So here I am in Asia. The last trip I went on before this one was to Scotland on yet another SSU trip (these trips are seriously amazing). The focus of that trip was pilgrimage, and this concept has stuck with me. I feel that this trip is also a pilgrimage. If you are not very familiar with the term, you may be wondering what this whole pilgrimage deal is. Here is what I discovered from my Scottish pilgrimage:
“Pilgrimage is about change. It is also about hopeful traveling” (Kailyn Nutt — AKA me). Already this trip has been changing me. Perhaps not in ways that show outwardly, but there are things that I have been noticing in myself. Perhaps most recognizable for me has been how I have reacted to being a tourist and how my “touristness” has changed throughout my brief time here.
Coming from a small tourist town in Ontario, I am accustomed to watching the tourists with a critical eye, not being watched as the tourist. I first noticed this when Alyssa, Jasmine and I were walking through a mall here in Malaysia. There we were, three relatively tall and very white females playing the part of the tourist (taking photos, pointing at interesting things — all eyes were on us! Alyssa was even approached by a few Asian women who wanted to get a picture with her.
This new perspective of life has been very difficult for me to grasp and understand. I am so accustomed to being a part of the majority that to clearly be part of the minority has been confusing. However, my level of “touristness” has changed since I have been here. I am quickly catching on to the way of this city and it’s people and even though I am still obviously not from here, I feel as though I do not stick out quite so blatantly anymore.
I have really appreciated the reality check that this different place in society has lent me. It is allowing me to empathize with the tourists that visit my town each summer. I know that this change will help me while I work in the service sector back home, and I look forward to seeing just how that will play out and in what ways my actions and patience towards them will be different.
In departure, I would like to leave you with a quote from T. S. Eliot from his work “Little Gidding” to keep you thinking:
“We shall not cease from exploration and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.”
Peace & love,