APU Eco-Tourism CSR Project Empowers Indigenous Community
In line with the Ministry of Rural and Regional Development's mission, the School of Marketing and Management (SoMM) at the Asia Pacific University of Technology & Innovation (APU) launched a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) project aimed at empowering the indigenous Jakun people by promoting sustainable eco-tourism in their village.
APU volunteers who were made up of lectures and students kicked off "The Indigenous in Eco-Tourism 1.0 (Communication)" project at Kampung Orang Asli Bukit Panjang in Bukit Kepong, Muar, Johor. From left - Eric Ee, Ms. Nooraneda, Anusha Albert, Chong Eu Meng, Gautamm, Ryan Lim and Dr. Nor Azrul.
On September 4, 2023, a team of seven APU volunteers journeyed to Kampung Orang Asli Bukit Panjang in Bukit Kepong, Muar, Johor, to engage in immersive activities with the locals. Following these activities, an expert-led Communication Skills Enhancing Session was conducted.
Dr. Nor Azrul Mohd Zin, a lecturer at APU's SoMM, led "The Indigenous in Eco-Tourism 1.0 (Communication)" in collaboration with the Department of Orang Asli Development (JAKOA), which is under the said Ministry, and the International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM).
Dr. Nor Azrul, Ms. Nooraneda Mutalip Laidey, a lecturer from the School of Business at APU; and Dr. Suhaizi Suhaimi from IIUM played instrumental roles in guiding and empowering the indigenous participants to enhance their communication skills for eco-tourism.
APU students experiencing the art of woven handcraft at Jakun Community
Kampung Orang Asli Bukit Panjang's Jakun community comprises 250 residents with a rich traditional cultural heritage in a village setting. The project's facilitators introduced the villagers to effective communication, intending to enable them to not only provide information about their culture to tourists but also convey the deep significance and importance of their traditions.
The APU volunteers participating in this project included a student pursuing a BA (Hons) in Accounting and Finance (Forex and Investments) and four Diploma in Business with Information Technology students - Anusha Albert Edise Nelson, Chong Eu Meng, Eric Ee Yang Lim Jr., Gautamm Geeva Nathan, and Ryan Lim Yi Ren. Their involvement in this CSR project provides practical, real-life exposure to study modules - Managing Services, and Business Communication Skills.
Recognising that effective communication necessitates nurturing self-esteem, interpersonal skills, and overall development, Dr. Nor Azrul and other academics utilised simulations to provide hands-on experiences for the learners. “During these simulations, Orang Jakun assumed roles, interacting with hypothetical tourists simulated by APU students to engage in conversations and share cultural insights. This practical session proved invaluable, allowing participants to refine their skills in a controlled and supportive environment,” said Dr. Nor Azrul.
Dr. Suhaizi of IIUM demonstrated how to play Kercang and facilitated how to use effective communication skills in promoting a traditional game to tourists.
Dr. Nor Azrul explained that these simulation exercises had a dual impact. Firstly, they significantly boosted the participants' confidence in their ability to communicate effectively with tourists, as they successfully navigated these simulated interactions. This newfound confidence translated into assurance in their capacity to engage with real tourists. Secondly, these exercises served as a motivating factor, inspiring Orang Jakun to actively and passionately interact with tourists. This motivation stemmed from the tangible experience gained during the simulations and the realisation that they could create memorable and meaningful encounters for tourists.
A group picture of the project volunteers and the Orang Jakun community in concluding the event was taken in the community hall in Kampung Orang Asli Bukit Panjang, Bukit Kepong.
The event was made possible through generous financial support and sponsorship by APU and the Association of Malaysian Environment-Behaviour Researchers (AMER), highlighting their commitment to supporting initiatives that empower indigenous.