Beyond the Classroom and into the Community
In many local universities and colleges, it is common to a student’s day to largely consist of sitting in the lecture theatre, listening to a lecture, and taking notes in preparation for an exam or quiz. In Taylor’s, we recognise that life learning and leadership skills is the core to be a productive leader who gives back to the society. With that, the institution aims to provide holistic education and instil learning for the head, heart and hand. Therefore service learning has an essential part of preparing students to take their productive place as leaders in the global community.
Earlier this month, the Foundation students of Taylor’s University Business School embarked on a 3-week journey with the PPR Gombak Setia participants of the Program Keusahawanan Taylor’s-CIMB Islamic 2018. Named as ‘The Apprentice Initiative’, students in groups created mock companies with their vision, mission and objective to equip the community with business and marketing knowledge. The companies, completed with company logos and organisational structures, were given the assignment to act as the consultant to the participants, who was then their clients. This gave students an opportunity to explore academic interests through a real world lenses.
During the first meeting between the consultants and the clients, both parties seemed anxious and uncomfortable. When they were told to get to know more about each other, the tension in the room was felt even further as 90 percent of them were facing a language barrier. Somewhat surprisingly, with their broken Bahasa Malaysia and a slight Manglish, the students pulled a good act and managed to break the ice in no time. Over the 3 weeks of consultation, the students have coached their clients in understanding their businesses, detecting their risks of their businesses, knowing their target customers and identifying the best marketing strategy for the businesses, applying the knowledge gained from the lecture sessions.
Their relationship bloomed from awkward strangers to gratifying friends. Despite the age gap, both parties were heart warmed by each other’s experiences and wisdom. Participant, Maizatul Syimah shared, “I would like to thank the students for helping me in finishing my presentation slides and providing guidance to me. They were all very sporting and I’m glad I had this experience with Taylor’s students.” Another participant, Haron Bin Hamim also gave positive feedback on his experience with the students, “3 weeks have passed in just a blink of an eye. I would like to thank the consultants in my group for helping me and sharing their knowledge with me. I’m affirmed that our meet-ups are a good learning experience for me to further improve my business. I’m also grateful for their visit at my stall too. Although they are just students, I truly respect them for their commitment in all the consultation sessions they had with me.”
Contemplating the success of this project, Assistant Manager of Taylor’s Group Communications and Corporate Social Responsibility, Amelia Ooi, had some final thoughts, “when students get involved in service learning, they not only help others – they expand their worldview, develop empathy and leadership skills, and realise how their actions can have a positive impact in the society. They also return to the classroom, realising how that they’re learning applies to the real world, which reinvigorates their passion for learning. That is why in Taylor’s, we believe that service learning and community service is important for students. Not just for the positive impact they can make to the community, but also for the positive impact volunteering and getting involved has on them.”
While performing their role as the consultants, the students have the opportunity to see first-hand just how much their knowledge and work has an impact to the society. It was proven that when students connect what they are learning in classes to issues that actually matters in real life, they throw themselves into learning. We share some of the testimonies from them:
“It’s a good experience for us, where it’s our first time attending a class where we need be in touch with a community, using our knowledge for entrepreneur to consult us. It’s a new experience and a good one for us. We want to thank Taylor’s for giving us this opportunity to be part of the programme and most of all, to guide the participants to win the business grants. We wish the best for them.” – SKRRT & Co. (Ammar Effendy, Bryan, Syakir & Nadiya Rusli)
“We learnt a lot from our clients, where the drive is still there at that age. We were inspired by them, and we believed we’ve given them enough knowledge on how to prepare their business presentations.” – Satu Hati (Daaniyah, Fahad, Suha & Gurjeet)
“It was an eye opening experience for us. Overall, this was a very conducive learning experience because we got the first-hand experience in the working world. The memories we made will last a lifetime. Although we started off as a consultant-client relationship, but I believed we came out as friends regardless of the age gap. The bond we forged will be a future reference for us From the impact tools that we used, we learnt that client satisfaction did not only come from the consulting services that we provide, but the friendly connections that we created with them along the way. We would like to extend our utmost gratitude to Mr Chua, our Programme Director, to Ms May and her team for organizing and making this project a success and to Taylor’s Education Group for making this all possible.” – Ilios (Lim Ren Yi, Benjamin Ong, Lau Yuen Fai & Ng Jia Wen)
“We have shared an amazing memory with our beneficiary, although we only have 3 sessions and each session only 2 hours. Instead of a business relationship, our relationship is more like friends. What we have learnt in school is all about theory and I’m glad to have this opportunity to apply what we have learnt in real life. This is a great experience for us as we have experienced many things that we cannot experience in school. We are so grateful that we can help our beneficiary with our knowledge and had a great experience at the same time. I’m sure that this experience will be very useful in our future. I would like to say thank you to our lecturer, Mr Chua, and Ms Elena and her team for giving us such an unforgettable experience” – Utopia (Dawn Chua, Ho Hui Li, Ivan Chin & Fong Wai Yong)
“The mission of our company is to help people who want to help themselves and who want to succeed in their businesses and move further in life. Our journey so far has been a memorable one as we managed to learn a lot from them. We think Taylor’s is really doing a good job of giving us the opportunity to learn more about the underserved community and I wished that they will continue to do this over and over again. Thanks to Taylor’s, we now know that life is not a bed of roses.” – PA Consultants (Ashfaq, Hamza, Aisyah & Sunjina)
“The project ended way above my initial expectation. And to my surprise, the students enjoyed all their 3-weeks with the community. A good teacher isn’t someone who gives the answers out to their students, but it’s understanding of needs and challenges and gives tools to help other others to succeed. That’s the way I see myself while working with my students.” – Chua Hiang Kiat, Programme Director of Taylor’s Business School