Graduation – Batches 28 and 29

The graduation ceremony for Batches 28 and 29 took place on 10 March. Karen, in her opening speech, was happy to note that a high percentage of trainees graduated this year – 27 out of 30 from Batch 28 and 8 out of 9 from Batch 29. In addition, 16 out of 18 trainees  from Batch 30 received their certificate of completion. She also noted that Batches 28 and 29 were the only batches to have trained in February and that the training programme will revert to September this year with Batches 31, 32, and 33. Karen highlighted that the current two-tier graduation will no longer be practised and that Batch 30 will be the last batch to receive course completion certificates. Moving forward, trainees will only receive graduation certificates. Moving forward, JMM has requested more Mandarin-speaking guides. In addition, Karen is looking at the MV extending tours to Muzium Tekstil and Muzium DiRaja.


Representatives of the various batches shared their experiences. Below are the speeches made by Rama and Afidah, both from Batch 28.

Ramanathan L Manickavasagan (Batch 28)


About 14 months ago, on the 21st of January, 2017, the group known as “Batch 28 volunteers” met together for the first time. We were shown the schedule of training which we must attend and we were told what we must fulfil in order to qualify as guides.

We gasped when we heard that we would have to submit written texts and give oral presentations lasting 3 minutes for one artefact, 5 minutes for two artefacts and 15 minutes for a whole gallery. We shuddered when told we had to present without notes.

We were pleased when we learned that we would have mentors who would teach and encourage us. Our pleasure grew over the weeks as we realised how capable our trainers were, just as our anxiety grew because we saw they exhibited such high standards.

On 20th June 2017 we completed our formal training. By then

  • We had written 3 papers, varying in length from 500 words to 3,000 words
  • We had communicated often through WhatsApp messages.
  • We had accompanied at least 3 guides as they conducted public tours.
  • We had read much both in books and through online research.
  • We had completed our single gallery, 15 minute presentations and received feedback from our classmates as well as our trainers.
  • We felt like “maybe we can do this.”

Then we scheduled time with our trainer-mentors for us to do solo guides of the whole museum so they could watch us, give us feedback and decide when we would be ready to be rostered as museum guides.

Today each of us from Batch 28 has conducted at least 3 tours on our own. We have guided visitors from across a wide spectrum of humanity: young, old, eager, passive, aggressive, silent, interrogative, patient, impatient, well-read and unread.

We’ve often had the interaction I again had yesterday when I was guiding:

  • 10 am
    • Guide: What made you come to the museum?
    • Visitor: Reading about how much visitors enjoyed the free guided tours.
  • 12 noon (it usually takes 2 hours, not the hoped for 1 hr 20 minutes)
    • Guide: Did the tour meet your expectations?
    • Visitor: Oh, it’s even better than I expected.

We reverberate with joy when that happens. The joy comes not only from personal satisfaction. It comes also from the fact that each guide is a member of a community of guides who strive to excel in knowledge, presentation and service.

As I lay in bed last night thinking about the discourse during the morning’s guided tour, I recalled this passages from a book I read some years ago:

History is the study of humans and time, indeed, of humans changing over time. Furthermore, history is the memory of the stories about people changing over a time span. In a certain sense, history would not be possible if it were not for the telling of it. … History untold is not history at all. History … is vital to our human existence. To have no story is, almost, to have no life. People suffering from amnesia can live and function, but they lead pitiable lives because they have lost contact with their own story. (Wells, History Through the Eyes of Faith, page 2)

A year on, I realise we are story tellers, our subject matter is history and our goal is the removal of amnesia.

Becoming a museum guide has made us more thoughtful persons, more careful in what we say and driven to study. This is a day to be celebrated. I thank all of you, trainers and trainees alike, who have made it possible for us to join the ranks of amnesia-removers.

