EXCHANGE PROGRAMME:Pupils of Australian International School Singapore visit SK Kangkar Pulai 2 near Skudai
THEY danced, they played and they learned more about one another.
These were scenes from a fun-filled cultural exchange programme for 150 pupils of Australian International School Singapore (AISS) when they spent half a day with their counterparts from SK Kangkar Pulai 2, near Skudai recently.
The AISS pupils were greeted in grand style with traditional performances. There was a silat demonstration, and zapin, joget and nataraja dance performances by SK Kangkar Pulai 2 pupils.
The pupils of the two schools played traditional Malaysian games, and took part in energetic zapin and joget dances during the programme which was organised with the Pulai Springs Resort.
There were welcoming speeches by SK Kangkar Pulai 2 headmaster Razali Lan and AISS' Year Four teachers representative Paul Somerville.
A specially-prepared video presentation about a typical day at AISS was shown.
The AISS teachers donated a television, video cameras, DVD players and an overhead projector.
The visitors joined the Malaysian pupils in their classrooms to get a feel of their learning environment.
The SK Kangkar Pulai 2 pupils warmed up easily to their guests. They chatted and helped each other in their school work.
Each of the AISS pupils handed out a pen pal kit containing their personal description and correspondence information to their hosts.
The cultural performances and classroom sessions broke the ice between the pupils, but it was the sports segment which got them cheering for each other.
They teamed up in groups to play traditional games such as tarik upih, which involves pulling a palm frond with a person sitting on it.
Thomas Elkovich, 9, said he had loads of fun playing the traditional games with the help of his new friends.
"It was tough at first, but I managed to get a hang of walking on coconut shells and racing while pulling the big leaf. It was so much fun that I wanted to do it again.
"I also loved to watch the traditional dances, and thought the pupils were very good," he said.
The AISS teachers organised a four-ball handball match, and Australian Rules netball and football.
Nor Azlina Azmi, 10, enjoyed chatting with the foreign pupils and hoped that they would come to her school often.
"I am definitely going to write to my friends. I have always wanted to have a pen pal and, now, I am happy to say that I have a few," said Nor Azlina.
AISS elementary school head Peter Allison said he hoped that the pen-pal activity would create a lasting bond between the pupils.
"Our goal is to continue with this cultural exchange programme. Last year, we visited this school for the first time, and the pupils got to know each other.
"This year, each of my pupils brought personalised packs with details about themselves. We hope their relationship will grow not just for now, but throughout the year."
Allison observed that the pupils were comfortable mixing with each other, especially when they took part in the activities.
"All children have a good sense of fun. From the moment my pupils stepped off the bus, they were very eager.
"The SK Kangkar Pulai 2 pupils are very welcoming, and that is exactly what AISS pupils pride themselves in as well," said Allison.
Razali said the school was grateful to AISS and Pulai Springs Resort for selecting it to take part in the cultural exchange programme.
"It is not every day that a school gets chosen for two years in a row to host foreign pupils in an educational programme. This was a good opportunity for the local pupils to mingle with foreign pupils and for them to learn about each others' cultures."