Monday, 23 September 2013

by Encik Hisham, Director of Development & Business Studies Teacher, Class of 2001

Had I known on Friday the 9th of September, I would be teaching for the last time in the Damansara Campus for the year, I don't know what would have gone through my mind. Of course now, in hindsight, many memories come flooding back from my own school days at Damansara Campus. But at that moment in time, my mind was elsewhere. Probably like many other Cempakans I was thinking about the coming weekend, although United wasn't playing, about how it would be a nice time to rest and get to grading my IGCSE Trial papers. I was also thinking about the week ahead, like most teachers are wired to, looking forward to the class activities, the discussions and the lessons I would be delivering.

That all obviously changed very quickly on Friday night. I was relaxing after dinner, enjoying some Splinter Cell (a great game!), when I received a call from Encik Raphael. He sounded worried and confused at the same time, asking me if Damansara campus was on fire. The immediate image that appeared in my mind was a small fire, something trivial that wasn't a cause for concern. I looked out the window of my house which, I think a lot of Cempakans realize from many of Dato' Freida's tweets, has a perfect view of the campus. The image I saw will stay with me forever - bright and blazing. The next few minutes was a blur as I ran to get the keys, jumped into the car and sped to the school. The rest has already been well documented on Twitter, Facebook and our own Schoology.

As you know, a few days after the fire, myself, along with other teachers were in Cempaka Damansara helping to move equipment. Moving from class to class, seeing them empty and bare left a bittersweet feeling with me. I walked the corridors I have always walked since 1990, then as an incredibly cute and fat 5 year old. I recalled all the memories: my tadika days at the canteen level of the primary wing; Standard 2 taught by Ms Choo at the office level; Standard 6 with Mrs Goh at the IT level (which was an old fashioned library back then); Form 1 with Puan Rahimah at the hall level secondary wing; Form 3 with the all star team of Puan Aimi, Puan Sapura and Puan Jamaliah at the link bridge classrooms (no link bridge then either); Form 5 with Cik Zainab, Ms Sandra and of course Mr Sheat next to the IT Centre. Not forgetting my principal then at Form 5, as yours is now, Puan Farah.

On moving day, everyone was involved including the cleaners, gardeners, volunteer students, teachers, principals and even Dato Freida herself - truly a family affair. Yes it was tough, and I am quite sore and have cuts in some places but it was absolutely worth it. How can I justify not helping? My job as a teacher is to ensure you have your education with everything within my power. Right now, besides our Cempaka@Home, I can do that with my two bare hands. And every desk we moved from Cempaka Damansara, meant one more student's education continues. I am truly proud and honoured to be with your other teachers, shoulder to shoulder, working together to ensure your continued education.

As time passed and called me to move on, I felt the pain of saying a slow goodbye to a very dear friend. It's true that we were already planning to move in 2014, but this was sudden and unexpected. The move had to be hastened to get school up and running again, but maybe I wasn't ready to say goodbye yet. Cempaka Damansara, I've learnt over the last few days, means more to me than I ever realised.

This is where I grew up, in every sense of the phrase. I was always among the earliest to school, and would stay back late most of the time (I walked to and from school). School holidays were spent working in the school bookmart, family dinners listening to my parents discussing school matters. More recently during my summer holidays from university, I interned in various departments of the school. This was my childhood.

Yes, my parents were extremely busy running the school, and except during the later years of my school life, my older brothers were at university. Yet, I never ever begrudged them that, how could I? A whole school raised me! A school, created for myself and my brothers that has since evolved into an institution of learning that serves other children. That is perhaps the most important lesson I learnt from my parents - that our place on this Earth is to be of service to others, to make others' lives better. I truly believe that these values are absolutely core to being a Cempakan.

I love Cempaka. I care for the school. I hurt when it hurts. I know some will think it is ridiculous. How can one love a building or an organization? Of course you can't. I love the teachers that taught me and raised me like I love my own parents. I love all of you students like my younger siblings (not my children okay, I am not that old…). It may not always seem very obvious with me and my prickly nature sometimes, but it is true!

Furthermore, let's not forget Cempaka Cheras, who greeted Cempaka Damansara's call for help with open arms. As a proud alumni of both campuses, I was incredibly touched by the teachers and students of Cheras Campus who helped to unload equipment from Damansara without complaints but instead with warm smiles and open hearts. Once again, they embody the values of Cempaka - being of service to others.

We are a family together. We triumph together, we hurt together, and we persevere together.
I know this is not goodbye for good to Cempaka Damansara, but perhaps it is more of a "see you soon". We will be back, stronger than ever. #CempakaBoleh

Click here to read the full article or other pennings by Encik Hisham on his blog.
Side-note: Hashtag #CempakaBoleh when you tweet about the big move for Lumen Studet's special CempakaBoleh issue, or #DsaraDays for cherished memories of dear old Damansara.
by Unknown 10:32 12 comments | in , , , , ,


  1. "Bittersweet memories. The heart is heavy, but the spirit is alive." Farewell Damansara. See you in 2013. xox

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