The following interview with YES alumnus Farhan Kamarzaman ’08 was originally published in MyDeafNews. Farhan was recently selected to attend the 2010 YES Alumni Training of Trainers Workshop in Washington DC. Article translation by Yah Tyng Ng, VP YES Alumni Malaysia.
by Normawati Muhamad Kasim
Farhan Kamarzaman is one of four lucky deaf students who were selected for the YES Program, an exchange program in the United States organized by AFS Antarabudaya Malaysia. The following is the interview between Farhan and MyDeafNews (MD):
MD: Assalamualaikum. Thank for willing to be in this interview
Farhan: Waalaikumussalam. You’re welcome
MD: Can you briefly describe your background? Name, date of birth, where are you from and where are you studying?
Farhan: My name is Mohd. Farhan Kamarzaman, 19 years old born in Kuala Lumpur Hospital on 3rd July 1990. I’m currently studying Form 5 in SMK Desa Perdana.
MD: How did you know and participated this YES program?
Farhan: I applied few years ago and never thought my dream would come true to participate this program. My teacher informed me that I was selected
MD: When you were informed that you are selected for the YES program. How do you feel?
Farhan: I have both mixed feelings of excitement and anxiety to participate the YES program because it is also my first time participating program as such. However I am very fortunate enough that I able to get support from my family because my both parents are also actively involved in exchange programs which make it easier for them to understand me.
MD: Before going to the US, what kind of preparation that you do?
Farhan: Before going to US, all participants need to attend an orientation camp for 4 days. We have to learn ASL and other things. Alumni members are there to share their experience which is very useful as I can ask them what to expect from my stay there.
MD: While you are there, what is your most unforgettable experience?
Farhan: When we just arrived in Washington DC, one of the unforgettable moments was when we visited Gallaudet University where everyone there communicates using sign language. Even when I ordering food I don’t need to write to order my food but instead just sign, which is very different from Malaysia. I am amazed with what I had experienced and seen.
MD: What are the challenges you had faced during YES program? For example, from communicating with people, friends or any task that did you need to do?
Farhan: Among the challenges that I had faced during YES program is communicating with my host parents whom are not deaf. They know little of sign language and I need to write on piece of paper to communicate with them. In that case, I need to be good in English however I had taught them basic sign language such as drink, eat, sleep, shower, thank you and good morning. Other challenges that I had also faced is difficulty in fulfilling the Solat Prayers and getting Halal food.
MD: Where is your school in US and is the place near to your host family house?
Farhan: I was placed in Indianapolis Deaf School whereby all students are deaf and also most teachers are deaf too. My host family house is quite far from my school, therefore I was placed in the school dormitory. Every weekend, I will live in my host family house which takes about 2 hours of bus ride. Being in a foreign country teaches me to be brave and independent as I am the only student from Malaysia.
MD: What challenges do you face in school there compared to the school in Malaysia?
Farhan: At the beginning, my challenges were to understand their sign language, but later I get used to their sign language and able to understand it. The education system is very different between America and Malaysia because in America the education system is more into theory and practical, whilst Malaysia focuses only onto the theory aspect.
MD: During your stay, what amazes you the most?
Farhan: I am amazed by the vast technology available there. For example, an electrical device like Video Phone enables me to communicate with anyone by just dialing the phone and later was connected through an operator who can sign. I can also communicate my family through the television at home.
MD: After the end of 6 months there, how do you feel when it is time to go home?
Farhan: I have mixed feelings again because I am sad to leave my host family and friends in America but in the mean time I am happy to see my family again in Malaysia. When I’m in America I felt like a different person because there is too many differences between America and Malaysia.
MD: What are your future plans?
Farhan: My future plans were to further my studies in engineering or technology information. I hope to obtain excellent results in SPM to enable to obtain scholarships to further my studies.
MD: What is your advice to other youth out there?
Farhan: I hope other youth like me able to participate in programs that able to give them experience and to meet different people in the society. I also hope all youth to be successful and also help the society and the needy.
MD: Thank you for willing to be interviewed.
Farhan: You’re welcome.