Saturday, 14 September 2013

by Cassandra Law and Megan Ong, Junior 2 Cempaka, Class of 2013



Mr Callum Shipley began teaching in Cempaka in the new academic year of 2011, whereas Ms Lissette Simone Abel began teaching Cempakans in 2012. We (Megan and Cassandra) have had the lovely opportunity to interview the two international school teachers; Ms Lissette, who hails from the USA, as well as Mr Callum Shipley, who is originally from Swaziland. Ms Lissette teaches the Sophomore students English, and the Junior 2 students English Literature. She also teaches the IB students English and is the House Master of Rumah Merpati for the year 2013. Mr Shipley used to teach Geography but currently teaches the lower Secondary students Math. He also guides the IB students with their Extended Essay and teaches the ESS course (Environmental Systems and Societies). Furthermore, Mr Shipley is the teacher-in-charge of the school frisbee team, Cempaka Chillies! They were both kind enough to spare a few moments of their time to tell us about their experience in Cempaka thus far, as well as some of their interests and their background. 

YJC : How did you get to know about Cempaka Schools? 

Ms Lissette (LSA): Somebody I worked with in Japan told me about this school. She was a friend of mine, and she was also a teacher from America.

Mr Shipley (CS): A friend of mine contacted me and let me know that there was a school that was worthwhile to look at.

YJC : What was your first impression of Cempakans, teachers and students alike? How has your time in Cempaka been so far? 

LSA : My first impression of Cempakans were that Cempakans are very busy. There are so many activities going on in Cempaka, all at the same time! An enjoyable type of busy, but still busy.

CS : My first impression? Gracious and helpful teachers. Friendly students. Oh, and I've never before seen students so involved with their laptops! My time in Cempaka? GREAT.

YJC : Where were you from before you came here? Do you notice any major difference in Malaysia than where you were originally from?

LSA : I was originally from Seattle, in the United States of America. However, before I came to Malaysia, I was teaching in Japan. Things are very relaxed here, compared to Japan. In the U.S., things are also relaxed in different ways. 

CS : I am originally from Swaziland and I was in Thailand for three years. Yes, big difference besides climate, environment, cultures and languages. HUGE difference between Malaysia and Swaziland, though.

YJC : If you were teaching there previously, how is Cempaka different from the previous school you were teaching at?

LSA : I actually taught in the U.S. and Japan, but Cempaka is different from both. There are many differences, but some really big differences are - students in Cempaka enjoy voicing their opinions. which was very difficult to do in Japan. It is also different from the students in the U.S, because Cempakans are way busier. For example, with the extra classes, Cempakans stay back frequently, where American students would just go ‘NO’.

CS : It was really different because the students at the school in Thailand couldn’t really speak English, so I had to teach English as a Foreign Language (EFL). I taught Maths, Geography and English there.

YJC : Have you visited anywhere exciting in Malaysia? What's your favorite Malaysian delicacy?

CS: Hm, I visited a few places but I don’t really know if they were exciting. I’ve visited Pulau Pangkor, Cameron Highlands and Port Dickson. The most enjoyable place would be Cameron Highlands though. Malaysian delicacy? Oh, I don’t know, name me some. 

YJC :  Kuih lapis, Nasi lemak, Roti Canai?

CS : I like tosai and those cubes of rice with peanut sauce that comes with satay - I don’t eat the satay though. Also, there’s a dessert that I like, it’s a white cube with grated brown sugar and coconut. I think it’s called ubi?

YJC : I think you mean ketupat! *laughs* Yes, it’s called ubi. Kuih ubi kayu! Which of the 3 cuisines do you like most? Malay, Chinese or Indian?

CS : I like dishes from all 3 cuisines (Malay, Chinese, Indian), but it really depends on my mood!

YJC : Why are you teaching English? Were you always into this subject? Were there are any other subjects you liked as well?

LSA : I am teaching English because I taught English in Japan, as well as reading in the U.S. Yes, I was into English and History too. I actually minored in History in university.

YJC : Why are you teaching Geography and Math? Were you always into Geography and Math? Were there are any other subjects you liked as well?

CS : Yes, I really love these subjects. I love to study them myself but why I’m teaching them? Well, we can leave that alone.. but I really love those subjects! I like to learn about them myself. I really enjoyed English Literature, Science and Music. I loved Music.

YJC : Were you good at them? 

CS : Well that’s debatable, i just love them though!

YJC : Any interests/hobbies? 

LSA : Some of my hobbies would be computer games, comic books and traveling.

CS : Yes, lots! Some of them are making music with the guitar, reading science fiction and fantasy stories, studying astrophysics, and climbing mountains. Also, lots of sports in general.

YJC : You said you like mountain climbing. Have you climbed Mount Kinabalu yet?

CS : No, not yet but I am definitely planning to! I’d also recently got into badminton and ultimate, two sports I never knew sports existed before I came here. Well I knew that badminton existed but I had no idea what it was about though. We don’t really play it in South Africa. As for Ultimate, that I’ve never heard of in South Africa. The main sports in South Africa are cricket, rugby, football.

YJC : What inspired you to teach and at what age did you know that teaching was the right choice for you?

LSA : I tutored students while I was still in high school and also college, trying to test it out to see if it was the right choice for me. In university, I tried to decide between teaching and computer programming. I was not very into computer programming though, it was boring. Teaching is different, teaching changes. It isn’t static, it’s constantly changing, unlike sitting behind a desk doing the same task everyday!

CS : It’s actually quite a long story to explain that, but.. *cue laughter* what inspired me to teach was to try and make a difference in children and young adults’ lives. I only knew what I really wanted to do only when I was about 25. It was only after I left the South African Air Force (SAAF) where I worked as an engineer that I really thought of pursuing it. 

YJC : You went to Thailand right after that, yes?

CS : Yes, I went to Thailand to teach after that. Well actually, after I left the SAAF, I helped my parents to build a house and started a fruit tree orchard (peaches, apricots, plums, figs), then I went to Thailand to teach! 

YJC : What training was required to obtain this goal?

LSA : Years and years of high school and university education. It’s a little confusing because people here say that they start college at the age of 16... which is really young!

CS : Well you have to have a Bachelor’s degree but I did a Post Graduate Certificate of Education (PGCE) so my Bachelors is in engineering. Hence I got my Masters in Education with a PGCE as a first step (but that’s my route, other people do a Bachelor’s of Education). 

YJC : Do you ever regret becoming a teacher and if you were able to do over would you choose something else?

LSA : The only thing I’d rather do other than teaching is to be Indiana Jones!

CS : No - except perhaps, a scientist at NASA or a musician. I would also want to get into rural and agricultural development, I might still do that, but I don’t know, we’ll see yeah? Got to go with the flow sometimes! *smiles*

YJC : Musician? Do you only play the guitar?

CS : Mainly guitar. I also play the didgeridoo and a little bit of the drums.

YJC : Wow! Is the didgeridoo hard to play? Did you take classes?

CS : Well, not really. It does take a lot of practice to make the range of sounds though. You need to learn how to breathe properly, as the sound has to be very smooth. And no, I didn’t take classes. I just read instructions from the internet.

YJC : Isn’t it expensive to buy the didgeridoo though?

CS : No not really, because the one I had, I made out of bamboo myself.

YJC : What is one question you might have expected us to ask, but didn't? 

LSA : I think you pretty much covered everything, I expected most of the questions you asked!

CS : Who is the most annoying student in the school? No comment! *cue laughter*


YJC : Thank you so much for your time, it’s been a pleasure getting to know you!
by Cassandra Law 17:25 3 comments | in , , , , ,

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