Sorry for being a bit late on this but I hope those going for the interview next week will be able to read this post in time 🙂
From what I can remember 2 years ago, this SAC session didn’t really feel like an interview. It felt like a group work thing with a group of people you initially didn’t know.
Before going for the interview, they sent us a list of documents to bring and a few forms to be printed. So just go ahead and do whatever instructed in that letter. Oh, and from what I can remember, we had to complete a personality test online consisting of about 250 questions if I’ve not mistaken. I only knew that I was called in for the interview really late, so I didn’t manage to complete the questions in time, but they still let me attend the SAC session. (I don’t recommend you doing this tho heh) One more thing, the dress code was- long-sleeved polo t-shirt, track bottoms and sport shoes. Quite an interesting combination. My friend Kaylyn, wrote a much more detailed blog post on the whole SAC process last year, so please check it out!! 🙂
My interview venue was at UNIMAS, reached there at about 1.30 pm. I was in Sesi 2, which was supposed to start at 2 pm. Registered myself, handed in all my documents and waited ((quite)) anxiously. Talked to a few other participants while waiting because I noticed they were wearing PLKN track bottoms, socks and shoes too (like me) heh so we had some common ground to talk. Only about half of the participants were present though, I guess its because most of them were already studying in Semenanjung or they suddenly thought that trying out for this scholarship was a bad idea hm.
Once we went into the allocated room, we were each given a huge ass number plate (to be hung around our necks). When you go for your interview, make sure that your number is always visible to the judges (the representatives from JPA), because that’s the only thing they’re relying on to identify you.
The SAC session started off with a few ice breaking games, where we got to know each other better before starting the serious stuff. It was fun for me so it should be for you too! I think that they started judging us the minute we started the ice breaking game, so bear in mind that you’ll be closely watched by everyone once you go into the SAC venue. No stress, just go with the flow and it’ll be okay! The representative from JPA reminded us that that particular interview was a one-shot thing, unlike other scholarships where you have to go through many many stages to be awarded the scholarship. Whereas for this JPA scholarship, you’ll only have to pass this interview.
After that, we were divided into 2 groups, given a piece of mahjong paper and a marker pen for the next part of the SAC. This happened 2 years ago so I’m apologizing in advance if you think that my description is too brief or general, or if this information is too outdated as the SAC sessions may vary depending on the year :S
The first discussion was fully in Malay, so if you’re not that fluent in speaking Bahasa Malaysia (like me), just be prepared for it if you can. We were told to discuss and present a new policy (like how my program to Japan is derived from the Dasar Pandang Ke Timur (Look East Policy) to be created in Malaysia in the year 2050, and how it will be able to benefit the people of that time. This part is quite crucial because I guess the JPA representatives want to judge how well you’re able to work in a team, how you can communicate with another without seeming too bossy(?) (not sure if bossy is the right word to use here but as long as you’re not too loba (over) with whatever you’re supposed to do, then it’ll be fine), how well you’re able to speak in your own national language, how well you project your own ideas with a group of people you barely even know.
The second discussion was in English, so I was a bit more confident on this one. 🙂 I didn’t stutter as much but everyone else in the room were really good too, so I didn’t really expect myself to get this scholarship after this session. We were asked to talk about how social media (or was it particularly Facebook, I can’t remember) affects our daily lives, and how it impacts us in any way. We just divided out the points we wanted to say equally, so that we wouldn’t feel behsong with each other if our ideas had clashed. It was a peaceful discussion no worries. 🙂
One thing I noticed during the discussion- you have to be moderate (nilai murni: Kesederhanaan) when presenting your ideas in front of everyone (the other participants and the JPA representatives). I noticed some people talking for like 5 mins straight in the other group (when the time limit for everyone in the group consisting of 7-8 people was 15 mins?) and I felt like that person wasn’t very considerate with his presenting time. There was someone who talked a bit too little as well, probably he was aware of that and didn’t wanna take up other people’s presenting time so I guess you can’t be toooo nice during the SAC as well, you’ll end up losing your place in the scholarship. Before presenting with my group we talked through dividing out the presenting time equally so it wasn’t that bad, I think. ps: this all based on my personal observation only so don’t take it to heart if you feel offended okay 😀
One more tip: Just remember to be yourself and have fun with the whole SAC process! Bear in mind that you guys won’t be able to meet as one whole group anymore in the future, so just make the most out of this session to make new friends 🙂
All the best for your interview! Don’t hesitate to ask me anything, just pm/message me and I’ll reply as soon as possible 🙂