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#MyKalsomStory by Syazana Idris

#MyKalsomStory by Syazana Idris

“I might only have one match, but I can make an explosion.”

My experience with The Kalsom Movement started in 2017 when I was facilitating Confidence Through English Camp (CEC) 2018 at Padang Terap, Kedah. When I first arrived, I was filled with insecurities as all the facilitators are talented, organized in their thoughts and good speakers. And then there was me, a normal first year medical student who had barely average achievements in life. The location of the camp had minimal water supply and when I saw how the kids could still smile despite their life conditions, it hits me to feel more grateful. That is when I decided that I have to put my insecurities away and give my 100% to inspire the beneficiaries. Over the days, I was empowered because of the spirit of the facilitators and committees, who even during the days when we slept late, we were still very energetic the next day. The thing that was on most of our minds would probably be that we shouldn’t waste the opportunity that has been given to us who has many privileges in life and share it with those who really needs it.

It was so calming to see the beneficiaries’ faces as it portrays pure sincerity to learn from all of us. We welcomed them with a warm smile, hoping to impact their lives. The first day was a bit awkward to me, reason being the beneficiaries just met us. Over the days, I could see that they were progressing so much. One of them who was just whispering Malay words to my ears ended up volunteering to speak English confidently in front on the third day. Those who initially had no confidence to speak to the British facilitators finally had the courage to speak up. The students who always volunteer inspired those who didn’t really have the spirit to do so. Whenever students volunteer, the facilitators would accompany them and this is one of the most beautiful tradition I’ve seen as a Kalsom facilitator. This gives direct encouragement to the students and make them feel appreciated and empower other students as well.

When I was planning my module, I received so much help and encouragement from the director. He gave his trust in our capabilities, he empowered us in so many ways, so much that we feel like we are planning something huge that will make a difference in the beneficiaries’ lives. Besides, the process felt very organized, smooth and the camp went on really well. I could see the professionalism that this movement holds including the efficiency of the team to make a successful camp. That was when I decided that I wanted to apply as committee and learn the values that this movement upholds which enables the success of the camps. The camp was four days long and it was a very rewarding experience for myself. However, I felt like I wanted to give a bit more of the potentials I have to inspire the beneficiaries.

“I just accepted, took the leap of faith and I’m telling you that was the best decision I made in my life. At first, there were a few times where I asked myself, can I really do this? I’m just a medical student, I probably won’t be able to give my best. What should I do?”

So in October 2017, I made a huge decision to apply as a committee member. I had a few choices, and I got the last choice of mine which was to be a Camp Deputy Director. When I first got an email saying the position offered to me is “Entrepreneurship and Innovation Camp Deputy Director”, I instantly asked the president personally, “Did you mistake me for someone else? Are you sure I can do this? I definitely have no knowledge in entrepreneurship and innovation stuff!” and he replied, “Chill Nana, we’ll be working in a team and I believe that you are capable in managing a camp.” I just accepted, took the leap of faith and I’m telling you that was the best decision I made in my life. At first, there were a few times where I asked myself, can I really do this? I’m just a medical student, I probably won’t be able to give my best. What should I do? Should I quit? Is there someone out there who deserves this job more than myself?

However, along the way, the part where the President said, “We’ll be working in a team” is really true. Each and every one of the committees had something to offer at the end of the day. The journey was full of ups and downs, but what really moved me was when I had my exams week and there was a deadline to submit a document. The vice president instantly told me that I should just focus on my exams and he will help me with the document. I was extremely touched and that just puts the burden off my shoulder for a while when I started focusing on my exams and studies. Deciding to be a committee might be something you really have to think about because it is a one year long commitment, but don’t think too much because everyone in the Movement are students and the most important value that I cherish being with them was the teamwork. We help each other out. We really do. We ask help when we need and everyone is considerate of each other.

There are a lot of documents, timelines, outlines that was already very organized and I learned so much in terms of paperwork and decision making. There were times where I felt incapable but everyone in the team were very encouraging and believed in my potential. The happiest part of my Summer 2018 was the days that I went for the Summer Programmes. Some of us did meet each other over the year of working together during our events but there were also first timers for some of us. The first day when we met each other was quite awkward, but on that evening itself, we were already glued to each other. The bond was unexplainably very strong and hopefully unbreakable forever, because it’s definitely a beautiful one. I came into The Kalsom Movement to get new friends but I ended up getting a whole new family. I feel like I found a new home that I can always turn back to when I feel my lowest (e.g. late night talks of motivations of how I can improve and how I should strive to be a better version of myself when I felt like I wasn’t good enough). We supported each other, we have fun together but still able to do our own job professionally and successfully. We always check on each other, (“Nana have you eaten? I’ll bring you food! Are you tired? Take a rest and I’ll take over for a while”). Besides getting to improve your self-development skills and be a part of eradicating education inequality, this movement also teach you about humanity, sacrifices, gratefulness, love and the Kalsom spirit.

“The best feeling was seeing how much the beneficiaries improved on the last day compared to the first day when they came.”

Being in The Kalsom Movement has always been a really beautiful journey, from being a facilitator to being a committee. I feel like we bring out the best in each other. I was very happy that I found a group of people who are exactly like me (read: loud, energetic, extra). Throughout my life, I’ve always been shadowed by people and I am afraid to be who I really am, because I was afraid people would judge. However, The Kalsom Movement and everyone who is involved – from the beneficiaries, facilitators, sponsors, committees, has made me believe in myself more than I always do. It was such a wonderful experience being the deputy camp director, as I was given the responsibility to organize a camp but I was also getting help from a group of committees who were very understanding, proactive and always there to help. My camp director and I managed to spread the same energy to our facilitators. We believed in their potentials to run their modules, we gave them space to empower the beneficiaries, just like how the Vice Presidents gave us the opportunity to try a new idea, guide us through and successfully execute them. As a deputy camp director, I was really grateful that I was paired with a director who has a background in entrepreneurship and innovation. We both helped each other out with our own strength and weaknesses and that was one of the contributing factors to the success of the camp. The 25 facilitators who were chosen were also amazing people with brilliant ideas which contributed to the success of the camp. The best feeling was seeing how much the beneficiaries improved on the last day compared to the first day when they came. Those beneficiaries who didn’t really participate when doing the group work finally took charge and they were all more than happy to go up front and present. They were putting themselves out there courageously (e.g. spontaneously performing in front to promote their drink stand) and it was rewarding that the same process of change which happened to me, went on to the facilitators and especially the most celebrated, the beneficiaries.

It is an experience that I will cherish forever, something that I wouldn’t mind doing over and over again. It gave me so much positive vibes, indescribable feelings that make you feel so attached to the movement. Well, what is better than being able to work with a group of passionate people who gives their 100% in everything they do, have each other’s back, and doing this on a volunteering basis! For a humble cause, to fight for education inequality together. Because we are always STRONGER, TOGETHER. Finally, I can safely say that I went into The Kalsom Movement as a cocoon and I left as a butterfly. Wait, did I say left?? Sorry, I never left the Movement. It has already been glued to a special place in my heart, in my coronary arteries, and I probably will never be able to move on…. *while listening to Kalsom Jukebox playlist*

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