Inspiring Malaysians Wanted for Singaporean Series

Just received this in my comments – if you know of inspiring Malaysians of any age, please pass this on:

I’m researching for a documentary for a TV station in Singapore and I’m looking for some inspiring Malaysian (no age limit) to be featured. Such an individual must be contactable as we plan to fly in a film crew. There is no cost involved except time. The profile we’re looking for is someone who is sacrificing time and energy for a cause or for his/her community. If you have someone in mind, please reply to

Thank you!

Martin Mak


Carnival of Youth Initiative #1

Hey everyone! After some very busy weeks, I am back with the entries from the First Carnival of Youth Initiative!

Firstly, can I just request that submissions be DIRECTLY RELATED to the theme of youth and youth initiative. I received too many submissions that had nothing to do with either theme; indeed, I wonder if they were merely carnival-spamming. Not appreciated, people! But here are some good entries for the first carnival.

My friend Naoko/Pat wrote about some young Malaysian bloggers making an impact online. She also muses on what youth initiative is and how it relates to society in general.

Jeremy from Welcome To The Future compares the youth of the 60s and today, together with a funny yet thoughtprovoking comic strip. He points out:

History is quickly disappearing to the point where most of us can’t remember our grandparents.

Arun’s Daily Remedy has some tips on being social for young people. Not exactly about youth initiative, but I’ll let it slide here as the advice is tailored for youths in general.

That’s it this time. Keep updated on future Carnivals of Youth Initiative at our Blog Carnival listing, and submit!

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Want Alternative Education Books in Malaysia? Head to Borders

I am currently wandering around KL to meet friends, and I’ve been carrying my bulky laptop all day (I’m in the midst of changing accommodation). I’m actually in the top floor of Sungei Wang, loud pop music blasting from one side, and I took out my laptop just to write this:

If you’re in Malaysia and want books about alternative education or school reform, your best bet is Borders in Berjaya Times Square, Imbi.

It’s not very easy to find non-mainstream or non-trendy books in Malaysian bookstores, particularly in regional cities. Kuala Lumpur and Selangor are fortunate in that they have the bigger branches of the major bookstore chains and can afford to carry a wider selection. Still, books on alternative education and school reform are hard to find. The Education section tends to carry books on teaching, revision, or tips on succeeding in school; there aren’t many books questioning the notion of school.

However, Borders in Berjaya Times Square has an EXCELLENT selection of books on alternative education and school reform. I finally managed to snag a copy of Denise Clark Pope’s Doing School, after searching it high and low in other bookstores in Malaysia and Australia and even considering buying it from overseas. They also have books from major alternative education thinkers John Taylor Gatto, John Dewey, and John Holt – basically the “it” people of alternative education. (I’m sure them all being named John is a coincidence.) Among the other books in their in-store collection are:

  • The Overachievers by Alexandra Robbins, about students who strive to achieve as much as possible in academics and extra-curriculars (which Pope also tackles)
  • The Chosen: The Hidden History of Admission and Exclusion at Harvard, Yale, and Princeton by Jerome Karabel, about the culture of admissions standards in Ivy League universities
  • and SO MUCH MORE on teaching at-risk children, class and culture issues, school reform, unschooling, homeschooling, and so much more.

I am in a rush, and my battery is dying, so I will come back to add links and a book list to this post or a later post. I will also post a review of Doing School once I’ve read it. You can find some related books in Times, Kinokuniya, and MPH – Kinokuniya in particular has good books on career choices (including Delaying The Real World, which I reviewed here and bought from there) and activism. But for education in particular, Borders can’t be beat.

BORDERS, if you are reading this – please contact me!

links for 2007-07-10

Khazanah Global Lectures: Learn From The World’s Greatest

Fancy a lecture from a former United Nations Secretary-General, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, or the Prime Minister? How about if the lectures were free? Your chance is here!

As part of its Merdeka Series 2007, Khazanah Nasional Berhad is presenting the Khazanah Global Lectures – a series of lectures by prominent world leaders on development in international affairs, economics, society, corporations, and holistic matters. The line-up features:

12th July 2007 Kofi Annan (former UN Secretary-General)
15th August 2007 Muhammad Yunus (founder of Grameen Bank, Nobel Peace Prize winner)
29th August 2007 Joseph E Stiglitz (former Senior Vice President of the World Bank)
10th December 2007 YAB Dato Seri Abdullah Badawi (Prime Minister of Malaysia)
March 2008 Carlos Ghosn (CEO of Nissan and Renault)

All the lectures, taking place in different hotels around Kuala Lumpur, are by invitation with limited free seats for the public. To get one of the coveted public seats, register for your choice of lecture and they will let you know a few days before the lecture if you’re successful. University students, academics, and members of the public are also able to view the lectures through livecasts at participating universities, so if you miss out on a seat, get yourself to a livecast.