Afidah Zuliana bt Abdul Rahim (Batch 28)


It has been my secret ambition to be a museum volunteer for about 22 years now. In 1996, the President of Korea Gas Corporation, Mr. Han Kap-Soo requested a visit to Muzium Negara. As a young Petronas executive, I was assigned to show Mr. Han around the museum. It was a daunting task as I had to rely on my Form 3 Malaysian history to inform this distinguished gentleman. Thankfully, I managed to pull through and surprisingly enjoyed myself, so much so that I secretly wished to be able to do more museum tours. Of course, the MV did not exist then. It was only last year that I finally had the opportunity to sign up as an MV trainee.  Thank you Karen and team for making my dream a reality.

It has been a challenging journey for Batch 28 but I am sure you would agree that it has been well worth the effort. Thanks to our inspiring lecturers, MV trainers and librarians, our knowledge of Malaysian history has improved tremendously. Also, our presentation skills have been honed over the past year.  Special thanks to my mentor, Jega. Thank you Poh Leng, Jean-Marie and Douglas for your dedication and patience in training us. Thank you to En. Jamil, Fiza & Jane of JMM for hosting us.

This MV training has certainly pushed me out of my comfort zone. Notably, when one of my visitors, having been on my tour, decided to introduce me to a Harvard-trained anthropologist so that we can talk shop! With nerves of steel, I drew upon my MV training to get through our lunch and I am happy to say that we are still in touch. The training also gave me the confidence to seek out a curator from the Asian Civilisations Museum and engage in conversations with Singapore docents.

My world has expanded with this experience. I joined the MV trips to Sin Sze Si Ya temple and Royal Museum – places I had not visited, even as a local. Above all, the MV training has given me a deeper appreciation of Malaysian history and culture. As a Malaysian, I am proud of our rich heritage.

So far, I feel that I have gained more than I have given. Now, it’s payback time! I tell almost everyone I meet about our free guided tours. I look forward to my monthly guiding duty and to future MV events. There is still so much more to learn.

Thank you for sharing this journey with me.

Sama-sama, kita berkhidmat untuk negara.

The three batches together with their trainers


A meal and some sharing

The delay to the annual potluck this year was fortuitous as it could be coincided with the Attendance Certificate Presentation Ceremony for trainee batches 28 and 29. Hence, Saturday 30 Sep saw the Discovery Room flooded with an array of palate-tantalising food, showcasing the culinary talents of many a volunteer. Seasoned volunteers interacted with trainees over this sumptuous lunch while waiting for the presentation ceremony to begin.

A small selection of the dishes brought by volunteers
Master of Ceremonies, Poh Leng, addressing the attendees at the start of the presentation ceremony

In her opening speech, Karen Loh noted that batches 28 and 29 had started their training sessions in February 2017. This made them unique as training has traditionally started in September every year and will revert to the 9th month next year. Karen thanked the trainers for their dedication and hard work. In congratulating the trainees, she reminded them that they are encouraged to attend Focus events and to contribute to the blog, Facebook, and the Screamer.

Four trainees were invited to share their thoughts on the training they had just completed. First up was Marianne Khor. Let’s hear it in her own words:

“When I was asked to give a short 3-minute speech today, I was reminded of the first time I had to give a speech of that length, ‘the 3-minute presentation’. Most of us panicked at the thought of cramming 600 words into 3 minutes. We had to edit it, but then, would it be too short or still too long? Well, I just hope that I will not be timed today! We have all come a long way since these first 3-minute presentations, after all we are here today, receiving our certificates. Not so long ago we were a group of strangers with just a common interest. Now we are friends, and when I look at all of us here from Batch 28, I see that we represent what we learned about the history of Malaysia. Just like the people who made this country, we too are from different ethnic and cultural backgrounds. What unites all of us here is our love for history and culture, and the desire to share Malaysia’s history and culture with all those who come to this museum in order to learn more about it.

