Entrepreneurs around the world: Ainu

Entrepreneurs around the world: Ainu

AINU is in her 30s, and she lives in Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia). Meeting she was an inspiration and a reunion with the altruistic value of volunteering. 

If I had to define her, I would say that she is a person with a big heart and delivered by education. Also, she is a born entrepreneur. 

When she finished her studies in ADE, she decided travelling through different European countries working and collaborating in various NGOs. After that, she studied to be an English teacher, and nowadays, she becomes a social entrepreneur. In that moment, she is setting up her volunteer organization called VOLT (Volunteer to Teach). 

This initiative comes from her experience as an English teacher in the villages of northern Malaysia. During that time, she realized that children had no particular interest in learning a new language. Their vision of the future was minimal. They knew that when they finished school (or before), they would work in the same town continuing the family tradition. They don’t even consider the existence of other professions or, also going out of their village to know the world and continue studying. 

Ainu, in her English classes, opened a little door to the world. Also, she saw an opportunity to expand their borders. Her experience as a volunteer permitted her to believe that if she invited volunteers from other countries to schools in Malaysia to teach English, and also culture, these children could have a better future. Or, at least, they could have the opportunity to choose what they wanted to be when they grew up. 

This is how she decided to start VOLT. Its principal objective is to contact people from all over the world, including also from Kuala Lumpur who want to be volunteer in the schools of the villages of northern Malaysia. At the same time, they teach English also they explain, to children, the diversity of ways of living and working. 

Ainu has a lot to do. She is starting to establish the basis of VOLT and thinking about the role of volunteering. She is connecting with different schools and explaining her project to companies in the area so they can participate thought their Corporate Social Reason. 

I hope this project is a success and we can see it going very soon. 

If you want to get more information or collaborate on the Ainu project, you can contact me through my email: hola@elaguilamiope.com 

 

Driving in Jeju was quite an experience!

Driving in Jeju was quite an experience!

Rentalcar boy: It’s automatic. Have you ever driven an automatic car? 

Me: Of course! (my sister let me drive her car once before the trip)

Rentalcar boy: Well, here are the keys.

Me: And that’s it? Wouldn’t you explain anything else about the car to me? Which type of petrol does it use? Where are all the little buttons…?

Rentalcar boy: There is only one type of petrol in the island, so you will not have any problem.

Me: Well, everything clear. What about the speed limit?

Rentalcar boy: Maximum speed here is 70 km/h and in some places is 80 km/h. When you pass through school areas is 30 km/h and in the city at 40 km/h

Me: In a nutshell… So I can’t go beyond 80 km/h, can I?

(…)

My inner voice: Driving is easy, driving is easy, driv… It started to rain! Oh, my god! Where is the windscreen wiper button? Oh! It’s here, It’s where all cars have it. You’re worrying about nothing! Easy peasy!

(…)

My inner voice: Let’s see… Where is my traffic light? Really? Do I have to look to the other side of the road? Is that my traffic light?!?!?

So… pay attention, be aware!!!!

(…)

Me: What the hell is that car doing?!?! He jumped a red light!!!! Does nobody going to tell anything to him? In China, you can turn to the right wether the traffic light is red. Is it the same here?

(…)

Me: Now I have a Police car behind me. Pay attention! Anna, respect the signs. Put the right indicator. Just stop when the traffic light is red and that’s it. 

Police: (speaking in Korean through the speaker, I guess he means something like… Move, you stupid foreigner!)

Me: Please don’t put a fine on me, don’t put a fine on me!!! Would be true that I can turn to the right wether the traffic is red?   

(…)

GPS: In 300 mt turn on the right.

Me: 300, 200, 150, 50… Ops! I passed my way! Nooooo!!!!

GPS: Do a turnabout

Me: Really?!?! Is a turnabout permitted?!?!?! Should I do it, shouldn’t do it?

GPS: Do a turnabout, NOW!

Me: Aaaahhhhh! Let’s go! This is worse than a theme park!!!! Ughhhh!!! Is it true that you can do a turnabout without a roundabout here?

(…)

 

Speed 40 km/h

My inner voice: So, is it true that you must respect the signals because speeding fines are very high. 