Khazanah Nasional Berhad will also organize two other activities: a National Development Seminar (also free to the public) and the Megatrends Forum 2007 (by invitation only). More information about those events will be released soon.

Learn about the world from those that have made the biggest differences. Register for a lecture now!

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Reviving Brick In The Wall: Join Us – Bring Alternative Education To Malaysia

If you are interested in youth and alternative education; if you feel that the Malaysian education system needs changes; if you want to make a difference; if you are resourceful, dedicated, imaginative, creative, diligent – Brick In The Wall needs you.

Brick In The Wall was a project I started in 2005 to promote alternative education in Malaysia. It was meant to be a non-profit that organized various programs and facilities to provide educational opportunities to Malaysian youth. Amongst the planned projects included (but were not limited to):

  • A resource centre, with a library, computing services, education counselling, creative spaces, meeting spaces, and lots more
  • “Support Me”, a sponsorship program whereby young people put up their projects and receive support (financial, in-kind, or personal) from others
  • An alternative education fair, with representation from various organizations and service providers
  • Workshops, skillshares, and roadshows on alternative education
  • A resource list of various organizations, service providers, and programs open to Malaysians
  • A scholarship fund for young Malaysians interested in taking up alternative educational opportunities
  • Publications about alternative education

Based on an initial project proposal, I contacted various people and set up a YahooGroup and a TakingITGlobal Project Page, and even had a preliminary meeting. Some time later I and another member spoke with the Masters in Instructional Design students at Universiti Malaya about our project. I sent out the proposal anywhere and everywhere; ASTRO sounded interested.

We had high hopes, but due to many factors, we really didn’t get anywhere. I was embarking on my Up with People tour and wouldn’t be in the country for half the year. Other members dropped out and became disinterested. We also never made the proposal practical – we didn’t have a budget, which was sorely needed, and we couldn’t work out how to convert ideas into actual project steps. When I moved to Australia, I handed over leadership to another member, and stayed on in a supervisory role. EducateDeviate, which started on New Years Day 2006 after my return from UWP, was my way of getting the word about alternative education across; it was awareness-building without requiring too many resources, and I could start it immediately.

In the past year, especially within the past couple of months, awareness about the need for change in Malaysian education has increased manifold. Government officials, including the Ministry of Education, have spoken up against the rush for As and made it clear that students need to learn from real life, not just books and school. Young people with non-mainstream talents and achievements are being recognized. More and more Malaysians are taking up alternative educational opportunities, or researching about them – for instance, there is a Malaysian travelling in one of the UWP casts this year. I just received an email from a young lady who wants to set up a service to help students apply for internships, since her experience was quite a hassle. Malaysians now realize the importance of supporting youth ventures and of the rich variety of learning experiences outside school, and they’re hungry for information and resources.

It’s time to restart Brick In The Wall.

To get Brick In The Wall up and running again, we need people. We need people with very practical abilities – budgeting, resource planning, grant writing. We need creative people who can generate lots of ideas. We need people who can convert ideas into action. We need marketers and promoters. We need people well-versed in local law, policy, and regulations. We need people with energy, drive, and determination.

We need YOU.

Join the YahooGroup, introduce yourself, and share ideas. Download the project proposal (which desperately needs a rewrite) and suggest ways to improve it. Drop me a line. Pass the word on. Get involved.

Brick In The Wall needs you. Malaysian youth and education need you. Come join us.

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Interns Wanted: Centre for Public Policy Studies

If you’re passionate about Malaysian issues, interested in public policy, and have time to spare from July 11st to August, read this announcement from the MyWordUp mailing list:

Dear all,

This is a call and plead, a desperate request to anyone who is:

1. Passionate about Malaysian issues
2. Is free to avail themselves for about a month anytime between July 11th (next week) and August
3. Interested to be involved in policy work and processes
4. Able to work efficiently and well!

Basically, I’m working at the Centre for Public Policy Studies, ASLI, and the only person working under me is a part time intern who is leaving next week. I’m all alone and trying to do too many things at the same time. Yes, CPPS is a one-woman show.

We are hiring new staff, but that will only be later, and so am stuck in a rut during this in-between period.

There are a gazillion projects at my feet at this point, and anyone in between studies or in between jobs or even willing to help in whatever ways you can would be MUCH appreciated!

Any volunteers you guys can offer me? Or you can forward this around as well. Ask them to check out our website for information on what we do as a Centre. Mail me back at or call me up at 0126122100.

Thanks everyone!!