In all these months we have been presented with a lot of information. We studied and read stacks of books. It was an amazing experience and I am still surprised at how much knowledge was conveyed in such a relatively short time. It has made me appreciate and understand the people and this country that has been my home for 42 years, even more. But it was the dedicated speakers, sharing their knowledge and passion with us week after week, who gave life to all the facts that we had learned and put everything into place, like a puzzle that finally comes together. And it was never boring. Every time that a subject was announced which promised to be a bit dry, we were always pleasantly surprised at how the particular speaker made it interesting and exciting. Our trainers and mentors Poh Leng, Karen, Jega, Jean Marie and Douglas, have done an amazing job in guiding us through the maze of facts and dates and always kept us motivated and interested. On behalf of Batch 28, I would like to thank you, Poh Leng, Karen, Jega, Jean Marie and Douglas, and all the museum staff that have been involved in our journey to get us where we are today. You were always there for us when we needed help and guidance!”

Next was Lee Ean Keong and this is what he had to say:

“Well, to start with, I would like to thank the MV trainers, Jega, Poh Leng, Jean-Marie and Douglas for doing a fantastic job moulding us, Batch 28, into Museum Volunteer Guides. When we started our course on 14 Feb. this year, some of us thought we knew the history of our country……. until we completed the course and realised that at the begining, we actually knew so little of our history and now we know so much more. We can talk to anyone about our country’s history with confidence and with facts. And all thanks to our training course and our trainers. It was an excellent and effective training programme and very dedicated MV Trainers. And also on behalf of Batch 28, I would like to thank Mr. Yee, who was always there taking photos and giving valuable advice and our Librarians who have been so helpful and accommodating. Not forgetting our MV speakers esp. Karen, Rose Gan and Kon Sze Yan and the trainers and all the other external speakers who made their topics so very interesting.

But most of all, I would like to mention that we have a mix group of friends in Batch 28 who are from different nationalities. We have Malaysians, French, Canadian, German, Moroccan, Korean, from Beijing, China, a lady from Kazakhstan. They are all very helpful and supportive. We even have a chat group filled with information on history and museum activities and getting us all still connected even after we have finished our course. So, finally, on behalf of Batch 28, I would like to once again thank all our trainers and say “you are an inspiration to us all. We hope one day we can be as good as you and make you proud”.”

Representing the French in batch 28 was Christine Henry-Bourdon, who shared anecdotes from the French group.

My experience
Last month, while in France, I visited two museums in Paris. One is the Asian Arts museum (called musée Guimet). One can argue about the presence of these treasures outside their homelands, but I must admit that I appreciated greatly the possibility of seeing such a large quantity of marvellous objects from India and South-east Asia in a single place.

The second museum is the Musée du Quai Branly, a museum dedicated to the indigenous arts around the world. Again, I concentrated, of course, on South-east Asia. As I was wandering around the displays, assessing the statues from tribal Borneo, my eyes caught sight of a big artefact in the middle of the room. A year ago, I would have thought: “What a strange and bulky table!”. Not anymore: my eyes widened and I am sure I said aloud: “it cannot be!”. But it was! A complete, big, beautifully preserved Dong Son drum. And I could understand its age, its usage, its meaning, its significance for the bronze age, for the beginning of trading in South-east Asia. By the way, it came from Java and was dated between the 4th century BCE and the 2nd century CE.

Why do I tell you this story? Because it summarizes what might be the biggest of the many benefits I got from following this formation. I have asked my fellow French-speaking trainees, and they told me the same thing. One said: “when I look at what I used to call a Malay dagger, I see today what is behind what I now call a keris : the legends, the magic, the craftsmanship, the religions that left their traces in the decoration, the meaning of the waves, its value for the Malay culture, its usage in the local martial art Silat. We can now understand objects and places, link them to what we have learned and see their beauty.

Anecdotes from the French-speaking group
We were very enthusiastic about learning more about the culture of our current home country. One of us was so anxious not to be late for the first lesson, that she arrived one hour earlier, and sat for the full hour in her car. Being French, we tend to be obsessed by food. So, the yummy breaks were always welcomed and discussed in our group. And as you saw during the lunch, French patisserie is still a very present heritage. We like talking, and of course, it is even better if it is in French. During the mentoring, one of us spent one full hour for the visit of one gallery. But I am sure that it is not specific to the French speakers, is it?

