ART FOR GRABS: Have a balloon!
In collaboration with Amnesty International Malaysia, Lawyers for Liberty and SUARAM

On the 2nd and the 3rd of April, we had a little booth dedicated to the promotion exchange programs by AFS Malaysia, pitched up on the ground floor of The School, Jaya One enrichment mall for a social event, namely Arts for Grabs.

Day 1: April 2nd

We kick-started Day 1 in a small group of five at about 10.00 a.m., which expanded into a group of seven, later in the day. Working in the same team as Abang Zainal from the AFS Malaysia office was several YES Alumni: Ana Najia (YES’13), Sofia Natasha (AFS Volunteer), Taqeem Mansor (YES’14), Goutaman Ramachandran and Haya al-Kubati (both YES’15), a Yemeni YES returnee currently living and schooling in Serdang was a really fun experience.

The dream team!

The event began approximately at noon, at a very relaxed pace and picked up after lunch. Shoppers began pouring in during the afternoon. The currents changed course from persuading the multitude to pick up brochures from our booth to getting our hands full, handling curious parents and students shooting us with queries about concerns and interests.

Truly, it was an honour to introduce the public to AFS and especially, the YES programme. Although it was quite surprising that there are many people out there who haven’t heard of such exciting opportunities before, it was enthralling to to watch more and more people getting drawn towards us and the visible pang of curiosity.

Day 2: April 3rd

Compared to Day 1, we has lesser volunteers. But twice as enthusiasm and motivation to talk with the public! On the second day, Abang Zainal was replaced by Vanessa, also from the AFS Malaysia office. Alumni Ana Najia (YES’13) and Goutaman Ramachandran (YES’15) was continually present alongside myself. We also had new faces joining our team! Kristy Anne Nunis and Ekky Pagau (both YES’12), an Indonesian YES returnee currently studying at UIA.

Throughout both the days of Art for Grabs, there were little slots for experts such as politician Nurul Izzah Anuar and national debater Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman to discuss certain issues pertaining to political and/or social developement of the nation.

Mr Syed Saddiq (Left, in the White Shirt)!

We also had AFSers from yesteryears checking out our booth, observing the improvements and progressions we’d done over the years. In fact, we had an AFSer from Germany hanging out at our booth for a bit. She’d come down to visit her host family who lives in Shah Alam and the excitement in air was so thick when she spotted our booth in the exhbition space that she dropped by and chatted with us!

Spreading the essence of AFS and the YES programme was unmistakably a feel good factor that I’ve been looking for and I’m glad that the spirit of volunteerism is made alive. I wish we could do more of such efforts to get our voice out there so that AFS isn’t a little-known-secret anymore.

Written by,
Jivashni M Paramasivam (YES’15)