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Interview: Brett Farmiloe, Pursue the Passion

Pursue the PassionOne of the best ways to learn how to follow your dreams is to learn from others that have done so. 22-year-old Brett Farmiloe and his friends have taken this idea and run with it through Pursue the Passion, taking a roadtrip across the USA to interview passionate people and encourage other young people to pursue their own passions.

EducateDeviate recently talked to Brett to learn about his own passions and how PTP came about:

Who are you? Introduce yourself.

My name is Brett Farmiloe. I am the founder of Pursue the Passion, and a 22 year old corporate america dropout.

What is Pursue the Passion? How did the idea come about? is a resource you can turn to for inspiration, guidance, and support when contemplating the “what should I do with my life” question. The idea came about when I was a senior in college and I had no idea what I wanted to do upon graduation, so I started to interview people about where they were at my age and how they wound up in the career they are in today. On our site you can find all 75 interviews I conducted from the first tour, and you can read about the interviews we are conducting right now on the 2007 tour.

What happens on the Pursue the Passion Tour?

Three friends and I are traveling 14,000 miles in a gigantic RV to interview 200 people who love their work.

This is your second tour, the first one having taken place last year. Is anything changing this year? What have you learnt from last year’s tour that you are taking on board this year?

The largest change is who we place interview requests with. Last year we contacted people based on their title or by the company that they worked for. What we found is that this doesn’t always mean they are passionate about what they do. This year we are trying to find only the people that love their work, and we are doing that by having 90% of the interviews we conduct come as a result of referrals.

Where and how do you find the people you interview? Do you look for any specific types of passion/career, or does anything go? Do you keep in touch with them after your interview?

We contact people that know their local community very well to find people that are truly passionate. We are going into this tour with an open mind, so any careers or passions that come our way we always will consider. It’s just as fun to interview a CEO of a multi million dollar brownie factory as it is the guy who does news from a helicopter. And we always try to keep in touch with the people we interview.

What inspired you to start Pursue the Passion? How did you sort out the logistics (the RV, sponsorship, finding interview subjects, etc)? How long does it take to plan a PTP tour?

I have started planning the current tour we are on and undertaking the logistics of it all since we got back from the first one in August. So a good ten months have been poured into creating what you can currently find on our site. Definitely takes passion to persist with carrying out this idea.

You are travelling with three other people – James, Noah, and Zach. Were you all friends beforehand? Why have they decided to join you on the tour?

I’ve known Jay and Noah since the dorm days at the University of Arizona. Zach I’ve roomed with for the last year as we both were unhappy corporate auditors. They’ve come on the tour to glean the guidance from passionate professionals, and to travel the country in a RV.

I was just watching Oprah’s Big Adventure that she did with her best friend Gayle (travelling across the US) and she mentioned that sometimes taking a cross-country trip with friends can severely test the friendship, as well as your patience and stamina. Having done this tour before, what sort of tests did you have to face, and how did you face them? How do you maintain peace and sanity on a gruelling tour like this?

This is a challenge we’ve faced…even on day one. I think that everyone needs to know the goal, and needs to know their responsibility. If we are all busy, all working towards our goal of executing this tour, then we will only escape with a few bumps and bruises. But piling four guys into a small RV will definitely test our patience and stamina. Ask this question to me in 86 days, when the tour ends.

In different cities you have organized The Passion Hour. What happens at the Passion Hour?

We invite people who are interested in the tour to come meet with us and other like minded passionate professionals in the community for a little after hours networking. We are still trying to figure out what happens at Passion hour, but the one we just conducted on Monday had over twenty people attend, and I feel like everyone who was in attendance took something away from it.

You are introducing some new things this year, such as getting college students to join you on the road and work on internships, as well as forming a Facebook group. Tell us more about those initiatives. Why have you decided to involve college students this time round?

College students are the group that I originally started Pursue the Passion for. The more ways I can get students involved the better. Our “Passionger Program” invites students to join us for a day of interviews, so if you’re interested in participating, email me at The goal with the facebook group is to spread the message that it is important to be passionate about what you do, and that you shouldn’t accept the first job that comes your way. Take the time to figure yourself out, check out our site, and use it to determine your career direction.

What else will you be doing on tour, besides interviews?

Seeing the country, Passion Hour, Never Eat Alone Lunches, writing, editing video, compiling a documentary, writing a book, figuring ourselves out, and spreading an inspirational message to anyone who will listen.

I was telling my sister about you and she mentioned the DVD/Book series Roadtrip Nation, which also involves a group of young people on cross-country road trips asking people about their careers. Was PTP at all inspired by Roadtrip Nation? Do you feel that this is a concept already done before, or is it a concept that needs to be done more?

This is a concept dating back from Napolean Hill with Think and Grow Rich to Po Bronson and What Should I Do With My Life. People have always sought out advice from those who have been in a position to provide it. We are different from everyone else because no one, to my knowledge, has conducted interviews with passionate professionals to see how you can find your passion and combine it with your career.

