A Little Introduction on MCYDS: With the theme “The WWW Project: what works well”, it is hoped that participants will be able to meet, contribute and discuss on any successful initiative that is being undertaken or that has been accomplished at their schools. Besides, the participants who take part in this summit will understand the role they have to play as individuals in their communities which demands them to be responsible, committed, to be the agents of change, to serve their communities, to subscribe to positive traits and be creative in carrying out their plans. The summit aims at inculcating leadership qualities and a sense of social responsibility towards the community amongst the youth of today. It is expected that the ideas exchanged during the summit will empower students to understand the role of leadership in community development. It is indeed an advantageous programme for the students as it creates the chances for them to exchange ideas, experiences and knowledge. Therefore, this summit will hopefully succeed in serving as a tool towards the establishment and realizing the aspiration of producing of dynamic generation. The Malay College Kuala Kangsar is the first and the only school in Malaysia which organises a summit of similar nature. It was first organised in 2008 and now has become an annual programme for the school.
The Day Before
Despite how reluctant I was to go to school, I still had to, under Teacher R’s orders. Anum had to visit the dentist so it was only Aifa and I, busy finishing up the pamphlets in the computer lab. Even finishing up the pamphlets took up the whole day, and we returned home at around 5pm. Upon reaching home, I was already in a rush to finish the pamphlets and my article for Soo May’s magazine that I actually groaned when Mum told me that we had a Father’s Day dinner at Uncle Leong’s house. So off to Uncle Leong’s house I went with a laptop, glasses on, and behind the laptop the whole time.
By the time we left, it was already around midnight and take note: I hadn’t packed a single thing yet. So I started digging into the store room for knapsacks and huge luggage bags and began packing late until 2am. Finally, I was done, and fell asleep immediately due to exhaustion.
It’s hard to tell how I felt before this summit. All I knew was there were lots of things to be prepared for this summit, and okay, maybe there was fear and nervousness as well, but the funny thing was how I didn’t really remember anything before the summit. No expectations, no constant reminders of “Michelle, don’t be anti-social at the summit.” “Michelle, learn to speak up.”, no joy or excitement, no nothing. It’s hard to remember after all the irreplaceable memories I have had during that week.
20th June 2011, Monday
I arrived at school with a total of five baggages (a big luggage bag, a plastic bag of shoes, a backpack, a violin case and a camera bag) and received several strange stares from the people at the porch. I waited a while for Aifa and Anum to turn up and we went to help Teacher Rahmah out with the boxes, transporting them from the Art Room to the bus. A school bus for three students and two teachers only? Really? Yes, really, and you wouldn’t have asked this question if you saw the mountainous pile of things we had to bring along with us to Perak (and that’s excluding all of our luggage). When everything was moved into the bus, we finally set off at around 9am.
As it has always been with previous outings and camps, I wasn’t too thrilled to leave the safe confines of my home and school for some daunting programme with the word ‘summit’ in its name. Nevertheless, I didn’t really know what to expect out of this trip. In fact, I still don’t remember at all how I felt like at the very beginning of this summit, what I was feeling and expecting etc.
Sleeping, listening to Angels & Airwaves, thinking and watching the scenery pass by through the bus windows took up the three hours of our journey to Kuala Kangsar. When we passed by the signboard that said “Kuala Kangsar- 3km”, I was overwhelmed by excitement as well as anxiety. How are the people there? How will my poor introverted self cope with the arrival of both foreign and local students I do not know? How will I cope with speaking in front of so many people?
When we finally reached The Malay College Kuala Kangsar, we found out we were one of the earliest schools to arrive. Waiting to greet and escort us to our respective dorms was Joe Faeezri, which we later found out was our liaison officer (or LO, which, in Joe’s case, also stands for Lazy Officer). We found out we would be staying at the Pavilion building, which is also the participants’ lodgings. All three of us were placed into Dorm 6, and there we chose beds to dump our luggage and boxes on.
After that, we were led to the Summit Square, which is basically a huge tented area where meals will be served during the whole of the summit. The catered food wasn’t bad, which was definitely a good thing. After we were done, we went back to the dorm to unpack, hang out, and greet new dormmates before heading down to the takraw court for a takraw demonstration at 5pm. It was during this ‘Dormmate Meeting Session’ that we first came to know Rikza and Dian from Indonesia, who were occupying the beds next to Aifa’s, as well as Sya from SMK Sains Machang, whose bed was next to mine and Anum’s.
After the takraw demonstration, it was our turn to try some kicks for ourselves, and need I say how ‘well’ I performed? We also met some new friends, such as the girls from SMK (P) Sri Aman: Farhanah, Sarah and Ati-K (who eventually turned out to be our close friends). I also managed to exchange a few words with Fazira from SERATAS (Sekolah Menengah Sains Raja Tun Azlan Shah). After the takraw session, we were told to return to our dorms to prepare ourselves for the welcoming dinner by 8.30pm. On the way back to the dorm, we stopped by this mysterious white door with the Pavilion sign next to it, wondering what room it actually was because there were lots of shoes by the door and the windows were tinted and the door closed. My first impression was a hall. In fact, I thought it would be the hall we would conduct most of the sessions at. Curious, we entered the room and found out…it was a common room! Yes, a common room, just like one in Hogwarts! How rad is that?
After cleaning up, clad in baju kurungs, we headed for what I now know is called the Medan Pelajar for the welcoming dinner. We sat with the Sri Aman girls once again and watched as each representative from each school went to the podium to introduce themselves and their schools. This year, a total of seven countries (including Malaysia), 19 schools and 87 participants took part in this summit. The foreign countries that participated were Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, India, Pakistan and Brunei. We had a buffet dinner, and after that, we headed to the Hargreaves Hall for a ‘Briefing’ and an ‘Ice breaking session’ as stated in the confirmed itinerary. Oh, and did I mention that we met both the first and second speaker (Izzat and Huzaimi) of the MCKK debate team that kicked our asses in the HELP Debate Competition in April? Because we did and when we went to the hall, we found out the person who would be giving the briefing was the third speaker, Mia. Our defeat was somehow a sour moment, but nonetheless we went up to them and introduced ourselves anyway as the ‘girls you beat in the HELP Debate Competition’.
