I am A Refugee: Humanising the Refugee Experience

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I am A Refugee: Humanising the Refugee Experience

Year 12 student, Tishya Kumar is awarded EARCOS Global Citizen Award

We are delighted to share the news that Year 12 student, Tishya Kumar has been awarded the EARCOS Global Citizen Award for writing and publishing a thought provoking book titled, I am A Refugee.

The book, which is aimed at primary school children, depicts the experiences of young Rohingya refugees now living in Malaysia. Beautifully illustrated, the book is the summation of several years of volunteering for Tishya where she brings together the many stories Rohinga refugee children have shared. Not only does the book capture the refugee experience; thoughts and feelings, presented alongside their personal artwork provide a poignant reminder of the children caught up by conflict.

I am A Refugee: Humanising the refugee experience

Watch the author’s book reading and experience the refugee artwork in an exclusive reading on YouTube here

Tishya’s work on the book began in Year 10, when she was tasked with creating a project for her Global Awareness Project (GAP). Asked to choose an issue and create awareness around it; Tishya was inspired to give something back to the children she had met through the school’s Reach Out CCA programme.

The idea for the children’s book focussed on finding the right medium to connect with young people. Speaking about her inspiration for the book in more detail, Tishya said

Questioning myself on how I would be able to try and bring attention to the refugee issue, I realised that children, the adults of tomorrow, need to be educated on the problem. It is so important that we educate children because they will be the leaders who will have to deal with these issues in the future. By writing a children’s book, I hoped to craft a story that has an impact on the lives of more fortunate children, by bringing their attention to the hardships of other children the same age.” The book draws some important parallels for children and adults alike, promoting a thoughtful reflection without criticism or too much context.

Having participated in the Reach Out CCA regularly since Year 7, Tishya is one of many GIS students to benefit from the school’s stand out service learning programme based around our vision to nurture caring global citizens.

From an early model whereby students collaborated with refugee centres for ‘one-off’ fun, educational experiences; Reach Out has evolved into a broad and diverse initiative. Today a host of student-led programmes operate under its umbrella and we are proud to partner with 10 refugee centres across KL, supporting refugees from Afghanistan and Myanmar as well as a local special needs centre.

At the heart of the initiative is Reach Out Teaching, which sees our students plan activities for our refugee partners and teach them on a weekly basis. Many students stay in the programme over several terms or even years, developing sustainable relationships and pioneering off-shoot initiatives, e.g. Reach Out Tech, Music and Mathematics and Project Smile (for special needs children). Students also plan and direct events such as Discovery Week, a refugee Christmas party and sports day.

Reach Out has been transformative for our community, providing much-needed support to our refugee partners, while providing our students with valuable experiences. I am A Refugee is a great example of the values our students learn on the programme along with the courage they build to help others.

Congratulations to Tishya on this wonderful achievement and recognition. Copies of the book are on sale and all proceeds raised are being given back to the local Rohingya refugee programme. If you would like to order a copy, please contact GIS marketing: gismarcomm@gardenschool.edu.my

To find out more about service learning and how we shape global citizens for today and tomorrow check out the community service page on our website.

Read more about how GIS shapes future changemakers in our blogpost featuring Alumni, Gabby Tan.

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