UBD Alumni delivering solar lights to Lvea Aem, Cambodia

Being active has never stopped me from fulfilling my duties as a student

When I was asked about my life as a UBD student to where I am now, I began to realise my journey was never a straightforward one. I’m 26, graduated in 2011, and have worked six different jobs since graduation. I decided to dedicate two years doing community work (this is my version of Gap Year) before I move on to do my Masters in 2014. Currently I’m volunteering with two organisations, which are the Brunei Youth Council and Green Brunei. I have attended fourteen programmes overseas and organised four community work projects abroad. In 2010 I received the Silver Award for Volunteering from University of Kent, in 2011 the Book Prize Award from Universiti Brunei Darussalam, and in 2013 the Youth Service Award from His Majesty during the National Youth Day.

If I were to summarise everything I have learned in the last five years of my life is that:Opportunities are plenty if you are willing to sacrifice a little and get out of your comfort zone.

Being in university is really the best time for you to start thinking about what you want to do and where you want to end up. Get to know your lecturers, read the newspapers, be friends with people from different backgrounds. In fact one of the things I enjoyed in university was getting close to the staff in UBD, because you get to learn things outside the classroom and it also helped to build my confidence. Being a committee in the International Students Club and also regularly volunteering as a liaison officer for international visitors also helped to make me more conscious about having a global perspective.

Being active has never stopped me from fulfilling my duties as a student. On the contrary, it has given me the drive to work harder because you often don’t see how competitive the world can be if you stick to your comfort zone.

For example, when I attended the Harvard Model United Nations in Singapore, which was funded by FBEPS, and the ASEAN University Student Conference in Bandung, I was deeply impressed by the level of knowledge on current affairs and politics that the other students had, and a lot of them were younger than me! They were all really outspoken and were able to apply their knowledge about the real world to the discussions, yet I only focused on the things I learnt in class.

My lecturers have been telling me all along to read newspapers, be aware of current affairs, but it wasn’t until I was put on the spot, and feeling a bit embarrassed by my lack of knowledge, that it gave me the motivation to read the news daily. This actually led to an improvement in my coursework; being a global citizen actually helped me perform well in my academics, not only by learning about the real world but feeling challenged by how advanced my peers were.

Zig Ziglar said, “Lack of direction, not lack of time, is the problem. We all have twenty-four hour days.” It is not easy, but you just have to manage time, compromise or make sacrifices to reach your goal.

My second year was quite challenging. I had seven modules to study for on top of my work in theStudent Representative Council as Treasurer, and Fonemik Club as the Secretary. Almost every day I will be staying late in the office trying to complete my work and my assignments, even to the point of coming to the office on Fridays and Sundays. It was not only the workload I was concerned about, it was also the pressure of having to manage thousands of dollars and making sure not even one cent was missing. I broke down once, when things started to get really exhausting. But I had the support of my amazing friends in the Council who were there with me throughout the way. It was a struggle, but I do feel I came out stronger. This is the hard training I needed, which made things a lot easier for me today and hopefully in the future too. I was proud of the results that I got that year and the things we have achieved in the Council. I felt all the hard work was worth it when I was selected to go for Study Abroad Programme in University of Kent, UK for my third year.

I was only in UK for less than a year, but it didn’t stop me from keeping myself active. I was Treasurer for the Animal and Environmental Welfare Society, and also formed the BruKent Society with myself as Treasurer. It wasn’t all studies and work, of course, I also travelled to six cities across Europe during the holidays. When you have been given the opportunity, make the best of it!

I was a bit lucky in my final year in UBD as I only had a few subjects to take, so it gave me a lot of time to manage UBD FM Radio Station as the Vice Student Director, as well as Vice President forSociety for Community Outreach and Training (SCOT).

I know it really sounds exciting to be travelling a lot and expanding your horizons, but there’s no point for you to sign up to join numerous global programmes, if you don’t try to look in your own backyard. Many of the overseas opportunities I had were actually the results or “rewards” for being active in the local circles.

Having joined Majlis Belia Brunei in my final year has been one of best decisions I’ve ever made. The world of NGOs has really opened up a lot of doors for me. I was conscious of the fact that I have never ventured outside of UBD, and I realised organising events on your own under an NGO requires different set of skills.  The longer I worked with Majlis Belia Brunei, the more skills and experience I’ve developed. I made a lot of mistakes in my first event under MBB, but it truly helped to improve my capacity and instilled my passion to work in youth development. More importantly, MBB helped me to network with various groups of individuals with similar passions and ideals and this has really contributed to my work.

The first volunteer expedition I organised abroad was to Cambodia last year, under a project called “Light Up Cambodia and Ghana”. I organised this project in my capacity as a Global Ambassador ofOne Million Lights, and also Challenge Your World. I have saved money to cover my own flight tickets and local expenses, so I started fundraising for solar lights. My team raised over $2000 in less than two weeks, and we were able to purchase 140 solar lights, which I delivered myself to the communities in Kampong Speu and Lvea Aem. I’ve volunteered before to help the underprivileged in Brunei, but it’s a completely humbling experience in Cambodia, which developed my interests in overseas community work.

This experience in Cambodia led me to be involved with the ASEAN Young Professionals Volunteer Corps as the Programme Manager. It has been a very challenging year, but I am actually very happy to have successfully completed three expeditions, which were in Cambodia, Indonesia and The Philippines, as well as organised a regional seminar on volunteerism. This is my latest contribution to youth development this year and I am looking forward to more activities next year!

I have been very fortunate to be exposed to numerous opportunities but what is more important is to take advantage of them and to really learn from them. At least in my case, one thing tends to lead to another. What I really enjoyed most about my experiences is meeting new people and learning from them.  Every year I get inspired by new people and it has helped push my limits further in trying to achieve more.

Make the best out of your time in university and look beyond achieving good grades. Experience life fully!

  • UBD Video