Mia welcomed everyone in his briefing, and proceeded to explain how the ice breaking session would be carried out. First, everyone had to form two circles, one inside the other, and the people in the inner circle would have to turn around to face the person directly opposite them in the outer circle and introduce themselves to each other for 30 seconds. The first person I introduced myself to was Rezqie from MCKK itself, whom we later call Qiqi in the future. After the 30 seconds were up, we had to turn to the person to our left but the person on my left was already occupied by the person on her left, and this happened to quite a number of people so in the end, Aifa and I and four other girls (Dila, Fazira, Ain and Puteri, if I’m not mistaken) just introduced ourselves in a group. The second ice breaking activity had two of us of the same gender pair up together and we were given a two-page newspaper spread. I think you can more or less guess how the game turns out. First, we had to dance on the newspaper without stepping out of it. And this goes on, except with every round, the newspaper had to be folded into half. I teamed up with Fazira and we made it to the last round!
The third game had us divided into two groups. Aifa and I were in the group on the left and Anum in the right. The right group was seated in chairs and were scattered all over the floor. Two extra chairs were then pulled in, and two people on the left would have to do a ‘penguin walk’ to get to the empty chairs. The people from the right group would then have to replace the empty chairs with their own butts, and the others would have to replace the seat of the person who just replaced the empty seat and so on and so forth. I only got one try on this because the summit had just begun and my introverted self restrained myself from ‘over-interacting’.
After that, we had refreshments at the Summit Square (the first out of many in the future, might I add) and then we headed for our dorms to call it a day. Being the weird ass Asmarians we are, we thought that it would be really hot to sleep in the bunk beds so what we did was we pulled two mattresses into the middle of the dorm for us to sleep, and sleep we did.
Photos on the first day.
21st June 2011, Tuesday
It was obvious that sleeping in the middle of the dorm was a mistake because when we woke up at 6.30am, it was freezing cold. And may I add that all three of us set our phone alarms to 5.30am the previous night but all three of us woke up, shut them off, and went back to sleep. Thus, we were greatly humiliated when Rahmah from Brunei (yes, her name’s Rahmah, what a coincidence right!) had to wake all of us up at 6.30am. (In fact, we had to be woken up every single morning, I think. Uhm…) Dragging our sleepy butts off the mattresses, we cleaned up and put on our uniforms, then headed for the Summit Square to have our breakfast.
At 8.30am, we headed for the Hargreaves Hall for the opening ceremony. I got my first taste of the truth of Charissa’s words to me before I went for the summit: “Seriously, MCKK boys are good at everything.” The students of MCKK performed some traditional dances and this sort of Malay choir that, according to Aifa, is a Kelatanese tradition. I’m sorry, I’m too lazy to look up the real name of it right now, but they were awesome. They even sang Bieber’s ‘Baby’ and no, I still do not like Bieber but it made me laugh till my stomach hurt. Then there were the dances. I was amazed at how many dances they could perform at the same time. They were really great, and I’m not even trying to butter anyone up.
Then, we had refreshments again and then it was the first session of the presentation on ‘The WWW Project: What Works Well’, the theme of this year’s summit. We weren’t presenting in the first session, so I thought it was a slight advantage for us so at least we had an inkling of what we were supposed to do. Some of the schools that went first were Vajiravudh School from Thailand, Rikza’s school SM Negeri 1 Purworejo, Modern School from India et cetera. However, my mind was totally blown away when the Sri Aman girls presented their presentation. The eco-projects in their school were truly beneficial and they had a clear outline of what they wanted to do to save the environment. Later, we chatted with them during lunch to find out that it wasn’t as easy as it had seemed on a Microsoft Powerpoint worksheet. It was tough, but all three of them really put in their efforts to raise awareness in their school. Here’s a pat on the back to all Sri Amanians and especially Farhanah, Sarah and Ati-K for being awesome!
We had lunch at the Summit Square after that and we were told to prepare ourselves for a rehearsal for the Royal Banquet at the Iskandariah Palace. So we put on the costumes we planned to wear on the real day and headed for the palace in three buses. I have never been to a palace before, as well as the other many people I’ve asked, so naturally I was feeling really, really excited.
As we walked up towards the palace, I –and I think I can also speak on behalf of Aifa and Anum- felt a sense of familiarity wash over me as musical tunes made their way to my ears. Sounds of trumpets, saxophones, drums, clarinets et cetera reminded us of none other than our school, whenever the band members practice. Hence, it was here that we caught the first glimpse of MCKK’s band. They would be performing during the Royal Banquet as well. The rehearsal took up about five hours and during these five hours, between rehearsal breaks, we laughed and goofed around, took silly photos and basically did stuff that we weren’t supposed to do in a palace where formalities are of utmost importance. Sorry that we’re from the ‘kampongs’. Other than that, being the typical ‘kampong’ girls, we visited the royal toilet…and had as much fun as we did in the dining hall of the palace. Everything was in gold! Taps, mirror edges, door knobs, even the trash cans! But the best part was discovering toilet consoles in the toilet booths! Toilet consoles equipped with the ‘front cleansing’, ‘rear cleansing’, and ‘dryer’ functions, as well as offering you the choice of wanting them to be ‘oscillating’ or not. I tried only one function and that sent me into hysterics.
When the rehearsal was finally over, we went back to MCKK for dinner, and after dinner was a dialogue session with Dato’ Saifuddin Abdullah, the Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Higher Education, based on the topic which was ‘The Role of Youth in Society’. He started off with banters and jokes with the MCKK students, since he was an ex-student of MCKK himself. Mostly what he was saying in his speech was how youths these days should be given some ‘space’, in the sense that they should be given freedom to do anything to some extent without being totally controlled by their parents. I still don’t quite agree a hundred percent on this. However, what I do fully agree with is his view on teenagers’ three main wants: one, teenagers want their voices to be heard; two, teenagers want their talents to be recognized; and three, teenagers want their own problems to be solved according to their own solutions.
