Thursday, April 29, 2010

Sunday, April 25, 2010

True Love - According to Maclean Patrick

Dear all..
I was trying to continue a piece of writing that I had left 6 months ago. It was supposed to be sent in by February but I have been postponing it til now. I am, guilty as charged. Now, I have a problem. Whenever I write, it seems that I need a period of warming up and I work in a connected chain of thoughts. If it stopped midway, I faced difficulty going back to that 'moment' of writing. Shakespeare once said " Words, words, words. Once I had a gift. I've lost my gift. As if the organ of my imagination has dried up, as if the proud towers of my ginuses collapse". In the midst of agony, I suddenly remembered my writer friend Mac who came down all the way from Kuching, Sarawak last month. Mac has written two novels with Alaf 21. He stayed in Kuantan for a couple of days and we had the opportunity to give a talk at Sek Men Agama Al-Ehsan, Kuantan. His session was on creative writing while mine was on extensive reading. It was great. We talked to about 100 students. Mac's subject was on how to start writing and mine was on how to start selecting reading materials. Before he left Kuantan, he scribbled an anecdote of what love is while waiting for me to send him to the bus station. It was beautiful and I thought I should share it with you:

What is TRUE LOVE?

"TRUE LOVE is when you can still love someone at their most horrible self, at their dumbnest moment, weakest point"

What is INTIMACY then?
"The art of effortless communication"

Here is the story:

There is a tree in a valley, where the lily grows and a gushing brook babbles. A place where butterflies meet every April and swallows return every October. And on most summer nights, the fire-flies would dance among it's branches.
And underneath this tree there is a small hut, with roofs made of straw and windows of round barrels. A simple dwelling for a complicated man. The man called The Wise.
A man of many tongues, a man who measured the moon's walk as it travelled form east to west; and who captured the morning rays in a stunted glass jar.A sage. A philosopher. A man with a visitor. She came the day after. He was clearing his library of ancient books and as he marvelled at the empty shelves, he heard a knock and a rat-tat-tat.
"Come in," he bellowed. The door slightly opened. "Well, open it wider or else just keep the door close," he raised his voice, annoyed at his visitor. She stepped into the hut and politely stood before him.
"What do you want to ask me?" He asked as he turned his back to her. "How do you know, I wanted to ask a question?" she quipped. "The reason most people seek me out. And you may ask more than just one question. You do have a few questions right?" She could not hide her surprise. "Why? I was meaning to ask you a few questions. How did you know?"
"Just ask me your questions." He commanded.
She drew her breath and while tucking a stray hair behind her ear she began to speak.
"What is TRUE LOVE?" The man turned and in a swift glance, took note of her feet, arms and face. Then, he slowly walked around her, sniffing her clothes as he walked. "TRUE LOVE is when you can be a devil and someone would still love you and offer you the grace and mercy of an angel". The old man paused, waiting for the next question.
"Why do people search for true love?"
Suddenly the old man became quite angry.
"It is not LOVE that they seek. It is INTIMACY with the person they love. It is not the LOST of love that they fear but the lost of INTIMACY." The young woman held her breath. She wanted to know more.
"What then is the meaning of life?"
"To find one's self in the bigger scheme of things. All the religions in the world teach us this."
"Is it that hard to attain?" She rushed to the next question.
"No. But we are too busy defining life to really live life. We define and rationalize and seek to explain. When all that is needed is to live it. We look at the sea and describe it's waters, the hue of colours, the varst stretch of sand and matter of it's beauty yet we stop ourselves from swimming in it. Because true joy is in the swimming. In allowing the sea to envelope us and make us one with it." Her eyes swelled with tears. She was trying to hold herself back.
"Is this the same with love?"
"Yes. We explain it and rationalize it; but fail to be involved with it."

- The End-

Sunday, April 18, 2010

TESOL-Spain 33rd Conference (University of LIeida, Spain)

Dear all,

I was going through my photos in Spain and I realized that I didn't talk much about my conference. Furthermore, a friend commented on whether I actually went to Spain for a holiday or for other matters. Hem...
So, I have decided to upload some of the photos at the conference itself.
It was my first International conference (hopefully not the last hehe). The paper took me quite sometime to finish even though the title technically sounds simple. I ended up 25 pages together with the handouts for the participants. I think my literature review was a bit too much for a demonstration type paper. Initially, my dean was looking for the research part which was obviously limited to only one page (since it is not research based).
No matter how small the magnitude or how humble it was, I gained experience in preparing a demonstration type of paper.I am now able to assist my colleagues who are interested to try out this type of presentation. Previously, I was quite annoyed when I tried to refer to those who have presented and their answers were something like "Alah...buat aje...tak susah" "cerita aje what you want to say" etc2... until a Junior lecturer who was kind enough to show me her own full paper (thank you so much Wan Puteri).
So, there you go. Not everyone is willing to give a helping hand even though they have done it themselves.
Sometimes, I think that this 'sharing of knowledge' is not popularly practiced in our culture.Isn't sharing and learning from each other will turn us into a stronger and respectful nation? What's the point of keeping things to ourselves?
One lady lecturer from Canada who had actually written books herself attended my session. I wonder why. She was so humble and added some important insights into my subject matter.

I just love the experience I had.
It added value to my professional growth. This is what I called, learning by doing.
And I hope this spirit stays with me throughout my career.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Exam Results - Only YOU can stop yourself on a permanent basis.

Salam everyone!

I opened my blog this morning and's been quite sometime since I last wrote something. Well, this is primarily due to the enormous marking, keying in and finally abled to confirm your marks. Yes, we spent almost two weeks before we could finalize your grades. I thought I should share some of the experience I went through..i.e. how I felt when I was going through your scripts. I hope this sharing would help you in a long run rather than upsetting your holiday :-)

It seems that your language ability is stopping you from scoring my papers. You have all the ideas but failed to express or interpret them especially in your argumentative essay (EAP)and proposals (EOP). Even your letter of complaint left us wondering what went wrong with the 5C's that we have taught you so far. FYI, after we had completed marking, we spent hours looking at border line cases. We went through the scripts again and again, trying to find answers which would move you to one band higher.
Yes, we did that because we love and care about you. We understand how difficult it is to study and score during exams because we went through the same process ourselves. But here is the thing. There were a few that we couldn't possibly help because the answers were just way below the requirement. For those that we managed to upgrade, please don't be too complacent with what you have achieved. You can not always base on luck.

Here's the rub. In life, we must constantly upgrade ourselves regardless of exams. Exam is purely a mechanism to test our knowledge and abilities. However, we are responsible of your own standards. Therefore, do it on an ongoing basis especially when it comes to English.

There are a lot of people out there that can STOP you temporarily, but only YOU can stop yourself on a permanent basis. I got this from Zig Ziglar. Even our prophet would want all of us to upgrade ourselves, don't you agree?

And so, during this holiday, please consider this activity seriously - READ a lot.
Read whatever interest you and find the PLEASURE in it. InsyAllah, in the long run, you will reap what you have sown.

Remember dear, English language is not a subject you learn in one semester. It takes time to develop the proficiency and the good news is, you can acquire it in a fun way if you HAVE the right ATTITUDE.

I love you all and have a great holiday!