Cultural delight for foreign students of English

For most Penangites, having banana-leaf lunch is a common experience in the context of Malaysian multiculturalism. 

For Thai national Pakjira Babphan, it was an eye-opening cultural enrichment and a delightful taste-bud temptation. 

“This is my first time eating out of a banana leaf.  It’s very different and very interesting.  I really enjoy this experience,” she said when savouring Indian cuisines at the New World Park. 

The English language Thai students enjoying banana-leaf lunch at the New World Park. With them are (from right) DISTED staff Richard Lim Chuan Chee, lecturer Tan Eng Kan and School of English and General Studies coordinator Audrey Keong Mei Cheng.

Pakjira aka Bird, a mass communications lecturer at North Bangkok University, was on a one-month English Enrichment Programme (EEP) at DISTED College. 

The college’s School of English and General Studies coordinator Audrey Keong Mei Cheng took her 5 EEP international students on an exploration tour of Penang recently, accompanied by another lecturer Tan Eng Kan.

They visited Kok Lok Si temple, Penang Museum, the Reclining Buddha temple, Fort Cornwallis and a popular bakery in Penang.    

“They had a chance to offer prayers to Buddha and the Kuan Yin Goddess at the solemn Kek Lok Si temple.   “The sightseeing trip was a value-added activity to enrich the cultural outlook of our foreign students and to make their learning experience in Penang more exciting and memorable,” Audrey said. 

“They were in awe when they saw the gigantic bronze Kuan Yin Goddess statue on top of the hill. The students took the opportunity to take the newly operational reclining lift which took them up and down the hill to see the unique statue,” she said.  

Sharing a happy moment at the banana-leaf restaurant are Thai students Pakjira Babphan (left) and Paramat Khiriphet.

Recounting the wonderful outing, student Paramat Khiriphet said: “We’re very thankful to our lecturers for organizing this trip so that we can see beautiful Penang more closely. For example, the Penang Museum is fascinating where we learnt so much more of the history of Penang.”

After the tour, the students were treated to banana-leaf lunch at the New World Park to get a first-hand experience in the culinary delights of different cultures in the country. 

At the restaurant, the students also received their certificate of achievement for successfully completing the English programme.  

Sharing a good time at the Kek Lok Si temple are (from left) Paramat Khiriphet, Kamontip Tongmunee, Prapatsorn Petprom, Atcharaporn Raknu and Pakjira Babphan.


Thai students Prapatsorn Petprom (left) and Atcharaporn Raknu enjoying themselves at the Indian restaurant.