Pendidikan Khas (Special Education)

During my last trip back to Malaysia, I said I was going add many more entries to my special education blog and it was going to be a resource site for parents and teachers and blah blah blah. Unfortunately, I didn’t add more entries and pretty much countinued to neglect that blog.

Well, things have changed. I now have an official blog with my name on it. An ego booster? Haha…I actually think that it makes me more accountable for what I write on it.

I said to my official blog sponsor, Tai-lo Victor, that I should use that blog to write about the children that I have taught and showcase their personalities, likes, dislikes, quirks, etc. Sort of to show readers that these children are not just a group of children with Down Syndrome or Autism or Mental Retardation, but they are individuals, just like you and me.

I’ll also try to lose the pretentious words that people in higher education like to use.

Ok, here goes nothing:

Introducing Pendidikan Khas: My Reflections of Special Education in Malaysia.

Fire! No Fire….


I was about to go to bed and the fire alarm went off. I quickly stuffed my laptop, camera, purse and cellphone into a bag. Grabbed my coat and car-keys. Knocked on roommate’s door to make sure that she’s aware of the fire alarm. Quickly went outside the building and into my car. Waited for the policemen and firemen to come and check out the situation. Captured a short video.


Back in my room and worked on this video. Extreme blogger behavior…


Dr. King’s vision of service beyond self –

From The Drum Major Instinct sermon delivered at Ebenezer Baptist Church on February 4, 1968

If you want to be important—wonderful. If you want to be recognized—wonderful. If you want to be great—wonderful. But recognize that he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. That’s a new definition of greatness.

And this morning, the thing that I like about it: by giving that definition of greatness, it means that everybody can be great, because everybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve. You don’t have to know about Plato and Aristotle to serve. You don’t have to know Einstein’s theory of relativity to serve. You don’t have to know the second theory of thermodynamics in physics to serve. You only need a heart full of grace, a soul generated by love. And you can be that servant.

These were the exact words on a small pledge card that came together with the MLK Day celebration pack. I thought the words were very powerful. When I was preparing to post this, I looked up the full sermon and realized that my very liberal university left out a lot. Go here for the full sermon.

Resisting Racism

I signed up for a 4-hour Resisting Racism workshop that was part of the Martin Luther King (MLK) Day celebration held at Lehigh. About 30 students attended. Half of the students were graduate students and the other half were undergraduate students. Majority of the undergraduate students who attended were black and the majority of the graduate students were white and almost all the graduate students were from the college of education. I’m surprised, and at the same time not surprised, by the turnout (the low number of students and demographics of the students).

The speaker, Ewuare X. Osayande, went through the history of race and racism in the US. Here are some highlights from the workshop:

1. Race is a social construct. There is no biological determination for race.

2. I hate the word tolerance. Moving beyond tolerance towards true appreciation. (I totally agree with him. If someone says that s/he has tolerance towards me, it is like s/he is trying really hard to keep me in his/her system and not throw up. So whenever I read about some local politicians encouraging tolerance in our society: Is everyone green in their face trying to not throw up?)

3. European men in the 1600s created the language to classify people.

4. In 1775, a German, Johann Blumenbach, said that the human species has 5 races: Caucasian, Mongolian, Malayan, Negroid and American. And of course, Blumenbach said that the Caucasian race is the superior race because the Caucasian skull is the most aesthetically appealing.

5. David Hume, the prominent Scottish philosopher said this:
“I am apt to suspect the negroes and in general all the other species of men (for there are four or five different kinds) to be naturally inferior to the whites. There never was a civilized nation of any other complexion than white, nor even any individual eminent either in action or speculation. No ingenious manufactures amongst them, no arts, no sciences.”

6. Racism: oppression as a result of race.

7. 1619. The first shipment of African slaves to Virginia (early US). The African slaves were called “negars” and were considered capitals which can be traded for goods and services.

8. 1640. Three indentured servants (i.e., laborers under contract: 1 Scot, 1 Dutch, 1 African) tried to escape. They were caught. The Scot and Dutch were sentenced to 4 more years of service. The African was sentenced to serve the rest of his natural life. Being “white” means less punishment.

9. 1691. “White” became a legal definition. Whatsoever white man or woman shall intermarry with a Negro shall be banish within 3 months from the dominion (colony in the early US). Whiteness has status and social value.

