A unique off-campus learning experience

Spearheaded by the University's commitment to community engagement, the Campus Community Engagement program was initiated in December 2019 to provide students with the opportunity to gain a unique off-campus learning experience. The interdisciplinary initiative involved students working with various Non-Government Organisations (NGO) involved in the provision of clinical, health, environmental, and social care to needy individuals. Their mission was simple: observe and participate in the activities of their assigned NGOs, identify needs and propose solutions.

The six-week program was led by Associate Professor Umadevi Palanisamy with assistance from the Malaysian Immersion Hub, and involved key academic mentors from various schools. Students formed small interdisciplinary working groups and were placed with six participating NGOs including: Agape Vision, Malaysian Care, PT Foundation, Destiny Welfare Centre (Pertubuhan Pusat Kebajikan Destiny), Pertubuhan Keluarga Orang-Orang Bermasalah Pembelajaran (PERKOBP), and the Taiwan Buddhist Tzu-Chi Foundation Malaysia.

While working with the Malaysian Care and Taiwan Buddhist Tzu-Chi Foundation Malaysia, students were given the opportunity to socialise with the refugee community. The interaction helped them understand the hardship faced by the community - whether in communicating with the locals or the challenges they faced in accessing health care. As their placements coincided with the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, the students also observed the impact of the global crisis on already vulnerable communities.  The recommendations provided by our students to stakeholders thus aimed to improve their current situation and make their experience less daunting.

At Agape Vision, students learned that many of the youths at the Centre were unaware of their rights and how to have safe sexual relationships. They proposed a module which focuses on increasing their awareness on these topics, with the hope that this would encourage their clients to develop healthy relationships and have better insights into methods of handling abuse.

Every suggestion made to their stakeholders was aimed at enhancing the NGOs' services and operations. While learning problem-solving techniques, students also gained an unforgettable experience working with other interns from other universities and different field of studies.

The extracurricular event was entirely voluntary. Students were required to undertake a few reflective writing exercises to track their own personal development and received a certificate of participation at the end of the program.

For more information on students' activities during the program, click here.