Despite having spent less than a year at this school, I can see that the students are very talented and have plenty of potential to grow. They are blessed with a team of teachers and coaches who are very dedicated, often spending afternoons and evenings with their students. This school is the sole sports school in Sarawak so it represents the hopes and aspirations of the whole state, both in sports and in academics. I am proud to be part of this family and I am ready to do my part to make this school great.
Unfortunately, there are many challenges when it comes to instilling a love for the English language as well as cultivating a culture of English language use at our school. The biggest obstacle is the palpable fear of English amongst the students. Students have literally run away from me just because I asked them to participate in an English language program.
This is understandable as my students hail from all over Sarawak, including rural areas and low-income communities. Also, we do not turn away students who perform poorly academically. We have accepted and kept students with straight Es. Nonetheless, where we come from does not determine where we will be in the future. I believe my students have the ability to face their fears, improve, and win.
What they need are role models and opportunities to shine. With the TJ Writes monthly bulletin, I hope to provide opportunities for my students to showcase their writing skills, as well as turn them into role models. By the end of 2020, I will compile the best essays from my students and produce a book which will be marketed to the whole of Malaysia as well as to other sports schools. I want to dispel the long-held myth that sports school athletes are only good in sports, while being stupid at everything else.
Well, my students are not stupid and they are more than just athletes. They are leaders and contributors to the development and betterment of Sarawak. I want them to look in the mirror and know that they can do English and much more. I want to show the whole of Malaysia what happens if athletes could write.
Jarod Yong is the founder and editor of TJ Writes. With a master’s degree from Columbia University and a bachelor’s degree from Victoria University of Wellington, he plans to use all of his skills, resources, and network to nurture a culture of English at SMK Tabuan Jaya. He is looking for allies amongst the students, teachers, and staff, as well as in the public and private sector.
Want to make a difference? Contact him at jarodyong.com.