Azam Young Souls Volunteers Experience

AYS Volunteers at the ASEAN International Film Festival & Awards (AIFFA) 2023: A Journey of Personal Growth and Connection

Sarawakians particularly those residing in Kuching had once again witnessed the prestigious ASEAN International Film Festival & Awards (AIFFA), last held from August 2-4, 2023, in Kuching. This was the 6th installment of the AIFFA, which is a significant celebration of the ASEAN film industry. This event aimed to honor and recognize the achievements of individuals within the ASEAN film community. With representatives from all ten ASEAN nations, including directors, cinematographers, actors, actresses, celebrities, and film students, AIFFA 2023 provided a platform for creativity, appreciation, and collaboration.

The three-day event unfolded at the Old Courthouse Kuching, offering a diverse array of events and activities. The public enjoyed film exhibitions, movie screenings of nominated films, AIFFA acting workshops, masterclasses, documentary screenings, forums, scriptwriting sessions, and special celebrity meet-and-greet sessions, among many other activities.

As in some previous AIFFAs, the AZAM Young Souls were invited by the organizers to be among the youth volunteers during the event to help ensure the smooth running of the festival. About 20 AYS volunteers were at the event. Here, we present the stories and insights shared by some of these dedicated volunteers.

  1. Miss Shahira Binti Johan, a postgraduate from the Faculty of Economics and Business, University of Malaysia Sarawak (UNIMAS).
With delegates, Miss Nur Elikhah Tulha

“Participating in the ASEAN International Film Festival (AIFFA) as a volunteer last week (2/8/2023 to 4/8/2023) was such an incredible experience. Thanks to AZAM, through the AZAM Young Souls, who had given me the opportunity to become one of the volunteers at AIFFA. My time at AIFFA was like a crash course in personal growth. From becoming a better communicator to learning the art of handling unexpected challenges, it was a whirlwind of lessons. And the best part? The friendships I made along the way. This whole experience had left me incredibly grateful and excited for what lies ahead, armed with all the new skills and connections.

First off, the chance to interact with delegates really boosted my communication skills. Guiding them through check-in and ensuring their comfort required me to be clear and adaptable in my communication. It was amazing how I started to adjust my approach based on each person’s needs. This not only boosted my confidence but also helped me understand the importance of cultural sensitivity and listening actively. These skills have become super important, not just for event management, but for everyday life too.

Another eye-opener was learning about logistics. Coordinating transportation for the delegates was like solving a puzzle in real-time. It taught me to stay calm under pressure and ask help from other volunteers who are more experienced than I am. I learned the importance of being prepared and flexible, because things don’t always go as planned. This was a lesson in thinking ahead and having backup plans ready.

But what really made the experience unforgettable was the connections I made. Even though the event only lasted three days, I managed to bond with fellow volunteers and delegates. We shared so many experiences and insights that went beyond the festival. Getting to know people in the film industry broadened my horizons and made me feel like I was part of something bigger. These friendships are like a bonus that came with the volunteering package.

In a nutshell, my time at AIFFA was like a crash course in personal growth. From becoming a better communicator to learning the art of handling unexpected challenges, it was a whirlwind of lessons. And the best part? The friendships I made along the way. This whole experience has left me incredibly grateful and excited for what lies ahead, armed with all the new skills and connections.”

2. Cliff Nathaniel anak Stanny, a postgraduate of Strategic Communication,Universiti of Malaysia Sarawak (UNIMAS).

With Distinguish Malaysian Director,
Mr. David Teo

Volunteer Station at Merdeka Palace Hotel

“The ASEAN International Film Festival was the first event that I joined as a volunteer under AZAM Sarawak. It was a three day’s event which involved a huge number of people to ensure it can be done in an effective manner. I was assigned as a team leader for the volunteers’ station at the Merdeka Palace hotel. The rest of my team consisted of three AYS volunteers who are students from University of Malaysia Sarawak (UNIMAS) and SEGi College Sarawak. It was also their first time joining this kind of event as volunteers. I tried my best to lead them and shared some pointers that they could refer to.

On the first day, we were given the task to help the delegates to check in into their hotel rooms and presented them with the AIFFA special magazine. We managed to ensure all the delegates are checked in smoothly. Next, we were to brief the delegates on the schedule arranged for the event. Most of the delegates accommodated at the hotel were international students from Indonesia and also some students from a local university. On the second day, there was not much for the volunteers to look into as the guests settled in and took part in various activities outside. However, activities picked up pace on the third day with quite a hectic schedule for everyone. Among other things, we coordinated the transportation for the delegates to various venues. Our team were also tasked with reminding the delegates on the AIFFA Gala Dinner, the highlight of the festival which was to be held on 4 August at Pullman hotel. We had to help make sure that all delegates were to be ready by 5.30 p.m. at the hotel lobby and, transport were also provided for them. All the delegates arrived safely at Pullman Hotel where the Gala Dinner was held. One of the challenges faced in our duties was to help meet the transportation needs of the delegates sufficiently. More transportation was needed to enable the delegates to move around smoothly to various venues where activities in conjunction with the festival were held in Kuching city.”

3. Mandy Chen Wei Xing, Sarawak Certified Tour Guide

With Malaysian Actress, Uqasha Senrose
Volunteer Station at Grand Margherita Hotel

“Being able to attend and witness the ASEAN International Film Festival and Awards (AIFFA) in person is great but being part of the team in making such a prestigious event successful is even more awesome!

AZAM had always been sharing volunteering opportunities through their AZAM Young Souls (AYS) program and I am fortunate enough to be among the many volunteers who contributed to AIFFA 2023.

I was stationed to assist checking in delegates at Grand Margherita Hotel and throughout the three days period, I was able to create valuable friendship with other volunteers as we assist each other to ensure the delegates get their room whilst keeping a good impression on AIFFA 2023.

I look forward to any opportunities shared by AZAM and will continue to contribute in any ways possible. Thank you, AYS!”

4. Mohamad Iswandie Bin Bol Hassan, Freelance Entertainment Production Crew

With Miss Lin, Executive Producer & a Speaker for AIFFA 2023 and Mr. Jason Chong, Film Director & Actor

“The experience as an AYS volunteer for AIFFA 2023 was really fun and gave me a new experience. Here, I learned about teamwork and the passion to complete tasks perfectly and well. I hope to be able to work with AYS again for the next project.”