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AMU2455 Entry 2: The Learning Experience

Through the experiences that I’ve been through with this programme, I’ve learnt that the best way to identify a problem is to either engage with stakeholders that go on-site or make policies, or go on-site by yourself, as that’s the only way you would be able to see the whole picture. This can be done through interviews, seminars, question and answer sessions and engaging with stakeholders and local residents. (Clements, 2022) To develop responses to a problem, I’ve learnt from stakeholders that the best option is to come up with a thorough plan and implement it on a small scale to test the waters, followed by large scale implementation if the test run was successful.

To come up with a thorough plan, various solutions need to be researched and various scenarios need to be simulated, and all stakeholders involved must be informed. For example, at the Penang Institute, it was shown that in order to preserve the cultural heritage of traditional Chinese clan corporations (kongsi’s), they had to engage with key stakeholders related to the corporations which included committee members and members, and ask them to go through past meeting minutes, translate various documents into modern-day variations of languages as well as survey what the younger generations would want. (Moroter, 2019)

A clan temple which we were taken to on tour around Georgetown.
A clan temple which we were taken to on tour around Georgetown.

My team experience for the presentation activity was rather eye-opening and interesting as all of my other team members were from Australian campuses. It was an eye-opener compared to the people I was used to in terms of working with on group projects, who were usually local students from the Malaysian campuses, or international students who had picked up on Malaysian culture in terms of group work. I’ve learnt that it is certainly a universal thing to start work later than recommended, but at the same time it is also a universal thing that you will be more motivated to finish your work as fast as you can when you’re closer to the deadline. A new experience included separating personal conversations from the assignment group, as when I did group work with Malaysian campus students, our assignment processes usually got disrupted with personal conversations taking place during discussion times, but this was not an issue with the Australian campuses’ students.

Our team's mind map at a workshop activity post-immersion.
Our team's mind map at a workshop activity post-immersion.

Over the course of the two weeks’ that we had for the programme, I’ve learnt a lot about environmental and heritage conservation. This included the problems that are happening, and proposed solutions. We ourselves as a team also came up with some solutions to problems during workshops. I’ve also had some great opportunities to host students from the Australian campus at my home during our free time, and letting them meet my parents, and have discussions with them about day-to-day life, which was certainly a new experience for all of us. I would say that meeting with all the stakeholders were meaningful, as we got the opportunity to experience different levels of stakeholders in terms of the socio-ecological model, from individuals such as locals and business owners to communities like the Penang Heritage Trust and Consumers’ Association of Penang, and those at the Societal level like the Penang Institute who are involved in policy making for the State Government of Penang. (Stokols, 2018)

The amazing larger group I'm proud to be a part of.
The amazing larger group I'm proud to be a part of.

My greatest challenge was my physical health, as all the travelling on the road and the hot weather made me fall sick, which resulted in me being uncomfortable for most of the trip. Beyond that, there was also a challenge faced as some locals refused to be interviewed, so we couldn’t cover all bases. The best achievements we made were being able to explore the streets ourselves, whereas we know that some other groups were sent on guided tours with stakeholders, and my personal opinion was that being able to freely walk around is always the best way to do research in order to identify problems and create solutions.


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