After that, we had refreshments again (I swear they’re trying to fatten us up!) at the Summit Square and went to sleep after making some last minute touch-ups on our Powerpoint presentation for tomorrow.
Photos on the second day.
22nd June 2011, Wednesday
We probably had the worst shock of our lives when we found out from a notice on the bulletin board that we would be presenting last. Yes, the very last school for the presentation. How on Earth could we have gotten last?! We must’ve been jinxed or something! Nevertheless, Aifa told us it was okay and that we should calm down and try our best and we should be okay as long as we don’t make ourselves look stupid in front of more than a hundred people.
Session 2 started first, and the schools that presented in this session were Dian’s school SMA Negeri 7 Purworejo from Indonesia, Mishi’s school Olongapo City High School from the Philippines, SM Sains Machang and Aitchison College from Pakistan. Then we had a short break and continued with Session 3.
By this time, I was already anxious and jumpy with nerves. Being nervous in my case means I cannot stay still or I will seriously break down and scream or cry. So, unable to really go anywhere, I resisted exiting the hall for an anti-anxiety stroll and tried to engage my neighbours into a conversation while dangling my legs feverishly. My body does weird things to me when I get really nervous. Exempli gratia, my stomach would choose this moment to groan and moan in pain, my chest would hurt from my heart’s accelerating beating, which eventually leads to the feeling of having something heavy pressed against my lungs, and I would find it hard to breathe.
We didn’t really know which school came before us, so we had no way to prepare ourselves emotionally beforehand. Hence, I didn’t see it coming when they finally called out, “Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Sultanah Asma!” I didn’t even have time to ask other people to take photos of our presentation. So we walked to the middle of the hall and I tried to put on my best smile to hide my nervousness.
And I thought we did pretty well!
I was shaking really badly the whole time I spoke into the microphone, but Aifa said she couldn’t sense the shakiness and that I did pretty okay. When our presentation ended, I thought we received quite well a response so I was grinning all the way back to our seats, relieved and satisfied, and congratulating the others for a good job well done. It turned out we weren’t the last school to present; SBP Integrasi Gopeng was.
We also have Joe and Chow (also a committee member and Joe’s friend) to thank for the success of our presentation. Thank you guys!
EDIT (30/6): Just found out from Teacher Rahmah from a report MCKK mailed to her that our presentation was the best throughout the whole of Session 3! Woo!
With the presentation over and done with, I can finally pack for Pangkor with a steady heart. And while others mostly only brought along two bags with them, I’d packed for four. There seriously wasn’t any space left in my knapsack with my laptop and charger in there. (Mum, Dad, if you’re reading this, I’d very much like a Macbook, thank you.) However, I managed to squeeze everything into three bags in the end so it was a rather improvised situation.
We gathered at the Summit Square to have lunch at 1 pm, everyone clad in the red MCYDS polo T-shirt provided when we first arrived at MCKK. We also found out that all representatives from each school will be on different buses according to the numbers given on a list pinned up at the Square. Aifa was in Bus 1, Anum in Bus 2 and I in Bus 3. So naturally, we paired up with the Sri Aman girls, and in my case, I sat next to Sarah on the bus.
The journey to the Lumut jetty took about three hours and despite the fact that the Spiderwick Chronicles was being played on the TV on the bus (it’s a really good movie, might I add), I slept all the way there because the road was really bumpy and I didn’t want my motion sickness to ruin my day. We boarded a ferry when we finally reached Lumut. In the ferry, Sarah and I didn’t want cases of motion sickness so we both kept quiet throughout the whole ride, save for a few exchanges of words to keep the awkward silence at bay. Finally, after a few “Are we there yet?”s, we reached Pangkor Island. After taking a group photo, we were driven to our hotel in tens in bright pink vans. We reached our hotel, Coral Bay Resort in a matter of minutes and had –you guessed it- refreshments again.
Perhaps I should mention that most of the photos taken from now on were courtesy of Anum. Thank you honey, for your rajin-ness and enthusiasm, otherwise I would’ve been too lazy to snap every single detail and regret it when I come home with enough photos to fit only one photo album on Facebook.
After that, we were given our room keys; six people to a room. This time, we shared a room with Udita, who was from India, as well as Rahmah and Syairah from Brunei. When they mentioned we would be sharing ‘rooms’, I thought we would be staying in hotel rooms but it turned out we would be staying in apartment rooms. The first thing that came to mind was a frown, but when we entered the room, I was more than satisfied. There was a living room complete with sofa sets and a TV, a small pantry, three bedrooms and even a balcony. The first thought that came to mind was: This is the life. Anum and I shared a room, Rahmah and Syairah shared another one, and Aifa and Udita shared the master bedroom. We only had a very short time to settle ourselves in the room because we had to be at the lobby for our next activity, cleaning up the beach, in about 20 minutes time.
When everyone was already present, we gathered at the hotel’s front gate and were divided into groups according to the colour of the stickers on our tags. I was in the same group with Rikza and Dian. We were given plastic gloves and each group a big black plastic bag. We were ordered to pick up any rubbish –but only real rubbish- we found from our starting point here at the hotel gate until our destination at Pantai Pasir Bogak. At the beach, we found a particular spot that homed empty glass bottles and all kinds of horrible stuff, which I guess you can say contributed quite a lot to our trash collecting. Farhanah’s group even found an abandoned barbecue grill set and some of the boys from my group found a tyre. I was pretty exhausted by the time everyone gathered at the entrance of the beach with their huge rubbish bags in twos or even threes. Mia then gave a briefing on how we were to return to the hotel to clean up for dinner and that the winner for this cleaning up the beach ‘competition’ would be announced during dinner. So that’s exactly what we did.
After cleaning up, we went down to the dining hall and took some photos while waiting for the food to be prepared. By the time the food arrived, I was so ravenous that I took two plates of food…and ended up failing to finish all of them. Padan muka. But the food was great, and ‘with great food, comes great happiness’!
