Ways to find yourself - Victor Barley
Interview with Victor Barley
Oncologist Specialist | Volunteer
TE Editorial rep Felicity interviewing Victor Barley(left) on his trip to Kota Kinabalu.
TE: We have learned that you came back to Sabah for the St.James Kudat reunion. Can you tell us how was it?
VB: It was a great success. We had a meaningful catch-up session on Friday, there were familiar faces from years ago all gathered for the reunion. IT was lovely to see the students, we had fun exchanging ideas and memories. There were about two hundred altogether that came for the reunion. Special tribute was given to the former head master in conjunction with this 91st birthday celebration.
TE: Can you tell us why and how did you decided to go for voluntary work in Kudat, Sabah fifty years ago?
VB: I wanted to work overseas for the church as a missionary so I got in touch with societies in the United Kingdom to see if there was any opportunity. They then linked me with a new organisation, a volunteer service that helps young people who were without any qualification and to work in different capacities. Some work as teachers, some in agriculture, some in homeware. There were varieties of different unskilled work that you can choose from. I have basic teaching skills as I taught in primary schools. From my point of view, not only was it a marvellous opportunity to travel but also to meet people from different cultures. The nice thing about this was that young people do not have any prejudices from the early eighteen hundred. We were meeting other boys and girl from age 15-16 and such so we were able to exchange ideas and very quickly become friends. Not only i was teaching at the school, I took them all on expeditions and camped overnight; we formed a party up to Mount Kinabalu.
TE: What was your initial impression when you first came to Sabah?
VB: My first impression back then and now was how friendly everybody have been. It was something that I have not experienced in any other country. People were so friendly, that is why it was easy to get along with them. I learnt to speak Bahasa but I had forgotten most of them and yet people can still understand it. "Tidak pa" was a frequent used word that I have learnt here. The Dusun, Rungus, Chinese and Malay would all understand what I was talking about and I could understand what they said; It was a lovely exchange of ideas. Here they live a carefree lifestyle, that is why I enjoyed my stay here.
TE: Doing voluntary work at a young age, do you have any advice for the youths?
VB: One of the things that I learnt was everybody, rich or poor, educated or uneducated should respect people despite their status and background. The tribes people in the countryside who probably never seen an Englishman before, yet they are skilled, brilliant hunters, they are living in a lovely community and the most spirited villagers that I ever met because they can build a longhouse together for the whole village. Back at home, everyone is friendly, but it would not be to the extent of helping each other as they do in the long houses. That is the remarkable thing about this country, that everyone is very helpful to each other and supportive. I taught in Kudat when I volunteered and there were no roads back then. The only way to get to Kota Kinabalu was by walking. Sometimes I traveled with a group, sometimes I went on my own once I knew the paths. They were fairly simple paths, not that difficult to navigate through the jungle. The trick was to travel at night with sufficient lights to see where we were going, because it is pretty hot during the day.
TE: What attracts people to volunteer for a year?
VB: It might seems a waste of time for a year, with your studies or career, in the end it does not matter. It does not make any differences to your success, when I was in University I joined the University escort. It was a good opportunity post which was not available to apply yet but because I did some volunteering work and people were interested in it. Very often when you go for a job, it is quite helpful to have something more than just a qualification because then they will know that you are a well-rounded human being. Somebody who has an understanding of life is extremely useful because these are the knowledges that are not taught at school. You tend to be a bit narrow minded if you are not able to get up. During a year of volunteering is an ideal way of developing yourself as a person you should be. Education is becoming the person that you are supposed to be and how you are supposed to develop rather than just book learning.
"Education is becoming the person that you are supposed to be and how you are supposed to develop rather than just book learning."
Read more on TE Issue #10.
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