Rediscover Brunei Darussalam through the eyes of the People
The Curtin University Sarawak Malaysia Open Day was held on 8 October from 10am-5pm. This year's approach to the Open Day leaned towards a more fun and festival-like experience. The day included activities such as competitions, exhibitions and food stalls. Curtin aimed to showcase not only the campus facilities, courses, but the vibrant student community.
I could sense an air of excitement as I walked through the car park to the campus building. The first thing we were met with was an exhibition of courses available at the university. Each booth had its unique way of showcasing the courses. What I particular liked about this showcase is the demonstration that each booth had. The public could also take part in some of the demonstration carried out at these booth. Campus tours were also held to promote the facilities for the prospective student.
Personally, one of the highlights was witnessing the annual Mr & Miss Curtin competition. There were a total of seven male and seven female contestants chosen from the university. A local Malaysian designer was involved in dressing the female models for the competition. To my delight, the panel of judges included local Brunei personalities - Qamaruz, Farhanna and Phoebe Chok.
Press Release: Curtin Baram Project enters a new phase
The Curtin Baram Project is an integrated study which spans the highlands to the sea. Different teams of Curtin University researchers from the university’s Perth and Sarawak campuses are currently conducting studies in selected sites in an area of around 24,000 square kilometres of land and sea. A documentary on the project can be viewed on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rGmZ0MWhHNk.
Research conducted by Curtin University in the Baram region and the sea offshore of it
In the Upper Baram catchment, Associate Professor Dominique Dodge-Wan and her team from the Department of Applied Geology at Curtin Sarawak are precisely mapping land use via information from satellite imagery.
“It is important to know the types of land use in the 9,000 square kilometre Baram Catchment because changing land use can impact soil erosion,” said Associate Professor Dodge-Wan.
Assoc. Prof. Dodge-Wan and Dr Vijith establishing ground truth for satellite imagery
Soil erosion can impact not only the sediment load carried by the Baram River but also where this load eventually deposits. Thus, the relationship between the materials carried out to sea by the Baram River and the offshore Miri-Sibuti Coral Reefs National Park is something which Curtin University is seeking to establish.
From the Upper Baram catchment through to the sea off Miri, another team from Curtin Sarawak’s Department of Applied Geology led by Associate Professor Ramasamy Nagarajan is studying the distribution of heavy metals and their geochemistry. Water, river sediments and plant material are regularly sampled at various points along the Baram River to build baseline data set on the presence of heavy metals.
Collecting water sample on the Baram
The baseline established for heavy metals will be an important reference point for assessing the impact of any developments in the Baram Catchment into the future. “When higher than baseline amounts of toxic metals are found in the Baram environment, it may indicate disturbance in the landscape which will need attending to,” remarked Associate Professor Nagarajan.
The last 18 months or so has seen the rise of self-expression. Bruneians have been expressing themselves more. This is a good thing. We are finding out new ways to speak up, both online and offline. Snapchat, Stories on IG, new blogs, creative gatherings, vlogs, Reddit and pop-ups. It has to be said that it was not always like this. There has been a collective awakening of sorts.
When we take a step back, we see that we are a young country. We are discovering our voice. We are speaking our first words. We are thinking about big concepts like the Future, Society, Progress, Tradition, Culture, Faith, Success, and as our minds are thinking about these things, so are we debating these things for the first time. We are speaking in broken sentences. There is grammatical error, but that does not matter. We are speaking our first words. We are speaking up for ourselves and this country that we love, and that is a good thing.
We are going through growing pains . . . a kind of I-can't-quite-put-my-finger-on-it type of pain from rapid growth and stretching of our conscience, and the realisation that, hang on, 2035 is not that far away anymore.
Brunei is dependent on O&G which accounts for . . . pretty much everything. We have a singular economy. For better or for worse, we have not diversified, and this period of low oil prices brings this cold reality into sharp focus. These are unnerving times. Some say that these low prices are the best thing that has happened to Brunei in a while, like a strange blessing in disguise. Like an alarm clock waking a child from slumber. Like caffeine jolting our central nervous system.