The winners were announced and my team, green team, got third! Orange got second and pink got first. The prizes were hampers of food but I didn’t stay to get my share of the goodies because uno, I didn’t have any space left in my luggage; duo, I was in a hurry to join the little stroll the other participants were having around Pangkor and tre, I was too lazy. So we went back to our room to clean up a little only to have Aifa refusing to join our trip because she wanted to wait for the Bruneian girls to return lest they couldn’t enter the room without a key. So it was Anum, Farhanah, Sarah, Ati-K and I, as well as most of the other participants and committee members.
We headed for the little souvenir shop right next to the hotel since that’s where everyone was headed for. I was already choosing keychains for teachers and friends when I gave up because I absolutely hate buying souvenirs. It wasn’t because I didn’t want to get any souvenirs for my friends, but based on my own experiences, I didn’t know what to do with the souvenirs other people gave me most of the time. Besides, it’s the thought that counts, right?
We didn’t really know where to go after that so we just followed the crowd of people—to the beach. Anum, Farhanah, Sarah and I took off our shoes and walked in the sand, and that was the first time I truly felt infinite. We were sharing experiences of beaches we’ve visited, accompanied by the soothing rhythm of the waves and Anum’s photography fetish. Have you ever walked along the beach at night with new friends and having your conscience tell you that ‘everything will be alright’ for the first time? Well, if you have, you would have known the glorious feeling of it.
Finally, we had to leave, because it was getting late, and bidding goodbye and goodnight to the Sri Aman girls, we returned to our own room and cleaned up. But the night didn’t end there. Aifa, Anum and I lepak-ed at Anum’s and my room, where we just chatted about everything and anything because we were allowed to do so. Aifa even taught us her Bieber dance moves from her MYC Camp and despite staying up late into the night, we refused to sleep. We were feeling our finest and it was great. But alas, exhaustion reigned supreme and sleep we did anyway. It was the night I truly fell into a comfortable slumber.
Photos on the third day.
23rd June 2011, Thursday
As always, we were reluctant to wake up so early in the morning but rise we did anyway because we were going to SMK Pangkor for some games/activities! After breakfast, we walked to the school, which wasn’t very far from the hotel, to find that all SMK Pangkor students were already gathered for an assembly. We were directed to our own lines and speeches were given. After that, a few selected students from SMK Pangkor joined us participants and we were divided into 16 groups to carry out a total of three games. The first game had us holding a chair high up by its legs with a water balloon on top of it, and we also had to be tied by a string. The catch is to not let the water balloon drop or burst and the string to snap. We were almost at the ending point at the beach and we thought we would make it through this round since it wasn’t really that hard but the horror when our string snapped at the very last second! Argh, what a waste. But that didn’t mean we were disqualified so we geared up for the next round.
Each group was given an area which was drawn up into a box, and the second game had us digging in the sand to look for six marbles. In the end, we were one of the two groups that won this round by managing to find five marbles. And the third game…was a mess. No, it wasn’t anyone’s fault, only mine. See, I was the leader of my group, by some miraculous coincidence that I chose to stand at the very front of the line this morning. And the game needed the leader of each group to stand within a drawn circle while their group members were blindfolded and connected by holding onto a string. What I had to do as the leader was shout instructions to my group members to make one big round around the beach, but being the leader with non-existent leadership I am, I failed to instruct my team around the beach and instead they were distracted by those mean committee members who whispered different directions into their ears and pulled on their string. In the end, I stepped out of the circle since no one was obeying the rule to stay within the circle anyway and ran over to my group, who were obviously confused beyond belief. I felt so, so bad and still am now and I’m sorry guys for being such a lame leader and getting all of you wet. This only goes to show how I am definitely not destined to be a leader, now and in the future.
After the game ended, we gave ourselves a round of applause as Mia explained how the games were meant to harvest teamwork and leadership (pfft) among the participants. Then, all of us headed back to the school for a snack. Tokens of appreciation were given out to the teachers of MCYDS and the winning group was announced: Group 12. Then, we headed back to the hotel to pack our things and check out of the hotel.
By then, I was totally exhausted and almost fell asleep while everyone was having lunch at a Malay restaurant. Talk about having incredibly low stamina. It was there at the restaurant that Azue (who was in Form 5) pulled up a chair to us and had Qiqi (who was in Form 3) bring drinks for three of us. Aifa and I had a good laughing and teasing session about that for a moment. Then Azue left and Faiz (whom people call Foxy since the number of Faizs in their school is pretty overwhelming) took his place and started talking about romance novels and love quotes which made us laugh even more. Poor Qiqi couldn’t stand conversations about books and left, returning twice to ask, “You guys still on books?!”
Ah, the wonderful and motley student body of MCKK that we were just starting to know about.
After lunch, we boarded another ferry and I slept throughout the whole journey as I was too tired.
“Home!” was the first word Aifa exclaimed when we finally reached MCKK. I couldn’t stop grinning at her as she said that because, in a way, it was true, and even though it was only the fourth day here, this historical school had already felt like a home to me, mostly thanks to its inhabitants. (Interesting and random fact to be known: I was flipping through the itinerary book at the dorm on that fourth day and gaped in horror to find only two tables of programmes left for this summit. Thoughts in that moment: This couldn’t be! Two more days?! Nooooooooooo!!)
We had to prepare for the Royal Banquet after that and my heart leapt with joy. A night to dress up and have fun! Woo! Okay, maybe not too much fun, but we were going to a palace! To dine with the Crowned Prince of Perak (since the Sultan was unfortunately sick on that night)! That in itself seemed pretty fun to me already.
I wore my red floral printed baju kurung and new black flats and my hair down. Most of the other participants were also clad in traditional costumes and they were beautiful, especially those from Thailand, India, Pakistan and Indonesia. By 6pm, we headed for the Palace once again in three buses, for another rehearsal before the real banquet. We only rehearsed once so the remaining time was spent chatting with the MCKK boys who were sitting across from us: Alif, Qiqi, Harits and Izzat, the first speaker that we debated against in HELP University.
