Deers are cute, as in this photo:
But the males never hesitate to hurt you for self-protection purposes, or competing for resources. Like students, we students compete for scholarships.
Now “kijang” and scholarship are associated when the Central Bank of Malaysia (Bank Negara Malaysia, BNM) introduces the Kijang Scholarship for post-SPM students:
Why not give myself a chance? However, the application is no joke when they ask u to write about a given topic, and simultaneously you are timed.
Time: 7:15 pm
While engrossed in playing 2048, I received a phone call:
“Applied for BNM Kijang Scholarship?”
“Coming for the Academy tomorrow?”
“Erm…are there any other dates? There’s a class tomorrow.”
“Well, think carefully, this is scholarship, and u have to consider its importance vs your class.”
“In this case can ask my parents? They’re not at home now.”
“Try ASAP OK? If u decline I’ll call other people in Penang. I give u 10 minutes.”
“OK I’ll try.”
Thinking that my parents will ask me to reject, I dialed to them and surprisingly my father asked me to go Kuala Lumpur and cancel the piano class tomorrow! 10 minutes later, my phone rang again and I accepted the opportunity, “an email will be sent to you shortly,” Ms. Aireen Mohammad (person in charge) replied. No congrats in phone, but the news made me in ambivalent emotional trap: happy for being shortlisted but meanwhile I was worried what to do with preparation. Damn, by checking out their website I was so lost. Wikipedia is more helpful instead:
At the same time I was waiting for the VVIEmail, which was promised to sent shortly at 7:30pm but it turned out nothing in my inbox. I waited dumbly until 9:40pm before picking up my phone at that silly time for inquiry again, and it worked thankfully. Here is an important extract of it:
Items to bring for Kijang Academy : 2 passport size photos,photocopied of certificates (certified true copy), original certificates, parent’s/guardian’s salary slip & personal necessities
Along with preparation of luggage, it left me busy until the ruthless strike of the clock that indicated the start of the next day.
Day 1: Arrival+Briefing
The pleasant Friday morning enabled me to get a bus ticket to Kuala Lumpur, even bought it 30 minutes before departure at 9:15 am. Coincidentally, a Chung ling Butterworth senior (named Hui Yi) who is studying at IMU was sitting just a walkway apart on the bus and we had some chats. The rest of the journey was 4 comfortable hours for me to rest before bracing myself for the grueling challenge! That’s not all: LRT routes, 20 minutes wait at KTM and 1 hour in BNM Headquarter before reaching the palatial hotel: Lanai Kijang. I ended up being roommate with a Kelantanese guy Named Song Jia Ming, who claimed that he came here just for fun and didn’t expect anything. “Just sing a ‘song’ to remember my name,” that’s how he introduced himself to the public.
Though meals were provided, this was not the sign of hospitality for us. What’s more was the quality of food and the pervasive aroma when you step into the room: who could resist 5-star buffet of RM49++ per head when we enjoyed it for free? Like IMO camps, the official session started at night and we had a masking tape as our name tags:
It turned out that there were about 108 of us in this batch of Academy (the next batch who had assessments next week contains all Kijang Emas shortlisted participants, the creme of the creme in the nation.)
A thirty-minute essay was an appetizer before the main courses for the next 2 days, asking about reasons we deserved the scholarship and how could we contribute to BNM as a scholar. That was then followed by “not-so-brief” briefing about how selection system goes (where I grimaced to myself for being in top 6% among the applicants before almost throwing in my scholarship towel when I learned only 20% of camp students would succeed) and bonding system (about 10 years). Unlike school, the Q&A session was actively participated, along with past scholars delineating their experiences these solved most of my confusion before I returned to my bedroom. According to panel, selection criteria for day 2 was obvious: be an orator, be pithy without being ostentatious or pedantic.
Day 2: Group Activity
What made the day? The selection! Buses sent us to Sasana Kijang (A conference-like workplace), where we began our business-of-the-day there. There were 8 of us in group 7, and I lost my way by meandering at Training Room before settling down at Meeting Room. “You looked funny”, one of my group mate commented upon my arrival. Surprisingly I was still ranked 6/8 for competing to be early in the room!
3 panels immediately came to our room and broke the ice: they were Mr. Shahril (Chief panel for group 7), Kak Jun (the way she preferred us to call her instead of “puan” or “madam”) and Mr. Noor Azam. We did the same as what they did just now: introduced ourselves and say one distinguished characteristics of us. Too boring? We need to remember the features said by the members preceding us. While most of them was spiced for being jocular or impressive ones, I couldn’t help with my commonplace description: “I loved maths very much”. That preceded the session that asked you to “relax, don’t be unnerved and be natural”: the so-called elevator talk.
Time was short, and it was break even we were not done with our group name and cheers! No choice, let’s do it during the break then. With the preliminary idea by Aiman who recalled his idea during National Service and the theme “legend” (which turned out to be the group name!), we finally came out with this:
We are the legend, we serve the nation.
