John Curtin Weekend a rewarding experience for students and staff

The volunteers painting a village building

Miri – 23 October 2012 – 250 students and staff of Curtin University, Sarawak Malaysia (Curtin Sarawak) recently carried out community service activities at six longhouses on the outskirts of Miri under the university’s annual John Curtin Weekend programme. The six longhouses were Rumah Jarek, Rumah Nunong, Rumah Baie, Rumah Ajie, Rumah Pakut and Rumah Entulang.

The activities were organised by the Curtin Volunteers! (CV!), the university’s largest student volunteer organisation, over two weekends from 21 to 23 September and 28 to 30 September 2012.

Among the volunteers were Curtin Sarawak’s Pro Vice-Chancellor Professor Ian Kerr and Chief Operating Officer Nicholas Ching.

The John Curtin Weekend or JCW was initiated in Australia by the CV! main chapter at Curtin’s main campus at Bentley in Perth and now spans all of Curtin’s Australian and international campuses. It is run concurrently by all CV! chapters each year, usually over two consecutive weekends in September or October.

Longhouse children learning how to produce recycled paper from old newspapers during an educational workshop

The programme aims primarily to reach out to rural longhouse communities through a variety of activities such as ‘gotong-royong’ with the villagers to restore and upgrade buildings, as well as conducting educational workshops for their children, helping out on their farms, and organising cultural events with them.

The educational workshops this year, which were conducted in collaboration with student members of the Curtin Educational Excellence Facilitating Team (E-FacT), emphasised the importance of recycling.

A cultural event organised with the villagers this year included ngajat dances and a Kumang and Keling competition at Rumah Baie. It was enjoyed thoroughly by both the villagers and the student and staff volunteers.

Professor Kerr posing with a couple of villagers

According to organising chairperson Rachel Chuo Chung Ee, this year’s John Curtin Weekend activities were hugely successful thanks to the generous sponsorship of Dato’ Sebastian Ting, Political Secretary to Minister of Energy, Green Technology and Water, as the support of various organisations and Curtin Sarawak’s University Life Department. Chuo also praised her hardworking committee members for their commitment and spirit of volunteerism.

University Life coordinator Bryan Robson Bala said he was delighted that the students and staff carried out another successful event this year and he hopes the John Curtin Weekend would continue to grow in the future.

Students who won the Kumang and Keling competition posing with Professor Kerr, Encik Noel of Rumah Baie and the other contestants

Meanwhile, Professor Kerr remarked that he had an enjoyable time and he trusts activities like the John Curtin Weekend will help Curtin Sarawak’s students grow in experience and maturity.

Apart from the John Curtin Weekend, the CV! also organises blood donation drives, beach cleaning campaigns, charity fundraisers and community outreach projects in support of rural communities and local charitable bodies.

The volunteers pose for a group photo with villagers

Further information on Curtin Sarawak can be obtained from its website at or on Facebook at CurtinUniversitySarawakMalaysia.

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