One open book, and one student at a time, teachers are at the forefront of those who change the world. Education is a priceless gift but sometimes what a student needs is beyond the textbook. More often than not, they just need someone who would understand them.
That was exactly what one Malaysian cikgu recently did when he went out of his way to exercise a little kindness by departing some words of wisdom to his fellow student via e-mail. Realising how it could impact more than just one person alone, he shared the open e-letter on Facebook and it has since garnered more than 1000 shares.
Chuah Kee Man, who is a lecturer at Universiti Malaysia Sarawak shared the story of how a student known as “A Discouraged Student” had been facing some stress both at school and at home. “To make it worse, I’m facing family problem since my family is also in the period of going through hardships,” she said.
The student told Kee Man that she had always felt like she was pulling the short end of the stick when it comes to the bulk of the group assignment workload. She added that the feeling was a terrible one and how she was bogged down by everything that is happening around her.
Getting Things Off The Chest
In response to this, Kee Man wrote back to the student and expressed a sense of vulnerability, stating that he was personally feeling down at the time as well. Yet he took it upon himself to lift his student up with some words of encouragement.
“Dear Discouraged Student, Your email stunned me for a while, coincidentally I was having a tough week as well, and my motivation was nearly going to go down rapidly before I pulled myself back and said to myself “I won’t let all these negative situations get the better of me,” Kee Man began.
He noted that in life, there would always be challenges that await us, but in every challenge there are great does of life to be lived and be positive about. “There’s this saying that goes “goals are like breathing, once you give up, there’s no hope left”. Please don’t do that to yourself. You must not stop breathing. Breathe, even if it hurts, continue breathing and take every little effort to make things better. Take a break, meditate, pray and relax your mind, then stand up and walk again,” he said.
Straight From The Heart
It was nice to see how the educator took the matter to heart and lent his words of advice to the student. It’s not too long ago since I last left my own schooling days behind and though it may not be as fresh as it could be in my memory, I know just how tough growing up will be. Having to tackle that alongside uncooperative group mates and family problems, just adds to the mountain of worries.
With Kee Man’s positivity message, those who are students of his or merely just followers of his page (which is 6000+ likes strong), got their dose of feel good vibes with his post. One Facebook user by the name of Nicholas VLee added, “You’re not the only one, Miss/Mr Discourage Student.”
A Place To Confide
Kee Man told Vulcan Post that it is not the first time that students have reached out to him for a little pep talk. He said, “I always encourage students to seek help whenever they need to. I also conduct regular motivational talks on campus, so the students (including those whom I have never taught) do know me. I have been receiving emails and also face-to-face appointments from students, seeking advice on various issues mostly personal problems in managing life at university.”
This semester, he had received more requests from students, and hence when he had received the email from the “discouraged girl”, he decided to share the message to his Facebook followers, as a way to give an answer to most of the emails he gets and also to reach out to more people who are sharing the same feeling.
Kee Man said that by sharing his thoughts with his students, he not only helps the student, but it also helps him grow as a person as well. He shared with Vulcan Post, “It allows me to reflect on my own problems and indirectly motivates me to think of better solutions. Also, those thoughts that I share somehow echo my inner voice that serves to remind me from time to time that I have to be strong in order to be of good help to others.”
Knowing Nobody Is Alone
Everyone needs a little pick me up from time to time. After all, life is a never-ending journey and the way I see it, it’s almost like a circle where one day, we may feel like we’re at the top of the world; and the very next, we find our self in a downward spiral.
In this day and age, everyone fights to be the best that they can possibly be in whatever field they are in. Hence, to have a whole host of netizens stating how they understand the pain that the discouraged student is going through and how better days are soon to come, it goes to show that one single ripple can certainly move and shake the entire body of water.
Kee Man noted, “I noticed a lot of responses on the ‘group work’ part as well as the struggle to cope with the expectations in university especially among the freshmen. I guess it’s a common problem shared by many just that they tend to keep it private and unwilling to seek for advice.
So somehow the post reminded them that they are not alone, and if you are going through a tough time too, remember that you’re not either.
Check out his full response here: