Beauty queen turned teacher brightens up online classes with traditional Borneo costumes

Nancy Thomas takes a photo in the traditional Iban women’s dress, at left. Nancy Thomas teaches a class while wearing Melanau bridal wear, at right. Photos: Nancy Thomas/Facebook
Nancy Thomas takes a photo in the traditional Iban women’s dress, at left. Nancy Thomas teaches a class while wearing Melanau bridal wear, at right. Photos: Nancy Thomas/Facebook

A Malaysian teacher in Miri, Sarawak has captivated the hearts of thousands online after she shared photos of herself wearing beautiful traditional Borneo costumes at home whilst teaching students online.

Earlier today, former beauty queen Nancy Thomas, 43, posted photos of herself dressed in a red, black, and gold traditional Melanau women’s bridalwear, complete with an elaborate headdress made of gold and adorned with roses. Of course, she wasn’t just wearing the costume, she was also teaching the Form 6 students of Merbau High School via Google Meets.

“Today, I am wearing the traditional Melanau women’s bridal dress from Sarawak. This is my own traditional costume, which I prepared to wear for school, but I didn’t get to do so because of COVID-19,” she wrote in a Facebook post that has since gotten more than 3,000 Likes. 

Thomas was the winner of the 1997 Teen Goddess beauty pageant in Malaysia. Today, students know her as “Teacher Murni.” She wrote last week that she started wearing the traditional clothing simply because the students had asked her to.

“As I try to enjoy working from home, my students have asked me to wear the traditional ‘Ngepan Iban’ dress, so today I did as they asked,” she said. 

The Malay language teacher has so far worn four different costumes to her virtual classes, including those from the Iban, Dusun and Ulu People’s cultures. She also wore a traditional Indian dress for Deepavali in October. 

Other stories to check out:

Iban man gives Barbie a Borneo makeover

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