199. Cikgu Zaidah – the story of sacrifice

I kept this story for today because I felt that it embodied sacrifice, more than anything.

I met Cikgu Zaidah on the flight to Langkawi. It was her first time taking a flight alone; her children were waiting for her at the airport.

A former lecturer in Maktab Perguruan Bahasa, she is now retired but still very much an educator at heart. Throughout the short flight, she shared with me so many gems about life and being a teacher but this one struck me the most.

She was sent to England to go through a 2.5 years teacher training programme, pre-Malaysian Independence. She had to sacrifice much just to pursue her dreams to be a certified teacher. She was thrust into a totally new environment and even had to do her practicum in an English grammar school. Imagine, a Malay teacher being told to teach English children at a time where colonialism was still having its heyday.

She shared with me how, together with the other Malaysian student-teachers, they’d banded together and learnt to live. They would buy livestock and slaughter it themselves, they would support each other through the hard times and through all that, learnt empathy and gained strength.

She came back to a different Malaysia, for Malaysia gained independence while she was in England. She needed to readjust and deal with changes, while at the same time be at the forefront of educating the next generation of leaders.

Her parting words to me were these: “Teach with your heart. You are educating the next generation, do it with lots of love. It will be the most fulfilling thing you’ll ever do”

I’ll remember those words – very apt words for me before I journey into my time as a teacher. 🙂

And oh yes! Eid Mubarak to my Muslim readers! May we always remember to keep our intentions for the sake of Allah – only then will all our sacrifices be made meaningful, both in spirit and in purpose. Have a meaningful day with loved ones! (:

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