The young boy took careful aim. Both hands gripping the hand carved blowpipe and with a mighty gush of breath, sent the dart flying towards the target. The dart landed near the bull's eye which drew appreciative applause from the Orang Asli folk who were manning the handicrafts booth at Nilai International University College's (Nilai UC) recent Discovery Day event.
Although the purpose of the Discovery Day was to act as a career guidance day for fresh school leavers, this year's emphasis was on corporate responsibility by lending a helping hand to one of the country's poorest communities - the Orang Asli. Working with non-profit organisation Malaysian Christian Association For Relief (Malaysian CARE), Nilai UC got students involved in various fund-raising activities. A myriad of stalls were set up selling food and drinks with the sole aim of raising funds for the Orang Asli community.
"This is the sort of character building we at Nilai UC are very keen to encourage. In this instance, students learn to be selfless as well as appreciate that they are in a privileged position," said Loh Wei Yuen, director of corporate affairs. "With the added bonus of having a large group of outsiders visiting our campus today also means the plight of the Orang Asli reaches a wider audience plus they get to sell their handicraft to more people."
The Orang Asli performing a traditional song for the visitors at Nilai UC's Discovery Day. Besides showing visitors the finer art of blow piping, the Orang Asli also put on a cultural performance. These were age-old folk songs accompanied by a few traditional bamboo percussion instruments. The hypnotic beat woven by these instruments certainly had the students in thrall as they clapped appreciatively along to what must have been an alien tune to their teenage ears.
Not to be outdone, Nilai UC's own student Lion Dance troupe also put on a gala and typically noisy performance to add to the carnival-like atmosphere of the proceedings. However, many visitors had still come to Nilai UC's 105-acre award-winning campus to check out the facilities and the programmes being offered.
Many school leavers were attracted to Nilai UC's Diploma in Aircraft Maintenance Engineering (DIAME). "Many had heard from friends or relatives who are working in airports that there is a drastic shortage of qualified aircraft maintenance personnel. Couple this with the heavy media interest our programme has generated, it is not surprising that so many students are signing up for this course," says a visibly delighted Kunalan Marimuthu, head of Nilai UC's DIAME programme.
Another programme, which proved popular with parents and students alike, was Nilai UC's Diploma in Nursing. Visitors were told of the huge demand for qualified nurses and Nilai UC's nursing programme gave students the extra edge with overseas training stints (with Chennai Hospital and Research Institute, India).
Many visiting parents were also impressed by the Nilai UC's partnership with Oxford Brookes University (OBU), United Kingdom. The Times Good University Guide has consistently ranked OBU as the best new university in recent years. With cost of an overseas education being out of reach of many Malaysians, the 3+0 programmes where the entire UK degree is completed at Nilai UC and is moderated by OBU were very attractive propositions to parents.
The School of Hospitality and Tourism is another faculty linked with OBU. "This is a great opportunity for students to learn from the best as OBU has been ranked in an independent survey as the sixth best hospitality school in the world and the very best in the UK," says the dean of the school, Dr Muhamad Bin Muda. The School of Hospitality and Tourism also organised an inter-school Cooking competition with celebrity chefs Sheila Rusli and Muluk as judges. The winner was awarded RM400 in cash and also free first year accommodation at Nilai UC's campus when he enrols.
Overall, this was the most successful Discovery Day yet with a five-fold increase in applications. Judging by the smiles on the face of nearly all the participants and visitors, it would be safe to assume that a great time was had by all. But most importantly, Nilai UC got to do its bit for the Orang Asli community. It doesn’t end here, as Nilai UC will also be donating 20 sets of computers to their Orang Asli centre in Chenderiang, Perak.
Nilai UC is located in the picturesque suburb of Putra Nilai and is a 45-minute drive from Kuala Lumpur City Centre. Established in 1987, Nilai UC prides itself in providing a unique campus-style education with a melting pot student population. On the Orang Asli community centre, you can garner more information at www.malaysiancare.org or call 03-90582102.