Miri – 5 November 2010 – 172 student volunteers of Curtin University, Sarawak Malaysia (Curtin Sarawak) recently spent two very fulfilling weekends carrying out community service projects at five longhouses and rural communities around Miri.
The students, who are members of the Curtin Volunteers! (CV!), the university’s main student volunteer organisation, carried out the projects under the John Curtin Weekend (JCW), an annual project initiated in Australia by the CV! main chapter in Perth and now spans the entire Australian continent, and for the last four years, been adopted by Curtin Sarawak. It is run concurrently by all chapters each year.
In each community visited, the CV!, in real ‘gotong-royong’ fashion alongside the villagers, carried out tasks like chopping down old trees, general cleaning around the communities, and lending their foster families a hand with household chores.They also helped the villagers prepare for communal gatherings with the CV! to celebrate the success of their joint efforts, and gave talks to the villagers on the importance of personal hygiene and proper education.
At Rumah Genethan, the longhouse headman said, “We thank the students of Curtin University for spending their time with us. They were very hardworking and we really appreciate their efforts. The children were especially happy with their presence.”
The headman of Rumah Linggie also praised the volunteers, saying, “The Curtin volunteers are very kind and we hope they enjoyed their experience of our rural lifestyle. We hope to see them again in the coming years.”
For the CV!, the visits were cultural experiences of a lifetime, particularly the joy of giving and sharing and interacting with the rural folk.“It’s was a new and wonderful experience for both the local and international students, most of whom had never visited longhouses before. We wish we could have spent more time in the communities and helping our respective foster families,” commented Wong Syh Yong, site leader for the project at Rumah Nunong.
Volunteer Antonina Clementina Chai shared Wong’s sentiments, describing the experience as an eye-opener as it was her first time visiting a longhouse.
“Helping the community along with my friends was fun and exciting. It was great seeing people of all ethnic backgrounds and persuasions working together,” she added.
According to University Life Officer Ansovinus Bonus Chai, the JCW has impacted a number of communities in the area over the last four years, and it was very heartening to see the project receiving such an overwhelming response again this year.
He added that the aim of this year’s visits was to reach out the rural communities through community work and educational sessions.
The communities visited were Rumah Genethan, Rumah Nunong, Rumah Randi, Rumah Linggi and Kampung Beraya.