Ayesha Ismail is a Marine Science major who graduated from Universiti Malaysia Sabah and currently she is pursuing her Masters degree in Universiti Sains Malaysia. She became an alumni of YSS since 2014. She gets up close and personal with us to share her story from her first endeavor with YSS up until now. She wants to inspire readers by emphasizing the role of volunteering and how it affected her.
I have never ever dreamed a dream that is so real such as this. A dream of endless tranquility and love that is grabbing my ongoing senses and also my moving body. Feels like a dream yet it is a solid reality and the adrenaline keeps on rushing and it never stops since then. That is how much I have felt throughout these amazing three years of finding myself in this place. I never knew that this passion of mine could be turned into something else as it grows bigger and bigger each time. Yayasan Sukarelawan Siswa has taught me that I could be more than what I ought to be- more than just being a kind girl-next-door who loves to help the needy. A holistic approach of moulding hundreds of youngsters like me into a volunteer and a leader gave me a thousand new insights. Every single mission that I went to never fail to strengthen me as YSS always make me believe that I can do more not until I see my limitations. Because all you need to know is that we have this potential that we have yet to discover. I have learned that all of these are crucial in the upbringing of a soul and a person.
I was over the moon when I received a call that tells me that I got a spot to a volunteer mission in Sarawak because I never thought that I would be getting it in the first place. I was this shy, inferior girl who went to the interview anyway because I really want it ever since I saw the interview announcement on my university’s Facebook page. My lack of confidence doesn’t bring me down as I went inside the interview room with my sweaty palms while feeling determined. I still remember saying ‘I am a city girl who is blessed and brought up in a comfortable home but it has been my long-life dream to volunteer. I want to know how it feels like to be in a place where it is lacking and how much I am able to help those people in need’. I don’t know if those words intrigued the interviewer or my sincerity just shows.
So I got a call and I never knew what I was in for as I was based in Kg Beradek, Santubong, Sarawak only to know that I was there with fellow student council leaders from all over Malaysia. I was in denial and contemplating of why am I there with these amazing lads and it was even more fearsome when I was appointed as a secretary for the group. Even so I did my very best to carry my duties as a volunteer and a secretary- had to forced myself to speak up giving out my ideas and I have to teach! I was a little awkward back there but I improved as the classes goes on for two weeks with the help of my friends. It was a very fun memorable experience of immersing with the locals and not to forget- daily report writing. After the mission ended, what’s noticeable is that I am getting a lot loose with myself as I am comfortable with what I do. I feel brand-new like I was just starting afresh with my life and volunteering has become a new obsession of mine since then. Later on, I went for the Vietnam, Kapit missions and initiated a post-flood mission in Sabah.
Eventually four missions later, I was given the responsibility as a Programme Director to initiate a YSS-ASEAN mission to Sabah in 2015. I was in my final year with my research and theses dissertation needs to be taken care of and I have this big task in front of me but I chose to do both. Money and time was never in question as I just want to make these two happened. I would go to classes in the morning and went to the office in the evening to settle things out and continue my work inside the room at night with little hours of sleep. This situation kept on going for several months until I finished my study and went for my internship. However, those sacrifices and hard works (plus illness) were worth it as the first ever mission to Sabah went on successfully and it is all because of my team and I. I just want to share that it is not easy at all to figure things out and let it happened. Successes don’t just magically come – it goes with your perseverance and your willingness of making it work. Not to forget, YSS Chairman Dato Zuraidah Atan who never seize to provide us with endless support and advice.
Furthermore, I got the chance to meet and communicate with hundreds of new friends from Brunei, Singapore, Philippines, Cambodia, Myanmar, Laos and more at the ASEAN Young Women Leadership Conference being held at PWTC in November 2015. Also many courses and activities were held for alumni to join and support. Then in 2016 I went for the YSS-ASEAN Laos mission in Ban Soukhouma, Champassak, Laos in which has been a huge eye opener for me in terms of way of living. My recent mission was in Tawau, Sabah and yeah here I am 7 missions later, after three years and are still eager for more. It didn’t stop there and won’t ever be as the windows of opportunities by YSS are never closed because they never stop believing in their alumni. They believe on what they are fighting for and keep on moving forward to the eyes of the world. That’s what I felt now as I believe in myself and I believe that many more student volunteer leaders with the right attitude can be born. Volunteering could be the key-indicator of kindhearted and high achiever individuals if they are mould in the right way so I believe that this nation can do it.
All in all, I believe that my willingness to learn, honesty, perseverance and work-driven attitude have made me improve myself as I go. This shy, shivering girl is long gone if I must say. I will keep on improving because of this fiery love of mine. Because when I fall in love, I fall hard and blinded to do just anything. Even though the battle with myself is still right here in this moment but all of these have made me realized, what’s the point of hiding and keeping your dream to yourself when you can change all that to a win or lose situation. Nonetheless, if you win, you’re a champ but if you lose, you are a better version of yourself. It’s that simple. You know, no matter how far the place is, no matter how many friends and people you met in the end it will only come to one place that is – yourself.
24th November 2016