I have written this post a thousand times in my mind before. I have never shared it because it feels like a speech with no conclusion. But I share this with you today, because it is important to lift up things that matter to us, and Brunei matters to me.
Today, I remind myself that it is okay and not always necessary to wrap our thoughts up in a neat bow. It is okay not to have a conclusion. What is more important is that we speak up about things that matter to us. That we keep an open mind. That we are prepared to hear different perspectives. That we don't react. That we don't get all defensive. That we take our conversations deeper. That we debate strategically.
Moving forward, let's think critically. Let's pray fervently. Let's act decisively.
We cannot rest on our laurels.
Press Release: Curtin Sarawak Open Day on 8 October could change your life and inspire your future!
Curtin University, Sarawak Malaysia (Curtin Sarawak) will be holding its tenth Open Day on 8 October 2016 and, according to the university, it could very well change your life and inspire your future – particularly if you are a potential student. The Open Day is geared to give visitors a taste of life at Curtin Sarawak, Curtin University’s largest international campus with over 4,000 students from more than 45 countries.
This year’s event will include new features aimed at attracting potential students, who have made up the majority of visitors in recent years. It will be a great opportunity for them to explore the campus, learn more about the world-ranked Curtin courses it offers, and speak with student recruitment staff, lecturers and current students.
Among the new features will be a number of exciting competitions open to students from secondary schools throughout East Malaysia, as well as interesting showcases of the university’s faculties and graduate school at a new-concept ‘Future Students Hub’.
The competitions and showcases are designed for greater engagement with future students and give them a fun, hands-on learning experience in a festival-like atmosphere. They are also aimed at generating interest in the various fields of study at Curtin Sarawak, which are engineering and related sciences, business and humanities.
Foremost among the competitions is the ‘Curtin Ultimate Croc Challenge’, an electronics competition organised by the Faculty of Engineering and Science that is slated to become an annual feature of the Open Day. It will see 17 secondary school teams competing to design the most innovative ‘crocodile sensor’ using programmable microcontroller kits.
Other competitions will be the ‘Business Genius Challenge’, a business knowledge quiz, and the ‘So You Think You Can Spell?” spelling challenge organised by the Faculty of Business and Faculty of Humanities respectively. They are open students in the upper forms and participation is free of charge. Winning teams stand to win attractive prizes and students and teachers from the competing schools are welcome to be spectators.
In addition, there will be the semi-finals and finals of a Curtin Gaming Championship jointly organised by the Faculty of Engineering and Science and the university’s student council and international student association. Sponsored by Stratos PC, the championship will feature up to 32 teams playing DOTA 2 and FIFA.
Yet another highlight will be the ‘Young Innovate Miri’ being held as part of the nationwide ‘Young Innovate’ programme and national embedded system design competition. ‘Young Innovate’ is aimed at inspiring secondary students' passion in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), developing their living skills and exposing them to open-source hardware and software.
‘Young Innovate Miri’ will see the participation of some 30 teams from secondary schools, as well as 10 teams from Curtin Sarawak competing in the open category. The top three schools will represent Sarawak at ‘Young Innovate Malaysia’, the national competition to be held in Kuala Lumpur during the annual KL Engineering Science Fair.
At the ‘Future Students Hub’, future students will get to gather first-hand knowledge about what courses and how to enrol. There will also be guided tours of facilities to give them a feel of the campus. They can also visit the showcases of the university’s three faculties and graduate school, each with interesting themes like ‘Engineer’s Land’, “Entrepreneur Hub’, ‘The Humanist’ and ‘Scholar’s Corner’. Visitors stand to receive interesting giveaways if they visit all the booths.
While there will be many new attractions, regular visitors to the Open Day will find comfort in perennial attractions like the live stage entertainment, lucky draws and wide variety of food, retail and activity stalls run by student clubs and local businesses.
Editor's Note: Introducing indie music duo, TheElleWan. In this feature, we learn about Michelle and Erwan's music origins, ambitions, creative music making processes, and some of the challenges they have faced. We have posted some of their videos below (including their RB Jingle), but to find out more about them, check out their YouTube channel. They are on Instagram too.
