Friday, June 18, 2010

Breaking the Silence - Sri Aman's IU Day

Yesterday, I went for Sri Aman's IU (International Understanding) Day. Unlike most other schools' IU Days, this one was held at PJLA in Jaya One. It was supported by MTV EXIT, refreshments were served at Muse, and the price of tickets was twice that of a normal IU Day ticket. As you can see, it wasn't your ordinary IU Day. Out-of-the-ordinary as it was, though, it left me rather cold.

The theme of the event was Breaking the Silence. About human trafficking, they meant.

From the Facebook page:
We chose ‘Breaking the Silence’ because we believe that silence is acceptance.

This year's Interact Club of Sri Aman International Understanding Day is a short film festival that highlights human trafficking in the world .We chose to have a film festival because film is a great medium to address this issue to today's generation.

The event will include awareness videos, video submissions from other interact clubs concerning the theme and exciting performances! We are also proud to share our FIRST ICSA SHORT MOVIE which shows our take on the current situation of human trafficking in the world. 

While I wholly support any attempt to educate teenagers about current tragic goings-on, especially those somewhat under the radar, I feel that this was an utterly inappropriate theme to select. Human trafficking in general wouldn't have been too bad a pick, but the videos we were shown unfortunately focused on trafficking women to be sold as sex slaves.

We were sitting in a small, dark theatre, an audience of teenagers presumably 50% of which constituted boys. Every time the word 'sex' came up on the screen, a couple of them whooped. Every time! Of course, there were shots of places the poor women worked as well, with scantily-clad women dancing and picking up clients. Of course, there was more whooping.

I had the misfortune of sitting in front of an entire group of those idiot boys. They whooped, they talked on their handphones (which they refused to put on silent), they complained about the length of the videos, and, in the process of passing something around amongst themselves, they bumped the back of my head. More than once. The comments they made on the videos convinced me that they were utter imbeciles.

 It was a nice place, though. Cosy.

I couldn't help but mourn the fact that the message of the videos was completely lost on 90% of the audience. When a particularly lengthy video faded to black but continued with more, there was an audible groan that made me cringe. It just served to prove the Rotarian, who gave his speech at the beginning of the event, right. People did not look at the IU Day as a time to sit still, be perceptive, and maybe learn a thing or two; it was merely an opportunity to get dressed-up, socialise, and pick up members of the opposite gender (or the same gender, if that was their inclination).

This was cemented by the fact that there was an after party about an hour after the event. Again, at Muse, with, from what I'm told, alcohol and dancing.

It's just really sad, I think, that the organisers built up IU Day so much that they seem to have forgotten the true cause. Some of the videos were really awesome, but you could feel in the air the impatience of the audience -- sitting through them was just something they had to get through before having their fun. The videos were supposed to be the main point, but the main point was overshadowed by so much else that it wasn't really the main point anymore.

Sometimes, I am so ashamed of being a teenager.


  1. Ah you obviously haven't went through the gruesome process of planning an event. A little party to celebrate the hard work doesn't hurt you know. Just because the event was centered around a cause albeit saddening, that doesn't mean people should mope around the whole time. There was no alcohol involved FYI, your source was obviously misinformed.

    The point that the event was focused on sex because 70 -80% of victims being trafficked was being exploited sexually. I don't know if you paid attention, it was mentioned. And its escalating. Many people are now at least aware of human trafficking. Try asking around those boys who groaned all the time, they learnt something non-the-least.

    You obviously don't know, EVERYTHING, meaning ICSA donated the initial starting modal too -which was more than 5k was donated to Tenaganita -a woman's organization which also shelters victims of human trafficking. You weren't there when they received the donation. You didn't know how much that amount is going to help.

    Yes, its hard to get teenagers to listen to a cause like this. You experienced it. But shouldn't we at least try? Or would you suggest we ignore this cause entirely? And give way to the traffickers out there? You may think I am exaggerating, but the fact is -Malaysia is the INTERNATIONAL central transaction point for the global human trafficking point. Doesn't that make us -as teens- the most vulnerable ones?

    I for one think although the event has little flaws, but it served its purpose. Are you not more exposed to the cause? MTV exit organizes concerts every year around the globe. Isn't it a party every time? Are you saying that they lost the cause too? But you know, they are THE MAIN MOVERS who even bothered paying attention to the victims in the first place?

    Please consider my argument, check around your facts before you publicly criticize our event - above all claim that we lost our cause. Yeah this is your personal blog, but do watch what you say. Because we do think it matters. We worked hard for the event, you will crush them with your words.

    I am not at a liability to disclose to you my identity. It will cause complications, but hear this -I am no coward to hide behind animosity. If you want to know who I am, just say so and leave your email. I will tell you privately. If then you choose to tell everyone, I have no objections.

    P.s. I didn't post this long comment to create a fight. I just want to straighten things out. I hope you don't take things the wrong way.

