For Jerlynn, my little sister
who wanted me to write my experience on a diary.
I instead, have typed on my blog.
(This post will be constantly edited and updated throughout this month while I feed this post with more contents and correct my ever impending mistakes.)
Admittedly, I was feeling very excited and I was having trouble sleeping before the flight the next day. I believe it was due to the excitement that was stirring in my mind – “Finally, I can be on board a plane once again!”
The two hours journey on the plane was enjoyable and the meal didn’t taste awful (as what frequent travelers would say). It’s the part when the pilot flies downwards that I could feel a swoop in my heart as if I was falling off the sky. Looking out of the window, I can see the plane’s wing looking splendidly clean under the sun and the cabin darkens when the plane flies into the clouds.
The distance from the airport to SEAMEO VOCTECH wasn’t long and it was within 10 minutes. We were greeted by warm smiles and handshakes. Then, we were shown to our rooms on the 2nd level. TAKE NOTE that here in Brunei, the numbering standard of the building is similar to that in Britain, where in, the 1st level is known as the ground floor and the 2nd level is known as the 1st floor. It was confusing at first and it brought along many awkward pauses and clarifications whenever I was asked which room I was working in, or which room I was sleeping in. I was expecting our rooms to be really derelict and some of the electronics to be faulty. Though the things weren’t of the best condition, all of the electronics, including the air-conditioner, refrigerator and the water heater were working perfectly fine. My friends weren’t impressed with the accommodation, but I was more than satisfied with it because the bed was soft and comfy.
SEAMEO VOCTECH (http://www.voctech.org.bn/), its name in full, SouthEast Asian Ministers of Education Organisation Regional Center for Vocational & Technical Education & Training (Try saying that ten times. It’s quite a tongue twister.) is a learning center for technical and vocational education and training targeted mainly for adults and especially teaching professionals.
The next morning, we woke up at eight. All of us were ready with our mandatory uniform. Clad in collared T-shirts and black long pants, we were waiting in the room, Teratai, eager to know what we will be working on for the rest of our first week. At the thought of us having to edit their videos, seek feedback and improve on it, I started to feel ominous and worried because I hate disappointing people, and I certainly do not want to let our supervisor down. When our supervisor arrived, she told us that we are to create an emergency fire escape video of the main hall (Dewan Seri Kerna) for their next group of guests that spans all Asian countries.
Yesterday on our arrival, we were shown the introductory video of SEAMEO VOCTECH by the eminent and uncanny looking yet genial Deputy Director, we were taken aback by the amazing contents and high resolution quality. I thought, maybe we weren’t prepared enough or maybe I should tell them we are Information Technology students and not Media Studies students.
Luckily, during the briefing by the supervisor, we were told we weren’t meant to recreate the whole video but to improve on the opening segment with nothing more than mere Adobe Flash animations. I immediately pushed this responsibility to my travel mates and volunteered for the next assignment (Their job was actually really easy, all they had to do is select an animation sequence button built into the VideoPad software). While my two travel mates had to animate the introductory logo of SEAMEO, I and Farhan had to do a fire escape video. “Why did I volunteer for this” I thought, “It’s gonna be so much work.”
Feeling slightly ambivalent and unsure of the expectations, we quickly discussed and decided to record a few scenes with my iPhone since a live video would do a good job in acquainting our viewers of the route to the emergency exit. And for any good video, content is key. Indeed, the final video didn’t turn out to look as professional as those emergency escape videos one might normally see in a cinema or theater but it looked professional enough. Getting feedback from our supervisor to improve our video further had us making some slight changes to the length of the parts here and there. After the finishing touches, our supervisor was happy with the result and complimented us. I could feel a tinge of accomplishment that I can barely recall having…
In the evening after work, we explored the shopping district of Brunei. It’s located just ten minutes away from our building. There, the gigantic mall has a hypermarket that sells almost all kinds of stuff we can possibly want on our stay here. I love the really affordable mineral water, Sehat, which means healthy in Malay; and unlike those sold in Singapore and Malaysia, this 35 cents product doesn’t even taste funny. It tastes like crystal clear, clean water. I also decided to buy the Starbucks coffee because it is cheaper here, eight packs of Milo and 6 packs of soy bean milk. We have certainly more than enough to last us through the week (probably a month!).
Look what I found during our exploration of the area around The Mall! (The legendary P38 Range Rover)
Later in the evening, we watched Monsters University. I have to say that I was surprised by how much I have enjoyed the children comedy movie. I could see some resemblance of it to the real world, like the success in career of both protagonists despite their expulsion from their university possible (such a story was never thought of, in the past. It is believed, education is the only element that dictates your success.). What happens next in the story line is so unpredictable that I failed to guess almost all of the next plot, and I was amazed by how the story unfolded. Totally novel and truly a work, few animators and story tellers can achieve.
