KUALA LUMPUR: It was indeed a trip of a lifetime for 20 students from SMK Subis in Miri, who got the chance to know more about the commercial aviation industry during a programme at the nation’s capital recently.
The outing on Dec 7-9 was organised by General Electric (GE) Malaysia and AirAsia Bhd, in partnership with the Teach for Malaysia (TFM) Fellowship Programme.
The students – some of whom had never boarded an airplane before – were brought to the Asian Aviation Centre of Excellence (AACE) and also the GE headquarters here.
At the AACE – formerly known as the AirAsia Academy – the students had the chance to see for themselves the running of a flight simulator and the training of the cabin crew in real time.
They were also given a tour inside AirAsia’s new high-technology corporate headquarters RedQ, situated adjacent to KLIA2.
The 18,000m² open office concept by itself was already an amazing sight for the students but there were more – they later met AirAsia Group chief executive Tan Sri Dr Tony Fernandes and AirAsia Bhd chief executive Aireen Omar in person.
The students then presented Fernandes with souvenirs from Sarawak. In return, they spent some time with Fernandes, who shared with them his experience and also advised them to never give up, to always learn from their mistakes and to always remain humble.
According to GE Malaysia chief operating officer Azli Mohamed, the idea behind this trip came during one of GE’s many trips to Sarawak.
They noticed that some of the people there could only imagine from afar a number of experiences that many others only took for granted.
“The GE team, with the help of AirAsia, then designed a trip that would showcase the different possibilities that the students could explore in the future.
“This (trip) is meant as a way for them to experience and also to understand what the world has to offer them in the future,” he said.
Seventeen-year-old Julius Johannes could not agree more.
He told thesundaypost about him being unable to contain his excitement throughout the trip, especially when meeting Fernandes at RedQ.
“This is my first time flying on a plane. This trip has taught me a lot about what is out there.
“I hope to be a businessman one day and meeting Tan Sri Dr Tony Fernandes has inspired me to be successful – just like him,” said Julius, whose parents are farmers in Batu Niah near Miri.
According to SMK Subis teacher Victor Lam, the participating students from the school comprise 18 SPM school-leavers and two Form 4 students.
“The objective is for the students to gain more inspiration and exposure – something that is beyond their longhouse and their communities. We want them to open up their eyes and realise how the big the world can be and how different it is compared to where they are from.
“I hope this will encourage them to explore the opportunities and chase their ambitions without any fear of failing. For those who love Science, Mathematics and technology in general, this is to show you how wonderful the subjects are,” he said.
Ipoh-born Lam said with this year being the last for him to teach at SMK Subis, he said the students had inspired him so much and taught him about things that people would often take for granted.
“My greatest teachers are these students and their families. They do not have many privileges or resources like others have, but they continue to inspire me every day.”
When asked what he would do after this, this finance degree graduate from University of Melbourne said he would probably go into the financial industry.
Lam is a TFM fellow, and he had taught the Science subject at SMK Subis for the past two years.
The fellowship programme requires its volunteers to teach for at least two years at high-need schools across Malaysia, as well as to work together with other educators, the communities where they are in, and also those from the public and private sectors.
The key objective of the programme is to impact the lives of the students, making them realise that there are more things beyond the classroom. It also aims to empower students and their communities, and also to collaborate with different stakeholders.