GPS: Speed at 40 km/h. Respect the traffic signs. Speed control nearby.  

My inner voice: Wow! GPS tells you about speed control. This GPS is fabulous.

GPS: Ding-dong

My inner voice: One point for me, buddy! Every time I pass through a speed control sounds like the Super Mario Bros videogame when he collects a coin. Will I get a prize if I pass all the speed controls well?

(…) 

 

My inner voice: Cruise speed… Enjoy the view. 50 km/h on the road, It’s said that is because if you crash with another vehicle the impact would be lighter. 

The rest of cars are driving in the same speed range. I can’t believe it! In Barcelona, a car would have overtaken me for sure.

Oops, a truck passed me by! Really? So I drive slower than a truck?

I noticed that the ones who respect more the speed limits are the ones who drive rental cars. Just like me. Locals know the rules and drive over the speed limit (60 km/h).

(…)

 

GPS: You’ve reached your destination. 

Me: Finally! I can say that it has been such an experience. I recommend it to you but by now I need to have some rest and relax a bit. 

 

See you next time, Jeju!

Visit to an elementary school in Kuala Lumpur

Visit to an elementary school in Kuala Lumpur

In Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) and after contacting Ainu through the Couchsurfing network I visited the Sekolah Kebangsaan Taman Seri Rampai (SKTSR). A public Elementary school near the Wagsa Maju station. 

Entering the SKTSR was like going back a few years and going back to my childhood. We were welcomed by the entire management team consisting of the director and three assistant principals or head of study. They explained that this equipment was relatively new. He went for the first time last year and had to make many changes. The director was very proud of his work. At first, the different teachers were not satisfied with his way of acting. They wanted to continue doing business as usual, without control. The manager had to bring order. He explained it to us with a triumphant face.

The education system at the elementary school in Malaysia still has a long way to go to adapt to current times. They have not budget, they told us. They also explain that there is a lot of difference between public and private schools. Not only because of the material available to students and teachers, also noted for their level of English (and I can deduce, although I could not verify, that also in other subjects). 

The classrooms are like those of the 70s and 80s in Spain. Desks and chalk blackboard. I did not see any computer. Walking through the classes you could see how some children were punished facing the wall or in a corner of the classroom. 

One fact that caught my attention was that there was little diversity in the classrooms. When I asked the director about how they treated the subject, and especially the religious issue (it is a country where different religions live together), he explained that public school is mainly of Islamic religion. A family from another country with another religion would have to either abide by the Islamic religion or take their sons and daughters to a specific school where they teach their religion. And this is how it happens. In the Chinatown of Kuala Lumpur you can find Chinese International schools and so on. In addition, an interesting note is that public school teachers have to be Muslims and dress according to religion. The coexistence between cultures and religions is good, respectful. However, joint work within the public school is a pending issue. 

At 11am we went out to the schoolyard and we went to the dining room. There we received a group of children smiling and very interested about our origin. As soon as they heard the word Barcelona, the topic of conversation focused on Barça and Messi among boys. For their part, the girls were sitting and quieter. Then I took the opportunity to ask them what they wanted to be when they grew up. I was pleasantly surprised to hear that one wanted to be an astronaut, another teacher, another doctor, another scientist… I hope they have many opportunities and can continue with their dreams so that one day come true!  

Melaka Straits City – the first smart city where only cryptocurrencies will be used

Melaka Straits City – the first smart city where only cryptocurrencies will be used

Melaka has two artificial islands. One is already built and a bridge joins the continent. The second one is under construction. 

On the already built island is the Melaka Floating Mosque and so far little else. I say so far because Chinese builders have taken over the unpopulated surface to build a huge leisure and luxury resort.  

When you talk to the locals of Malaysia and Singapore the phrase “the Chinese people are everywhere” always come out. And they are responsible for building all the new infrastructure. They also say they don’t like it. They are loudest, messy and rude.

