YES ALumni, Mizan Hakeem shared how he overcame his nerves and gave a wonderful presentation about Malaysia!

On 24th February 2016, my counselling teacher decided that I needed to do a cultural presentation in chosen classes. I was in the International club: all the foreign exchange students in West Anchorage High were too.

When Mrs. Crawford, my counsellor, asked all of us to do this, I had many ideas on how to prep my slides and add some more information. I asked all of my friends, Brazilian , Thailand, Albanian, Philippines and Algerian and asked them how would they do it.

They all said the same thing, “Well, just do it. Use powerpoint or something.”

I was thinking a lot about this. I had mixed feelings about presenting Malaysia. I’m scared ’cause I will do the presentation alone. I’m happy ’cause this is a gateway to represent Malaysia! And I’m also nervous ’cause I will present things that even people in that school doesn’t know about.

The next day, Mrs Crawford said that I can ask a friend to help me out in my presentation. Right at that moment, I had the simplest idea that I would wear Baju Melayu throughout the high school period. And I brought an extra Indian dress. And I got the perfect friend to wear the Indian attire.

So the next day, I called out my friend Senedy. And asked her if she wanted to help me to do a presentation. It took a while of convincing, but she accepted it. I told her the rules: to wear the Indian dress throughout the school period.

She was kind of nervous but she accepted with a willing heart. Because she liked to learn about new cultures as well. I was so happy with her decision. Anyway, I needed to be done with my Prezi presentation, because it is due on Friday, the 26th of February.

Before Friday, I was kind of questioning myself whether or not should I wear baju melayu to school. I was afraid of the reactions by the people in my school. It was unnerving. I was second guessing myself and I cannot think straight.

I talked to my 4th period teacher, Ms Jones. I asked her would it be good if I wear my traditional clothes to school.She said that I am more than welcomed to wear them. She was pretty excited about the traditional clothes that I was talking about, so I regained my confidence.

Since I am an EXCHANGE STUDENT from MALAYSIA, why would I be afraid to represent Malaysia? Why would I be afraid of showing my own culture? Why would I be embarrassed by it? Nothing! No reasons. I just have to be brave and ready to share my own unique culture!

So on the next day, I wore Baju Melayu tp my high school. At first in the morning, people just walked past me and said nothing. Probably because they are too tired. And it was still dark outside at 7 in the morning. (Sunrise is at 8.30)

I went to my first period, which is my choir lessons. After that, it is time for me to start presenting about Malaysia. I called Senedy to come to Room 31 to help me out. When I looked at her wearing the Indian dress, I was stunned! She looked more Malaysian than me!

When I presented about Malaysia, I was quite nervous. But as time passes by, I got the flow and presented nicely.  Senedy was quite shocked that I can present well and she knew a lot of Malaysia by the time I finished presenting. I was required to present twice in the other period.

When I passed by the hallway, finally everyone noticed me. They were all like ‘Whoa man, where are you from again, you look so great in that outfit. Nice outfit!’

Some of them took pictures! My 6th period friends also said that I look luxurious and seems like coming of a Sultan’s family or something. I was kind of wondering how do they know the word “Sultan” ☺. (In the Malay language, Sultan means King)

Everybody in the classroom came to check me out. And I took the time to explain Malaysian culture to them. Having people to know your culture and country is a wonderful experience. Some of them doesn’t even know where Malaysia is. And it is my job to let them know about our special country.

All and all, it was really a great experience for me. I appreciated my bold decision so much! And I want to do it again. Now I know this is what the exchange program is all about.

You don’t have to be afraid, and scared or nervous or anything. You just have to be brave and ready to show the community, your culture. This is an intercultural experience that I was looking for and I am very happy with it. Some time in the future, I really want to do it again.

The person who inspired me to wear Baju Melayu in high school is actually Abg Najmudin or ‘Ben’, a returnee from YES 2011. So I give him credit for that. (Thanks Ben!)

This is me with Ms. Jones, my IB Maths teacher who was proud and admiring my outfit and told me “Zane, You need to wear them all day or I give you math quizzes everyday”. Seems like she ‘blackmailed’ me successfully ☺

Written by,
Mizan Hakeem (YES’16)

Photo credits to Mizan Hakeem’s instagram @mizanmozan