Global Alternative Tourism Network (GATN) - Malaysia Site Sampling, 19 – 26 July 2017
Senior Programmes Coordinator, Daniel Ang attended the first GATN Site Sampling Trip in Malaysia organised by Asia and Pacific Alliance of YMCAs (APAY). There were three programmes conducted by the respective hosting YMCAs of Kuala Lumpur, Kedah and Penang. Participating were representatives from the Chinese YMCA of Hong Kong, YMCA Daegu, YMCA Guangzhou, YMCA Manila, Metropolitan YMCA of Singapore. This was led by Mr. Chan Beng Seng from APAY and Chinese YMCA of Hong Kong.
Part 1: Kuala Lumpur
Daniel joined the GATN Site Sampling on 20th of August from the Kuala Lumpur programme with a nature walk at the Forest Research Institute of Malaysia (FRIM) and a cultural presentation at Malaysia Tourism Centre (MATIC).
Part 2: Kedah
After which, it was travelling to the north of Malaysia by train to visit the YMCA of Kedah. YMCA of Kedah welcomed us to its Y Café which is an inspiring testament of youth work in Kedah Y. The youth of Kedah Y painted and furnished the whole Y Café with recycled materials.
The activities in Kedah YMCA included a visit to an experimental/research oyster farm, a Merbok River tour, an overnight stay on a boathouse, a 500 B.C. archaeological site visit, an organic rice farm educational sharing, and the NTA Refugee Home School that provides primary/elementary education to the Rohingya refugee children. The visits to those communities were very fruitful and it was heart-warming to see how the community work by the YMCA and various NGOs contribute towards building a sustainable and peaceful society.
Part 3: Penang
The last leg of the Site Sampling was hosted by the YMCA of Penang with a visit to the YMCA Campsite and night walk at the Georgetown UNESCO World Heritage Tour. The next day was a visit to a local Malay Homestay community to make Malay delicacies and an experience of the traditional Malay rural lifestyle; family meals, making handicrafts, and playing takraw. Aside from this, particpants also visited a rice paddy field, a fruit farm, learned about rubber tapping and visited a former mining site that has now become a place for photo enthusiasts.
Though time was limited, the Site Sampling was a good opportunity to have a taste of what each hosting YMCA had to offer. All the hosting YMCAs succeeded in showing activities and communities that the sending YMCAs can expect in order to conduct Camps, Service Learning Trips, Cultural Exchanges, Youth Exchanges or other programmes.
“I am thankful for such an enriching experience and I believe that friendships are shared between the visiting and hosting YMCAs. This is a network formed, which can collaborate with one another in designing GATN programme.” - Daniel Ang, Senior Programmes Coordinator, Metropolitan YMCA