The Many Faces of the Melta Conference @ Kuching

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I had the fortunate opportunity to meet up with some very interesting people whilst I was attending the MELTA Conference 2010 in Kuching on 17th & 18th June, 2010. Some of them were veteran linguists, while others were educators who have played significant roles in their respective academic organisations.

Everyone I met at this conference clearly had a strong passion for English education and worked unceasingly to contribute one way or another to the development and betterment of ELT as a profession. Of all the incredible educators I met in the past two days, allow me to simply touch upon a few of the interesting individuals whom I would like to thank for having enlightened me and added value to my four day stay in Kuching. This list is naturally not exhaustive, as it would take me another three days if I were to count all the fine hard-working people that I met at the conference.

Myself with Dato Leela
Myself with Dato Leela Mohd Ali

1. Dato Leela Mohd Ali - Dato Leela is a woman whom I have always respected and admired. Her track record is second to none - it is a lifetime of public service as an educationist. The fact that after 20 years of retirement, she is still going strong in her pursuit of charitable causes only shows the great strength of this lady. She is a role model citizen for all Malaysians.

2. Aslam Khan - Aslam is a man with immense passion for teaching. He is currently the Vice President of MELTA and a Senior Lecturer at the Institute of Teacher Education, Malaysia. He is always seen with a large smile across his face and his presence always makes one feel right at home. He is simply the most ideal host you could ever wish for!

3. Dr Mario Saraceni, Senior Lecturer in Applied Linguistics, University of Portsmouth - Dr. Mario is a compassionate soul who is deeply concerned about the plight of Malaysian English educators not being given an equal amount of respect in comparison to their 'native speaking' peers within their own homeland. His genuine compassion touched everyone's heart who heard him.

4. Professor Dr Malachi Edwin Vethamani, Wawasan Open University - My colleague, Audrey Boudville, did her first degree in Education at UPM some years ago. She often talked about her professor, one Dr. Malachi Edwin, who was very serious and strict with students. However, when I finally did meet Dr Edwin, I was completely taken off guard. "Wait? This friendly and funny man IS the tough professor I heard so much about?" It was only after I was afforded the opportunity to hear him present a paper as a plenary speaker, that I finally conceeded. "Yeah, he really IS that strict professor."

5. Dr Teh Chee Seng, Dean of Faculty of Arts & Social Science, Utar - Dr Teh Chee Seng is a rather quiet gentleman, perhaps even rather shy looking. However, I heard he had written a book which sold more than ten thousand copies. Dr Teh surely has achieved something that makes all local academics proud - a best-selling author in today's very competitive publishing industry.

6. Dr Singhanat Nomnian (Kenny), Head & Lecturer of Division of Foreign Languages, Mahidol University, Thailand - This young, dashing and stylish professor with a "movie star" quality persona hails from the neighbouring country of Thailand. We spent hours talking; our conversations drifted from English education in South East Asia, to education entrepreneurship and even on to childhood dreams. I wish Kenny all the best in all his undertakings!

7. Assoc Prof Dr Stefanie Pillai, Director, Centre for Industrial Training & Relations (CITRA), University of Malaya - Dr Stefanie chose to attend the Kuching stop in particular, as she had wanted to take her two lovely children on a vacation over their school holidays. I sat in the same car as she did on the way to the airport and we managed to discuss issues concerning English pronunciation. Dr Pillai's expertise encompasses sounds and phonetics, I can honestly say - I feel there is no one more suitable to consult in this area than her.

8. Assoc Prof Dr Mardziah Hayati Abdullah, Universiti Putra Malaysia - Dr Mardziah moderated the panel session "To go or Not to go Native" which 'sparked' the most discussion of all the topics at the conference. Given the critical importance and sensitive nature of this topic, I really must applaud Dr Mardziah for her courage and a job well done. She surely is a world class moderator!


Meeting with the enigmatic Dr. Basil

9. Dr Basil Wijasuriya - This man laid the foundation for MELTA as its first president. Dr Basil is a highly respected veteran academic; I had heard so much about him, that when I finally had the opportunity to meet him, I was greatly overwhelmed. He impressed me as someone who was humble, down-to-earth and highly supportive of the younger generation of academics.

10. Dr Ganakumaran, President of MELTA - The qualities of this great man go without saying. He is the mover of the association, one who has provided the type of leadership that an NGO like MELTA needs. He currently heads a team of 15 amazing educators who have formed the MELTA committee. Together, they undertake the endeavour of organising a mammoth annual project, the MELTA Conference, year after year after year. Dr Gana, I salute you. You are truly a champion of the English teaching movement in Malaysia.

11. Dr Shien Sakai, Professor of Chiba University of Commerce. - A very funny man indeed. In his uniquely Japanese-accented English, Dr Sakai presented his paper in a hall packed with enthusiastic educators. His sense of humour captivated everybody's heart. The frequent outbursts of laughter testified soundly to the immense popularity of this man.

12. Datin Dr Siti Zaleha, Director, Educational Technology Division, Ministry of Education - I did not have much chance to talk with her. However, it was very kind of her to come all the way to Kuching to lend MELTA the tremendous support that she did. While I was not the organiser; as a participant, I feel the strong desire to thank her for her efforts nonetheless.

13. Cheah Swi Yee - Swi Yee is a lovely person; she is always energetic and passionate about whatever she does. I attended her workshop on 'Go Green', a project which she has designed for her students in Universiti Kuala Lumpur. I felt the idea was fantastic - not only do students get to use real English in real life situations, but they also learn important concepts of environmental protection.

With the full support of so many fantastic people, I am certain that MELTA Conference will be even more successful in the many years to come.

"Life is about constantly going beyond limits!"
- Erican Chong

Comments

  1. Thanks Eric for your encouraging words. I must add, that your presence has encouraged us all, being one of the major sponsors of the conference. We look forward to more collaborations with you. Have a good life. (tim) teh chee seng

    ReplyDelete
  2. I heard this conference is very good. Unfortunately I missed it this year. Perhaps next year I must not forget. Kevin

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thanks, Eric, for your kind words! Hope to see you again next year.

    Mario

    ReplyDelete

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