After the movie, we went to the night market that is just across the road from SEAMEO VOCTECH, partly because my friend was craving very badly for his favourite curled potato crackers. When I was there, my demeanor was gone… there were just too much good food! I savagely bought all of my favourite food. My travel mate, Ahmad, bought three times more…
We were all too spoilt for choices. Everything just seemed finger licking GREAT and tasty! After about what I think could have been half an hour, I bought Mee Soto, a curled potato crackers on a stick and Ramily’s special flavoured burger (actually, it really is just cheese sauce on minced chicken meat).
Back in our room, we ate our food and played UNO and had many loud laughs listening and telling each other ridiculous and despicable jokes.
On Friday morning, half way through the work attachment here in Brunei, we joined the rest of the ASEAN teachers for a tour around Brunei. Nearer to the heart of the financial district, in the regalia filled with gifts given to the monarchy of Brunei, is a museum. Our tour guide gave an introduction of the royal family to us and then showed us the gifts in the gallery and told us the sentimental values and the many stories behind it. The pictures of the prince of Brunei framed on the walls were mostly black and white and he had the most stylish and striking hairstyles among everyone taken with him. An Ni, who was a participant here, and also a Bruneian, told us that the prince of Brunei was competitive right from a young age. Always fighting with his siblings over toys or parental attention. (She even did show us a picture of the prince’s latest toy, a Pagani Huaya.) By the time he was older and a young teen, he has achieved numerous academic awards and represented his country in quite a number of sports competitions. His favourite being, and not surprisingly, horse polo.
It’s Monday afternoon right now. I’m resting on my bed waiting for 8 p.m to head out for dinner. I personally feel I accomplished quite a feat today. I helped teach some teachers who weren’t sure and repaired the router for SEAMEO. Now, everyone resting in their dormitory can access the Internet and connect with their love ones back home right from their bed. Even though it didn’t take much arduous efforts reconfiguring the router, I was still proud we did. Everyone’s stay will now be pleasant. Oh, and I heard from the receptionist that they have been getting complaints from the malfunctioned router for the past few days. Our supervisor (a different person. We were allocated a different supervisor for the 2nd week here) was ecstatic over this. I darkly feel that the router could go off anytime tonight because it wasn’t behaving as it should when we were configuring it. My fingers crossed, I hope it remains intact through our stay here.
Nearing the end of the second week on Thursday, is our last day of work here in SEAMEO VOCTECH. In fact, we need not attend today because our supervisor has dismissed us yesterday . However, because of our hardworking attitude we decided to wake up early in the morning and volunteer ourselves to help out with the lesson. It was really enjoyable working here anyway! There wasn’t much that we did other than teach the teachers how to use the video software and help out in other computer problems that involuntarily popped up. Nearing lunch break, the lead teacher’s phone was out of memory because of the pictures she had taken. So she came to us and asked us to transfer the images that numbers to about three hundered over to her thumbdrive. While we were searching the labyrinth of folders for the images we were suppose to transfer, my friend and I stumbled on a picture of her daughter. She looked really adorable and smart, with curved eyes that rounds her cheeks even more. Her lips were thin and her long black hair curved smoothly down her back. She was in fact from the debate team! Woah! She was a girl I would want to be more than friends with, considering especially that her mom was such an incredibly friendly and unbelievably lively person, she can’t be farther than the same. When I told her that her daughter is beautiful, she glowed, laughed and became excited at my compliment. That not only lifted a stone from my chest, but it made me really happy. Surprisingly, she gave me her daughter’s name and allowed me to add her on Facebook. Even right now, I still can’t believe the way she took my compliment. I would have thanked the person and continued my job, which I will tell you, is not going to appear to be very nice at all.
After the lesson came the farewell dinner. Our farewell dinner turned out well, as we were chatting heartily about improvements, our experience and our impressions. We were just filled entirely with satisfaction and nice memories. It has some challenges like.., we had to learn to use a video editing software in a week and had to teach it at the next. We had to repair a router even though we haven’t configured one before, much less one that we have never seen before. At the end of our talk we were awarded the certificate of attendance and a SEAMEO VOCTECH T-Shirt.
I finally even manage to snap a photo with the coolest looking guy in this institution. He is the guy who runs the show, stares with the menace of a lion and threatens with an uncanny voice. He is the guy who also, really friendly towards us, welcoming and made sure our stay here was safe and enjoyable. He’s the deputy director, Mr Ali, who was also the man that we first met when we reached this institution the first time on Monday after our flight from Singapore.
For this evening’s fun, we’ll be watching Despicable Me 2! The movie turned out to be a great disappointment. It was filled with cheap humour, and the story line was predictable. The animation was state of the art however, but what good is a comedy film if the comedy itself is horrible.
I am so glad I had the opportunity for this work attachment. I have never worked and at the same time enjoyed this much in my life ever and I truly look forward to visiting this place again, if I get the opportunity to, or visit Brunei as a tourist sometime in the future.
5th July 2013