  2. Indeed I have not, and honestly do admire all of you who have, especially those who were on the ICC committee. Planning this IU definitely couldn't have been easy, and the fact that it was held at PJLA impressed me -- I heard you guys went through hell trying to get funding for the place. As for the alcohol, well...all three of my sources were wrong, then.

    I did pay attention. Because of your IU Day, I am indeed more aware of the issue, of the horrible things going on that most of us are sheltered from. It's one of the reasons I'm glad I went, even with the rowdy boys in the row behind. However, I'm quite certain you'd be hard-pressed to find one of those boys who could tell you more about human exploitation. Even if they were listening, how many were really hearing? While I'm aware that this would be a problem even in a classroom on any given school day, the substance unfortunately served as a distraction as well.

    Kudos to the Interact Club of Sri Aman for their generous donation to Tenaganita -- an undeniably noble act and a sizable amount. Honestly, I had no idea the income generated from the IU was that much.

    While I do agree that human trafficking is something that needs to be exposed, I am still of the opinion that those videos would've been much more effective with a more mature audience -- college students, maybe?

    There are many equally important causes out there still waiting to be highlighted, causes that we of schoolgoing age could actually participate in. We were told three ways to help this cause: Watch out when travelling overseas with a 'companion', advise anyone we know who employs prostitues against it, and donate. I don't forsee the first happening to myself or my friends anytime soon, nor do I know anyone who employs prostitutes, so there really only is one way. I don't quite see why ICSA picked this cause, other than the fact it enabled you to collaborate with MTV EXIT. However, you for one seem to be passionate about the cause, which is nice to see since that is what I personally feel IU is about.

    MTV EXIT organises concerts, yes, but you must look at their target audience. How old are they? What countries are those concerts held in? Is the culture of those countries very different from ours?

    Admittedly, you do put things in a different light from the way I had perceived them at the event. I realise lots of gruelling planning must have been done in preparation for this IU, and criticise it as I may, I do admire how you all managed to pull it off. However, I still stand by my opinion that the theme was rather ill-suited for the audience. That was my main gripe all along. It is, after all, just an opinion; but I hope you know that I am not the only one who feels this way.

    If you aren't inclined to disclose your identity, I am not inclined to ask. No, there was nothing particularly aggressive about this comment. In fact, thankyou for posting it. It certainly made me think. I have my view, and I now have yours. Thankyou for attempting to clear the air.

  3. What the fuck ?! I think you should just keep your opinions to yourself. Organizing this kind of stuff is not easy and I just feel that Sri aman did a splendid job on the i.u something that other schools fail to do so . Their i.u day is on a higher level compared to other schools and their level of thinking is brilliant unlike yours . if you really have passion in changing the world you would not mind the noisy boys infront of you and at the back of you that day cause you will be concentrating on the videos that they have put together. I'm from a private school and I don't get expose to this kind of stuff a lot but I know a little thing or two about interact clubs . Just F off ......

  4. Keeping my opinions to myself would defeat the entire purpose of my having a blog. I'm sure if you had been in my position (noisy boys only behind, not in the front as well), you would have felt differently about the situation.

    What you don't seem to understand is the thing I had a major issue with was the theme. You say their IU was 'on a higher level' and 'their level of thinking is brilliant unlike [mine]' (although I'm not sure if you're one to judge), and this is true. But they did not stop to think that other people's thinking might not be like theirs. The theme simply wasn't right for an audience our age.

    Also, I love how you commented anonymously.

  5. I'm not exactly sure what the problem is, Hui Jan. You watch the videos and actually absorb the message in them, which basically is the whole point of that IU day. But because you wrote a post that grieves over the fact that OTHERS didn't get the message, YOU get totally bitched over.

  6. I guess, you know, they're mad that I'm not kowtowing to them for their big scale IU Day. That I have an opinion that's not "OMG THAT WAS AWESOME I MET SO MANY NEW FRIENDS AND THE AFTERPARTY WAS GREAT". :/

  7. Hey that's frickin' mean, private-school-boy. Keep the effs to yourself. That's low, man. Low. Fucker. Sorry. Slipped out.

    And girls, both of you have a point. You are supposed to watch the video and understand the msg, but then again, people were actually restless and not giving a damn about the whole meaning of the IU. And right, the theme wasn't targeted at a proper audience. Perhaps if it were university level....

    Still. That private-school-boy is messed up. Dude, learn some manners. If you don't like the girl's opinion, say it in a civilised way. No need for fucks. That'll get you in courts and fill in the lawyers' expensive pockets with cash just because you don't like something, said fuck it, and got sued.

  8. Another anon! Thanks, you summarised my feelings perfectly. University level would've been way more appropriate.

    Tbh, idk if the commenter's a guy. I wouldn't be surprised if they weren't, since we girls are the catfighting ones.

    Thanks for your support. (: