Archive for Steve Mellema

Giant Top Spinning

On our East Coast trip, we stopped briefly in my old Peace Corps town of Pasir Puteh, Kelantan. I taught at a secondary (high) school there from 1972-1976. On this occasion, we had been invited by a friend of mine, Mr. Nazife Ismail, who is a teacher at another school, Sekolah Menengah Gaal (Gaal Secondary […]

Gustie Gamelan Orchestra

A few weeks ago, as a part of their Malay Language and Culture course, the students visited the USM Museum. There they found an exhibit of a complete set of gamelan instruments. A traditional gamelan music teacher worked with them for just under an hour, after which they produced some pretty fine sound!

Vasakhi at the Sikh Gurdwara

On April 14 we were invited to the Penang Police Sikh Gurdwara (temple) to witness the end of the annual Vasakhi celebration. Vasakhi is akin to a “Sikh New Year” celebration, and our Sikhism teacher from our Religious Experiences of Malaysia class, Mr. Kirpal Singh, hosted us at the Gurdwara. As we arrived, anyone who […]

Attending a Malay Wedding

On Saturday afternoon, March 29, while on our Tropical Ecology field trip to the mangrove ecosystem in Merbok, Kedah, the people in the village (kampung) where we were staying invited us to attend a traditional Malay wedding and wedding feast (kenduri). The bride was from the southern peninsular state of Johor, and the groom was […]

Visit to the Gandhi Ashram

Yesterday evening we were invited to meet Dr. Anwar Fazal, a lifelong teacher and social activist from Penang. We met at the Gandhi Ashram, dedicated to the life and work of Mahatma Gandhi, and were greeted with a fresh coconut each as a welcoming refreshment. After a discussion and a walk in the beautiful Penang […]

Hike to Monkey Beach

  Today twelve of us hiked into the Penang National Park, from the entrance at Teluk Bahang out to the famous Monkey Beach. The 5 km trek in, which followed the coastline, was full of uneven terrain, rocks, fallen trees, and lots of ups and downs! We managed to reach there in about an hour […]

What a Difference One Week Makes

  From one Saturday to the next, it seems impossible to believe how different things can be. On Saturday, February 8, we gathered at the Hyatt Place hotel in Bloomington and, after a few hours of orientation, went as a group to Red Lobster for dinner. The outdoor temperature was below zero as we rushed […]

Greens and Reds: A Long Day’s Journey to One Night’s Sleep

The plane trip to/from Malaysia is always long – too long to be easy. After many such trips over the years, I have come up with two rules for minimizing the jet lag of crossing ten time zones at once. The first is, sleep as much as you can on the flight(s). The second is, […]

Heading to Malaysia – One Year Ahead

Shirley and Steve Mellema and David Obermiller are heading to Malaysia this month to make further preparations for our Spring 2014 Semester in Malaysia program. We’ll visit Kuala Lumpur and Penang and visit with colleagues at Universiti Sains Malaysia to discuss the upcoming courses. We’ll try to post some sights and sounds of the country, […]