Saturday, September 5, 2009

Conservation through Children

Community, Going Places, Sept 2009

This story was special for two reasons.

One, it afforded me another welcome opportunity to return to Penang, where I spent my formative adult years. As usual Penang didn't disappoint. Its streets are as colourful and lively as ever. It would seem, from the outset at least, that the charms of Georgetown are relatively insulated from the recent economic meltdown.

Most importantly, it brought me face to face with two extraordinary women: Janet Pillai and Chen Yoke Pin, who along with Kuah Li Feng are the main drivers behind Arts Ed.

Anyone who has lived in Penang would have heard about Anak-Anak Kota, the Arts Ed-initiated programme that aims to preserve local cultural assets through children. Getting secondhand information and actually being part of them are, I discovered, two very different things.

On Saturday morning, I joined the kids on a heritage walk. They streamed in and out of hallowed institutions around the Streets of Harmony, armed with nothing but pencil and paper, maps and a boatload of curiosity. We visited St George's Church, Acheen Mosque, Masjid India, and lots more, all beautifully-preserved, legacy-rich landmarks I'd driven past a zillion times and never even stopped to look, until now.

The weather did little to dampen our spirits. For starters, the facilitators' own enthusiasm for their subject was infectious. Gamely toting umbrellas, we trekked through puddles, huddled on roofed pavements when the rain got too heavy, and even stopped over at a warung where an be-saronged uncle sportingly demonstrated how to pull teh tarik and make roti canai.

Heh. If only my own history lessons were half this fun ...

In that too-short span, I began to develop an appreciation for what Arts Ed has been trying to do in the last ten years: to conserve our legacy through children (thanks for that great headline, Viv!)

Anak-Anak Kota - and by extension, Arts Ed, are a living testament of what real passion can do. Salute, Janet and team.

If you'd like more information about Arts-ED activities and program, Tel/Fax 04-263 3471 or visit

PS Swee Wah, thanks a million for providing the link.


katztales said...

Sounds like fun!

Siew Chyi said...

I can;t wait for my daughter, Jean to grow up so she can participate too

Cocoy said...

nice Blog.
Enjoy reading it.

Mike Yip said...

Wow... interesting stuff.

Cherryl said...

hey,bunny. i saw ur article on the star and got very interested. In the past, I think alot of opening an orphanage and ppl who are old can stay so they can feel the warmth still available in this world. Later, now, I notice it's not only the warmth they need, the world need education. i don't want to be someone who jz can complain the good and bad of a school, I want to be someone thatreally does a change, despite of the hard work but I don't know where to start. If I really want to create a new education system, who can really help me? Where should I start? Can you help, if you do, can you e-mail me at I know I'm not a person that oways rmb wat I'm planning but i reli hope this works out in the future and not merely a dream, to create a better society or at least more warmth in this world. Thanks.


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