What about a few surprises?
There is evidence, in the written presentations, that the oldest science known to mankind is, by far, archaeology, as the Java man has been “quote FOUND 500,000 years ago”. On the lesson on Fire safety, the surprise to find motorbikes parked all along the Emergency exits,
The surprise to see a real prince with a historic ring explaining to us the story of the Malay population. The surprise of holding the hilt of a very antic and valuable kris, hilt that just got separated from the blade! The last surprise will be on October the 10th, when, at last, we will manage, we hope, to finalise the very expected trip to Malacca!

All of that wouldn’t have been possible without a few groups and structures that gave us this amazing opportunity.
Jabatan Muzium Malaysia and the Museum volunteers’ association, of course, for the organisation, the facilities, their help, their dedication…
The librarians, for their patience, their knowledge and their strictness in making sure that the books circulated as needed. The speakers, who were so knowledgeable in their fields, and who covered together such a broad range of expertise, from archaeology, to religions, history of the Malay kingdoms, of the different colonisations, of the Kris and silat….
The tutors/mentors/teachers, who were present, patient, enthusiastic, so keen to share their knowledge, and to accept our limited but growing understanding of historical and cultural Malaysia. Thanks to our families, who accepted this invading passion and followed us in museums, were our guinea pigs for the presentations, and learned who is Francis Light and what is Dulang washing…
And finally, thank-you to all of you, students and teachers, for accepting us, who come from another world, and for allowing and guiding us during the discovery of this wonderful country we all call, for a shorter or a longer period, our home. From now on, as guides, we will try and share our knowledge and enthusiasm with the visitors, with the hope that they will leave the museum with a better understanding of the country and the wish to learn and see even more of it.

Kayoko Omata represented batch 29, the Japanese Group.

“As I was given 2 themes for today’s speech, first of all, I would like to start from why I joined this MVJ’s program. The main reason was very simple, because I wanted to know more about Malaysia. Actually, every member from Batch 29 has the same reason to join the program.

Myself, I came to Malaysia as an expat family in March 2016. Before that, we were in Myanmar. But it was a short period, and I had not much time to learn the history of Burma. And I feel very regret about that. As I have visited and lived in many parts of regions in the world, I have a belief that “the more I learn the country’s history, the more I can understand each culture’s uniqueness and the people living there.”That will lead to respect for each country. So when I saw the information for applicants on Japanese community Newspaper, I would like to contribute for both Malaysia and Japan, so that Japanese people would be able to deepen their understanding for Malaysia.

To be honest, 5 months training was tough for all Batch 29 members. But through this training, and after experiencing several times of solo guide, we feel very fortunate we could meet a lot of people coming from a different background. Also it was a great experience for us, we could study not only the history of Malaysia, but also the history of south-east Asia and the World. And it broadens our views and knowledge. This year is the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Malaysia and Japan. We really appreciate tremendous kind supports from trainers during these 5months, and we’re looking forward to contributing for both countries friendly relations through this volunteer activities from now on.”

Congrats to all the graduates. Hope you enjoy your guiding sessions. Lastly, a big thank-you to Yee Chun Wah for being on hand to photograph the occasion.

Batch 28 (and their trainers) – happy to be full-fledged volunteers
Batch 29, elegantly dressed in baju kebaya, with their trainers
The food went fast


End of Training – ‘Attendance Certificate’ Award Ceremony

by Maganjeet Kaur

Starting this year, a two-step process will be followed before trainees are graduated from the MV training programme, i.e:

  1. Trainees, having satisfactorily completed all requirements of the training programme, will be given a ‘Certificate of Attendance’ and they will be paired with mentors who will work with them to hone their guiding skills.
  2. After guiding for six months, a formal graduation ceremony will be held upon which trainees will become full-fledged volunteers.

