Monday, March 2, 2015

EnglishJer Camp

Last weekend was a bit of a roller coaster ride for me, but one of the high points of it was being able to attend the Englishjer Camp, organised by the not-for-profit organisation/youth development activist/ anonymous twitter account: @Englishjer. The camp was held in Ulu Yam, Selangor, was attended by about 50 people and spanned 3 days and two nights. The camp aimed to develop the attendees’ leadership abilities as well as their communicative capabilities while having loads of fun. And fun was indeed had. I could only join them for one night, but that was enough to thoroughly convince me that the camp was one of the best camping outings I’ve ever attended.

The night I attended was the night Jamal Raslan, a spoken word poet, was to deliver a talk. I came a little early and was fortunate enough to be able to join the campers for dinner. After dinner, we all assembled in the hall at the campsite for Jamal Raslan’s session with the campers. I had no prior knowledge of Jamal Raslan at that time, so I didn’t really know what to expect.

He started talking and it immediately became abundantly clear why he was invited to become a speaker for the programme. He was very passionate and knowledgeable about language, culture, communication as well as education. He started off by saying that learning a new language wasn’t about grammar or vocabulary; it was about fear and expressing yourself (I’m paraphrasing, of course. He said it waaaay more articulately). 

He also talked a lot about poetry and why poems and doing poetry mattered to him. He said that there’s poetry that’s meant to be read, and then there’s poetry that’s meant to be read (hashtag 3deep5me). He stressed on what the most important aspects of a piece of poetry are, which are “(something I can’t remember now), relevance, and resonance”, and elaborated on how resonance is what people take home with them after they listen to a piece of spoken poetry. It goes without saying that he performed some of his poems for us that night and made more than a few jaws drop. He was energetic, enthusiastic and passionate, all great ingredients to make for a wonderful public speaker. His fire was infectious and it captured our attentions as well as our hearts, so much so that we could have listened to him talking the whole night.

Afterwards, the camp masters set up bonfires at the campsite and we crowded around the fires, cooking hot-dogs as well as marshmallows deep into the night and early morning. We talked about things like why we like certain subjects over others, shared our experiences and sang and sang to our hearts’ content around the bonfire. 

The next morning, the campers went out for jungle trekking, but I couldn’t join them because I had to go back for school the next day. I hung out with those that weren’t up for the trekking the jungle and we talked and played a game called “Green Glass Door”. How do you play the game? We had to figure that out for ourselves. The main clue that was given was “can cannot, cannot can”. Good luck figuring that out. It took me collectively about an hour to get it. If you want to try your hand at playing that game with me, feel free to say “Green Glass Door” to me whenever you see me in real life. See can, real life cannot.

I met new awesome people, got to play awesome games, listened to an amazing speaker talk about his passion, and have loads of fun. Here’s to more EJcamps in the future.

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