Blue Chillies and 501 Day: Showcasing Youth in Malaysia

Youth in Malaysia, listen up! There are two great opportunities for you to showcase your talents, personalities, interests, and ventures to the country at large:

1. KLue Magazine is holding their first KLue Blue Chilli Awards, which aims to highlight trailblazing youths with talent, creativity, charisma, and much more. From their website:

We’re looking to uncover the next wave of young, talented individuals bursting with creative potential and blazing trails in their respective fields. Promising actress, funky hairstylist or shrewd accountant – it doesn’t matter! We are spotting for the next Nicol David, the next Melinda Looi, the next Yasmin Ahmad, the next Tony Fernandes…

Vibrant, adventurous, confident – these people lead the way for others to follow.

And from their blog entry:

If you've been a follower of KLue all these years, you would know that one of our main goals as a publication has been, and still is, unearthing new and emerging talent. Be it in the "Spotlight" column of before, or the "Introducing…" column in our present Hype section, I'm proud to say that KLue has always been a firm believer in local talent and always dedicated time and space to bringing these individuals to the forefront.

So after doing all that over the years, we thought, why not take the next logical step and hold an event based on the same idea? And while we are at it, get our readers involved too? So along with some wonderfully supportive partners and sponsors, the KLue Blue Chilli Awards is born.

Prizes (for both the winners and their nominators) include cash, car drives, phones, cameras, hotel stays, vouchers, and so much more. It's also a great way to generate publicity and gain awareness.

If you, or someone you know

  • is aged 18-28
  • has lived in Malaysia for at least a year
  • is talented and motivated

then get nominating! Nominations close 31st May 2006 and the event will be held around July.

2. Levi's Jeans is holding a 501 Day festival in May to showcase youths' passions and hobbies. This can run the gamut from performance skills such as DJing or music, to businesses, to activism, to projects, to concepts…anything at all!

The event will be held as follows:

  • Date: Sunday 28th May 2006
  • Venue: Zouk KL
  • Time: 2 pm – midnight
  • Also in attendance: DJs, celebrities, local bands – and of course the talented youth!
  • No alcohol allowed (so parents, don't worry!)

They are currently looking for youths 16-25 for stage performances (music, dance, poetry, speeches, juggling, anything) or to set up stalls (for businesses, NGOs, concepts, etc). If you would like to be a part of this event, get this form (.DOC file) and mail it in to 501day@gmail.com before the 5th of May 2006. You can also take a look at their flyer for more information.

From awards to festivals; if you want to share your abilities and ideas with the world, here's your chance!

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Feeling The Thrill: Cast P for Passion

This blog has been silent for about two weeks – and with good reason. For the past couple of weeks, I have been in Denver, Colorado, USA, to volunteer for Up With People's Premiere of the new Global Education Program.

In that time span, I reconnected with my host family; caught up with some dear friends from my tour; made more new friends; intensely rehearsed nearly 15 songs, dances, and rhythm segments; volunteered at the Up With People office and at an elementary school; got elected to the Board of Governors for the Up With People Alumni Association as Era Rep (I am representing casts and crews from 2004 till 2010); and did many other things in between. It was a very packed fortnight, with barely a break, but it was also lots of fun and immensely relaxing.

The first thing that struck me about the whole experience was the atmosphere. In Denver, especially in the Up With People office, things are more laid-back and there is a greater sense of trust. People say "Please", "Excuse me", and "Thank you"; they hold doors for you; they chat with you in lines; they smile. I felt very safe and secure, and didn't need to worry about harassment or danger – whereas back home I have to arm myself with pepper spray and guard against the constant barrage of perverted truck drivers. Indeed, I could feel all my stress and anxiety melt away as soon as I landed in Los Angeles International, one flight away from Denver.

I spent a week volunteering at their office in the mornings, and it was a calm pleasant atmosphere; with fun rituals (ringing a bell whenever there's a new deposit payment), decorations (such as the very hilarious To-Do list on a whiteboard, which includes – amongst others "Party when we get the $$$" and "Make a witty remark"), freedom to talk and work, and general camaderie, there certainly was a warm family feel (especially since three non-profits are sharing the same space) and there is no notion of trying to out-do each other or putting each other down. Such a contrast from my current job, where there is a lot of back-biting but not much of looking out for each other.

The school we went to, Whiteman Elementary School, was also interesting to examine in terms of atmosphere; while it is in a pretty well-off residential community, most of the students were from refugee families. The class I helped co-manage (we were in teams) had people for whom English was not even a language, but they tried their best to get involved and get themselves heard. It was rather harrowing to hear some of the students talk about "beating each other up" or having family members in jail – it really reflects the tough family situations they live through every day. But yet somehow they manage to create this sense of camaderie and togetherness amongst themselves; that no matter what happens, we are in this together. And with our Stand For Peace lesson plans, about world peace and respect for each other, we hope we have made a difference. (The principal told us about the lessons the students have learnt thanks to us, and it really touched us all, especially DeeAnn who worked so hard almost singlehandedly on the project!)

