The existence of poetry serves to communicate the innermost values of diverse cultures, and it reaffirms our common humanity that each and every one of us shares for over centuries in most culture in the world. In the effort to recognize the unique ability of poetry to capture the creative spirit of the human mind, UNESCO has declared that March 21st be the day to celebrate World Poetry Day. The purpose of celebrating the Day is not only to support linguistic diversity through poetic expression, but also to promote teaching of poetry and encourage poetry recital as the oral tradition in this time.
In conjunction with World Poetry Day 2016, the University of Malaya Centre for Civilisational Dialogue (UMCCD) and the University of Malaya UNESCO Club (UMUC) organized a programme called “Reach Out! Melaka”, a volunteering activity targeting primary school students in a selected primary school in Melaka. Reach Out! Melaka is the first outreach programme in the history of UMCCD and UMUC, in collaboration with Sekolah Kebangsaan (SK) Lubok Redan, the Ministry of Youth and Sports, and the Institute of Teacher Education International Languages Campus (IPG KBA). The programme took place on 19 and 20 February 2016 at SK Lubok Redan, Masjid Tanah, Melaka. The project—with Associate Professor Dr Faridah Noor Mohd Noor (UMCCD’s Director) as an advisor, led by Dr Zuwati Hasim (UMCCD’s Deputy Director) and assisted by Cik Nik Maisarah Akmal Nik Mustafa (UMUC’s Project Officer) and Cik Nur Amalina Dayana Abd Aziz (Project Coordinator)—has gathered the UNESCO Club members as well as the pre-service teachers of English language from the University of Malaya (UM) and IPG KBA as volunteers.
Among the objectives of Reach Out! Melaka programme were to introduce the beauty of poetry to primary school students, particularly in the rural area, and to encourage them to confidently communicate in English through fun and interactive activities designed for them. The participants were made up of Year 4, Year 5 and Year 6 students, totaling 50 pupil altogether while the teachers acted as facilitators for the whole programme.
The programme was officiated by Professor Dr Muhammad Hj Salleh, Malaysian National Laureate, who also shared his experiences on writing poetry. In his speech, Prof. Muhammad encouraged the students to take up poetry-writing as early as possible, as a means to express themselves and also to preserve the tradition. He also shared some delightful poems that successfully captured and entertained the audience present.
The activity began with an ice-breaking session. The students selected their group names based on an element in poetry, the concept of onomatopoeia—the creation of words that imitate natural sounds—and practice their cheer for a short cheer battle. The purpose is to build team spirit as they will be working in groups throughout the day. This is then followed by the first activity, Teach Me!, where the students were introduced to different types of poems that were accessible and easy to develop by young learners.
The second activity, Dream Island, was designed for students to fire up their imagination and creativity. Students were requested to design their own dream islands and write a short poem based on the islands they created. For this activity, students’ presentations were judged by Prof. Muhammad, Pn. Noor Shamsiah, Head Mistress of SK Lubok Redan, and Ms. Hendon, lecturer of IPG KBA. Prof. Muhammad was invited to deliver some of the prizes to the best drawings and poems for Dream Island.
The activities designed for the five stations in Activity 3: Treasure Hunt, were all made relatable to the students. We incorporated traditional games, such as hopscotch (permainan tingting) with colour poem to make the activity fun yet meaningful for the students.
En. Nazri Ramli, the President of the Parent-Teacher Association (PIBG) and an officer from the District Education Office (PPD) were invited to deliver their speeches and to present prizes for Activity 3: Treasure Hunt winners as well as for the Most Active Student and the Most Outstanding Student awards.
Overall, the event went well and received great response from the students and the teachers. On behalf of UMCCD and UMUC, we would like to congratulate all winners and acknowledge the volunteers for their precious and tireless efforts to contribute to this programme. We would also like to express our sincerest gratitude to the Ministry of Youth and Sports, Institute of Teacher Education International Languages Campus, Tenaga Nasional Berhad, Smart Reader and Kumpulan Media Karangkraf for their support and assistance in making Reach Out! Melaka a great success.
From left: Dr. Zuwati Hasim (UMCCD’s Deputy Director), Assoc. Prof. Dr. Faridah Noor Mohd Noor (UMCCD’s Director), Prof. Dr. Muhammad Haji Salleh (National Laureate) and Pn. Noor Shamsiah Binti Maarof (Headmistress of SK Lubok Redan)
Prof. Dr. Muhammad Haji Salleh sharing his experiences in writing poetry. Prof. Muhammad delivering the prizes to one of the group leaders.
Students preparing their drawings and poems for Dream Island.
A group of students at one of the stations for the treasure hunt activity
Students were listening attentively to the instructions given by the facilitators.
En. Nazri Ramli presenting a prize to one of the winning
“Pop pop” was one of the winning groups
“Pop pop” was one of the winning groupsUMUC Volunteers capturing their moment with Prof. Muhammad Hj Salleh