Sunday, May 31, 2009

Exchange Student

AFS is an international, voluntary, non-governmental; non-profit that provides intercultural opportunities to help people develop the knowledge, skills and understanding needed to create a more just peaceful world.

I am given to understand AFS is in Malaysia for over 50 years. Over the years hundreds of students have come and stayed with host parents under the supervision of its Malaysian sister organization known as AFS Antarabudaya Malaysia.

We hosted a student by the name of Ann-Kaathrin Preifer from Germany at our home in Ipoh for nearly a year. Yesterday a Farwell gathering was organized by the AFS to say sort of goodbye to all the host students.

This is what I wrote about my host child to AFS.

A few lines about ANN
Dear Sir,
Some time back I was given to understand that AFS arranges for foreign students to be placed in host homes in Malaysia. My family was always keen to host a student and finally we accepted a student in 2008.

The student named Ann Katherine Pfefier arrived at our home in the month of July 2008.
First i had problems admitting her to our local school as the necessary approval has not been obtained from the relevant authorities. I took it upon myself to sort out this matter by calling and speaking to the ministry and had it sorted out. Well on the first day of school assembly, she had a red carpet welcome and she didn’t miss to say a few words in Malay, made everyone applauses.

She enjoyed the curries at home. Sometimes she cooks German favourite for us. She loves to meet new people as well new places. Quite friendly, I would say! When i attend dinners i took her along to meetings an interact with the locals. Once in a while I take out with me to witness NGO’s, local council and political meetings and its deliberations. I will at all times ask her if she feels comfortable in these meetings before i take her along. Ann had the privileges to go and witness the proceedings of the Malaysian Parliament. She not only met many MP’s but also Ministers. The proceedings of the parliament were even translated into English for her.

We have 2 grown up Rottweiler and a German shepherd dog. But Ann still jumps over our main gate when she has forgotten to take the keys or when we failed to open the gate in time! Our 2 dogs are just too friendly to her, they invite her with full of excitement. They are going to miss her when she leaves our country for home.

Initially we felt a bit funny when she at all times was dressed in full in the sense long sleeves and long pants and she does not wear shorts or swim suite while swimming. When we asked her why she was “fully” dressed she said she was told before leaving to Malaysia that host parents expect her to be fully dressed. We then told her the dress code is casual and one need not be “fully” covered she was so, so relieved.

We took her to an orang asli settlement (Gopeng) to see how our natives live. She was happy but she forgot that as we were proceeding up the hill to check RAFFLESIA flower the largest flower in the world she has to entertain the leeches too. Oh my god.. she was hopping, jumping, screaming.. and checking her body if there were any had got on to her. Lucky for her only less than 10 poor leeches were given a treat by her!

She was enjoying school. But initially we had difficulties in sending her to her many other activities. We got her a bicycle and she was able to go for her piano and swimming lessons and other of her activities without a hitch.

We enjoyed her company. Although we have travelled to Germany before but we have to go there again as we now have a “daughter” there. She is always jovial and in happy mood and importantly she has an adjustable character.. At all times we never treated her as somebody’s child but as one of our own. She was also a good sister to our 3 years old child. Sometimes when we’re away, she takes good care of our child Tanisha without any fuss until the baby can notice her absence in house sometimes as she has to attend AFS programmes and activities outside and inside Perak.

Now the reality. She will be leaving to her country soon. We are going to miss our child. She was so much a part of our family. We will miss her laughs and jokes and in particular my little daughter Tanisha will have to get on without Ann akka.

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