It was a very long wait and by the time the Crowned Prince arrived at the Palace at 8.45pm, the number of tweets I sent to Twitter concerning my hunger was well over 10. There were formalities as first, we had to toast to three parties: the Yang Dipertuan Agong, Sultan of Perak and The Malay College Kuala Kangsar. Then, the appetizer was served. Oh, did I mention that we took a look at the menu beforehand and each dish’s name was well over two sentences and totally beyond our comprehension? But by then I was already starving and had no other thought than to consume the food in front of me so I didn’t think twice about how the long-ass name of the dish would affect me. (It didn’t.) It was really, really awkward at first because the first dish was prawns with salad and I was eating prawns with salad with a fork and knife. I was scoffing and watching how the others are doing it and tried to mirror their actions—and ended up dropping pieces of food on my napkin. Twice. Nevertheless, it was good, but only because of my hunger, I reckon. However, after the soup dish, and the main course was served (fish with tomato paste and mixed vegetables or something like that) I couldn’t touch a single morsel because right then a wave of nausea swept over me. No, it wasn’t because of fear or sadness or anything at all. It came really suddenly and without warning or reason at all. So I left my dish like that as everyone munched away. I had a fit when I watched the waiters bring everyone’s empty plate away and not mine until Aifa said I’d forgotten to place my cutleries into the 5-11 position (cutleries pointing to the 5 & 11 numbers on a clock). After that was tea, which was relatively manageable if I didn’t add anything else into it. And then we had dessert, the dish with the best sounding name of all on the menu. ‘Orange Brownies with Anglaise and Strawberry Compotes’ or something like that. The dish was placed before me and I tried to convince myself that I can eat this, I can eat this but in the end I put down my fork and realised I really couldn’t eat this. You might think it was a waste (I think it was a waste now!) but I didn’t think the same back then because at that moment, food was the worst thing on my mind.
In the end, I wasted two dishes of royal food. Prepared by a Caucasian chef. Way to go, Mich.
After the dinner was crazy photography session time! This was the perfect time to grab people you know or don’t know and snap photos with them whether they like it or not, since everyone was already dressed up and looking their best. Plus, where else can you get a royal background like this? We took some more nocturnal shots while waiting for the extra bus to arrive.
When we arrived at MCKK, we changed into our pajamas, found out we had journal writing for the night, so we went to the ICT lab to do so. I was voted by Anum and Aifa to write about the cleaning up the beach activity but mostly I was just writing crap because I was too exhausted to care about my lively and jaunty sentence structures as well as my writing. When we went back to the dorm, we found out there was no one there and realised everyone was in the common room discussing about the cultural performances.
Before this summit, three of us had already sought the help of Cikgu Samad, our music teacher to help out with the performance we had to present at MCKK and we came up with the idea of me playing Aladom on the violin accompanied by Aifa with the kompang and Anum with the gendang. I only suggested this idea because I’ve played the song before during Anugerah Cemerlang in Form 1 and knew it wasn’t a difficult song and was learnable within a week’s time. I was right, so when we had arrived at MCKK on Monday, we were already pretty well-prepared for the cultural performance. So imagine our surprise when Farhanah told us that we had to liaise with the other Malaysian schools for a single performance. However, after much discussion, we were given the green light to have our own single musical performance, only this time we had a number of people joining forces with us as well. Farhanah and Sarah would be producing beats with their eco-band instruments, Ratu Bilqis from SMK Raja Permaisuri Bainun would be strumming the acoustic guitar, and Alif and Qiqi would be playing the electric guitars. The remaining Malaysians would be performing a traditional dance. So we entered an empty dorm and I played a verse of the song on the violin to give the others an inkling of how the song sounded like. We didn’t stay up long though because everyone was obviously tired and so we went to sleep soon after that.
Photos on the fourth day.
24th June 2011, Friday
We woke up at 6.30am as usual and prepared ourselves for the event of the morning: a tour around Kuala Kangsar. While waiting for the buses to arrive, Anum, Azue and I strolled along the huge field just in front of the Pavilion (Aifa was doing some laundry). He explained more on the history of the school and its buildings, and also about the tour around Kuala Kangsar that we were going on later. At 8.30am, the buses finally arrived and we were brought to our first destination: a Labu Sayong factory-slash-shop. There, the owner of the shop explained how a Labu Sayong is made (a Labu Sayong is a kind of ceramic handicraft with interesting shapes and carvings) and demonstrations were made by an old worker at said shop. Then, we were given chances to try making one on our own and all three of us tried our hands on the task. It wasn’t an easy feat, but it sure was fun!
After that, we went to the Sultan Azlan Shah Gallery. It was enormous but apparently not enormous enough for us to walk away the whole two hours we were given. There were showcases on the Sultan’s histories, education, family, royal life, as well as an exhibition on his cars! Sarah was particularly excited about that. After that, with a remaining hour left, we –us and the Sri Amanians- hung out at this porch with two huge wooden seating set. We even had an ‘Ati-K the Princess’s Welcoming Session’ since she was walking behind us. That sent us laughing our heads off, that really did. Then, we screamed while running down the pathway leading away from the porch and Aifa and I proceeded to have a bottle-Jedi fight.
It was awesome.
It was 12 noon when everyone went up the buses again and we were brought to Medan Cendol at Lembah, famous for its cendol, obviously. Despite the hunger, I resisted it because I was told we would be having lunch back at the Summit Square later so we returned to the bus to share some of our lamest pick-up lines (Aifa: “If you were a booger, I’d pick you first!”) as well as sleep.
When we reached MCKK, we had lunch and proceeded to the next event: cultural performance practice. So Alif and Qiqi brought us to the band practice room to practice and that was where I went through my second experience of feeling infinite. Alif and Qiqi went to the Square to get us refreshments and the Sri Amanians were explaining to us more about their eco band. So then, Sarah, who was the playing the ‘drum’ with a bucket and sticks, said they’ve played along to the tune of Bieber’s Baby before, so she demonstrated her beats, accompanied by Farhanah’s and Ati-K’s shaking of ‘green peas in bottles’ and also Ratu’s guitar strumming and we actually sang and danced along to it. Yes, I was singing Bieber. The first and the last time. But the absurdity of the song didn’t stop the gloriousness of the moment, and I felt infinite for the second time since arriving at MCKK. It was the best feeling ever, having fun with new friends without feeling self-conscious in the least.
