Rotimi Abiodun Afelumo, is originally from Igbara-odo Ekiti, in Ekiti state. He is a holder of a Bsc in Physics from Ado Bayero University. He’s been married to his lovely wife Rachel for 5 years and they have two lovely children – Theo, 3 year old and Chloe, 4 months. They currently live in the Iskandar Puteri district of Johor Bharu, Malaysia. He moved from Nigeria to Malaysia in January 2017 when an opportunity came knocking at his door as Technology Intergrationist and head of IT in Raffles American School.
WORK IN MALAYSIA
What’s it like in the day of a Technology Integrationist in Raffles?
My daily routine includes providing direction for the IT team to support all staff and student technology needs, oversea the day to day running of the IT office. I oversee and administer the Student Information system, Learning management System and all other online learning platforms that is used by the school. My team and I also manages the entire school network, computers, printers, IPads and Chromebook. As a technology driven school, all students and staff have access to one device or the other and It is the responsibility of the IT office to setup, install apps and support all of these device when necessary.
As a Technology Integrationist, I work with teachers to help them integrate technology in their various classes, provide training to staff, curate relevant applications to be used for teaching and provide training when necessary. I teach Robotics during camps and also as extracurricular activity. I also co-teach the high school technology class and the middle school coding class.
Why did you move to Malaysia and how were you able to find a job with this American school considering how hard it is for Africans in Malaysia to find work?
I moved to Malaysia in January 2017 and my family joined me in March. I moved here because the offer was better than what I had in Nigeria, in terms of the opportunity, exposure and off course benefits. Back home I worked with the American International School of Abuja first as a Network Manager, then as Assistant IT Director and finally as the Administrative Technology Coordinator. But here, I get to venture into new terrains that I had always wanted to try out.
I can’t really say that I did anything to “find a job” in Malaysia, but that the “job found me”, as I didn’t go online or any job platform to look for and apply for this position. Looking back I can clearly say God did it for me. When the Job offer came, I wasn’t planning on leaving or working outside the country.
So how did you get the job?
Around May – June 2016, My my IT Director (then I was Assistant IT Director) asked for my resume and said someone that he won’t mention likes what I do and is trying to replicate the same thing in his school. He collected my resume and asked for my permission to edit and to submit it. October 2016, I got an email from a former principal who left my former office and is now in Malaysia as the Head of School at Raffles American School asking if I don’t mind coming to work for him. They processed all the documents and paid me and my family’s relocation to Malaysia.
Is Raffles American School only for Americans or expats?
No, of course not. Raffles American School is open to everyone who can afford it. It is a member of Raffles Education Corporation which operates 24 colleges/universities in 22 cities across 13 countries in Asia-Pacific and Europe: Australia, Cambodia, The people’s Republic off China, India, Indonesia, Italy, Malaysia, Mongolia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Switzerland and Thailand.
Why should parents consider Raffles over any other international schools?
Parents should consider bringing their kids to Raffles because of the standards of our programs, caliber of teachers and the facilities. As a premier and one of the biggest education provider in south-East Asia, enrolling at Raffles gives your child access to top notch education and guaranteed enrollment into any of her over 20 colleges/universities across the world.
How does the working atmosphere in Malaysia differ from Nigeria?
The major difference I see is the fact systems work here more than it does in Nigeria. It may be different for me as most of my colleagues are expats from other countries and my organisation is privately owned. I do have a better working terms and conditions here because I am a foreign hire(expatriate). Though working in an American school back home, I was considered as a local hire and therefore could not enjoy the benefits of being an expat.
LIFE IN MALAYSIA
What are the successes you have registered since moving here?
My wife and I have been able to start our masters almost at the same time. That is a big success as it was almost impossible to do back home. We also conceived and had our second child here. These two are the most outstanding successes apart from promotions and other career opportunities here and there.
What is your favorite part of living and working in Malaysia?
Johor Bahru is especially quiet and serene, easy to find your way around. I love Johor also because of its proximity to Singapore. The fact that systems and infrastructures work to a great extent is one of my most favorite part of living and working here.
Did you move here immediately with your family and how did they manage settling in after relocation?
My family joined me less than two months after I arrived. That made settling in easier for me as I didn’t have to continuously worry about their welfare. Also, the weather here is not so different from the weather in the northern part of Nigeria where we lived as a family. All of these factors made settling in really easy for my family and I.
In your opinion what are the things to lookout for by Africans while in Johor?
In terms of tourist attraction, Johor isn’t really big in tourism except for some beach sites, shopping malls and hiking locations.
Do you think Malaysia is a family friendly country and accommodating to foreigners?
Every country has its laws, cultures and traditions and so long as you do not go against these, you will be accommodated. I can say Malaysia is relatively friendly and accommodating. Language can be a barrier sometimes but that is common everywhere.
What are some of the challenges African expats in Malaysia face and can you suggest any solutions?
The biggest challenge is see is the perception that is prevalent among the locals about Africans. There is this stereotype about Africans and especially Nigerians. Justifiably so, some Africans/Nigerian have acted and are still acting in ways that continues to encourage such stereotypes. The only solution to this is to be a good ambassador of your country, live right, be here legally and carry out your endeavors -whether work or studies- in the right manners while avoiding any kind of trouble.
What is your best advice you can give to any expat considering moving to Malaysia?
- Ensure that you are here legally and that your papers are complete. There is nothing good as having peace of mind in a foreign country.
- Be good and exceptional in whatever you do. That is what will guarantee your continuous relevance.
- Recognize that you are a foreigner and behave yourself.
- Stay focused on the reason you are here.
I know as an Expat, you go where work calls or sends you. However, do you see yourself here in the distant future?
Yes, I do. Malaysia; Johor especially, is peaceful and serene. The weather here isn’t so much different from the weather in Nigeria. I can see myself staying at least 5 years here before looking at opportunities elsewhere. My family is well settled and there hasn’t been any issues since our arrival.