At Corus Hotel, Kuala Lumpur

From 3rd to 5th October 2003

By Marisha Naz 

            On the 3rd of September till the 5th of September, Hazwin, Sarah, Brenda, Aliff, Melissa and I attended a children’s forum in conjunction with the World Children’s Day Celebration. This forum attracted students from the ages of 8 to 17. Students from all over the nation were present to attend the event. All together, there were approximately 300 students who participated in this forum 

            The main objective of the Children’s Forum was to allow fellow youngsters to voice out their opinions on issues of Social Integration and Disciplinary Problems in Schools. These two topics were very practical and happen to be two of the leading problems amongst youth in Malaysia. The outcome of the discussions in this forum were documented and presented to the Ministry of National Unity and Social Development 

            As participants entered the hotel, there were already facilitators all along the corridors guiding all of us into the registration room. I just followed. The atmosphere was so crowded and stuffy. Everybody was talking, and I felt so lost. As I walked through the busy room, I was surprised to see disabled kids, blind and deaf kids. Wow! I never knew that they would be participating as well. From that moment on, I got more excited about the forum. I made my way to the registration table and met a few old friends there. I filled up at the necessary forms and received a bag, a folder and a nametag. I was so impressed by how friendly the facilitators were, not to mention how young they were! Some of the facilitators even looked like students to me. 

            The registration process didn’t take that long and before I knew it, I was already in my room catching up with some old friends that I previously met. We had a long chitchat and I was already having a barrel of fun. I introduced fellow YAs to my old friends, and of course, we bonded perfectly! Time passed really fast and soon it was time for dinner. 

YummMmYUmmMm! There was a wide spread of food for us to choose from. From rice to spaghetti, to chicken and fish! The buffet was just delicious! After filling up our tummies, a short briefing and dividing us into groups were done. 

All the participants were split up to 24 different groups of 12 each. Different coloured scarves that they wore identified each group. My group wore a turquoise scarf. Not much was done during the first night, thus, we headed back to our rooms and dozed off after a while. 

            Rise and shine! The next day was a jam-packed day filled with activities from 7 in the morning till 11 at night. The agenda started off with breakfast followed by a gathering at the ballroom. At 8 o’clock sharp, everybody was to be in the hall. The event had begun. Nothing much happened in the first 2 hours. Three speakers went up on the podium and gave their views on the topic given to them. However, one speaker attracted the most attention. His story was very interesting: from a boy who used to fill up soft drink bottles with urine and gave students to drink, he changed and became a prefect in his school. Nasharuddin was his name and gangsterism was his game. However, after attending 8 motivational camps that took drastic measures on him, he finally realized, and thus, he made a change for good. That was the highlight of the whole session. 

            I could smell lunch already. Yupp, it was time to quench our thirst and fill our tummy. After lunch, we broke off to smaller groups and had a discussion on our personal views on the topics: Social Integration and Discipline Problems. Each group had to come up with a mind map on what the problem was, and how to solve it. Many productive ideas were tabled out and the facilitators themselves were surprised to hear such ideas from young teenagers. After that, all our mind maps were passed on to the head facilitator. 

“Marisha! Come here for awhile!” I turned around to this call from my facilitator. Now, 3 people from each group had to combine with other groups to do a presentation. I joined 8 others to come up with a drama concerning social integration. This drama presentation would have to be presented during the closing ceremony. We practiced and came up with a storyline.  I looked at my watch and it was 6pm, Showtime! We acted out our drama as best as we could to deliver the message across. We took a bow, and received a great applause from the audience. 

            After the closing ceremony we were allowed to go back to our rooms to have a shower and freshen up for the ‘Jamuan Perpisahan’. The grand dinner was a sit down dinner and was held in the ballroom. Anyone who felt like singing was free to go up on stage and karaoke. There were a few good vocalists performing who entertained the crowd. However, one performance hit the hearts of many. Nazmi, a 21-year-old mentally disabled boy went up on stage and sang a Malay song. He knew all the lyrics and even though his singing wasn’t like Justin Timberlake or Ricky Martin, but his courage and passion for singing could be seen shining brightly on the stage. He received a very loud applause and he even received a standing ovation. The dinner ended pretty late, we all returned to our rooms and started finishing a scrapbook about ourselves to be handed in the next day. 

            On our last day, the agenda wasn’t as tiring as the day before .We had to discuss about the CRC (Conventional Rights of the child). The discussion took a short time and conclusions were made really fast. Soon, all of us were packing and all set to head back home. That ended our 3-day seminar at the Corus Hotel in Kuala Lumpur. I met many friends and gained quite a bit of knowledge. I was really glad that I attended this seminar and happy that I was given the chance. As I walked out of the hotel, I felt happy and proud that I managed to contribute in making this forum a success.