After being accepted into the alma mater of one’s dreams, it is of no doubt that one will experience the utmost gratitude and exuberance – especially when one knows that his or her efforts in the pre-university life have finally paid off big time. It becomes even more remarkable when a critical course is offered, the course which students from all over the nation fiercely fight tooth and nail for. However, as soon as one step into the university, I can assure you that questions of the unknown will be lingering in his or her naïve mind and become almost infinite. Perhaps, that was how the 47 first-year students felt this year when they entered the institution, specifically the Faculty of Dentistry of University of Malaya. With limited information on what they will experience for the five years to come, the term “clueless” may be synonymous with their thoughts that time. “What should I prepare?” or “What should I expect?” were probably just the simplest questions – there may be more. When I was a first-year student who came into the faculty first time too, all I only knew was the course duration and rumors stating how difficult studying in this course would be. Thus, that is why an exposure to the dental life is needed and this is where the Joint Orientation Programme perfectly suits the case. This year, the Joint Orientation Programme was held in Balai Ungku Aziz from 11th September 2017 until 15th September 2017 where to the new students’ relief, the schedule was not as time-consuming thus offering flexibility for them to take part in other activities as well (e.g. college activities). The activities were basically held from 8.15 p.m. until 10 p.m. on all days respectively. On the first day, the event commenced with a welcoming speech from the director of the project, Lee Kuo Wei and entailed by a speech as well as the officiation of the programme by Associate Prof. Dr. Firdaus Bin Hariri. It was also the same day the introduction to the Bachelor of Dental Surgery course was delivered, opening the eyes of the first-year juniors to the mind-boggling realm of dentistry unbeknownst to many out there. An ice breaking session followed soon after, primarily to mingle the students together and give the chance for them to get to know each other better instead of mere faces and names. According to Hassan, one of the new students, “To me, this programme is interesting and allows to me to learn more about my batchmates. At first, I thought this programme would be quite tiring but upon joining the activities I had a really good time”. On the next day, an introduction to The University of Malaya Dental Society (DENSOC) and Islamic Dental Students’ Society of The University of Malaya (PPIPUM) was given, giving a glimpse of what projects have been and will be done throughout the year which will undeniably give new experience to the new first-year learners. Such projects include Seniors-Freshies-Staff Night, Annual Dental Night, Dental Sports Day, Oral Health Education and many, many more. With involvement in these projects, one will experience first-hand why unity is strength and that teamwork divides the tasks while multiplying the success. Not only that, later onwards the first-year students were also divided into smaller groups and were given a task to perform for the Cultural Night such as the Bollywood dance and the traditional Malay dance. On the day after – 13th September 2017, an introduction to the Asia Pacific Dental Students Association(APDSA) as well as Mid-Year Meeting were delivered. Founded in 1968, the objectives of the establishment of APDSA include promoting closer regional and international cooperation among dental students in the region and protecting the interests of the dental students. Students taking part in this renowned association can also participate in intellectually challenging activities such as the Scientific Research Competition and Soap Carving Competition. Moving on, Mid-Year Meeting is when all the dental students in the University of Malaya are convened at appointed dates, where it involves a rundown on all DENSOC projects by the project directors and a briefing regarding the merit marks. This is also the crucial time when students will vote for the new DENSOC President, Vice President, Secretary and so forth. The Joint Orientation Programme was then continued with the first-year juniors creating new cheers as well as playing games to further the strengthen their bond while having a great time together. On the 14th of September 2017, an introduction to the International Association of Dental Students(IADS), Malaysian Dental Students’ Association(MDSA) as well as the exchange programme were delivered. Having its headquarters at the FDI World Dental Federation headquarters in Geneve (Switzerland), IADS strives for educational and scientific excellence throughout the international projects and initiatives it manages, representing the interests of the more 200,000 dental students in around 60 countries worldwide. MDSA on the other hand was established to unite dental students in Malaysia under one official body. The highlight of the Joint Orientation Programme was on the 15th September of 2017, with the programme reaching its last day. It was a momentous occasion indeed as it was the day Cultural Night was held, with impressive performances from the first-year students stealing the limelight – a truly breathtaking experience for the audience. Performances include dancing and acting where it all came to life and brought joy to every person watching from afar. Associate Prof. Dr. Firdaus was also present despite his busy schedule, making the event much more memorable. From the looks of things that time, I knew everyone had fun with positive vibes on the air and the atmosphere being absolutely lively. It is of my most sincere hope that the same programme next year be will maintain the same gratifying momentum, or even transcend beyond it.
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