LANGKAWI – Continuous encouragement from two special women was the motivation behind Japanese teenager Saaya Harada’s brilliance in last year’s Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) examination, scoring 9As.
Met when she was collecting her SPM results slip at Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan (SMK) Kedawang, here, Saaya, 18, said she had her “okasan” (mother in Japanese) Mariko Harada, and school principal Norini Wan Awang, whom the students affectionately call “bonda” (mother in Malay), to thank for her success.
Her excellent performance in the SPM exam was extraordinary, considering she had no knowledge of even basic Malay when she arrived in this resort island with her family in 2007.
“At home, my ‘okasan’ always motivated me to do well in my studies, while in school, it was my ‘bonda’ and the other teachers who kept encouraging and guiding me,” said Saaya in fluent Bahasa Melayu and she looked pretty in a pink baju kurung.
Exposed to the Malaysian education system since only seven years ago, Saaya scored A+ in Mathematics, A in Bahasa Melayu, English Language, History, Additional Mathematics, Chemistry and Biology, and A- in Moral Education and Physics. There are four other top SPM achievers in Langkawi.
Saaya had obtained 7As in the Penilaian Menengah Rendah (PMR) in 2012 and 4As in the Ujian Penilaian Sekolah Rendah (UPSR) in 2009.
“Initially, it (schooling in Malaysia) was a tough challenge but I was fortunate to learn new things and a new language at a young age, so it was easier to absord what was being taught,” she said.
When she arrived in Langkawi at the age of 10, Saaya was eager and determined to learn the local language and culture by attending tuition classes, while her father who had studied Bahasa Indonesia as a second language at university in Japan also helped her in the learning process.
Saaya, who has a keen interest in Chemistry, said she planned to study medicine in the United States after this.
Meanwhile, Norini said Saaya’s outstanding achievement was a meaningful gift to her personally and to SMK Kedawang.
“Her success in the SPM was expected as she has been a bright student since in Form One and in the SPM trial exam, she also excelled,” she said.
Describing Saaya was an adaptable person, Norini said the Japanese teenager mixed well with the other students, and was focused on her studies and determined to do well despite the challenges, an attitude that should be emulated by the local students. – BERNAMA