Parents-Teachers' Day for Melissa

30 September 2016

Parents and students gathered at the Sunway University Hall to listen to the Executive Director in explaining the CAT/ACCA course

“Where are your parents?”

This was a sincere question asked from the staff of the university at the registration counter for the Parent-Teacher Day for the CAT/ACCA programme. I was standing right next to Melissa* and she awkwardly pointed to me and said “He is my guardian”.

The lady at the counter looked me at with seemingly mixed feelings of surprise and doubt and I couldn’t blame her. I look more like Melissa’s older brother at best and I do see Melissa as my younger sister. There’s no way I could pass of as her father and I definitely do not think I am in the position to claim that I can be one, given my relatively young age. But it wasn’t my feelings that I was concerned about, it was Melissa’s.

But first, let me share some background information that led up to this point.
When the university sent out invitations to parents for this Day to help them understand the programme and to facilitate engagements between teachers and parents, I was quick to accept it as I wanted to understand the ACCA programme of Sunway University better. Each ex-resident under me has different scoring systems and syllabus, and even in the ACCA programme itself, different universities have different syllabus and score monitoring systems. This would be a great opportunity to understand it and get to know a few teachers. The day before the programme, I was doing my usual visit with Melissa and I asked her “Where should I meet you tomorrow for the Parent-Teacher Day?” to which she responded “You’re coming??” She seemed to be surprised and perhaps with a little delight, but that was the day before.

During Parent-Teacher Day, the lady at the counter wasn’t the only one who gave a mixed reaction. As we walked towards the hall, the other people involved in the event gave “looks” of confusion as well. Soon, the hall was filled with students and parents and as far as I observed, we were the only odd pair. At this point, I kept looking at Melissa to see how she was. She seemed fine but I was not too sure if she really was on the inside. I started doubting if I should have come at all. Melissa for the most part is a tough and independent girl, but I have seen her sensitive side too for a number of times.

I’ve known of a colleague who went for award ceremonies on behalf of our kids as their guardian, as their parents will not be there. My colleague shared to me “When I arrived there at the hall during the award ceremony, the child was smiling from ear to ear!” Children will not think of facades to put on and would just show their feelings rather openly.

Obviously Melissa will not have a similar response as she is not a kid. In fact, she is close to being a young adult herself. But whatever it is, I knew I was there and I decided to make the most of it. After the elaborated and detailed talk about the programme from the Executive Director (ED), I focused on talking about the programme further with Melissa. She was still struggling to discipline herself to study daily but I took the opportunity to give her a combination of pressure and encouragement. I had to put more pressure as the ED had just shared how tough ACCA is, and the standards Sunway University upholds is no joke (they even had batches who have won world prizes as well as graduates being in top ranks globally).

She agreed step up her efforts and she thanked me for coming as she always does with my visitations and we said our goodbyes.

*Name has been changed for identity protection
**This article is a personal reflection of the ex-resident caregiver, he looks into journeying with the youth who have left the Home and are now either studying or working

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