The Faculty of Languages and Communication (FBK), Universiti Sultan Zainal Abidin (UniSZA) has successfully carried out its outbound international student mobility programme at the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences (HUSO), Prince of Songkla Universiti (PSU), Thailand.
The programme primarily served as a stepping-stone in exposing FBK students to international programmes and gaining experience at the international level. The students hopefully would learn new culture, history, and the language of ASEAN countries in general and the Pattani province, Thailand in particular. In addition, this programme also hoped to form a closer relationship among the students and academic staff of UniSZA and PSU, besides supporting the university's internationalisation policy by introducing UniSZA internationally.
19 students of Bachelor of Arabic Studies (Honour) and Bachelor of English with Communication (Honour), FBK, UniSZA participated in the Pattani Retweet Programme: Youth Tourist Promotion organised by the HUSO, PSU that took place for 9 days, from the 18th to 26th of August 2017 at the Southern View Hotel, Pattani.
The student delegation and an accompanying lecturer boarded the bus on Friday the 18th to Rantau Panjang. After crossing the border, the assigned PSU student buddies fetched our students on their bus. They checked into their accommodation, the Park View Resort, Pattani at sunset where they met PSU officials. A welcome dinner was held later that night.
The students were taken to the programme site the next day for registration and ice- breaking session. As one participant, reflecting on the ice-breaking games remarked:
"The Ice-breaking session was totally different from what I had experienced before. It was very interactive and enjoyable because we played few games in order to get to know each other, and I can see that the bond between Unisza and PSU students started there. Moreover, the facilitators were very cheerful, and one of them even played the drum during the session. It was a great way to start the programme."
The afternoon session on the first day started with their experiential learning task. Each group must propose, present and promote a tourist itinerary for a 3-day-2-Night package visit to Pattani. They must also incorporate the use of social media and new technology in their promotional plan. Later during the evening, all participants were taken to the PSU campus, and a Treasure Hunt game was held as a means to introduce the PSU campus to UniSZA students. At night, all the groups were brought to different cafés around Pattani city as a way of exposing UniSZA students to the nightlife and favourite study sites frequented by local students and preparing for the next day activity at the same time.
On the third and fourth day, each group went to different places that were proposed during their presentation the day before on 'tuk-tuk' a popular local mode of transportation. Overall, the trips exposed the participants to the culture and history of Pattani.
While the students were on their trips, the accompanying lecturer, Madam Mahani Mohamad was invited to deliver a talk on Public Speaking to the final year students at PSU campus.
On the fifth day, all participants went on a "Knock-knock Tour". Depending on the group that the participant belongs to, during this activity, the participants were brought to a Tok Mudim's house, witness a demonstration of how to make rotijalae, a local delicacy, and observe traditional boat-making. These activities are among the favourite activities listed by the participants.
The participants spent the next day preparing for the presentation to be carried out in the afternoon. After the presentation, everyone went back to the hotel to check out and boarded the bus to Taloesamilae.
In the morning of the seventh day, the participants participated in games and sports on the beach and in the afternoon, everyone left to collect garbage that washed ashore along the beach. This activity is known as "Trash Hero". It's an environment friendly activity in the form of beach cleaning, and among the materials collected identified for recycling is plastic slippers.
The next morning, the busload of participants left to explore the mangrove area and Singora Oldtown in the evening. Later, we headed to the Southern Thai Art Centre for the night and to visit the Museum of Natural History the next day. After visiting the Natural History Museum, on the eighth day, the participants headed home to PSU and UniSZA students continued their journey home on the next day in the morning.
A majority of the participants rated the programme as great, as not only they got a chance to explore the Pattani province, learned a new culture and history, and make new friends, but they also had a chance to get closer and know students from their own faculty better. They formed greater bonding from among their course-mates, faculty-mates and with PSU students.
The programme made the students become aware of how closely related Pattani and Terengganu are, language wise, and historically and culturally. Although the names of the places sounded and spelt differently, the words have their root in the Malay language. For example, the location of PSU campus is named Rusaemilae. When asked about what does the name means, it was explained that it's named after the tree called 'ru'. In the Malay language, it is Rhu Sembilan. In another example, the name of the place where the Trash Hero activity took place was Taloesamilae. In the Malay Language, the word would be spelt Teluk Sembilan. In a similar vein, the famous beach in Songkla called Samilae Beach is essentially Pantai Sembilan in Malay language.
The programme participants reported that this programme didn't help much when it came to improving their English language as they and their PSU counterparts had to resort to using Kelantanese Malay during their conversation as majority of the PSU participants were from Narathiwat province, near Kelantan border. However, some of the PSU participants could not speak Malay but they had some English language. Therefore, their conversation had to be helped by a translator. FBK students also managed to learn a few expressions and words in Thai language during the programme.
The strength of this programme is presented by the opportunity to learn new culture, history and language. On the other side of the coin, the main weakness identified comes from the language barrier in communication during the completion of their learning task. The opportunity to gain from this programme is to form new friendship with their PSU counterparts, as well as from among their own course-mates. As their batch consisted of 105 students, some confessed that they had never had any conversation with one another, as well as with their colleagues from the same faculty. Whatever the perceived threat they had had before going to Pattani, it evaporated into thin air after the completion of this outbound international student mobility programme. One participant aptly wrote about it in the reflection of the programme:
"Pattani in the news are only about bombs and wars. Even after I went back to Malaysia, people kept asking me "Is it safe there?" and they think outloud, "I thought they were bombs there". These are the reactions I got when I returned to Malaysia from Pattani. I learnt that Pattani is actually a safe and harmonious place to go for a vacation. I felt peace when I was there. The greenery and the smell of fresh air in the countryside suited the place very well, a nice place for tourists".
The individuals' mindset formed based on popular media portrayal of Pattani province has certainly shattered. Thus, the main objective of this programme from the HUSO, PSU counterpart has been successfully achieved.
On the last note, the FBK participation in this programme is fully sponsored by HUSO, PSU and this is the fourth Pattani Retweet: Youth Tourist Promotion programme organised by them. FBK are grateful to be invited to join the programme.
ll Gallery ll