7 March 2015, Petaling Jaya – 65 Malaysian high school students returned early this year from a very short to a year exchange program from 15 different countries around the world. The AFS Returnees gathered at the Post Return Orientation last week to share their cultural shock, personal growth and host family bonding.
Organized by Yayasan AFS Antarabudaya Malaysia (AFS Malaysia), the Post Return Orientation focused on readjusting to Malaysia lifestyle and guiding the young ambassadors to reflect on what they have discovered during their intercultural learning journey.
Peraavinah Kumaran, AFS returnee to Chile
My experience taught me to appreciate my country better
One AFS Returnee to Chile, Peraavinah Kumaran, 19 years old from SMK (P) Treacher Methodist,Taiping said, “ I was the first Malaysian high school student that was sent to Chile on this AFS Program. My most memorable experience is to discover how patriotic people in Chile when I was attending the 2014 FIFA World Cup.”
When Peraavinah arrived in Chile she was greeted by a typical spell of culture shock. Feeling uncertain, she also wondered how life with her new family would unfold. However, all her uncertainties soon vanished with the loving support of her host family and siblings. Overcoming language barriers was one of the toughest obstacles she endured. She worked hard in learning Spanish and it became her foundation in understanding her perspective in all matters especially when overcoming cultural shocks.
Yeo Zhen Yue, AFS returnee to Argentina
My experience is a precious lessons and life changing
Another AFS Returnee to Argentina, Yeo Zhen Yue, 19 years old from SMK Sultan Abu Bakar, Pahang said, “Major challenge for me during this exchange program is the language differences. Luckily, I have supportive and friendly friends that taught me Spanish. They shared their class notes with me and taught me until I finish my homework. Now, I am able to speak and understand Spanish fluently.” Zhen Yue added that with the support of his Argentinian friends and family, he was able to adapt faster with the cultural difference.
Zhen Yue also said, “Although I spent a year at Argentina, I have not forgotten about my country Malaysia. I am so proud to be Malaysian that I waved Jalur Gemilang flag on Merdeka Day. It was a symbol of how proud I am to be a Malaysian especially in a foreign land.”
AFS is a volunteer based organization. Almost all AFS events are supported fully by professionally trained volunteers and alumni. Events such orientations for students are fully organized by the alumni’s who previously underwent AFS programs.
Joyce Lim, an AFS returnee to Japan and now a volunteer for more than 7 years said, “It is very interesting to observe the personal growth among these students. It’s important returnees like us give back to the organization especially during orientation events such as this as we are the ones that will not get tired to hear the student’s experiences because we experienced the same thing before. It’s a lifetime changing experience for all of us!”
With AFS you don't have to be a top student and have the best grades to go overseas. What you will need is a commitment to education and your community as well as energy, drive and a desire to achieve. You must also have a genuine interest in people and the world around you.
AFS has a range of different programs to choose from. No matter if you're a high school student or educator looking for an authentic study abroad experience - AFS has a program to suit you, and with more than 25 countries to choose from.
AFS Malaysia currently is recruiting 15-17 Malaysian high school students to apply for the program. Please visit www.afs.org.my or call 03 77224866 for more information. Scholarships opportunities are also available to countries such as Argentina, USA, India and many more.