In fact, I was impressed by the large touristic complex they are building. It is not the first time that China creates artificial islands in the Asian Sea. In fact, in 2015 I read an article where Southeast Asian nations were worried about the decision taken by China to occupy the South Sea. In that case, it was said that China converted coral reefs into islands where establish base ports and control fishing and oil, challenging the other Asian countries.  

In Melaka they have gone further and are building the first smart city where only the cryptocurrency will be used (currency or digital currency that is exchanged for contracts, intellectual property, stocks or services) and will be operated through the blockchain. The cryptocurrency will be called DMI coins and it will be used to pay public services within the city through the mobile phone and computer. It will be have an exchange system that will allow tourist to exchange their coins for DMI coins. The engineering company that is built the first crypto city is China Wuyi with the SWT International Sdn Bhd investment network. They intend to make Melaka the largest tourist destination in Malaysia and expect it to attract three millions visitors a year.  

In the image you can see the entrance of a part of this large complex called “Malaka Gateway” where luxury cruisers will disembark and connections will be made for Melaka Straits City.  

The same night I discovered the island of Melaka I met a girl of Lithuania who explained to me that she had been in Laos, in the lost mountain villages. Children who live in that area have it clear. China is the great world power and that is why they want to study Chinese language. “Europe is poor”, they say, their desire is to learn the Chinese language to travel (emigrate) to China where will find a work. History repeats itself, people from North Africa who emigrate looking for better conditions in Europe. Laos people looking for a better future in China. Both groups without knowing that paradise does not exist.   

Said’s kitchen

Said’s kitchen

That afternoon we wanted to see the sunset at the Mosque of Melaka, but suddenly it started to rain so we stayed in La Vie En Rose Guesthouse with Saïd, the owner from Lebanon and other backpackers among those who was Himanshu Goel (@sometraveldreams) a guy from India who is travelling around the world with his bike. 

Saïd saw that I had a blog and he asked me if I could write about one of his recipes. Cooking is his passion. I told him, half-joking, that his profession should be that of a cook and he laughed. He told to me that the only people who appreciate his dishes are foreigners like us. People from Melaka doesn’t like his meal or never dare to give it a try. So if he put a restaurant he wouldn’t be successful. 

Saïd wanted to cook Tahini for Hummus and Falafel. He told me that I will be surprised because his recipe is not the typical one that we can search in the Internet. So here we go, I started to record how he cooked and gave an explanation about the recipe and some various ingredients. 

Here you can read the recipe. The measurements are approximated.

Tahini recipe

  • 1 tablespoon of bean oil

  • 2 cups of white bean (we were so excited about the recipe that we forgot to ask Saïd what kind of bean it was)

  • 2 cups white sesame

  • 3-10 cloves of garlic (to your liking according to whether you like it with more or less garlic flavour)

  • 3 cups of oil to grind the mixture

  • 2 cups cauliflower powder

  • 1 tablespoon of salt

  • 1 cup white vinegar

  • ½ liters of water

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Steps

  1. Toast the beans. Only until they take a little colour and the oil disappears.
  2. Crush the beans until they are powdered. Dump in a bowl.
  3. Toast the white sesame in the same pan (without water or oil) as the beans until it gets a slightly brown colour
  4. Crush and add to the bean container.
  5. Add the garlic
  6. Add the 3 cups of oil
  7. Add the cups of cauliflower powder
  8. Add salt
  9. Add vinegar
  10. Grind and half add water

And here we are!

Here you can see the process:

Surveillance vs security

Surveillance vs security

This poster caught my attention in the Singapore metro.

In it they are encouraging the citizens of Singapore to denounce their neighbours or as they say “help the police.” In a city full of cameras, and when I say full it means that in every corner you find yourself four that are controlling your behavior through Artificial Intelligence, they also ask that you be the one who watches over your neighbour and then denounces it.

The truth is that you feel very safe, it is difficult to get robbed, but at the same time I have to say that I felt intimidated and observed. Any behavior outside the law can be punished. At all times you are waiting to not pass any rules such as eating gum in the street or eating, drinking, having obscene behavior with your partner (kissing) or getting on with Dorians (fruit with a very strong aroma) in the metro.

Here an interesting debate opens, surveillance vs. security.

George Orwell’s book, 1984, falls short.