Social Responsibility in Malaysia
As a student interested in international development and social responsibility, I was extremely fortunate to have the opportunity to travel to Malaysia during spring break this year as part of my elective abroad, Corporate Social Responsibility in Malaysia. Traveling about 9000 miles away from Babson to one of the world’s most economically developed Muslim community provided me with an amazing opportunity to grow both educationally and culturally. The elective mainly focuses on the study of, and opportunity for hands-on contributions to high-quality social enterprises, corporate social responsibility programs, and prominent universities in a multi-ethnic society with communities of Chinese, Indian, and Malays for which government, corporations, and social enterprises are developing strategies for social coherence. Throughout the trip, we were able to experience cultural and social learning, through city tours, visits to the UNIRAZAK and USIM universities that gave us free time to mingle with local students, planting banana trees in a village of the original people of Malaysia called Orang Asli as well as educational learning, through guest speakers at universities, presentations and Q&A sessions at high quality social enterprises and assisting budding entrepreneurs in a pitching competition. Overall, the trip provided me with an expansion of my worldly knowledge, in terms of both cultural awareness and geography specific expertise.
The first social activity that served as a cultural learning experience was our visit to a local city called Putrajaya on our first day in Malaysia. Amidst all the administrative buildings including the green-domed Perdana Putra, which contains the prime minister’s office complex, it was the Putra Mosque, made from rose-colored granite with a pink dome, that caught our eye. It was in this pink mosque that we experienced firsthand the passion and fervor that Malaysian feel for sharing their religion and culture to others. It did not matter if you were a Muslim or not, all were welcome to enter, explore the mosque and its community and gain an insight into the lives of local Malays. The next two days of the trip were spent in a village of the original people of Malaysia called Orang Asli where we planted banana trees with the students from the UNIRAZAK and USIM universities. Besides planting the banana trees, we played many fun outdoor games with the Orang Asli children and assisted the villagers with cooking lunch for everyone in huge metal pots on open fires.Delicious food was served by the Malaysian students, who would insist on us eating first. After filling our bellies, all of us danced with the Orang Asli children on Enrique Iglesias’s Bailando song TWICE. This experience not only provided us with an opportunity for hands-on contributions to the local community but also a great opportunity to bond with the Malaysian students in a fun and stress-free environment. The level of hospitality we received from the UNIRAZAK and USIM students made me feel extremely happy and I felt that they greatly appreciated our services.
The last few days were focused on company visits that included high-quality social enterprises such as Malaysian Green Technology Corporation, MAGIC, Cyberview and MRT Corporation. The different speakers and office visits provided me with an extensive array of insight into the political, governmental and economic backdrop of the Southeast Asian country. The educational activity in Malaysia which had an enlightening impact on me was the presentation and Q&A session by Dato’ Hussamuddin, the CEO of Kumpulan Media Karangkraf about being a social entrepreneur in Malaysia. Dato’ Hussamuddin’s enthusiasm and passion showed me the extent to which he valued his company and the social entrepreneurial method. He spoke to us about the successes and struggles he encountered in his journey to create Malaysia’s premier top shelf printing and media company. Not only were his anecdotes of his past tribulations inspiring, but also they demonstrated the importance of honesty and perseverance in any social entrepreneurial venture. Last but not least, there’s something truly special about traveling with a group of Babson students. We not only learned from the local community, but learned from each other as well, and developed some lasting bonds. Just being able to share our time and spend it with others was rewarding. This trip was a total success in both catering to my need to grow educationally while simultaneously cultivating my cultural awareness. The lessons learned inside and outside of the classroom were irreplaceable. I have been inspired and touched in more ways than I could ever really tell. I am very thankful that I was able to partake in such a fulfilling experience with such a great group of friends and professors.
Keep an eye out for opportunities to study abroad at www.educationabroad.babson.edu, and remember you don’t always have to leave for a full semester to get an abroad experience!