Growing up, I remember only seeing my parents, particularly my mum, appearing in my school for only several specific occasions – when I wasn’t feeling well, did something wrong, or report card day. Times have changed. With my being a full-time mum in Dubai where education approach in international schools is very much Western-style oriented and parents involvement is highly encouraged, I get to participate in E’s class activities every now and then. So far, I have organised in-class celebrations for World Teacher’s Day and Chinese New Year as well as went on a field trip and participated in the book reading week. E has always looked forward to our involvement, beaming with pride whenever we got busy in his class.
The school recently threw an International Day celebration, where parents from different nationalities came together to set up stores for their respective countries, showcasing their culture, information and most importantly, gave out food for sampling. I wasn’t aware of this event until I received an email from the school urging participation from more countries. With quite a number of Malaysians in this school, I was rather surprised to find that the usual group of Malaysian mums did not sign up this time around. My patriotic self panicked and started asking around. How can there be no “Malaysia” in this event? We have so much to share to the world!
It’s easy to forget our roots when we live abroad. That’s why we have always placed a priority in having our kids embrace their culture and be proud of their background. Determined to make it happen, I got in touch with one of the veteran school mums who used to lead the Malaysian team every year and volunteered to take the lead this year – having no idea what my role is all about!
They are probably the kindest lot of people I have met in Dubai so far because once the first meeting was called, everything just fell into place. We decided to join forces with the one-man-show “Brunei” team. One guided me on my tasks, another contacted the Malaysian Tourism for brochures, posters and souvenirs, while someone went to the Malaysian Consulate to pick up decoration items. There were 8-9 of us in the group, with each mum volunteering to sponsor 1-2 local Malaysian dishes for serving that day. I got busy gathering all items and printed out small posters about Malaysia to be pinned up on that day. It was not as tough as I’ve initially imagined. After attending two rounds of flag parade rehearsals, we were ready to rock and roll!
DIA International Day, 12th March 2015
On the day of event, the students were asked to go to school in either their country’s national costume, national colours or famous sports team colours. As E only had a set of Baju Melayu which he would be wearing for the parade later that day, I sewed a small flag on a plain yellow shirt and paired it with a dark blue pants. Voila, we’ve got an Anak Malaysia there!
For the in-class celebration, each child also brought in a country food. As I was busy with the evening event, he brought some love letters we got from Malaysia to share with his friends.
As the evening came, we started setting up the booth. All of us came dressed in our traditional costumes. I wore my one and only red Baju Kebaya which I wore on my wedding day in 2007. This was my third time wearing it, with the second time being a visit to the palace, representing my company in presenting a cake to the former King.
The parade started and E was the flag bearer, along with my friend’s son. I was initially worried that he would have a stage fright but boy, he made us all so proud, holding the flag up high and strutting his stuff!
After that, we got busy serving the food and giving out souvenirs to the guests.
There were roti jala, onde-onde, Hainanese chicken rice ball, seri muka, kuih lapis, karipap, turmeric rice with beef rendang, yam cake, pulut inti and air bandung. Even some Malaysian fruits like mangosteen, rambutan and papaya.
The Husband took some time off from work on that day to run a teh tarik corner. Many guests nodded in approval as they took a sip of his teh tarik 😀
We also took turns to go visiting each ‘country’ and try out their food. There were a total of 45 participating countries this year. We were so full by the time we finished the round.
We had a great fun representing Malaysia, so much so I don’t mind doing this again next year!