A school with refugee children, who have seen the worst of humanity – and they manage to create the best situations for themselves. Yet there are schools with supposedly the "cream of the crop" as students, and the atmosphere is one of bullying, overcompetitiveness, stress, and narrow-mindedness. How strongly does atmosphere really reflect what they learn! It really does make a difference. You could have the best students in one room, but if it's not holistic or if no one considers welfare, not much can happen in terms of their education.

It was also very interesting to meet the rest of the cast (Cast P, as one member named us); most of them were alumni since before 2000, and had a different concept of the organization than the few of us who did the WorldSmart program in 2004 and 2005. A few people weren't directly related to Up With People; they were either from the Leader's Challenge program (a leadership program partnered with Up With People targeted to high school students) or were part of the theater scene in Denver. We had a very short time to get to know each other, learn all these numbers, and pull them off for a full-house audience, but somehow everything came together and we pulled it off (with flying colours and flying scarves and flying who knows what else.) The different perspectives, experiences, cultures, and skills of everyone – from absolute professionals, to absolute beginners like myself – as well as the collaboration with local cultural and arts groups like the Rocky Mountain Children's Choir and Words Can Heal, with the Denver Metro Boys & Girls Club, made for a very diverse, colourful, entertaining, and educational experience.

One thing I learnt from that experience was something repeated to us by one of our trainers, Michael Bowerman (active in music and theater): It's better to get a step wrong but with lots of energy, instead of getting the step right but being tentative about it. Especially in Up With People, but also for many other things in the world, passion is what counts; if you can convey the energy and passion you feel for something, your message will go through. There were people in the cast who were more nitpicky about getting the show "right", and that brought the energy down (at least for me); far more important than whether we were standing staggered or in a straight line was whether people would understand what we were trying to say – that we can bring the world together. It's all about being real, and about believing in yourself and your message. Everything else comes together from there.

Overall, it was an amazing experience, and I definitely felt that "thrill to your toes" feeling – not just in my toes but all over me. Unfortunately I was not selected to be part of the Road Staff this time round, but I did learn why (nothing personal, but a very enlightening conversation) and the whole experience has strengthened my resolve to be part of this organization in the near future, or at least look for more opportunities like these.

How else do you feel the thrill in your toes? And how does expressing your passion and being real get you to your goals and ambitions? Is it always better to be energetic even if you messed up rather than being right but unconvincing?

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AFS Exchange Programs For Adults

Ever wanted to be an exchange student but you had already left school? Wanted to be part of an AFS International program but were too old for the Malaysian exchange programs?

You're in luck; AFS Malaysia have just announced their Adult Exhange Programs, for those aged 17 and over. Here is an overview of the various programs (taken from The Star's article🙂

Argentina (University programme)
Duration: 11 months (August 2006 – July 2007)
Age requirement: 18-26 years old
Fee: RM25,000
Participants will attend public college or university courses from August to December and from March to June. Courses offered are Law, Philosophy, Communications (Journalism), Accounting, Economy, Information Technology, Telecommunication, Agronomy, Microbiology, Electronic Engineering, Mathematics, History, Physical Education, Veterinary Science, Educational Psychology, English, French and German.

Egypt (ABC to Egyptian culture)
Duration: Four weeks (June 2006 – July 2006)
Age requirement: 18-25 years old
Fee: RM9,500
A one-month summer programme which exposes participants to the cultural events that have helped to shape Egypt’s history.

Hungary (Folk art)
Duration: Four weeks (June 2006 – July 2006)
Age requirement: 18-25 years old
Fee: RM9,500
Participants will focus on the history of ethnic minorities in the region as well as get the chance too express their creativity in weaving, pottery making and woodcarving.

Paraguay (Soccer)
Duration: Seven weeks (July 2006 – August 2006)
Age requirement: 17-25 years old
Fee: RM14,000
A chance to develop soccer skills in a seven-week training course in a prestigious club, under the watchful eye of one of the most celebrated soccer trainers in Paraguay.

Guatemala (Community service)
Duration: Seven weeks (August 2006 – September 2006)
Age requirement: 18-50 years old
Fee: RM14,000
Participants will get the opportunity to work as volunteers in NGOs in Guatemala in the areas of social development, children care and environmental issues.

Applications close April 15th 2006 so hurry! There's something for everybody and it's a great opportunity, a chance of a lifetime. For more information:

Good luck and do let us know if you get in – we'd love to hear your experiences!

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