Last Saturday (15 Mar 2014) saw 55 trainees from batches 19, 20 and 21 receive their ‘Certificate of Attendance’ in a ceremony hosted by Jabatan Muzium Malaysia (JMM). As the trainees milled around and enjoyed the delicious food, courtesy of JMM, it became quickly apparent that this year’s trainees have become very close knit and have obviously supported each other during the training period. This became even more clear from the speeches made by representatives of the different batches.

269In her opening speech, Karen Loh (president of MV JMM) focused on the administrative side of guiding duties including wearing the MV vest and recording attendance. Karen also highlighted a new process due to be implemented whereby guides will need to fill out a short questionnaire after each tour to record the number of people in the tour, their nationalities and how they came to hear of the tour. This survey will provide valuable insight into the effectiveness of our marketing activities. More details on this survey will be made known when the process has been firmed up and the questionnaires have been printed.

Karen also explained that the MV is an entity under the Corporate Communications Division of  JMM. This Division is headed by En Zainal and within this division, En Jamil has direct responsibility over the MV. En Jamil is assisted by Fiza who is responsible for preparing the monthly guiding schedules for the English tours as well as for the Bahasa Malaysia and Mandarin tours held during the school holidays.

285Representatives from each batch shared their experiences on the training programme and Mayumi from Batch 19 (Japanese Group) was up first. She shared that the first challenge for the Japanese trainees was to relearn the art of studying as the last time they did any serious study was 12 – 20 years ago. They also had language issues as some words were difficult to translate from Bahasa Malaysia to Japanese and they also had problems pronouncing some of the Malay words. Although they were initially nervous making presentations, their experience helped them to overcome this and they are working towards giving a tour that is interesting, exciting and efficient as this is what their visitors want.

290The primary message from Batch 20, represented by Frank and Janet, was one of thanks. Thanks firstly to the Malaysian government, through JMM, for trusting them (as foreigners) to represent Malaysian history and culture and this trust will be something that they will have to live up to. They showed appreciation for their three trainers, Hayley, Anne and Lena, for acting as mentors; giving their time and knowledge as well as patiently encouraging them through the use of positive reinforcements and constructive criticism. The museum staff, they found to be friendly, smiling and generally helpful. In short, they enjoyed their Tuesday training sessions which were accompanied by kopi tarik and nasi lemak.

On a lighter note, Janet said that in addition to learning the theory, they also had practical experience in handling the keris and that they practised silat in Melaka and were now ‘dangerous’ guides. Frank expressed admiration for his colleagues whose first language is not English as they did serious academic work and prepared presentations in a language that was foreign to them; showing that courage matters as much as brain power.  He also expressed thanks to the Malaysian members of their class who not only brought in a vast amount of knowledge but also helped to put things in context for the rest of them.

In closing, they are looking forward to sharing the knowledge they have acquired with visitors to the museum.

297Ee Lin from Batch 21 said that their team was lucky to have the triple J’s (Jo, Jane and Justin) leading them on their Saturday training sessions. She also thanked the MV President and other committee members who dropped in from time to time to offer help and in answering their questions. While Batch 20 comprised many foreign trainees, Batch 21 were mostly Malaysians but were diverse both in age and background. Three decades divided the youngest trainee from the oldest and the trainees comprised accountants, engineers, lawyers, designers, writer and teachers; each bringing their unique perspective on Malaysian history resulting in a ‘kopitiam’ like chat with everyone contributing to the discussion. Batch 21 also formed their own discussion group and Ee Lin felt this contributed to their learning and helped them bond into a family. Although they were nervous and apprehensive when making their first presentations, the support from the team nudged them on till the shyest person in the group became one of their best presenters. In the coming six months, Batch 21 members aim to hone their skills and not only live up to the standards expected of them but to go beyond these and become an inspiration to future guides.

Batch 19 analysed the requirements of their visitors and will be developing their tours to be “interesting, exciting and efficient”. Batch 20 will gratefully share back the knowledge they have received with visitors to the Muzium while Batch 21 wants to exceed all expectations and become an inspiration to future guides. With so much enthusiasm displayed by the trainees, they are going to be very valuable members of the MV and the MV is happy to welcome them into the fold. Kudos to batches 19, 20 and 21!

