M'sian vaccination volunteer praised for learning to talk to foreign workers in their own languages

The foreign workers were pleasantly surprised to hear her speak in their languages.

Jean Chien Tay | August 20, 2021, 03:47 PM

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A vaccination centre volunteer in Malaysia has won the hearts of social media users, with videos of her cheerfully greeting foreign workers in their native languages going viral.

Foreign workers surprised to hear their native languages being spoken

The volunteer, 23-year-old Ain Syawani, is seen speaking 5 different languages during her volunteering stint at Bukit Jalil National Stadium vaccination centre (PPV). 

Her first video that reached over 403,000 views and 30,000 "likes" on Twitter was of her speaking in Bengali and Urdu to Bangladeshi and Pakistani workers respectively.

In a later video, she can be seen speaking in Burmese, Hindi, and Nepalese. The video received over 208,300 views from netizens.

In her tweet, Ain mentioned that Burmese is by far the most challenging language for her, but she is "more than happy" as long as they understand her.

She said that the foreign workers were pleasantly surprised to see her using their language, adding that she would always take the opportunity to "practice" speaking those languages.

According to Ain, she would use their native languages to ask the foreign workers, who are scheduled to receive their vaccines, whether they were working and if they had any illnesses.

Ain: "We chose the job, do it passionately."

In subsequent tweets, she shared about her experience witnessing some other volunteers "talking rudely" to the foreign workers.

While she understands it might be tough for the volunteers to communicate with them due to the language barrier, she stressed the need to be more understanding as the foreign workers queued for more than three hours to receive their vaccination.

She added that she once saw a Bangladeshi worker who was trembling, and told her he was afraid of "being scolded again".

"I took the initiative to learn (the languages) because it makes my job so much easier! I wish I could show you their face the moment I talked to them in their language," Ain tweeted.

Ain's actions seems to have warmed the hearts of netizens, who applauded her for taking the time and effort to make the vaccination process more pleasant for foreign workers.

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Subsequently, two more volunteers posted similar videos under her Twitter thread.

Based in another vaccination centre, Haziq Hashim shared a video of him explaining the procedure in Arabic, and said he sometimes helps translate for "other halls" at the venue as well.

Another vaccination volunteer, Iqa, who's an ethnic Malay, tweeted a video of her speaking Mandarin, and said she enjoyed the "sweet reaction, especially from the elderly".

She added that she is touched by the appreciation and well wishes that she has received.

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Top image via @ainsyawani/Twitter & Steven Cornfield/Unsplash