Wednesday, June 6, 2007

VS-SOAS Exchange Day 4- Cultural Activities and Games

We returned to SOAS bright and early as usual today for a day of new cultural experiences and games.
First off, we were introduced to to Jawi Calligraphy by Dr Abu El-Bashar. Jawi is the arabic script and has been used long since before the Roman alphabet.

Never having had good handwriting since my student days, I was quite intrigued by this lesson. Apparently, the Jawi script is a phonetic one as well and it is possible to write English using the corresponding phonetic alphabet in Jawi. Having learnt to write Chinese, most of us did not have a problem with the individual strokes but the trick was that the directions-i.e. origin and ending points of the strokes for individual letters often began from right to left, rather than left to right as we are used to writing in Chinese. Check out this next clip with Cikgu Norfustazah Norheny helping me with my writing and you'll see what I mean:

For some reason, I felt like a small boy back in school again :P At the end, all members of the VS delegation were presented with a plaque with our names written in Jawi!

After our calligraphy lesson, we saw that there was a buffet laid out for us in the back of the hall. Apparently, members of the staff had taken it upon themselves to cook a traditional Brunien banquet for us featuring the best local and traditional dishes. Check out the sumptous spread!

A particularly interesting dish was Ambuyan. Made from rumbia tree, it was a gooey paste that you twirled on your chopstick and ate with a dipping sauce- kinda reminded me of 'Muay Chee' we have in Singapore.

It was a flashback to the good old Kampung days as teachers, students from VS and SOAS, sat down together to eat and partake in a community meal:

I'm sure many of the older generation in Singapore will see good memories of days gone in pre-modern Singapore when the kampungs still existed. And regardless of race, language or religion, everybody in the kampung knew everybody and festive celebrations like weddings were always like this. Somehow the experience of sitting down on the floor and sharing a meal in a circle allows us all to mingle together as one and draws everyone in closer at a more intimate level than a formal banquet setting seated at a round tabled. Truly, Bruneiens are a people who are rooted in strong belief of community ties.

After that staggering feast, we had a games exchange with the students. Attempting to play with full stomachs meant that our boys were not in top form (well, I might just be making excuses- sorry lah) But after a slow start, the Futsal guys began getting into the groove of things:

Right next to them, some of our boys were engaged in basketball with members of the school team.

It wasn't long before Principal, Mr Low decided to join in the fun. Having come from an all-boys school himself, Mr Low showed that his skills on the court are still quite sharp!

We finally ended the day at the Jerudong Theme Park- although it's the biggest theme park in South East Asia but only a few rides were open. Although the boys were only able to go on the Log Flume and Bumper Cars, we can see that they did indeed enjoy themselves.

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