An Initiative by Students to Make the World a Better Place
by Shenoj Kuruvilla
Over the past 2 months, there have been 2 flea markets at the Student Hub. You may have also seen students walking around campus carrying posters, and accepting donations of pre-loved items. So what was this all about?
According to Mr. Irwan, a lecturer at IACT, this started as a class module that students have to take: Serving Our Society (also known as SOS). This module focuses on event management and volunteerism. When Mr. Irwan took over the module, he decided to rebrand it into something which the students would enjoy, while also keeping the spirit of giving back to society.
It was in 2016 that his students first came up with the name "Ikigai," which meant 'reason for being' or 'living a purposeful life.' It started off with more environmental-based projects, but the idea spread to involve a lot more projects, as Mr. Irwan felt that youth activism should not be limited to one particular area. Thus, the project came to life.
This year, the students doing the 'Serving Our Society' module held Ikigai 4.0. Their beneficiary this time around was Sekolah Alternatif Borneo, an alternative school focusing on education for the stateless and undocumented children in Sabah. They believe the issue is under-represented and thus required more attention.
For the past few weeks, the 'Serving Our Society' students have been doing continuous fundraising events for Sekolah Alternatif Borneo.
The first was Flea Market #1 on 24th February. It was held at the Student Hub, but before that day, the students walked around campus collecting pre-loved items. On the day itself, there were many things to be excited for. There were books, clothes and even DVDs being sold. Besides being sold at the Hub, the students also set up an online method of buying to market to those not on campus. For those in-person, there were more things to enjoy. Besides a pre-loved items booth, the students opened a lemonade stand, a snack bar, and a station to play PS4 games.
But the highlight was the busking on stage, with several singers from the campus invited to perform and raise money for the cause. Besides invited performers, students were also encouraged to get up on stage and perform. A basket was placed in front of the stage, and if someone liked the performance, they were encouraged to donate.
Flea Market #2 on 10th March was just as interesting. They also sold pre-loved items, this time with more variation in the items being sold. There were clothes and books, posters, keychains, mugs and even a second-hand VR box. Additionally, the students also sold cookies. This time, instead of PS4 games, the students set up a pong table. To keep the energy up, they had busking as well this time around. More students were invited to perform, and they attracted attention even at the ground floor. The team also designed their own merch to sell for fundraising purposes. There were Ikigai 4.0 t-shirts, and tote bags from the previous Ikigai fundraisers.
Besides the fundraisers, the students wanted to bond with the beneficiary. Because of that, they decided to conduct classes and skill sharing sessions with the children of Sekolah Alternatif Borneo. The students conducted different classes like English, Mandarin, art, and science classes, as well as some fun-filled activity sessions with the children.
Mr. Irwan praised his students who conducted the whole process. The fact that they were mostly first timers in organising events, and was able to execute a project like this, made him extremely proud. He placed emphasis not on the end amount of money collected for Sekolah Alternatif but on what his students have learned throughout this whole process. When asked if there would be an Ikigai 5.0, Mr. Irwan said that if he has the chance to conduct this module again, there will surely be one. He emphasised the fact that there are so many opportunities to give back to society and so many things to explore, so he does foresee more fun activities in the future!
If you are interested, Ikigai 4.0 is not over yet! They will be holding one last fundraiser event on 25th March at 6pm. This will be a short film screening involving 5 short films, including the directors' commentaries. Tickets will be sold at RM10 each, and as with the rest of the project, all proceeds will go to Sekolah Alternatif Borneo, so stay tuned!