Friday 6 September 2013

Leaps of Knowledge: An Evening with Nick Vujicic

Over 1,700 parents, teachers and students were given the special opportunity to hear world-renowned inspirational speaker Nick Vujicic in person at Leaps of Knowledge: An Evening with Nick Vujicic, the first in a series of talks, seminars, workshops and conferences designed to inspire and enlighten Malaysians, presented by FrogAsia and sponsored by the YTL Foundation.

Special guests of honor for the evening included Deputy Education Minister En P. Kamalanathan, FrogAsia Executive Director Yeoh Pei Lou, YTL Group Executive Director Dato’ Yeoh Seok Hong, YTL Group Executive Director Dato’ Yeoh Soo Keng and YTL Group Legal Counsel Datin Kathleen Chew.

Nick Vujicic sharing a light moment with Deputy Education Minister En P. Kamalanathan and YTL Group Executive Director Dato' Yeoh Seok Hong before his talk. 

Despite having to battle Friday evening jams and a heavy downpour, attendees turned up as early as two hours before the event was scheduled to begin in anticipation to hear Nick speak.

Deputy Education Minister En P. Kamalanathan sharing his thoughts on education

The evening kicked off with opening speeches by Yeoh Pei Lou, Executive Director of FrogAsia, and En. P Kamalanathan, Deputy Education Minister of Malaysia, followed by special presentations by Wing K Lee, YTL Communications’ CEO, who talked about YTL’s vision for venturing into educational technology as a means to bridge the digital divide and equip schools for the future, and Elizabeth Lopez, FrogAsia’s Head of Transformation, who shared stories of how three schools from different states in Malaysia used technology to effectively address challenges they were facing.

YTL Communications CEO, Wing K Lee, explaining the Bestari Experience that FrogAsia and YTL Communications is providing to over 10,000 nationwide under the 1BestariNet project 

Next came the moment the audience had been waiting eagerly for, when Nick Vujicic was ushered onstage. In his trademark down-to-earth style, he moved the audience from laughter to tears and back again, pacing up and down the table energetically as he tackled topics ranging from bullying, to the power of positivity and encouragement, to dealing with the challenges of life.

During his talk, Nick emphasised the importance of believing in one’s self-worth in order to overcome obstacles. Speaking to the parents, he challenged them to provide their children with plenty of love as a foundation upon which their self-esteem can be built.

Nick had the audience smiling, clapping, laughing and even tearing up at points throughout his talk

Displaying his insight into Malaysian culture, he remarked, “I know Asian parents believe in discipline, but as parents, we need to tell our kids “I love you” more. For me, it is not enough to just provide for my family, I need to be there for them."

"No matter how rich you are, if you don’t have love in your home and family, you are poor.” 

He credits his parents’ love and support as key factors in overcoming his childhood depression and going on to live a successful life despite his disabilities.

To the teachers in the audience, Nick encouraged them to see their job as similar to that of a farmer.

“You’ve been given this bucket of seeds to sow, and for many years, it is just about sowing, cultivating and nurturing. But from one tiny seed can grow enormous trees.”

One of the most moving moments of the evening was when the three winners of the “Ask Nick a Question Facebook contest” joined Nick onstage to ask him a question, give him a hug and take a picture with him.

The first winner, 8-year old Shrrii Shivanie, asked Nick, “What advice would you pass on to your son when he grows up?” Nick replied, “The first thing I would tell him is that me and my wife love him very much, and the second thing is that I will always support him and believe in no matter what.”

Educator Lim Chiew Yang giving Nick a hug after asking him her question.

The second question by educator Lim Chiew Yang was: “How can I empower the special needs students in my school to feel like they can be more than what they think they can be? What can I do as a teacher to unleash their potential?”

Nick stressed the importance of believing in them and giving them opportunities to learn about other people who have faced challenges and overcome them. He shared the story of how his turning point came when he heard about Philip Toth, who was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease, a neuro-degenerative illness. Philip Toth’s positive attitude to his crippling condition serves as a strong inspiration to Nick Vujicic even after he passed away.

Watie Aziz, a parent, asking Nick her question.

The final question for the night came from parent Watie Aziz: “I have a daughter age 3 years with a Symbrachydactyly condition that affected her right arm and fingers. What is the best advice I can give her when she grows up to make sure she doesn't feel left out and demotivated due to her difference and how can I inspire her to be proud of herself and her special hand?”

Nick paused before answering her question, looking straight into her eyes. “As a parent of a special child, the pain will never go away. You will worry about how she will live a normal life and who will want to marry her - these fears are very real.” He then talked about how a high percentage of couples with children with disabilities end up in divorce, acknowledging the fact that the road ahead was not going to be an easy one.

“But together with your husband, you can both choose to give your daughter a safe haven that she knows she can always return to and find love and acceptance no matter what she faces out there,” he said as Watie Aziz welled up in tears.

Datin Kathleen Chew presenting a Samsung 4G Chromebook as a token of appreciation to Nick

The evening closed with Datin Kathleen Chew presenting a token of appreciation to Nick, who left the audience with this final word: “No matter how many places I travel to, there is only one Nick Vujicic. You need to find more stories of your own local heros - it’s easy to report bad news but I challenge the Malaysian media to find more inspiring figures in your own country, because there are so many people out there who are making a difference.”

Earlier that day, Nick also spoke to an audience of 500 comprising students from underprivileged schools, Teach for Malaysia schools, 1BestariNet Champion Schools, and the Interact Clubs of Petaling Jaya. Read more about Inspiring Dreams: An Afternoon with Nick Vujicic.

Photo credit: Bitesize Visuals

What is Leaps of Knowledge?

Leaps of Knowledge is a series of talks, seminars, workshops and conferences presented by FrogAsia that aim to inspire and enlighten Malaysians with a focus on how education can be transformed through the use of technology and the Internet. The series will see the world’s leading educators, technologists, thinkers and personalities share their thoughts and ideas to foster public discourse on education in Malaysia, and to encourage students and teachers in Malaysia to make the most of the information age. 

The first talk held on 30 August featured motivational speaker Nick Vujicic who was born without arms or legs. Nick shared his experiences in overcoming challenges and leveraging technology as a platform to spread positivity and encourage others. Stay tuned for the next Leaps of Knowledge session featuring Professor Sugata Mitra, conductor of the Hole in the Wall experiment, coming your way in December 2013.

1 comment:

  1. A very inspiring comments by Nick. Everyone is capable of achieving their dreams and goals in life if they set their minds to undertake them with great patience, determination and perseverence.Life is indeed full of trials and tribulations. It is up to each of us to deal with them patiently.We have to imbue ourselves with substantial confidence and also always believe in ourselves that many things can be accomplished if we try hard consistently.