10. 1705. Inheritance law: All negros, mulattos, and indian slaves within this dominion shall be held as REAL ESTATE and shall descend unto heirs and widows according to the custom of land inheritance.

11. 1790. Naturalization laws: Only free white people can become citizens.

12. 1848 in the state of Georgia. Punishment for teaching slaves or free persons of color to read: If any slave, Negro, or free person of color, or any white person, shall teach any other slave, Negro, or free person of color, to read or write either written or printed characters, the said free person of color or slave shall be punished by fine and whipping, or fine or whipping, at the discretion of the court (If a person of color taught a student of color, both will be punished. If a white person taught a student of color, only the student of color will be punished).

13. 1865. Thirteenth amendment to the US Constitution: Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime where of the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction. (The speaker said that in 1865 slavery was abolished, except as a punishment for crimes. He added that at the height of slavery, there were about 4 million slaves in the South. He then said that an estimated 3 million blacks have been imprisoned in the US. He emphasized the irony of that situation).

14. 1866. A judge said: A black man has no rights which a white man is bound to respect.

15. 1970s. Affirmative action: Affirmative action policy was made during Nixon’s presidency. It promoted a small group of people with privilege so that they can suppress the others (Hmmm…this sounds very familiar).

16. The effect of whiteness is status. It disconnects you with humanity.

17. The privilege of whiteness means the suffering and oppression for those who are not “white” (I would add the privilege of any color or race…).

18. Racism did not begin in a day. The answer would involve struggle, both personal and organizational.

CNY cookies

Another unsatiable craving: CNY cookies.

I especially miss Kuih Bangkit. I don’t even get to eat that while I’m back in Malaysia because I’m never back during CNY season, and this cookie disappears into nothingness after CNY. So this CNY season, I’ve decided I’m going to make this cookie and share with my friends. I’ve bought all the ingredients (e.g., tapioca flour, canned coconut milk, icing sugar). I will try and make a batch this weekend.

This picture shows the cornflakes cookies that I baked just now. It’s ok: crispy on the outside and a little chewy on the inside. I don’t think they are supposed to be chewy on the inside though. Now that I have this big box of cornflakes, I’ll make it again another day.

Roast pork belly

One of my unsatiable cravings in the US is roast pork belly (siew yuk). I’m too far away from Chinatown civilization. The nearest asian grocery store does sell it in the refrigerated section but it doesn’t look very fresh. I have no idea how long that piece of meat has been sitting there and it cost $7 for a small tray. So for the past few years, I haven’t had roast pork while in the US. However after reading several malaysian food blogs, I decided to try and make it following this recipe.

Here are pictures of my very first homemade roast pork belly. It turned out pretty good but it has too much fat. So I won’t be making this again for a long time.

My next cooking endeavor will be barbeque pork (char siew).

While I was at the cashier counter in the small asian grocery store, the cashier was rather amused by the shopping bags that I brought along with me. She asked me where I’m from and proceeded to tell me that her Taiwanese customers also bring their own bags.

Dangerous territories

In preparation for my dissertation, I have to observe several individuals with disabilities in their employment settings. This is so that I can see where they are working, what they are doing, who they interact with, what target behaviors I can work on, where I can set up the videocamera…all the practical aspects of doing research in applied settings.

Unfortunately, one of them works in the warehouse section of a large departmental store, the other volunteers at a Salvation Army thrift store, and both places are located in the largest mall area in town. I’m exposed to all the big discounts in the dept store and if I can’t afford those, I end up spending an hour observing my potential research participant tidy up racks and racks of $3.99 stuff at the thrift store.

“What you don’t have, you don’t need it now”
“Buy Less: Live More”

I should quickly walk out of the stores and drive straight home. But I don’t 😛

On the bright side, the asian store is nearby so I can stock up on the ingredients that I need to make all the good stuff that I’ve been reading about on some Malaysian food blogs.

Day of Service

COE had another day of service last Friday. This time, I went to volunteer at a day care center for low-income families. As usual, I became the unofficial photographer of the event. The camera was a great ice-breaker because the kids loved having their pictures taken. I was assigned to a class of 4-5-year-old kids. It was fun playing with the kids and observing the kiddy conflicts and tattle-tales.