Museum Volunteers – 7th Graduation Ceremony

16 March 2013

Trainee docents in batches 16, 17 and 18 started their docent training program in Sept 2012 and after months of hard work, 54 trainees graduated in a ceremony held at the auditorium of Jabatan Muzium Malaysia bringing the total number of volunteers to 180. It was a year of ‘firsts’ with a record number of 20 Malaysian and 18 Japanese volunteers graduating.  Other volunteers came from France, the UK, Poland, Singapore, Australia and Korea.

Karen Loh – President of MV

In her welcome speech, Karen was confident that all the new graduates are ready to guide as they have been equipped with more than enough knowledge to conduct a proper tour of the national museum.  Karen also thanked all the course leaders for their time and dedication and having prepared the new docents so well.

Karen then stressed on commitment and reminded the docents that they have committed to 2 years of active service as a volunteer.  Most volunteers are committed and active but there have been cases of trainees leaving as soon as the training program is over.  Karen was confident that none of the new graduating docents would do that, unless beyond their control.

Karen’s speech was followed by speeches from representatives of the graduating batches 16, 17 and 18.  First up were Arfah Hani Abdullah and Anne Lemetter from batch 16 with a funny sketch and an interesting speech.  Then Sharifah Seri Lailah and Kenji Sato, from batches 17 and 18 respectively, had the audience riveted as they recounted their experiences as a trainee.



Zanita Anuar, Director of Innovation Unit, gave a speech next and thanked all museum volunteers for their dedication and hard work.  The speeches were followed by presentation of awards to the graduates.

Graduating batch 16
Graduating batch 17
Graduating batch 17
Graduating batch 18
Graduating batch 18

The trainers were not forgotten and were called on-stage and each presented with a beautiful piece of silk batik.  The trainers were : Batch 16 – Asma, Marie & Hayley; Batch 17 – Cze Yan, Justin, Jane, William and Karen; Batch 18 – Mr. Masayuki, Mr. Shigenori, Ms Naomi, Ms  Yui Togo, Ms  Yui Isaka, Ms Hiroko Shibata and Ms Junko Mori.

Trainers of batches 16, 17 and 18
Trainers of batches 16, 17 and 18

Refreshments were served after the graduation ceremony.  Enjoy the pictures below.

137 140 143

Master of Ceremonies - Stuart
Master of Ceremonies – Stuart
Fiza – From Jabatan Muzium

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Museum Volunteers – 6th Graduation Ceremony

Speech from MV President, Karen Loh during the graduation ceremony

53 new volunteer trainees successfully completed their docent training and graduated in Feb 2012.  Kudos to Batches 13, 14 and 15.

In the words of Karen Loh, MV President: “For 16 weeks you have proved yourselves to be committed, attended the classes, worked hard in your research and presentations. I also commend those whose mother tongue is not English as you have had to work harder. Thank you all for signing up and welcome to our museum volunteer family.”

Congratulations to the all the graduates and happy guiding!

Graduates Batch 13
Graduates Batch 14
Graduates Batch 15

Graduation Ceremony for Batches 7, 8 & 9

MVM Graduates 2010

Our Batches 7, 8 & 9 have officially graduated. Congratulations!  These batches are our weekday, weekend and Japanese groups. Below are some photos.

Chrissy Lioe MVM President at 2010 Graduation Ceremony
Datuk Ibrahim bin Ismail, Director-General, National Museums Department

MVM Graduates 2010

MVM Batches 7 and 9

Our new graduates MVM Batches 7 and  9:

Bernard Brigitte
Dian Fitrasari
Ellen Roen
Kanistha Jethwani
Linda Intoft Gauffin
Maple Keh
Raquel Golfarin
S Gokilan
S Lingham
Mr Teo
Delorme Segolene
Dominique Leblanc
Elodie Michel
Liz Burton
Melanie Goudard
Ray Smith
Shaukani Abbas
Suzie Tuomey
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