Round of applause from panels before we proceeded to the next session: Case Study. Basically saying that we are going to digitize all magazine and which problems do we expect to encounter, and what were the solutions. Chui Chin took up the initiative to lead us by becoming the project manager, while I (being instructed and desired simultaneously) involved myself in IT section. Discussion was really scattered, and throughout the presentation we overlooked risks behind proposals that we thought to be “pragmatic” besides contradicting among departments. Nevertheless, it’s still a decent one, with a lot of room of improvements.
Lunch at Conference Room was even better than that in Lanai Kijang, almost like International Buffet: the environment made me felt nostalgic–like in IMO! Meanwhile, some other panels sat with us during the break and we had long chat with them, started with criticism by pointing that through our essays they knew that we did not know what’s our goal in future. “We aren’t expect you to do so, either, at your age of 18.” Some Q&A session followed it, and the discussion soon ended when the next session was about to start.
Unlike the previous ones, we had the sessions combined with groups 5 and 6, and that’s called Plan Designer: Given a budget of RM20k and you are to design a Creativity Area for staffs of 150 people at different ages. A handbook (Ikea brochure) as reference of what is contained. As usual, cheapest choices of things will ensure you are not over budget, but how about using only half of it (11k)? With 150 people fighting for 3 spots in the room our design was at the downside. “Why u all didn’t learn from mistake?” Panels commented. Yeah, Case Study in the morning was better.
The final session started with a pitfall: making paper cranes! Though tutorial was given, there’s seriously no clue for me to do (and I still can’t do it till now!) We ended at 6th out of 7 groups (Group 1-7), with the champion doing almost 30 cranes in 15 minutes. Insane right? While we thought it as precursor of bad news after that, here’s plot twist where the “champion” lost the game: we were to make a skyscraper model (as high as possible), and pure newspaper as material (the amount of newspaper depends on prior performance). Still the 6th for us, but we won two free tickets for survival in big flood (along with majority of groups)! Who were the two? Nothing special for us in win-win decision, but some groups notably nominated “couples” for reproduction.
Day 2: End.
At 8:30 pm, the first round of selection was made, and they followed American Idol system for selection between audition and Live Performance: splitting into 2 rooms. Those sitting near to me started some jokes before forced dumb by me: “Hope that I don’t get it so that I can wake up at 4:30 am to enjoy the gym the next morning like one of you yesterday.” Soon, We had to face the music… A long wait before Group 7 list started with Chui Chin, where I’m the 3rd to be called out of room.
That made us traveled with mind shivering to the room, until the announcement:
“We are too tired to make any delay, all of you in the room, and all of those you see in the room, you will be interviewed.” This was what we heard:
I quickly informed my parents about this surprising good news and at the same time, asked for feed back from panels and some properties of BNM. The latter was what made us feel stressed, and that’s how people regretted on doing last-minute work.
Day 3: Presentation + Interview
Around 56 of us we there, and we had to do Individual Presentation on topics like in SPM, but with shorter time of preparation (20 minutes). What’s interesting was the unorthodox structure: We would do it just before our individual interview! Time passed soon and we discussed with some friends about what to prepare, and took a glance on my printed material (some showed solid preparation on BNM facts, though).
Instantly I was called.
“Time given was 10 minutes, sorry for being fussy, but finishing in 5 minutes would be perfect”. Though I nodded, I ended up relinquishing his challenge: 7 minutes for presentation. The interview was a no-good-deal either. Most of them were accessible, but one challenging one: “Why do you deserve this scholarship?” I remembered my mind trying to get composed but failed when they asked more questions on this, then the whole bunch of pernicious answers came out of my mouth (though I’m reassured that this was a tough question.) While people keep saying that “the longer the better” for interview, mine was cut short to 25 minutes instead of originally planned 40 minutes. With 1 of my “rivals” lasting for more than 1 hour this could guarantee a fail.
Anyway, it’s a relief for me after that, and I slept soundly on sofa until I was woken by another interviewee for lunch at 12:15 pm. That’s the end of programme, earlier than the scheduled 4pm (which made me waited until 2pm before my parents arrived). It is worth noting how my parents drove to KL and made a giant U-turn immediately after that, and an achievement unlocked for driving: 120 km non-stop for 75 minutes 🙂
The result was sent through email on 29/4/2014, with title acknowledging me for attending the camp: I was right when I knew that’s bad news, and mysteriously all 4 in our group didn’t make it. On the other hand, our National Scholar, Justin Lim Kai Ze won the prestigious Kijang Emas scholarship: only 3 in Malaysia! On top of that we have 40 Kijang Scholars (some applied for Kijang Emas but get the “Second Best” deal). These are the ones who deserve a big clap from us!
But failure here was nothing for me, simply because: 1. I have bursary to buttress my Pre-U ; 2. I expected that result upon application, and the painstaking experience of interview support the thought, and 3. I’ve met worse deals before, e.g. IMO 2011 Day 2 where I couldn’t even solve a problem, and Primary 4 when my essay was off-topic. Nevertheless, that’s a really good experience for me, for improving ourselves and look forward to the future! The acquaintance with panels and friends was a gem for the benefit of future 🙂