A cultural homestay experience at Seri Kayangan

The students posing excitedly during the “Dayung Sampan” (Boat-rowing) activity. KDU students from Malay Cultural Society preparing meal in the gotong-royong (group-work) way.
The students posing for a photo, clad in traditional Malay costumes for the mock wedding ceremony.  
Integrated and holistic learning that is not constrained within four walls is something that KDU provides for its students. While the emphasis is on producing high calibre graduates, KDU believes that having a balance and learning soft skills outside of the classroom is just as important, thus encouraging extra-curricular activities that would give the students a different kind of learning experience.

Aligned to this idea, the Malay Cultural Society (MCS) of KDU University College organised a homestay experience in their effort to provide a real-world learning experience beyond classroom walls.  Over 32 local and foreign students from various schools at KDU University College experienced first-hand the traditions and heritage of the Malay culture through a homestay programme at Seri Kayangan Homestay at Bagan Terap, Sabak Bernam, Selangor.

The 3 days 2 nights programme took place from 27th to 29th November 2015. Upon arrival in the evening, participants were ushered to Balai Raya (gathering hall) by the homestay village head Mr Mazlan, where dinner was served by their foster families. The students were divided into three per foster family, and an ice breaking session aided in helping the students warm up to their foster families before proceeding to call it a night and begin their cultural experience bright and early the next day.

In order to embrace the traditions of an authentic Malay lifestyle, the students participated in a series of cultural activities that gave them a taste of “kampung living”. One of the main agenda for the day was the gotong-royong (group-work) activity where the students practiced the traditional Malay way of prepping lunch for the entire group. Lunch preparation activities included preparing fresh chicken, grating coconut floss, rice cooking and cutting onions garlics in mass quantity, sourcing for banana leaves as serving dish and so on.
While “kampung-style cooking” was a totally new experience for all the participants, what followed next truly gave them a feel of a traditional Malay lifestyle. . They proceeded to eat in the authentic, classic Malay style of serving lunch in big plates coated with banana leaves (traditionally known as nasi ambeng) by placing rice at the centre and side dishes around it.
The “Makan bertalam” style (having a meal in a big group by sitting on the floor) was only the beginning. Throughout the day, the students experienced many activities such as the age-old traditional Malay game Congkak (mancala game), Teng-teng (hopscotch), Baling Selipar (slipper-throwing) and Dayung Sampan (rowing boat). The international students especially found this to be a completely new adventure. While local Malaysian students may have had experienced playing these traditional games during their childhood, these games are slowly fading with the evolving times where technology and devices are taking control of the bigger picture.

To top off the whole experience, the students were given the opportunity to experience first-hand a traditional Malay wedding ceremony.  While some were shy at first, each of the student seemed to be really into organising a mock Malay traditional wedding. The students assumed different roles and responsibilities for the mock ceremony; some helped with the props and some shyly agreed into being the bride and groom of the day. Clad in full traditional costumes, everything was enacted from scratch, from sprinkling rice water onto the bride and groom’s hands to giving salam (best wishes) to the “newlyweds”.

The memorable homestay experience came to an end much too soon than the students expected, perhaps all the fun made the time fly by a little more quickly. By mid-afternoon, the students bid good bye to their foster parents, leaving Sabak Bernam and headed back the bustling city life they were so accustomed to.