We stayed at the room until evening when there was a blackout and everyone had to leave. The electricity came on soon though, as we were still teasing the Koleq boys about MCKK not paying the electricity bills. We cleaned up and headed for dinner. After dinner, we headed back to our dorm to bring down our mountain of boxes and headed for our exhibition booth at the Medan Pelajar. Imagine our surprise when we found out we were the only school to have a whole table and board to themselves; the other schools had to share a single table. Hmmmm.
We started putting everything up…and found out we had had overprepared for this exhibition because the booth wasn’t big enough to hold every single thing we had brought along. Now I see why people were dumbstruck when they heard we brought a busload of things for the exhibition. Nevertheless, we managed to set up our booth as well as we could and left for the Summit Square for refreshments while listening to Joe, Huzaimi and Aifa ‘debate’ about the similarities between the Asma flag and the Penang flag.
After that, we went to the common room to hang out, where the seniors were watching Step Up on the TV. Aifa went up to sleep soon but I didn’t follow her. Why? a) I had a terrible sleep last night as I woke up at intervals very frequently and imagined things and noises in the dorm, so I decided to tire myself extremely tonight so the same thing doesn’t happen again and b) I realised the summit was coming to an end and I should savour every moment of it, even if it means not sleeping at all. Anum was with Mishi and Azue having their own guitar playing session, and so I curled up in a chair in front of the TV, watching the movie but not really watching at all, until Chow pulled up a chair as well and we started chatting. When he found out reason a) why I wasn’t sleeping yet even though it was well past midnight, he guffawed and started telling famous Koleq ghost stories and soon Syahimi, another Faiz or OM (which stands for Orang Macho) and Joe pulled up as well to contribute their fair shares of ghost stories. Anum returned with Mishi and both of them joined this little mystical discussion group.
“Have you heard of the story of the headless chicken and nurse?” was Joe’s contribution and when I threatened to sleep on the chair I was sitting on if they didn’t stop, Syahimi added, “Have you heard about the story of this chair you’re sitting on?” and when I threatened to not sleep at all, Chow said, “You can’t. You know why? Because it’s Friday night, and everyone here knows not to sleep late on Friday night, especially if you’re a girl and wearing a red T-shirt.” (which was what I was wearing that night.) Laughing with tears in my eyes, I blurted, “Seriously, stop, why are you doing this to me?” and Joe’s eyes widened dramatically before saying, “Because…you are the CHOSEN ONE.” It was almost 3am and I was getting more and more delirious with each second as my laughter was turning into hysterics because I was getting more and more tired until Joe and Anum both said that I seriously needed to get some sleep for tomorrow’s exhibition so I finally left with shouts of “Good luck!” as I did.
My plan worked. I didn’t wake up at all in the middle of the night.
Photos on the fifth day.
Us singing Baby with the Sri Amanians and Ratu.
25th June 2011, Saturday
I woke up the next morning a zombie, and a cranky and moody one at that. It didn’t make matters any better that we had to wake up super early today to make some finishing touches on our booth. Anum was a zombie as well, so Aifa had to put up with our zombie moods while we regretted staying up so late last night.
At the Medan Pelajar, we were told that one representative from each school was to be at the hall for the MCKK Speech Day, which the Crowned Prince of Perak would also be attending, besides the exhibition. Aifa was our representative, and I still feel pretty guilty about that because initially Anum and her were supposed to be the ones at the booth but it was a spur-of-the-moment act when I asked Aifa if I could come along because I didn’t want to be left alone. Silly, right? I guess I had my zombie mode to blame, for the most part. So, in the end, Aifa decided to stay and Anum and I went to the booth. Not really knowing what else to do, we took snapshots of other schools’ booths and just basically hung around while waiting for the Prince to leave the hall. Finally, he did, and everyone stood up abruptly, going rigid. My nerves were back again, albeit not so badly, but still quite horrible after Chow told us that the Prince would ask all sorts of questions down to the very detail and I was afraid my mind would go blank if he did and I would stutter, which wouldn’t be a very pleasant sight, would it?
Aifa was back with us when the Prince started his tour around all the booths, starting with MCKK, followed by the Philippines, India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Brunei, Thailand, SMK Tuanku Abdul Rahman, SMK Raja Perempuan Kelsom, and finally—us.
Chow was wrong though, because he merely asked general questions about our school like, “Sultanah Asma? From Kedah?”, nodded when looking at our displayed items and muttered a “Good” before turning towards the next booth.
After his departure, we could finally relax a bit and I wasn’t so anxious anymore. I daresay that our exhibition booth received as well a response as we did for our presentation, and that made me –us, if I can speak on behalf of my teammates- feel pretty awesome. Our goody bags and souvenirs were completely cleared, and I thought we were one of the popular booths…ehem. Okay, I’ll stop with the self-praising.
We cleaned up all our booths by 1pm and transferred everything back to the common room, since there was no point bringing everything up to the dorm again when we were about to leave the next day. Gah, leaving the next day. It was still very hard to accept that fact. We had lunch at the Summit Square then proceeded to Hargreaves Hall for rehearsal for the cultural performance. I won’t elaborate much on this since it would be more proper to describe the whole performance to you, my dear reader, on the real night. But basically, even during rehearsal, I was too jittery to play my notes by heart so I had to place my music sheet before me on the ground so I don’t mess up and embarrass myself as well as my mates in front of everyone else, while mentally chiding myself to memorise the notes by tonight during the real performance.
Earlier that morning, we were told there would be an MCKK vs COBRA (?) rugby match at the school field so the three of us headed for the field at 5pm to witness for ourselves what the rugby craze in MCKK is really all about, since rugby is one of the school’s niche areas. Unfortunately, we could only watch from afar, so I still don’t really get what rugby is all about. ‘Genuine sports enthusiast’ right here. We also caught the first glimpse of MCKK’s cheerleading squad, led by Azue. Yes, cheerleading, but no, not with pom-poms or mini-skirts or being thrown in the air. More like herded in a group chanting verses and spirit songs. Later, I found out from an issue of The Summit Express (a two-paged daily paper for the summit of some sort) that MCKK was the first school in Malaysia to establish a cheerleading squad. So does that mean cheerleading was originally a boy sport?
