainchild, but many other students including Ibe and I helped with preparations. Freya (German friend also hosted in Tapah but who attends a different school) came to help set up the day before the launching. She stayed at our house for two nights, which was very fun! One night I played songs on ukulele and she sang along. (Speaking of which, I have been teaching myself ukulele! At the time we tried playing/singing together, my playing was a bit rough, but I am improving)

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Wednesday we had our AFS club launching, which included students reading stories in English, speeches by various important people, and some musical performances. We also launched the monthly English Language Society bulletin that Ibe and I had written for the past six months. (Someday I will post links to PDFs of it)

I gave a speech in Malay (!) telling briefly about my experience here and thanking the school for their welcomingness.

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Thursday, Amma took Ibe and I to Ipoh so that we could stay with our AFS state chapter vice president and practice swimming. Our school signed us up for the state swimming competition which would be the following Monday and Tuesday. We had been so excited— I missed swimming so much!— but once we began practicing and comparing my times to those listed for other competitors, I realized I might have overestimated myself. Apparently going six months without swimming does indeed make a difference on one’s swimming ability. Once she realized what it would mean to have to swim 400m and 800m in a competition, Ibe decided to back out of her events and come just for support.

Anyway, we went to Ipoh Thursday evening and spent the night after finding swimsuits at the mall and then going to dinner with the chapter vice president and his grandson. Friday, we went to the pool— a gorgeous 50m pool that fulfilled all the cravings I’d had to swim over the past six months— and practiced swimming.

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My self-guided practice wasn’t as intense as I’d envisioned and I was not transformed into an Olympic-level (or rather Malaysian high school state level) swimmer as I’d hoped, but being able to swim was very very very nice. After five hours at the pool, we went back to the house. The next morning, we went to the pool again and practiced some more. We spent the night again and then took the train to Tapah Road on Sunday morning. Sunday I was very nervous and stressed about the swim meet.

The next day, we had the swim meet. I will leave you in suspense about my performance until the next blog post. (Which will come very soon since there aren’t a lot of photos to upload)

And that’s all for now!

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