SHAH ALAM, MALAYSIA – Four Better Futures Consortium member institutions namely Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM), Southern Connecticut State University (SCSU), Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU), and Shanghai Normal University (SHNU), together brought 44 volunteers to participate in the conservation and sustainable environment activities known as Global Volunteering Programme from July 1 until July 14, 2019 in Pulau Banding, Belum Forest Reserve and Orang Utan Island, Bukit Merah, Perak.
During the programme, the volunteers distributed plenty of necessary items for the Orang Asli like rice, bags, plants, books, stationery, and healthy food snacks mainly sponsored by OEL Realty Holdings Sdn Bhd, Tunas Nasional Holdings Sdn Bhd, as well as other numerous donors. The programme was conducted to embrace social responsibility as part of its contribution to future generation by helping to save endangered species and Orang Asli communities in Malaysia. The first-ever global volunteering programme with the theme ‘Conserving Their Home and Our Home’, the volunteers engage in various conservation activities such as planting trees, teaching English to primary and pre-school students of Orang Asli in Sungai Tiang and Kampung Semelor, cleaning activities at Orang Utan Centre as well as feeding the orangutans at the sanctuary.
Better Futures Consortium is a partnership of modern civic universities pioneering ways to enhance students’ success and advance sustainable development through collaboration and shared practice in intercultural education. The Global Volunteering Programme was hosted by the Office of International Affairs (OIA), UiTM partnered by EMKAY Foundation Malaysia, an organisation that seek their philanthropic work to help people in need, especially those living on the fringes of developed areas in which their assistance is divided into five main categories namely education, healthcare, sports, development, religion as well as social welfare. In this programme, UiTM GESTURZ curates the video and images for documentation and future showcase as well as promotional plan. During the closing ceremony, an experience sharing session was done by four representatives from each consortium member of institutions and curated video presentation to share the moments captured during the programme (Link to video: https://youtu.be/5C0c0Ah53T8).
Vice-Chancellor of UiTM, Emeritus Prof Ir Dr Mohd Azraai Kassim in his speech during the closing ceremony held at UiTM GESTURZ on July 12, 2019 said, “The desire to learn and to know about new things; the drive to be inquisitive; to explore various possibilities in conserving endangered species and indigenous communities can lead to new discovery and amazing findings.” He expressed his gladness towards the volunteers’ willingness to gain new and valuable learning experience and share their skills in various fields with one another through this programme as well as creating global networking for a better future.
Dr Zainab Mohd Noor, Director of Office of International Affairs (OIA), UiTM said, “Such programme like this is crucial for all students to volunteer and to enrol during their studies. It will give a real-life learning experience that you will not get in any textbooks or from any teachers or course instructors.” This volunteering programme was a collaboration not only between Better Futures Consortium member institutions but also from Institute of Quality and Knowledge Advancement (InQKA), UiTM; as well as Galeri Seni Tuanku Nur Zahirah (GESTURZ), UiTM.
Better Futures Consortium has also planned other programmes for 2019 which includes Shanghai Summer Camp (hosted by SHNU) in Shanghai, China; as well as World Merit (hosted by LJMU) in Marrakesh, Morocco. The synergy between the institutions bears witness to a fruitful partnership in promoting experience-led learning as well as addressing current concerns among members of institutions.