Have you known each other for a while? Any hobbies?
We’ve been schoolmates since high-school. We did A-levels together at Maktab Duli and then Universiti Brunei Darussalam for our degrees. Michelle did Linguistics and Erwan did Professional Communications.
One hobby we both share is that we like to make music, play music, and listen to music! But personally, I (Michelle) like reading and watching YouTube videos - real regular stuff. I actually like watching documentaries a lot. The odder the better, like sci-fi or weird creatures from the sea.
When did your interest for music begin?
Our interest in music started way before we met each other. We both come from very talented, musically inclined families. It was natural for us to drift towards music on our own. Erwan and I both can play the guitar and a little bit of the piano, and we do dabble in other instruments like drums and pan flute. Odd I know!
When did you decide to pursue music and how did you come up with the name 'TheEllewan'?
We were jamming in Maktab Duli during our A-levels in 2011 and just thought, why not try our luck and start a band and a YouTube channel together!? We didn’t think it would get this far actually, to the point where we would get gigs an actually produce our own songs! It’s been a crazy ride so far!
The name ‘TheEllewan’ came about by accident, well, by default actually. We originally wanted to go by our own names ‘Erwan and Michelle’ but when we signed up for YouTube, that name was already taken. ‘TheEllewan’ was one of the suggested names. It has stuck with us since! By the way! It’s pronounced 'the-elle-one' not 'the-ellie-one'!
A trademark of TheEllewan is our mash-up of covers. We do write our own songs, but we got inspired by Youtubers before us for mash-ups to give different dimensions to the songs. On top of that, we are writing originals and boy, is that a process in and of itself.
Tell us about one of your earlier performances.
Our first ever performance was for a Telbru event and actually Aziz Harun’s manager Bahzi Damit got it for us; great guy by the way! This was all before Aziz’s rise to the music scene. And we remember it quite well because we were so nervous to be on the JP Amphitheater stage, hands shaking and boy did we fake our coolness!
There were about 20-30 people in the audience and when we got on stage we just sang our heart out, with feedback deafening us, it was actually an awesome first performance!
Tell us about the process you go through when writing music.
When it comes to covers, we kinda just go with what song really stuck with us that week or if we hear a cool song that we like. We’ll just text one another and say, ‘Hey, let’s cover this!’ But of course it isn’t always organized. There are many hours of just trying out songs and it failing horribly with me (Michelle) being irritated with the process and Erwan being cool and collected. You can tell who the more emotional one is! When it comes to writing originals, we both have different styles of writing and inspiration.
I think between the two of us, we have written hundreds of songs but because they were written at a particular time in our life, we may not pursue completing the songs. Actually, the best songs we’ve written so far stem from really tough seasons in our lives. I guess it helps, to write down what you’re feeling, get it out of your system and make it beautiful.
What are some of the challenges faced trying to get in the music industry?
One of the challenges we faced was finding out how we were going to do it. We knew about YouTube but you don’t get paid for videos in Brunei. Then there is the question of what sort of songs to do. It really made us think about who we are and more importantly, who we wanted to be. And honestly, to this day, we’re still figuring out. Someone once told us that this industry is an industry of rejection and we’re no stranger to that. But we think that if you have a dream and it means something to you, you just have to do something about it.
Any future plans for TheEllewan?
We launched our first original song ‘Maybe’ a couple of months ago and wow, it is surreal to hear it played on the radio! We’re planning on writing and producing more original music in the near future. We will also do more gigs and concerts, whether here or overseas. Overall, we just want to inspire people through what we do. Hopefully to encourage them to do something about that dream of theirs. We’re just a couple of ordinary people who have a passion and it’s great that we get to do what we love.
Any final words for your fans or future fans?
Yes! For those who know us and those who don’t, we believe that you are capable of so much. Your dreams and passions aren’t small or insignificant. If something matters to you, pursue it. Work hard for it. Don’t let the fear of failure or rejection hold you back. We’re so thankful for the many friends we have who have been supporting us from day one and now as we’re moving towards a new chapter, we’re exciting to see what’s going to happen next! We love you Brunei, dream big!
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