Friday, May 24

Global volunteer programme drives student nationalism to greater heights

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Malaysian volunteers Nurul Ain Azimah Razak (left) and Wong Kin Lun loading the bricks into a wheelbarrow to be taken to construction site. — Bernama photo

HO CHI MINH CITY: Initiatives involving undergraduates in global volunteering programmes are not only capable of giving wider exposure to the undergraduates but can also spur the spirit of nationalism to a higher level.

Malaysia’s Consul-General in Vietnam, Shazryll Zahiran said under the programme, the target groups had the opportunity to learn the social customs and culture of the communities in other countries and to absorb positive values throughout the programme.

“As Malaysians, we must be thankful because we live in a peaceful environment, we don’t face problems which are found in countries facing internal conflicts.

“But we feel it is necessary to churn out individuals who have the mental strength to face conflicts because they are the future leaders of the country,” Shazryll told Bernama at the office of the Malaysian Consulate-General in Vietnam yesterday.

The mission ‘Green Summer Volunteer Campaign Vietnam’ is an annual undergraduate volunteering event organised by the Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union, but what is of more significance, Malaysia is the only country that had been invited for two consecutive years to participate in the programme.

This year, the ‘Yayasan Sukarelawan Siswa’ (YSS) sent 30 undergraduates selected from institutions of higher learning throughout Malaysia and they would stay for one month beginning July 13 until Aug 10 to assist the local community in activities to build houses and bridges and conduct tuition classes free of charge in the spirit of friendship.

Commenting further, Shazryll said the ‘Green Summer Volunteer Campaign Vietnam’ mission represented an opportunity for the undergraduates to appreciate in depth the real concept of volunteerism.

He said that the YSS, as the body responsible for bringing Malaysian undergraduates to join the mission, had made the correct choice by selecting Vietnam as the destination for the volunteering programme.

Shazryll said Vietnam was most appropriate for the volunteering programme because it was a nation that was ‘slowly’ moving towards progress and still needed support at the international level.

“Vietnam is also among the countries that have a history of conflict such as the Vietnam war with the United States in the past…the remnants of the war are still apparent and they are also affected by natural disasters such as major floods and typhoons,” he said.

Shazryll also hoped that undergraduates from Vietnam could be brought to Malaysia under such programmes so that they could learn the culture, customs and development in Malaysia besides providing voluntary force.

Meanwhile, YSS acting chief executive officer Nur Afni Halil said the objective of the foundation was to create youth icons who were well prepared in terms of personality, mental strength and sufficient exposure.

“When they take up volunteerism, they will have varying experience. Of course we have the ‘gotong-royong’ in Malaysia but we want them to do something that will give greater impact to the country.

“We also take undergraduates from differing disciplines, backgrounds, ethnic groups and religions so that they can not only understand the real concept of 1Malaysia but even become mini ambassadors who can provide positive exposure and values to the community here on Malaysia,” she said. — Bernama