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August 17, 2016

Observing Beauty and School Selection

Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – The girls! Oh, good lord! The girls! About 50 of the most beautiful Swedish and Danish students have moved into my building for six months. They are here to take courses in management and engineering from a local University in some sort of exchange program.


Blonde, blue eyed and slim! Not an extra pound among them.


I met them, along with Dzul (my five year old son) and my wife, down at the pool of our complex. They were dressed in the skimpiest of bikinis, lounging around and waiting for classes to start tomorrow. I just wish I was about 45 years younger!


As per the age, they paid absolutely no attention to me. I could have been part of furniture that is strung along the side of the pool, rarely used until now. I had to interrupt their talking in Danish and Swedish to see if they spoke English. They did. I received an interesting geography lesson as I tried to remember where Denmark was. Sweden I knew, and they came from all over that gorgeous country, if the girls were any indication of the scenery. Ah, yes, six months of views beyond compare.


We have been shopping for primary schools for Dzul, who starts first grade in January. Here the schools begin at the first of the year and one must pick and choose from the myriad of educational possibilities.


There are the private schools, Tunku Putra and Lodge. Tunku Putra is a very expensive school plopped down in the middle of a field. There are no trees, plants or other decorations, just field. A very sterile place. There are pods for the elementary school, the junior high and the high school. A huge gym and swimming pool edifice also is part of the complex. They have a few white teachers there, but most are Chinese.


Lodge School, where I used teach, is straight up for about four floors. It is also a Chinese School where everything is taught in English. There are about 40 kids to a classroom and is very silent and studious. Then, it explodes during break. Following a half an hour of eating, they all return to their studies.


St. Thomas is a Catholic school that has an excellent reputation. However, because 90% of the population could not speak English, it was forced to adopt the Malay curriculum. All of my kampong family sent their children there. Indeed, two of them attend there now.


The final school we looked at was a Kampung School call S.K. Pulo. It is a village school directly across the river from us. The medium of instruction is Malay with lessons in Arabic and Jawi. The 40 or so students were divided into classes. Some took reading, others Malay, writing, arithmetic and Malay language. They weren't all bunched together in one classroom. And they were laughing and seeming to have a good time while learning. The only problem is there are no Chinese lessons. We will have to hire a tutor for that.


So far, I am leaning towards S.K. Pulo. We have several months to make up our minds but if push comes to shove, we can always home school. So, I am not worried.


Meanwhile, I will start to lay (or is it lie) by the pool and start Swedish and Danish lessons from one, or several, of my new found friends.


...Life is good. . . . .


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