TAIPING: Sometimes, it just takes a simple act of kindness to change a student’s life, and that’s exactly what happened to SP Setia chairman Tan Sri Dr Wan Zahid Mohd Noordin.
During a visit to his alma mater SMK King Edward VII to promote the #StandTogether National Kindness Week programme, Wan Zahid broke down as he recalled how a teacher gave him 20sen to keep him from going hungry.
“I come from a poor family, so while my friends rushed to the tuck shop, I wouldn’t be able to afford any food. I had to wait to go home for lunch.
“But the teacher made it a point to walk around (during recess). He gave me 20sen, and said ‘don’t be shy’,” said Wan Zahid, 76, before being overcome with emotion.
Even after over 60 years, he still remembers the teacher’s name – Lim Eng Hong.
“That’s the kind of teachers I had. That’s the kindness they had.
“I loved them, and they loved us,” he added.
And that’s the kind of culture Wan Zahid, a former Education Ministry director-general, hopes to bring back to Malaysian schools through the #StandTogether campaign, a joint initiative by SP Setia and R.AGE.
To promote the campaign’s message of kindness as a means to combat increasing physical, cyber and emotional bullying, various celebrities and prominent personalities are going back to their former schools.
Just last week, Star Media Group chief executive officer and group managing director Datuk Seri Wong Chun Wai visited St Xavier’s Institution, Penang, while SP Setia chief operating officer Datuk Wong Tuck Wai had a similarly emotional visit to SMK St Michael’s in Ipoh.
Wan Zahid started his visit by addressing the entire student body in a candid speech, where he reminded that even small acts of kindness, like smiling to a teacher or fellow student, can make a huge difference.
He then travelled to nearby Ipoh to visit SMK Anderson, where he studied Form Six, and spoke to some of the students.
Form Five student Muhammad Amir Danial Asrul Amir said he was bullied, kicked, and punched as early as Year One.
“I left that school at Year Three, and on my last day I could see my bullies’ eyes getting misty, because I forgave them,” he said, adding that society shouldn’t vilify bullies.
“Bullies usually have their own problems at home. At our school, we prefects make friends with them, we speak to them, and that’s why we don’t have bullying anymore.”
The #StandTogether National Kindness Week programme includes daily classroom activities, ice-breakers, and a “Kindness Challenge”, all aimed at creating a more positive, empathetic culture in schools.
Schools keen on implementing the programme, which will be run simultaneously in schools across the country on the first week of April, can sign up at www.standtogether.my.
For details, contact the R.AGE team at firstname.lastname@example.org.