Experiential Learning – Memoirs from the Past

Sometimes in life, you meet individuals with such profound greatness that they leave a mark so deep within yourself.

When I started writing this post, my initial intention was to dive straight into the experiential-learning lesson that I conducted a couple weeks back. But then I saw the need to introduce you to THAT profound person who inspired this lesson : the late Professor Emeritus Hyacinth Marie Gaudart.

You see, Prof.  Hyacinth (as we lovingly called her) is truly one of a kind. She was a legendary Malaysian educationist who left a deep impact in both my postgraduate education and my heart. And I’m sure EVERY one who’s worked with her will nod their heads in agreement.

For one, she was , and still is remembered for playing one of the key roles in establishing the Bachelor of Education (TESL) programme in the University of Malaya, founding  the Malaysian English Language Teaching Association (MELTA), as well as initiating and spearheading the Rural Outreach Program for English (ROPE) project here in Malaysia in the 1990s. And these are only the cream on the cake. Prof Hyacinth’s contributions to the ELT industry are actually immeasurable.

Also being known for her creativity, brilliance, passion ,dedication and warmth, Prof. Hyacinth was someone who could laugh with us with that a twinkle in her eyes or bark thunderously at us for the lack of quality in our academic work.

Uh-oh, when it came to work, she was a no-nonsense person. Her lectures were remarkable; In a 4 hour class, she took a couple of minutes to give us an overview of the day’s lesson and we then had to dive head-on into the task, struggling and swimming our way across the ocean, literally. But she was always there behind us, subtly noosing and goading us as to not go off course. Oh yea, sometimes she gleefully let us drown and just at the moment where life seemed to slip off our fingers, she’d yank us out again. Such was the kind of experiential learning that I experienced with her in my postgraduate classes.

And one last thing. She loved food. It was a way she bonded even more closely with us. The last 30 minutes of class was always time for merriment; Each week, learners’ of different nationalities brought a range of scrumptious fare to the class. We ate, laughed and became almost like a family. Such was the magic of Hyacinth Gaudart.

When I close my eyes and let memories of her wash over me, I only feel rays of light, intellect, dedication and intense love. And the tears of sadness and tightness in throat when I heard of her demise last year.

Note : This post is dedicated to the late Professor Hyacinth Gaudart, who, in all honestly, I hope, is training future teachers in the inner worlds right now. May her physical body rest in peace.

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