Monday, February 11, 2008


Exchange students form alumni to preserve culture


Native youths have been looking at their peers abroad to understand how to hold on to their culture in the ever- changing world. The Kadazandusun Cultural Association-International Student Cultural Exchange Programme (KDCA-ISCEP) aims to learn youths from other countries ways to preserve age-old traditions while not being left out from mainstream development. In 2005, eleven students from SM St Peter, Telipok became the first batch of the KDCA-ISCEP programme to set out to South Korea to learn from the counterparts there not only to see for themselves how Korean youths preserve their traditions but to build stronger relationships and promote global peace. Since then, a total of 49 students aged between 16 and 19 have had the opportunity to do so and determine to make good use the exposure gained from the programme. The KDCA-ISCEP Alumni was formed by these youths to ensure the continuance of the programme and to contribute constructively towards the development of Kadazandusun youths in particular. The Alumni, among others aims to help preserve the Kadazandusun culture among the youths as well as to promote understanding between youths of other countries. Its advisor, Athanasia Nointin said the Alumni, within a short period of time has devised whole-year plans that include cultural activities, fundraisers, teambuilding activities as well as jointly organising activities with other youth bodies or organisations. “This group of very passionate, highly motivated and committed young Kadazandusuns youths are set to learn, be groomed and be shaped in the manner that could bring them to their vision of being knowledgeable, respected and professional,” Nointin said. “In KDCA-ISCEP, we are blessed for these young individuals who though are living in a globalise world as well as with growing modernisation are seeking to hold on their own cultures.” she added. However, much of the future successes of the Alumni will depend on support-from the elders, she conceded and for that she urges Kadazandusun leaders to set aside political affiliations for the sake of the Kadazandusun youths and help towards the preservation of the culture. While thanking KDCA President Datuk Joseph Pairin Kitingan who she said has done much to assist the its cause, Nointin said more should step up to assist. Another goal for the Alumni is to provide more students, especially those in the rural areas to have the opportunity to participate in such programme, she said, but lack of funds is hampering efforts to do so. For this year, KDCA-ISCEP is sending another 22 students to South Korea for which participants will have to fork out close to RM2,000, an amount in which many rural students simply do not have. Although another half of the funding will be borne by KDCAISCEP and its affiliate, the Gyeonggi Cultural Foundation, Korea, these once-in-a-lifetime opportunities for rural students will no doubt have a big impact on how they view the world and Nointin expressed her confidence that it would also show them to appreciate their culture. For Mohd Hazli Ali Zapar, .19, the Alumni’s President, in the context of culture and indigenous identity, the changes that threatens traditional cultures are often blamed on globalisation. “However, it is important to realise that globalisation is just a process, manipulated by mankind and with that it is transparent that we (the youths) hold the power to change things we see necessary and at the same time preserve our heritage.” he said. “The Alumni believes that if there should be any changes ushered in to ensure a better future, it should therefore be done by the young generation of today. Life is like a baton, it is passed on from one generation to the next. “We strive be the ‘wheel of change, in order to usher in the paradigm shift among youths, especially to incubate a realisation of self-identity and the right set of mind.., we hold the power to determine what tomorrow will look like as we are the future leaders,” he said. “