HIS experiences with the Chinese community left a good impression on SMK Vivekananda Kuala Lumpur principal A.Thangaperumal, 59, when he was growing up.
“The community supported me when I was pursuing my tertiary education.
“It was then I realised that as Malaysians, we should accept one another, ” he shares.
Since then, Thangaperumal who has spent his whole life as an educator, pledged to always look after the community as a whole.
As school principal, he makes sure that the Chinese students are not left out but feel they are part of the school community as the population comprises a majority of Malay and Indian students.
“The school provides funds to hire Chinese teachers for students who want to take the subject in the SPM, ” he says, adding that the school makes sure every festival is celebrated.
For Chinese New Year, the school - with the help of Vivekananda Ashrama Kuala Lumpur and school board of governors chairman Tan Sri Dr K. Ampikaipakan hired SMK Sri Sentosa’s lion and dragon dance troupe as a “Chinese New Year treat” right before Chap Goh Meh.
“Talking is simply not enough, we put words into actions to let students know that they matter, ” he says.
Ampikaipakan says he was happy to sponsor the lion dance performance as it was a form of education as well.
“It is our belief that educating children on the various cultures is vital, ” he adds.
The students enjoyed the energetic lion and dragon dance performances.
Angelo Low Wu Zhong, 15 and Chin Jun Jiat, 17 share that they felt special because the “school has students at its heart”.
“The school took the initiative to bring an amazing performance to us.
“Celebrating festivals together forms the basis of nation building in a multiracial country, ” says Jun Jiat.
Wu Zhong says everyone gets to experience the festivities at the school.
“I was happy that my Malay and Indian friends were intrigued and asked me many questions about it, ” he says.
Student Vanishree Kumaraguru, 14, says the performance helped to strengthen her understanding of the culture further.
Nur Amyra Natahsa Mohd Din, 17, says she is glad she is able to experience and participate in different celebrations which are unique in their own right.
“They build respect and better understanding among us.”
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