Presenting my book at Book Week

Recently I was at the campus of Crescendo HELP International School in Taman Desa Cemerlang, Johor Baru, with the honour to participate with them as guest speaker at the start of their school’s Book Week.

A section of the audience in the assembly hall
Prior to the event, the school had informed students and their parents about the week’s activities through letters and social media posts. In our age of modern technology, the school shares information with them, quite conveniently through social media.

When the online pages were shared with me, I was pleasantly surprised that they picked the right photos to use with their circular (two of my favourite shots!) so that parents and students might have a better idea of what was going to happen.

Just reading the info, I felt much encouraged by the impression that the school principal and staff were keen on meeting a local writer/author (me!) and eager for their students to be inspired by my experience.

Screen-shot of the school's social media page
I was also pleased with the partnership of MPH Publishing which arranged a support team to join me at the event with a stock of my books, My Johor Stories: True Tales, Real People, Rich Heritage, readily available for sale.

[Stock of my books in Johor Baru was running so low that remaining stock was rushed from Kuala Lumpur to JB, specifically for this event!]

While Johor readers may be familiar with me and my work, I imagined that most of the students – of a different generation – as well as their teachers and parents, many of whom are of foreign nationalities, may not know much about me!

On that eventful morning, some 300 secondary school students and their teachers gathered in the assembly hall where I was to speak to them. This was the largest audience I have addressed, thus far.

For this part of the event, I used some of the old photos featured in my book, My Johor Stories: True Tales, Real People, Rich Heritage, to give a brief introduction of myself and my family.

Another screen-shot of their FB page
Then using highlights of stories from my book, I went on with sharing with them about my inspiration, how I became a writer and about the genre I chose to write about.

In the latter part of the event which was held in the school library, I had a reading session with Year Six students.

With the students seated comfortably on beanbags in front of me, I read to them selected parts of various stories from my book and enjoyed a Question and Answer time with these lively 12-year olds.

A week after the event, the school’s Deputy Principal – Pastoral Care, Tan Seow Heng, told me that she gave the Year Nine students an assignment to write on the topic, “My Thoughts on Book Week,” in their journal.

It was just a literary exercise but when she read the students’ journals, she was pleasantly surprised by their spontaneity and honesty and wanted to share some excerpts with me.

While their command of the English language may not be flawless, we can clearly grasp the meaning of their words.

Like Tan, I was deeply encouraged by how the students managed to put their thoughts and feelings into writing.

We agreed that it was more meaningful to read the students’ thoughts from their own hand-writing and it is my pleasure to share a few of their responses here:

Excerpt from Journal #001
Excerpt from Journal #002 
Excerpt from Journal #003
Excerpt from Journal #004
I cannot help but feel deeply touched by the observations of these 14 to 15-year old students, which just came straight from the heart.

THANK YOU Crescendo HELP International School, for the privilege to participate in your recent Book Week event.

May this be the start of your students’ own journey to a career in writing!

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