Journey of a young scribe

Zhi Yong (right) with BRATs participants Yeoh Cheng Jin (left) and Brian Lam at the photography workshop held in Resorts World Genting.

Journalism takes a budding writer’s creativity and freedom of expression to another level

AS a student pursuing science and mathematics subjects in college, BRATs has been the sole reason for me to continue writing this year.

My studies are tied to facts and figures, so I find it refreshing to write interview articles and reflective pieces during my free time.

My initial reason for joining BRATs was to see my byline and articles published in the newspaper. Little did I know that this would enable me to gain so many learning opportunities.

My first assignment was to interview Jeffrey Webb, the first Malaysian to have qualified for the recent Winter Olympic Games in two alpine skiing events – slalom and giant slalom.

From then on, I gradually became more confident in starting conversations with people outside my social circle. In addition, this helped me to develop vital communication skills that helped me when I went for university admission interviews.

Conducting interviews may seem like an easy process of interacting with people and writing their replies but there are times when things do not go as smoothly as expected.

From those setbacks, I learned that I need to do my research and prepare a list of relevant questions beforehand, which serve as a guideline to obtain all the necessary information in the shortest time possible.

Apart from working on assignments from home, I had the chance to attend a photography workshop in Resorts World Genting and a sharing session in Menara Star that allowed me to get to know other BRATs writers from different backgrounds.

All of us share a passion for writing and because of that, we bonded easily during our gatherings and got to expand our social network.

As a BRATs participant, I am also expected to meet deadlines. Juggling between studies and BRATs assignments, I have learned to manage my time and practise self-control. I make sure that I work on my articles, instead of going to sleep after a long day in college.

At times, despite my eagerness to start my assignments, my interviewees are not available to answer my calls or respond to my e-mails.

Such encounters taught me not to do my assignments at the last minute, especially when they involve interviewees who have hectic schedules due to their work commitments.

To me, the most interesting part of the BRATs programme is that it gives me the freedom to pitch new angles based on the themes given every fortnight.

Unlike the rigid approach I have to adhere to in academic writing, I am free to propose my ideas and identify my interviewees, taking my creativity and freedom of expression to a whole new level.

All in all, despite taking sciences in college, I find great satisfaction in having BRATs as a platform for me to continue writing.

It has helped to prevent my writing skills from getting “rusty” while I prepare for English language proficiency tests such as the Malaysian University English Test (MUET) and the International English Language Testing System (IELTS).

To those of you who enjoy writing, do give the BRATs programme a go. The learning opportunities that come with the programme will certainly give you the experience of a lifetime.

Are you our next BRATs writer?

We are looking for teenagers (aged between 14 and 19 in 2019) to be part of our 2019 BRATs Young Journalist Programme.

Throughout the year-long programme, participants will experience life as a journalist, contributing ideas, conducting interviews, and completing writing assignments.

Active participants will earn a certificate of participation at the end of the year. Top performers will win a coveted internship spot with The Star at the end of the programme.

To apply, send a 500-word self-description that screams “Pick Me!” to by Nov 30 with a snazzy photograph that best reflects your life.

Title your e-mail “I’m a BRATs Young Journalist!”.

Articles written by BRATs participants are published in The Star’s Newspaper-in-Education (NiE) pullout on Wednesdays. It is available only through school subscriptions.

For more information on Star-NiE’s BRATs programme, go to

Education , NiE-BRATs


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