Rahmat is a Biology teacher, passionate in helping students develop into the person they want to become. She has keen interests in human behavioural sciences, especially in topics pertaining to self-motivation and cooperation. She is an animal fanatic, nature lover, museum enthusiast and theatre goer. She plays video games too.
How did you first hear about Toastmasters?
Intan from Brunei Advanced Speakers Club is a good friend of my sister. I was probably still in school when we were hanging out and she brought up Table Topics. The word stuck with me because I couldn’t imagine what it was! I was imagining people sitting in round tables, only allowed to discuss whatever topic was chosen for the table. It was a while after that I knew she was a ‘Toastmaster’ (Master of toasts?), but my brain was filled with enough eccentricities to ask more.
Why did you join Toastmasters?
As a teacher, I’ve sat (and slept) through many ‘motivational’ talks. When Allen Ang came to our school as a motivational speaker, I was expecting his to be yet another one. However, I was hooked on the get go and I could tell the students were too. For a few days after, the students wouldn’t stop talking about how inspiring and motivating Allen was, even though I’ve told them the same thing many times before!
I paid my first visit to the Brunei Speaker’s Club, hoping to get a sneak peek at Allen’s ‘secret’. What I got from the meeting was so much more. I was dealing with a lot of negative circumstances at the time and the positive and supportive vibe of the club was a welcomed change. You made me happy somehow – that’s why I asked to join on my second visit.
How long have you been in Toastmasters and how have Toastmasters helped you so far in your professional life?
I am assuming I joined in September 2015, since my first speech was in October 2015. In as short as 4 months, Toastmasters have helped me progressed significantly towards the kind of teacher I want to become. I have learned some neat vocal variety tricks to use for catching students’ attention. But, what I am most grateful for is that nervous, uncertain feeling that I get before every meeting. The root cause is the possibility of being picked for Table Topics!
It is humbling to be reminded of how a student may feel while learning. I also find that students love being told that teachers and other adults get scared too! I feel more certain when motivating students to overcome their own fears when I know personally what the difficulties are.
From your past few speeches, you have greatly impressed us with many inspiring stories in your life. What is your motivation to do speeches?
“You are worth more than your grades.” That is the single statement that have made students I’ve said it to cry.
I think it’s no secret anymore that I am obsessed with my students. Some of them may feel that they are not as capable (academically) as others, but each and every one of them has made my life meaningful and more joyous. Their beautiful hearts have helped me go through many tough moments. Yet, some do not seem to realise just how amazing they are.
They are not alone in this. I have met many inspiring people in my life who do not think much of themselves. I want to help people see their real worth and believe in their capabilities. I want to because I have received (and still receiving!) the same kindness, love and support from strangers and friends.
Tell us about your passion for animals.
I’ll begin with a disclaimer: I don’t like all animals. So, don’t feel cheated when I run away crying from a cockroach!
It all started with books. The books that I read, when I was very young, either have animals in them or were about animals. My favourite book of all time is Enid Blyton’s ‘The Children of Green Meadows’. Until today, it remains the book that I’ve read most times of. It tells a heartwarming story about a family who is struggling financially, and yet took it upon themselves to care for many injured animals and pets. They do this for their love of animals and out of the goodness of their hearts. My favourite character in it had a pretend dog. As children mimic people they admire, the young me also made up a pet dog!
I learned later that dogs were not popular amongst my family and friends. It was then that I made a personal oath to love dogs as much I can, on behalf of others who don’t, or feel that they can’t. Throughout the years, this ‘passion’, as you call it, grew to encompass other neglected animals of the world.
Though I don’t like all animals, I do believe that they are as alive and deserving of life and love as we all are. I am not as actively involved as I’d like to be in animal welfare organisations, but I do make a point to teach respect for other forms of life when I teach Biology.
What is your greatest satisfaction as a teacher?
Two moments come to mind when I think about your question. One was when a student confessed his love for my subject on our WhatsApp group – completely out of the blue! It was very heartfelt and brought me to tears. I love teaching Biology, so to know that I made another person love learning it was utterly flattering. As a teacher, I feel like I’ve succeeded when students put less emphasis on their grades, and learn for the sake of quenching their curiosity. That day, I drove back home, sobbing like someone going through a bad breakup, but feeling the complete opposite.
Another is whenever I see students helping each other in class and outside, supporting one another in various activities (which includes talking to a teacher), and making their friends laugh and feel special. I thoroughly enjoy getting to know the kind of person they are and are becoming. I don’t get to do it often enough, but it’s something I truly cherish.
Who is your inspiration in life and why?
I am inspired by people who always try. My students inspire me with their determination to achieve their academic goals despite the setbacks they faced. My friends inspire me when they go through tough times, physically and emotionally, and can still manage a smile.
Some people have very little, but give so much. Some people are scared but they stand up to their fears. Some people are neglected by their families and communities, yet they still have so much love for others. These people make me believe that we don’t need much to do amazing things. We just need to do it.
What are your goals in Toastmasters for this term (2015-2016)?
To be honest with you, I never thought of one! I first joined to be wrapped in your bubble of positivity once a week. After that, I was simply curious to see how far I would go.
Having said that, I am currently working on my self-confidence. I have been told that I don’t look like a nervous wreck when doing roles or speeches, but it would be nice if I could feel less like one too! I’m trying to think less and do more. The hope is that I will be more sure of myself once I can see what I am capable of!