Dr. Sharon Jacqueline Albert Wilson known as Dr. Sharon Wilson who works as a lecturer at Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman ( UTAR) has become the first person outside North America to win the first prize in the International Communication Division (ICD) Teaching Contest 2020.

Source: UTAR Department of Mass Communication

At this year’s ICD Business Meeting in San Francisco, the educator from the Faculty of Creative Industries will be honoured at the 2020 Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication Annual Conference.

Sharon’s winning entry was titled: ‘Cross-cultural teaching and learning on virtual platforms: A case study for continuous collaborative learning.’ It was a joint, cross-cultural course offered for students studying at UTAR and the University of Delaware (UD) in the United States.

Sharon and Prof Patricia Sloane-White from UD’s Department of Women & Gender Studies and Anthropology coordinated the course, which was conducted by a video conference. The course was designed to involve the two different student classes in a joint study on popular culture and social principles.

Such is the achievement of Sharon that even the former Deputy Prime Minister Dato’ Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail took to her Instagram handle to congratulate the lecturer saying, “Congratulations Sharon Jacqueline Albert Wilson, Malaysia’s first winner of the International Communication Division (ICD) Teaching Contest 2020,” followed by a hashtag, #malaysianheroes.

Varnam contacted Arathi Magandran, a student who participated in Dr. Sharon’s cross-cultural class and said, “that class is one of the best classes I have taken in my entire university life. Dr. Sharon has been so committed and focused on the objective of this whole course. Through this course, I would say that it altered my perception, in a good way, of course and helped me acquire a better understanding of equality, communication, culture, lifestyles, politics of our own country, and also of other countries.”

Source: Arathi Magandran

Moreover, she also shared about the Malaysian heritage, mainly on Indian, Malay and Chinese culture, norms, values and many more in order to educate Americans and also make them aware of the Asian culture. In one of the classes, the students were told to wear their traditional clothes comprising of the Baju Melayu, Baju Kurung, Punjabi suit and so on. This step was taken to give Americans an exposure on our traditional attires.

“Personally, I feel that this course helped me to come out of my comfort zone, as a student who is dealing with anxiety, this truly pushed me to do things I didn’t think I could do which is to TALK to people. I was able to share my Indian culture to Americans, and get their viewpoint”.

She also added, “I have never traveled to America, and I have friends who are from the University of Delaware, only because Dr. Sharon and UTAR made it possible for us.”

Arathi mentioned that she was happy over Dr. Sharon’s recognition for her efforts and hard work and believes this course should be given good importance in UTAR and other universities too.

Sharon has also initiated for a field trip. The aim of this trip is to expose Delaware’s students to the unique and diversified Malaysian culture and heritage.

Source: Arathi Magandran

Even though this class was conducted 2 years ago, the students are still in touch with their Malaysian friends and Sharon. During this year’s Hari Raya Aidilfitri where the movement control order (MCO) was still implemented, the American students were able to experience and celebrate the occasion through a virtual party via Zoom call.

Source: Arathi Magandran

They had their dinner together via this virtual party where the Malaysians introduced mouth watering Hari Raya cuisine and explained each dish to their American friends through WhatsApp.

Source: Arathi Magandran

A heartfelt congratulations to Sharon for her outstanding achievement from the Varnam team.