This post recaps the Pahang ETA Royal Showcase and events leading up to it! What a wild ride. We selected ten students total to bring to the event, and two students to man our ‘booth’ and present to the King and Queen of Malaysia, the Malaysian Minister of Education, and the U.S. Ambassador to Malaysia. Our principal, as well as three teachers: Ustad Azmin, Zahri, and Syifa went as well.
The event was traditionally just going to be mentors and ETAs at Julia’s school but the U.S. Ambassador to Malaysia met with the Royal couple and invited them. The Royal couple is from Pahang.
The event was a huge deal, and an even bigger deal to plan for. We had dresses tailored, made props, made a working “ETA Spinning Wheel of ETA activities/Memories,” and had four “Safari” banners made to be hung in addition to our two English camp banners. Let’s just say our booth was extra. I spent the entire week leading up to the event working on the booth and practicing with students.
There was a great deal of royal etiquette we had to practice when talking to the queen, we could not say “I”, or “Me” but instead had to say “Patik” and had to put our hands in prayer to our forehead and say “Ampun Tuanku.” We were also supposed to stand tall with our feet together and hands at our side, and leave two to three feet between “yourself and His Majesty” at all times. There was specific etiquette for when the Royals passed by or behind us, while the Royals were standing, and when the Royals were sitting. Men had to wear Songkok. Women had to wear a selendang of a different color with a baju kurung that could not be white or yellow.
Once we arrived we brought all the materials into the Ballroom and began to assemble the booth. Other school’s performing practiced their performance and the U.S. Ambassador practiced her speech. She then walked through the booths talking to students and ETAs and gave me a big hug! After, we went to the mall and ate Thai food.
The first half of the event consisted of waiting, taking pictures, the National band playing the National Anthem “Negaraku” and the Pahang State Song, speeches, and performances.
During the second half of the event the King and Queen, U.S. Ambassador, and Minister of Education walked through a line of 14 ETA booths, 7 on each side. We were lucky that they spent quite a bit of time at our booth. Syifa printed out every photo of me in a hijab and had them ready to present to the Royal Couple. The King said that I “look like a Malay girl.” I made the mistake of responding to the Queen’s English in Malay, which is not proper etiquette but oh well. She was very kind. The students were very nervous, and were not asked any of the questions we had prepared for, but did very well. The queen even tweeted out a picture of Aizat! The teachers at my school saw the photos and immediately scolded me for having my hair down during the event.
After the event the ETAs ate lunch with the Royals and the VIPs. I sat at a table with Olivia, Zak, and Edward next to a Ministry of Education official who had a very big job and was very kind. Edward spilled curry on her plate but she was totally chill about it. We laughed and laughed with principals and Ministry of Education officers and talked about Durian and Hurricane Sandy? Twice I had someone come up to me asking ME to keep it down…even though I was at a table with Zak!
And that’s a wrap! It was a really cool opportunity to be a part of.
Two days of school left SOS. Love you.
ClareAbouts is not an official U.S. Department of State publication, and the views and information presented in this blog are entirely my own, and do not represent the Fulbright U.S. Student Program or the U.S. Department of State or the Fulbright Commission or Malaysia.