NEVER in Kezzia Leong's life did she foresee that a lockdown – being made to stay at home – would bring her closer to her friends.
Friday nights are movie nights for the Student Council of UOW Malaysia KDU.
Tens upon tens of students from the campus will watch that predetermined movie together online, wherever they physically are in the world.
“Then we will be in the same chat group, and we will prattle away and rant or rave or heap praises on the scenes or actors or actresses.
“And when an emotional scene comes, we'll cry together in the chat group,” Leong said with a smile.
If nothing else, she said the bonding found in a large group of like-minded students watching a movie together – though not physically together – was vital to everyone's mental health.
“Lockdowns can be lonely. We have no one to talk to and it can be stressful mentally. So, our Student Council works hard to keep us all together,” she said.
Leong is the UOW Malaysia KDU Student Council president on the university's Glenmarie campus in Shah Alam.
She is pursuing a Bachelor of Business (Hons), specialising in Risk Management (she is in her second year, third semester), and like every tertiary student in the country, she is striving to earn her degree remotely.
But ever since she became the Student Council president this February, her university life has gone beyond mere academics.
This unique involvement of the Student Council, said UOW Malaysia KDU's senior manager in charge of the Student & Alumni Centre, Mitchell Liong, is part of its Youth Empowerment Plan.
This plan was developed to encompass the primary attributes of the Malaysia Education Blueprint 2015 - 2025: Ethics and Spiritually, Leadership Skills, National Identity, Language Proficiency, Thinking Skills, and Knowledge.
“We think of ourselves as being a real-world university meeting real-world needs,” he added.
Indeed, there are tens of groups, clubs and societies that UOW Malaysia KDU students join, and the names of some of these bear testimony to the creativity and sense of play that only youthfulness can impart.
One club, called the Grapevine, is the joint for students in hospitality and culinary arts.
“Grapevine opens up ways for our students to build character and soft skills such as commitment, leadership, and effective communication,” Liong said.
Another club with a name that bespeaks mystery and secrets is the Dice Collective.
Members of this club play various games. Board games, computer games, you name it.
“They even play games with people from around the world. It might sound a little cliché, but the friends we make through clubs and societies with the same interest may very well be the friends that we keep for life," Liong observed.
Liong said in the classes, the focus is unavoidably academic education, yet the campus knows that is not everything the students need.
To learn and grow, an element of play has to feature strongly and that is why the campus management pays so much emphasis on the students' extra-curricular activities.
"Some of our students join the Art Farm, where they learn new skills, whether it is photography or design skills,” Liong said.
For more information about UOW Malaysia KDU, visit https://www.uowmkdu.edu.my/