The teenagers from Suceava have the opportunity to be accompanied in the GROW adventure by two trainers who come from exotic countries: Jean from Malaysia and Grace from Taiwan.

Jean is proud of her Malaysian and Chinese origins and through this experience she wants to learn to be a better public speaker:

I am Jean (Liong Kek Jin) from Malaysia and I am teaching in Suceava. There are two reasons why I chose to come to Romania to do this project. First of all, I want to challenge myself to overcome my fear of speaking in public. I have been taking small steps to overcome this fear and up till now I have challenged myself to speak in front of a group of people that I don’t know; I thought that speaking to people from a different country would be something different and challenging too. Another reason is that I want to have fun and what is a better way to have fun that to join GROW? I can meet people, share my experience and knowledge, empower them, and enjoy life at the same time!!!

If I imagine myself at the end of this program, I would most probably see a ‘Jean’ who is more outgoing and more capable of speaking in public. At the same time, I think I would be able to learn and incorporate the values or skills that I am going to teach in GROW in myself too.

I am proud because I am unique due to the Malaysian culture. I am a Chinese whose grandparents moved to Malaysia for a better life. With that, I can say that I am a Malaysian Chinese who are infused with both the Chinese principles of life and Malaysian culture of living. I am proud of this myriad culture that Malaysia has because it not only make Malaysian more knowledgeable about the culture of other races but it also makes us more tolerant towards the differences between races. Also, we, Malaysians, have our own way of living that encompasses different elements of these three cultures. For example, typical breakfast in Malaysia can include nasi lemak (malay dish), roti kaya (chinese hainanese bread) and teh tarik (indian drink). Just like Malaysian, each of these dishes are so different and yet they mix together perfectly. Therefore, I am proud of the Malaysian culture that I live in.

I think that some Romanian teenagers set very high expectation on their academic results and often strive for perfection. I used to think that only Asian parents are very demanding in academic perfection, but after talking to some Romanian teenagers, I realise that they strive even more for perfection in academic scores than Malaysian teenagers. For us, we strive for the best, but 90 out of 100 is considered very good (it is very rare for us to get 100 out of 100) but for Romanian teenagers, they often have expectation as high as 10 out of 10 and a 9 out of 10 may not seem good enough. Although this may seem to be a good thing for many people, but I, personally, feel that this kind of striving towards perfection may take the fun away from learning and put the teenagers under very high pressure.

Another thing that I noticed in Romanian teenagers is that a lot of them are interested in the political and economical situation of Romania, unlike most Malaysian teenagers. I can see their love and concern about Romania and her future.

For Grace it is the first time she travels abroad on her own, so she is very enthusiastic about GROW and wants to discover and explore other cultures.

I came to Romania to teach in GROW project because I want to explore what things are like here. I want to know what is the difference between Romania teenagers and Taiwan teenagers. It’s a good opportunity for me to exchange ideas with people from a different culture, we can learn from each other. I think I am not only teaching, but also learning. From my point of view, it is a trip for giving as well as gaining. It is worth giving up my comfort zone and come to Romania because I know that I am going to gain a lot through this trip.

I think this experience will change me a lot. This is the first time I came abroad on my own and that makes me become braver. Moreover, I can meet a lot of people, not only Romanians, but also people from all over the world and this will definitely broaden my horizon. I think I have already changed through the 5TC conference. I became more confident when I stand in front of others to present something by taking part in the simulations. I used to be really nervous and my mind went blank when I was standing on the stage, but now I think I can do better and have more confidence in myself. Most important of all, my public speaking skills are going to improve a lot after these six weeks. This will be a really awesome experience for me to change myself and I am really happy that I seized the chance to take part in GROW.

I am proud of my culture because that is what I am grown up with. Although there are a lot of political, environmental and economical problems, I still love my country and I have faith in it that things will get better as long as we try our best. I think every country has their own problems, but we should be positive and try to do whatever we can to improve them. I really like the food in Taiwan because it’s really creative. We have food from different countries, but we also have our traditional food and people in Taiwan are still creating new food for Taiwan. I am really proud of my country because they never give up easily. They will not give up until they succeed. This is the spirit of Taiwan that I would love to share to others!