Okay, that sounded sexist.
After that, at 6.30pm, we had our last dinner at the Summit Square and headed for the hall at around 8pm.
The guest of honour finally arrived at 8.30pm (have I ever mentioned that MCKK never runs out of guests of honour? And that all the guests of honour are ex-Koleq boys?) and the closing ceremony began. I volunteered to represent Asma to claim our souvenir from the guest of honour on stage, since it was already the last day anyway and I reprimanded myself mentally that I should put aside my self-consciousness for tonight. Not to sound arrogant or proud or anything, but when they called out “Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Sultanah Asma!” and the cheers sounded around the hall, I couldn’t help but grin proudly. I felt confident and sure of myself, which, for those who are close to me would know, is definitely something you don’t see me feeling every day. I accepted the souvenir bag with the biggest smile ever on my face, and returned to my seat brimming with happiness.
Soon, each school already collected their souvenirs and it was time for the cultural performances. Despite my ‘I Feel Awesome’ session previously, all traces of that awesomeness started to melt away, replaced by a churning stomach and quick-pumping heart. The Thai were first to go on stage, and they performed a kind of Thai martial art that sent everyone gaping in awe. Then it was the Indonesians’ turn, and they formed a choir singing their traditional songs while one of them played their traditional instrument. After that, it was the Filipinos’ turn, and they performed a guitar duet as well as a folk dance. As soon as it ended, we, the ones who would be performing, were called to the backstage and my nerves were worse than ever. Remember when I told you how anxious I felt before our presentation on Day 2? Well, this was ten times worse. What if I forget my notes? What if I screw everything up? Because this time, I was the main focus of the show and I wasn’t used to that at all. Most of the time, I’ve had had people to back me up, and there was always a second way out, but this time, the spotlight was on me because I was playing a violin solo and I cannot afford to screw everything up after all our hard work. So by the time the Indians (Shivish sang an Indian song beautifully and Udita danced a traditional Indian dance) and the Pakistanis (Hassan danced along to a Pakistani song and Musa recited a poem) were finished with their performances and it was the Bruneians’ turn, I took my violin out of its case and found out I couldn’t stand properly without shaking so I sat down, and realised I was hyperventilating. Everyone was asking me to relax but that made me even more nervous so in the end, at the very last minute, I decided I wanted a note stand since I was a hundred percent sure that if I went out right now to play without my music sheet, I would forget everything. So Faidzul, one of the committee members, had to run to the band room to get a note stand and run back to the hall within only a few minutes time since the Bruneians’ performance was already coming to an end. I still feel guilty over that. I’m sorry for the fickle decision. I’m sorry, and thank you.
When it was finally our turn, I took a deep breath and went onto the stage, telling myself that “Michelle, you’ll do fine.” “Michelle, these people are your friends.” “Michelle, take a look at everyone, yes, take a look at everyone and convince them that you are not scared or nervous at all.” So that’s exactly what I did and even though I was shaking really, really bad when I played (my violin was wobbling up and down) I didn’t play wrongly and I didn’t sound too bad and of course none of the other worse scenarios such as broken violin strings and bows that I’d visualize beforehand happened. In fact, I was told that I did great, and although I didn’t think I did great, I thought I did good, and that was good enough for me.
I was so relieved when I exited the stage that I watched the next Malaysian performance whole-heartedly. They performed Tarian Sumazau and I thought that. They. Were. Awesome. Then, the gamelan team from MCKK also played the caklempong for a bit. Yet again, proof that MCKK boys are seriously good at everything.
After the performances ended, the emcee announced that there was an extra presentation. Whoa, extra presentation? It turned out it was a compilation of videos recorded over the previous six days being showed on a white screen. The memories were so sweet…and sad at the same time. The worst part was during a short interval, when everyone thought the video had come to an end, then Westlife’s ‘Flying Without Wings’ started playing and the best moments of the summit were played on screen, and words like ‘Even though it has only been a week, friendships have been made, strong friendships that are hard to break…’ appeared as well. I couldn’t believe it. I turned to Aifa and she was giving me the ‘Don’t cry!’ look and I forced myself to resist, and I resist I did, by focusing more on these wonderful people I now call my friends and how lucky I was to have met such amazing people like them. After that, everyone got up and we had a frenzied photography session once again. We –Aifa, Anum and I and a few of the committee members- were the last ones to leave the hall, or should I say, reluctant to leave the hall, and I don’t think we would have if it weren’t for Mia’s ushering for refreshments.
I had already come to a decision to pull an all-nighter with Anum the day before, so naturally I wasn’t really that surprised to find the common room packed when we returned from the Summit Square. It was great. I tried my best to eliminate every trace of shyness I possessed and opened up to everyone since it was already the last night. We –Aifa and I and the Sri Amanians, as well as some of the MCKK boys such as Huzaimi, Alif, Qiqi, Izzat etc- huddled in a circle playing this kind of finger-counting game but it didn’t last long, for some reason. I saw Aifa get up and leave the common room all of a sudden and I got worried so Farhanah and I went up to the dorm to find out what’s wrong. She said that she was tired and didn’t want to continue with the party anymore but despite how long both of us pestered her to come with us with incredibly logical reasons such as “It’s already the last day!” and “You won’t be seeing these people any time soon!”, Aifa was a stubborn mule (sorry Aifa) and refused to budge, so we left the dorm and went back downstairs.
At the stairs, we found out that Anum, Sarah, Ati-K, Joe, Chow, Azue, Syahimi and a few others were already waiting outside the common room for this ‘Nocturnal Tour Into the Mystical World of Koleq’ where the committee members were planning to take a tour around the allegedly ‘haunted’ places in the school. I didn’t know what to think of the tour because right then I was a giant ball of confusion. I felt upset that Aifa was upset and guilty that I was leaving her alone and the reality of leaving this place the next morning that I’ve tried to numb down for the past few hours was starting to peek its head again, so I was trying very, very hard to resist the tears and okay, maybe I was afraid of this so-called tour but I kept telling myself that it’s the last night, so savour every moment while it lasts. I was really, really confused at the time that Farhanah had to pull me to a side for me to calm myself down. So I did what I did earlier at the hall, forget the truth and numb everything down temporarily, and so we went along with the ‘tour’.
