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Fostering national unity by example at SMK Yu Hua

We may be different, but we're still Malaysians at heart.

How would you feel if you’re a teacher at a vernacular school where the primary language isn’t your mother tongue? Would you quit instantly or face the challenge head-on?

For Khairul Faiz bin Mohd Nordin, also known as Faez, learning a new language and culture is every person’s duty in fostering national unity and understanding.

Understanding each other takes effort, and it’s all the more challenging when language and culture barriers are at play. However, it is our responsibility to take on it.”

Fostering national unity by example at smk yu hua
Faez posing with his students.
(Photo courtesy of Faez Nordin)

And Faez knows this better than anyone else. Being a Malay teacher at SMK Yu Hua Kajang, where the majority of students are Chinese, it hasn’t been an easy task for him to communicate effectively, let alone teach.

Nevertheless, Faez has successfully broken the barriers and is widely loved by students.

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“I love everything I have here and I will continue to do my best as a teacher,” he says.

Fostering national unity by example at smk yu hua | weirdkaya
Faez wholeheartedly enjoys his teaching career at SMK Yu Hua. (Photo courtesy of Faez Nordin)

“Part of God’s plan”

“Being a teacher was never the dream occupation in my mind when I was younger. However, it all began to fall into place as time passed,” says Faez.

I believe that I’m destined to be a teacher. It is part of God’s plan and an answer to my parents’ prayer.”

Fostering national unity by example at smk yu hua | weirdkaya
Faez always knew that he was destined to be a teacher. (Photo courtesy of Faez Nordin)

“During my first year at Yu Hua, I was appointed to teach in a removed class, where it was comprised of students who fared poorly in the Malay language.

“As such, they would often speak to me in Mandarin whenever they approached me,” he recounts.

Faez admitted that though he felt extremely defeated due to his inability to connect with his students, he refused to let it prevent him from breaking down the language and cultural barrier.

“I began to spend more time with them after classes and would also have my lun2ch with them at the canteen.

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“Eventually, I gained their trust and started to pick up social cues and basic Mandarin vocabulary so that I could communicate more effectively with them,” he says.

Fast forward to today, Faez can now speak Mandarin with ease and even performs Mandarin songs on stage occasionally!

Fostering national unity by example at smk yu hua | weirdkaya
Singing his heart out. (Photo courtesy of Faez Nordin)

Fight, not flight

Faez believes that although everyone has his/her own set of challenges and responsibilities, it shouldn’t cause them to run away from it.

“We all have different responsibilities – be it as a teacher, student, politician, or citizen.

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“No matter our role in society, we all share this common responsibility – that is to maintain and strengthen racial harmony. This can only be achieved by understanding each other on a deeper level.

“Take myself for example. I often speak Mandarin to my students after school, but I would insist that they communicate in Malay when class is in session. It’s a two-way process where both parties have to compromise,” he explains.

Fostering national unity by example at smk yu hua | weirdkaya
Celebrating Malaysia’s multi-culturalism.
(Photo courtesy of Faez Nordin)

Not just a teacher

Aside from his main occupation as a teacher, Faez is an accomplished singer and has released three singles featuring several teachers from other schools whom he met during the Pesta Sukan dan Kesenian Pegawai Perkhidmatan Selangor (PSKPP) competition.

His music can be found on major music platforms like Spotify and Apple Music and he even has his own YouTube channel called Farez Nordin.

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Fostering national unity by example at smk yu hua | weirdkaya
Who says teachers can’t be singers too?
(Photo courtesy of Faez Nordin)

Thanks to his ‘never say never’ spirit, Faez has won the hearts of his students through his efforts in building bonds and breaking stereotypes along racial lines.

I believe that if everyone does their part and is willing to tackle the problem proactively, Malaysia would be a better place.”


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Cover Images courtesy of Faez Nordin

Editor: Ying Re Tan
Proofreader: Sarah Yeoh