Tuesday, September 22, 2009

What do we bring to Gayong?

What do we, the international community, bring to Gayong? What do we, the international community, receive from Gayong?

These are questions I struggle to find answers to as I continue to train in Gayong. I try to know what I bring to Gayong, strengths, weaknesses, perspective, etc. The struggle with being an non-Malay training in Gayong is our identity. We are Gayong. But we also have other labels that go along with "Gayong."

There are a handful of teachers who have taught Gayong in another country other than Malaysia. They are the Cikgu with unique perspectives. They are Malaysian, they live in a different culture and then have to translate "Gayong" to these foreign students. The way they would do things in Malaysia may not apply to the new country and culture. I don't begin to understand that struggle.

Those of us who are Gayong instructors who are not Malaysian face an even bigger issue. How do we learn to adapt "Gayong" as we have been taught by our Malaysian Cikgu, to ourselves and find our Haqq? How do we find balance in teaching? I am bound by my experiences, my culture, I have to understand Gayong and Malay Culture, and try and translate that to my American students who are starting in Gayong and don't know Malay Culture. Those of us taught by Cikgu Sam and Cikgu Shamsul talk among ourselves on how do we successfully accomplish the task of teaching a Malaysian Art to American students.

Malaysians inherently know Malay culture. Your culture is engrained in you as a child and you just "know" things. When I have traveled to Malaysia, I have to ask questions about why this and why that. Sometimes I get a puzzled look, but the questions of culture, Adat, and Adab are answered and I try and adhere as best I can. When I go home, I have to remember these little things to make sure the students here understand the intricacies of Gayong as they arise.

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