Tuesday, May 29, 2012

He's the Man

By Amira Komari, Year 2, Diploma in Mass Media Management
Mr Azhar (middle) with 2012 graduates
Mr Azhar Abdul Salam. That was who I named when I was asked about the most interesting person I met in Nanyang Polytechnic.
Mr Azhar is a lecturer from the School of Business Management. He definitely lived up to my perceptions as he managed to multitask and handle my questions whilst assigning work to his students.
It was difficult to get hold of Mr Azhar.  In fact, he was so busy that I had to re-schedule my interview appointment.  But the wait was worth it because he was apologetic and extremely accommodating throughout the hour and a half together.

It was 9.30 in the morning in Studio M when I finally met him, and the first thing he said when I settled down was, “What do you want to know about me? I am a very boring person you know?”
Actually, he is definitely more interesting than how he perceived himself to be.  A lecturer for eight years now, he has garnered quite the reputation amongst Mass Media Management students. This is a man who never fails to stride into class every time with a cup of coffee from Koufu and is strict with latecomers.
“I enjoy mass media. I love sharing with students the experiences I have gained as a producer and studio director, so that they’ll gain their own experiences and hopefully come back and share them with me, ” said Mr Azhar.
He devoted nine years of his life to working as a producer and studio director at big-name media companies such as Mediacorp, ESPN and World Sport Group before venturing into lecturing. He has directed shows like “Talking Point” and “Inside Asia” and reported from cities such as Beirut, Seoul, Tokyo, Manila, Bangalore and Phoenix, Arizona. Because of his work, he has also travelled to places where most of us can only dream of.
Mr Azhar enjoys travelling.  “Japan’s one of my favorite countries. Travelling to the Middle East was quite an experience. I loved Beirut, a city in Lebanon. They still preserve remnants of the civil war that happened in the 80s. I have read about it in books and seeing it for myself was surreal.” 
As a lecturer, he has learnt how to keep his classes interesting.  “I am a strong believer in story-telling. My main concern in teaching is to ensure that what I deliver has to be interesting. I believe that people tend to listen more when stories are told. I hate boring presentations. I think being entertaining can help your students remember stuff from lectures, because it works for me,” said Mr Azhar.
He added, “There’s no worse feeling than when you’ve ended your lecture or tutorial and having your students say that they didn’t learn anything from you. There is nothing scarier than that.”
How many times have we, as students, created mindless chatter in the midst of an ongoing lecture; blatantly ignoring the lecturer? What he said made me more resolved to be more attentive in all my classes.
He proceeds on to telling me about his routine after his classes end for the day. It’s usually dinner at home with the family but on some days, he takes his son for junior’s table tennis training which would mean some quiet time with his wife. Weekends are spent visiting his parents as well as going for some short runs or a swim.  
He speaks fondly of his son, Ayman, who is seven.
“I think my son has got my sense of humor and my wife’s intelligence,” he said.
His interests hover over two extremes – sports and reading. He has completed eight full-marathons and taken part in Olympic-distance triathlons. He is also a news junkie who also tries to read as much as he can. As for music, he listens to music from any genre possible. And oh, he has also been a volunteer as a race official for the Singapore F1 Grand Prix for the past three years.
My pink perforated pad brimmed with notes from the interview, so I decided to say my thanks for the time set aside.
So just like that, I left the studio feeling convinced that he is, without a doubt, still the most interesting person I have ever met.
Amira Komari is a Year 2 student from Mass Media Management. An avid reader, she enjoys her own space and can spend hours in a coffee house with a good book. She thrives upon solitude and nature. She is also obsessed about ice cream and anything colorful, you can almost always find her at a nearby bookstore with her dip dyed Chuck Taylor shoes.

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