Unfortunately, halfway down the path, we –there was a total of about 30 people joining the tour now- were greeted with the beeping of a motorcycle and the guard who was riding it was shouting orders to have everyone back at their dorms. Everyone groaned in unison but could only heed his orders and headed back for the Pavilion. Not knowing what else to do, we gathered at the common room once again and this time, Chow suggested playing ‘Bluffing’, a card game where basically, you bluff. I sucked at this game. Then everyone got bored and decided to play truth or dare. That’s when the atmosphere turned awkward. Most of the ‘victims’ chose Truth but Chow was the only one who chose Dare and he was dared by Farhanah to ask the guard –the one who’d chase us back to the dorms- if we could walk around the school later. I was ‘shot’ as well but in the middle of choosing Truth or Dare, the Head Boy entered the common room saying that the warden ordered everyone back to their dorms, so, saved by the warden!
No one really wanted to leave yet so Farhanah and Sarah decided to sleep over at our dorm and we just slept on the floor with a pillow straight away because we were too tired to pull out mattresses again.
I didn’t want that night to ever end.
Photos on the sixth day.
26th June 2011, Sunday
I woke up feeling my worst. My guards were low and vulnerable in my sleep so reality chose this moment to rear its ugly head in my face. However reluctant I was to wake up –from exhaustion and denial- I still had to and went to the bathroom groggily. I was ready to let the tears flow in the shower –let the tears not be seen, right? Better now than in front of everyone else?- when I told myself that no, that would only make things worse. Once triggered, my tear glands are hard to tame, and I wouldn’t want to go for breakfast with red eyes and a running nose. But I ended up weeping silently on my bed in the dorm as I was waiting for Aifa and Anum to get ready so my ‘tough façade’ for the day wasn’t exactly very successful.
Breakfast was horrible. I couldn’t eat a single thing. The idea of dropping a single morsel into my stomach made me want to vomit so I filled half a cup of tea and sipped it slowly, scrutinizing everyone and everything, realizing that this was the only chance I had to do so. We spent the next few minutes exchanging “I miss you”s and “I don’t want to leave yet”s with the Sri Amanians and the other girls from the summit. Then, we went back to the dorm to move everything down to the common room. After that, we gave last hugs to the foreign students as they would be leaving early and formed a waving committee to wave them farewell as their bus left the school compound. Soon after that, people began leaving very quickly, and as Sarah had described, “It was like having pieces of my heart torn out every time someone leaves.” In the end, it was pretty much just us and the Sri Amanians, and so the few who accompanied us as we waited for our transport were Chow, Azue, Syahimi, Alif and Qiqi. We just chatted randomly until Sarah and Ati-K left, and then Farhanah, and then it was just us with Teacher Rahmah’s phone call that the bus broke down (it was somewhat a premonition, might I add). There was nothing to do but talk, and talk and talk and it was effective to numb the truth for now. Like what I did previously in Tweens Camp, I built a wall around these wonderful memories from the past week and prevented myself from even peeking into it, realizing that if I did the waterworks would flow. In fact, I thought I did a pretty good job controlling my emotions in public.
Time really does fly, and finally, the van Teacher Rahmah rented arrived at around 1pm, and everything was moved into the vehicle. I hereby want to thank Syahimi and whoever else who told Teacher R that we were awesome, because I thought we’d done our best to be super awesome for you guys and you guys had done the same. After that, we hopped onto the van with a heavy heart and left the beloved school building of The Malay College Kuala Kangsar, along with its inhabitants.
Photos on the last day.
Emotional Whirlwinds & Last Words
We reached Alor Setar at around 4.30pm and school at around 5pm. Then, we proceeded to move everything from the van to the porch, whereby Teacher R even managed to slip in, “No boys to help you move your stuff now!” All three of us were experiencing emotional whirlwinds, the start of the lethal post-summit depression. Dad came to pick me up at around 6pm and I talked non-stop in the car all the way home.
I reckon the two main reasons why I was so devastated that MCYDS was coming to an end are: a) At MCYDS, I felt accepted for once. No one knew who I was, so I wasn’t exactly pressured to maintain my reputation as I do in school now. Besides, with Aifa and Anum the extroverts around, I was mightily influenced to be more socially outward as well, so I wasn’t too shabby in that department. At MCYDS, I could be this totally different person without being called ‘pulown’. And then there’s also b) I didn’t worry or think much at the summit. Well, I didn’t worry or think as much as I would on a daily basis back here. I didn’t worry about what I had to do the next day, how I will survive the next day without feeling terrible, because I was happy there. I was contented with my temporary freedom from homework and responsibilities, and so I needn’t worry. The few times I did worry (before the presentation, exhibition and cultural performance), I was miraculously confident that I would pull the stunt off. Don’t ask me why. That’s just one of the beauty at being at MCYDS. I felt confident. Almost invincible.
I think that’s enough for what I have to say about the summit. And now to thank the wonderful people and parties that made this summit so enjoyable and successful. Thank you to the whole of The Malay College Kuala Kangsar for organizing this amazing event; to the principal of MCKK for being the head of such a wonderful school, and for being such a sporting principal the few times we’ve conversed; to the awesome committee members of MCYDS for everything, really (I heard that you guys had to wake up really early in the morning just to bury marbles in the beach at Pangkor); to the editor board of MCKK, for the Summit Express issues and everything else you’ve done for the summit; to the student body and faculty of MCKK, for making our stay at your school a pleasant one; to all the participants of MCYDS, I am so glad to be friends with you amazing lot and I really do pray hope we will meet again in the near future; to Teacher R and my parents for allowing me to join this brilliant event even if it meant missing classes for a whole week; and lastly, to the two most amazing people I could have as teammates, Aifa and Anum, for being there for me before, throughout and after the summit.