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Mr Soulsby Visits Malaysia (Nov 2019)

In November, I was invited to speak at an international conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. I delivered two seminars at the Leaps of Knowledge Conference hosted by FrogAsia and showcased our work with Frog Education and our Best Use of Technology Award.  The audience included teachers from National and International schools from across Malaysia.  The Leaps of Knowledge conference featured some of the world’s leading technologists, innovators and educational shapers.


During the visit, I set up a live blog with Rydal Water and Y5&6 as well as ‘Face timing’ each of the classes, although it was tricky to manage the time difference at times! Here are some extracts from my Malaysia diary…


Wednesday - I began my travels by taking the train to London where I then took the London Underground to Heathrow Terminal 5.  After clearing security, I quickly Face timed Mrs Greenwood in Shanghai before boarding my British Airways flight to Kuala Lumpur.  Although I was very excited, I was also extremely nervous as I has never travelled on such a long flight before, let alone by myself - I had nobody to reassure me or keep me right!  The flight was slightly delayed due to a fault with the aircraft but we were soon away!


Thursday - The 12 hour flight didn’t feel too long to be honest!  Once we landed, anxiety set in as I didn’t really know where to go or what to do. First of all, I had to go through immigration to allow me to visit Malaysia (I was granted 90 days!).  I then turned on my phone to be greeted by a lovely welcome from Frog Asia, collected my baggage and was then collected by a driver who drove me on the 50km journey to the city.  It was so exciting; my eyes were exploring everywhere. I then spotted the Twin Towers and soon became caught up in the congested Kuala Lumpur traffic. Once checked in, I was eager to go and explore, so I took myself to the Petronas Twin Towers. I could not believe the size and sight of the lights beaming out across the city.


Friday - In the morning, I was booked to go up the Petronas Twin Towers – to the Sky Deck and then up to the 86th floor to view the 360 degree panoramic views of Kuala Lumpur.  Upon my return to the hotel, it was time to meet the Frog Asia team and explore the conference venue.  It was massive and bursting with energy; everyone was so friendly.  I met Adrian, Abelene and Bavani and explored the room where I was going to speak.  I then had to get ready for the Frog Asia Awards but first, I had to Facetime Mr Pincombe and everyone back in Y5&6.  When I arrived at the Frog Asia awards I was treated like a VIP and met all of the speakers who were presenting at the conference such as Puan Sri Sherina Leong-Aris and Racheal Kwacz who were so interested to learn about life at North Lakes and everything we do.  The awards celebrated the work of teachers and students from across Malaysia, and it was such a privilege to be invited to attend and talk to people from such diverse backgrounds.


Saturday - It was an early start.  We met at 8am in the VIP green room where we were served a traditional Malayan breakfast.  During this time the speakers really got to know each other; it was so inspiring listening to Swaroop Rawal (shortlisted for the Global Teacher Award), Nicholas Piachaud (the Varkey Foundation) and Datin Kathleen Chew (director of the YTL Foundation). Once again everyone was so interested to hear about our school and our children.  The venue was packed and the speakers were inspirational.  During the day, delegates took part in activities and earned stickers which contributed towards a pledge wall.  Once filled, Frog Asia pledged to equip two Frog classrooms in Malaysia.  I delivered two seminars throughout the day about ‘Managing a School on the Cloud’ and our journey with Frog.  Everyone was really interested to hear about our approach and asked lots of questions.


Sunday - This was my final day and I had an opportunity to explore the city (following advice from many of the new friends that I had met).  First, I decided to take a ‘Grab Cab’ (the Malaysian version of Uber) out of the city to the famous limestone Batu Caves. They are famous for the 242 steps, the mischievous monkeys and important Hindu Temples located inside the caves. Following this, I took the train back into the city to explore the City Market and the Chinese Market where I purchased traditional Malaysian Frog instruments for each class.  Next I went to the origin of Kuala Lumpur (which actually means muddy confluence), where the Gombak and Klang rivers meet.  Finally, before departing for the airport, I visited the Sri Mahamariamman Hindu Temple, the Sultan Abdul Samad Building, and several mosques.


This was an exciting opportunity and such a privilege to be able to share the work of North Lakes School with the wider world and to develop potential new learning opportunities!  Opportunities such as this are rare and I am very grateful to Frog Education and FrogAsia for funding this.  During the whistle-stop visit, I have begun to establish some international links with schools in Malaysia which will be explored by Rydal Water class and our school in the coming months.