UCSI University, the collaboration partner for Khind Starfish Foundation’s ‘Projects For Happiness 2019’ event, is all for contributing to the community in any way it can. The University has long since been championing the UN SDGs and, moreover, is at the forefront of peace and unity advocacy.
Held on December 7, 2019, the first part of the ‘Projects For Happiness’ event was the student exhibition which featured 24 teams from different universities, all showcasing their projects for the benefit of society.
Present at the event in the afternoon were Associate Professor Dr Wan Zuhainis Saad, director of the Academic Excellence Division from the Department of Higher Education, Ministry of Education, Cheng Ping Keat chairman of Khind Starfish Foundation (KSF), Academician Senior Professor Dato’ Dr Khalid Yusoff Vice-Chancellor and President of UCSI University and Margaret Soo, KSF trustee.
There was also a presentation ceremony where the top three projects were announced as well as the winning project. Speakers Anas Zubedy and Yusuf Hashim each gave inspiring talks on changing the lives of others and making an impact in society.
In her speech, Dr Zunainis emphasised the importance of learning and teaching in the education industry as well as the need to learn, re-learn and unlearn.
“Students have to reflect to gain understanding of topics and get a broader understanding of disciplines. One of the important skills is ‘sense-making’ including analytical thinking where students can expand their potential. I foresee the increase of self-directed learning as well as peer-directed learning and cyberology among others,” she said.
According to Cheng Ping Keat, the Foundation is based on solving the needs of the community where over the last six years, it has sponsored over 125 projects.
“It is hard to decide on the top three projects as every team is a winner. But the goal is to make a difference in the life of others. Also, the students themselves improve on problem-solving skills, leadership and communication skills as well as learn from challenges and obstacles,” he said.
Academician Senior Professor Khalid, in his speech, said that it is important to reflect and to think before doing things.
“Undoubtedly, technology will expedite processes and procedures. But we cannot miss the essence, that is, the needs of the future and human beings. Have we been brought closer to each other? It seems that the keyboard has replaced the hand shake. We need to bring meaning and value to higher education. If not, we reach the tipping point of a disaster,” he said.
“UCSI is taking bold steps in championing the SDGs. Hence, congratulations to KSF! We are indeed at the cusp of great change. Together we can make a difference,” he concluded.
The top three projects were MindFlu from UCSI, Green Sustainable Environment: Mangrove Setting from Universiti Tun Hussein Onn Malaysia and Chicken Coop by Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman.
The winner, project Chicken Coop, aimed at educating the Orang Asli to rear chickens for both the needs of families and also for selling purposes. However, some of the challenges they faced were the rainy season, the lack of experience and the death of Uma, the main beneficiary. Despite this, the team managed to use their project to promote sustainability.
Project MindFlu from UCSI was about creating awareness on mental illness and to stop the stereotyping on this issue, targeting teenagers and youth.
Their activities involve a volunteering programme which is a collaborative project between MindFlu and the Malaysian Mental Health Association (MMHA) aiming to bring individuals who have gone through psychiatric rehabilitation programmes back to the society and help them adapt to the working environment.
Their second activity is the Virtual Reality (VR) Programme, an interactive computer-generated experience that creates simulated environment for visual exposure. MindFlu is in the process of building their own personalised VR for depression simulation. The baseline story for their VR Project involves a day in a life of a secondary school girl named Amelia who suffers from depression. They strive to raise awareness about depression among the public and to educate them about depression by letting people see things in a different perspective.
The third activity is the UNplugged Stress Workshop which could be symbolised by an electrical plug. Too many plugs could lead to a blowout just like how a stress overload leads to a breakdown. The “Unplugged” workshop serves as an insight on how lifestyle choices are a fuel to stress which could lead to depression. Participants would learn how to curb or unplug preventable stress factors through sharing by speakers.
“Our mission is to unite and involve youths in mental well-being advocacy and literacy. It is also to encourage social inclusion of people with mental affliction. Throughout the duration of our advocacy the one thing that kept us going was passion,” said Lee Li Ching of MindFlu.
For Li Ching and her team, even a small role can make a difference in someone’s lives and whatever they do today will leave an imprint in this world for future generations. Additionally, Li Ching said that she and her team will try their best to create a more understanding and accepting generation in terms of mental well-being.
The first speaker of the event, Anas Zubedy, is the founder of Zubedy Sdn Bhd and is a unity advocate promoting moderation. The company’s goal is to “Add Value’ through the management of talents and guiding Gen Y. Their campaign “Say Something Nice” rises over politics, ethnicity and other barriers and is an annual campaign that promotes unity and positivity.
“Life is a gift; people and culture are important. You need to be in touch with your internal as well as external self, perhaps through travelling. We also help with unemployed graduates - we train them in sales for six months and teach them life skills,” he said.
Yusuf Hashim, known as a gypsetter (combination of a jet-setter and a gypsy), had a lot of useful and interesting information to share. He talked about leadership, where he said that one third is born, and two thirds are made. He also emphasised attributes such as honour, honesty, integrity and morality.
To him, life is a series of passages where often, there is a conflict between the inner self and the outside world. His advice to students was, “Live, don’t just exist”. He shared many of his adventures with the audience as well as breath-taking photos of his travels to Antarctica, Africa and Patagonia including a bike trip from Kuala Lumpur to London.
The event proved to be engaging and many students were positively impacted by the presentation of the top three teams as well as the speakers. UCSI University will continue to support causes such as this and play its part in making Malaysia a peaceful, sustainable and united nation.