I just opened the back door of my Panda (the nickname of my car) to unload my stuff when a gentleman walked towards me and offered help. I immediately guessed he was one of the parents of a student participant in the program I was about to start in Jubail, the John Maxwell YouthMax Leadership Program. Jubail is about one hour drive from my hometown.
The drive was challenging on the main highway, but pleasant as I approached the residential compounds of Jubail where thousands of expatriates work in this huge industrial city! As I departed from home about 15 minutes later than planned, I was particularly vigilant of all speed cameras erected on the sides of the highway, not that I was speeding over the threshold. And, of course, watching for all insane drivers who flash at you a kilometer away to pass. And they normally cause turbulence to my Panda as they pass with close to 200 K per hour! So, arriving at destination safely was in itself a breather.
So, when the gentleman offered help, it was as if he knew what I was going through on the highway! I said, “I think I am ok,” on the outside. On the inside, “Please!” That was only the tip of the iceberg. What I witnessed from the Malaysian Community that day surpassed all expectations. I arrived around 7:45 and the workshop was supposed to start an hour later. Many of the kids (youth 13-18) and their parents were already there! Talk about interest, talk about respect to their parents, talk about their cooperative attitude! Parents were all buzzing with action offloading stuff from their cars and proceeding to set up the room. Within minutes, as I was busy setting up my laptop and ensuring good projection and sound, all workshop materials were on the tables.
As the workshop relies on some videos, the sound quality is important. And, this was my struggle, I thought. The technician, the photographer and all those who have some technical knowledge of sound connectivity moved into action suggesting solutions, even though I came ready with Alternative Plan, which did not work at the beginning. It was obvious that the success of the event is also their interest, and not just mine. Seeing them around lending hands alleviated my worries.
When things were up and running (almost), the parents wanted to give some introductions through some volunteered spokespersons. I have conducted this workshop twice in my hometown, and none of the parents hinted at joining us for a few minutes at the start, although most of them were supportive of the program. But genuine words of welcome and interest in seeing their kids embark on a program like the YouthMax Leadership Program made me feel special. And that in itself was a motivator to do my best to add value to their children. In fact the workshop went very well, judging by the interactions from the students, and their enthusiasm which kept them going all the way to the end!
Malaysia is on my list of countries to visit. In fact, it is also on my list to do speaking and training business, and I feel opportunities are coming. Yet, I have already gotten a good feel of its people. The Malaysian Community in Jubail left me spellbound, especially for their kindness, hospitality, togetherness and team spirit. I felt I was among a family I knew for a long time. I have seen the beauty of Malaysia present in its people. So, Malaysia is really, really, truly Asia! Thank you Norma and the rest of your team. Thanks also go to the children and especially to the mystery little kid who joined us (on my signal) in the group photos :).
I am ready to repeat the experience in different shapes and forms. And, I wish that one day we could bring both my home town community with the Malaysian Community for a cross-cultural event. And I will be the lead host!
More to come on this event…stay tuned!