The inspiration that I derived from Roadtrip Nation was when I was in the “what should I do with my life” dilemma, and I emailed them on three separate occasions to ask them for advice. I didn’t hear back from them once. Once I did develop this idea I resorted back to those unanswered emails and made it a priority for Pursue the Passion to be an interactive resource for people in a similar situation as I was. So if you email me, I will write back, and if you comment on our site, I will comment back, and other people will too.

What is your passion? How do you define passion?

My passion is seeing Pursue the Passion grow and develop into something that positively affects people’s lives. Passion is something that is so ingrained within you that there is no line between what you do and who you are.

How does one Pursue their Passion?

There is no specific formula to follow. You start by starting, and looking at yourself and finding the smallest things you are interested in and developing those interests into passions. You can start the pursuit by going to

EducateDeviate is about education in life, especially when it comes to personal passions. It is argued that school nowadays do not encourage the pursuit of passions. Do you agree? How can schools and education systems encourage the pursuit of passion amongst students?

Schools have to worry about a lot of things, and unfortunately, I feel that your passion is not one of their main concerns. I am trying to change that with Pursue the Passion with a program that will make it a priority in schools. This program will send students out into the local community to conduct their own interviews with passionate professionals.

How else can people (especially from outside USA) get involved with PTP?

I always tell people we need help in three areas…participation, promotion, and planning. I encourage people to participate on our site by commenting on the interviews and our opinions on the journey blog. I believe that interactive feedback will more effectively help people determine their career direction than if they were just reading an interview. We need help spreading the message of the tour because the more people that benefit from our work, the better.

Lastly, I’ve always dreamed about conducting a Pursue the Passion World Tour, and we need to start planning for that by finding places to stay, people to interview, and places to go. Helping us plan for the world tour would be an awesome way for people outside of the United States to get involved! Email me if you have any recommendations on where we should go.

Brett and I have communicated via email and I can vouch that he does reply! Take a look at Pursue the Passion right now for inspirational interviews, and root for them as they go onto their magical mystery tour.

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The Best Thing Malaysia’s Education Minister Has Said Lately

Not everything can be taught in classrooms through a formal curriculum. Many values we hope to inculcate in students cannot be derived from books and theories alone. Students need to be exposed to real life outside the classrooms.That is why co-curricular activities are important. If we carry out activities in a planned and practical manner, we can mould students into well-rounded people who are balanced emotionally and intellectually.

Malaysia Education Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein, on the importance of co-corricular activities

This makes me immeasurably happy.

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links for 2007-07-04

Carnival of Youth Initiative: Submit Now!

Are you a young person with a blog entry that needs sharing? Have you written about youth on your blog recently? Would you like to read and discuss articles about youth and their power for initiative?

If you are, then contribute for the 1st Edition of the Carnival of Youth Initiative!

Blog carnivals are essentially special blog events where a host blogger will post up links to other blog entries related to the theme of the carnival. Some examples of carnivals are the Carnival for Short Stories and the Carnival of Education. Blog Carnival has a full listing of hundreds of blog carnivals to participate in.

EducateDeviate is hosting the Carnival of Youth Initiative and I am currently accepting submissions. I am looking for entries about youth issues/youth initiative, as well as entries by young people with initiative (such as a project you are working on). I’m not accepting personal diary-type entries.

To submit, send in your entry through this Blog Carnival form or through my contact page. Submissions close 15th July 2007 and will be posted a week later. Edit: As clarification – old entries can also be submitted for this carnival; you don’t have to write new ones specifically for this (though you can if you want!).

Pass the word round! Hope to see your entries soon!

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links for 2007-07-03

How To Get Involved With Your Passions

A recent post on Ask MetaFilter asks:

How do you cope when you seem to be surrounded on all sides by ineffectiveness and apathy?

In his question, jmnugent talks about his frustration at seeing his work and ideas not coming to fruition due to the apathy around him. He feels that not many people “care about quality work” and only does the bare minimum, and is finding it hard to be passionate when it seems no one really cares.

There is quite an animated discussion over rewards for efforts, living on principle, and the value of ideas. In the middle of all this comes the true question: How does a passionate person get involved with other passionate groups and people?

The main answer is that you have to go and look for those groups and people – expecting them to look for you will not yield much. You may be lucky and get discovered, but – like being rich, being famous, or finding the love of your life – a lot of it requires effort. Along the way you’ll also need to earn trust, work on communications skills, and do the work without blame or worry on someone holding you back.

Fortunately it isn’t that difficult to get started. Here are some starting points (as posted by me to jmnugent’s question) on getting involved with other passionate people: (click on the More link)

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