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2012

Growing pains

By 2012, Asia No Comments

I now find myself having reached the end of my second semester in Southeast Asia. While my experience on the trip has been quite different this time around, being in a leadership position, I have enjoyed learning more in-depth about the cultures, watching the students expand their minds and world-views, and every moment of returning to the places I have come to love so much. It has been a challenge in many moments to find the balance in leadership within an SSU context, and though I have been far from perfect, I really do feel that I’ve done my best….

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Who Am I When I Don’t Know Where I Am?

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How do we create our identities, or construct our self narratives? I am sure it may differ slightly from person to person, but a few general themes often emerge. Who are we? We are what we do: students, musicians, avid readers, cat lovers. We are who we love; we are sons and daughters, fathers, aunts, friends. We are what we love: painters, Smashing Pumpkin fans, fast drivers. We are who other people tell us we are. I think that is why so many of us chose to live in healthy communities, surrounded by people who affirm the good in us,…

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The Homestretch

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  We are making our way down to Bangkok, we are on the final leg of the journey. It seemed so long ago that we first stepped off that airplane (hit by a wall of heat and humidity) and spent the day exploring Hong Kong. All of our anxieties of the trip have vanished and now we are left with memories. Some good, some bad. Now we approach the end, and what have we learned? We’ve certainly learned some practical lessons, like always carry toilet paper with you, never leave food out because ants will find it, drink lots of…

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Cultural Empathy as a Passive Learning Experience

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Something that has concerned me since the beginning of the semester until now is the difference between active and passive learning. When we identify those things that we have learned we often think of the actively sought out ones, such as learning a language or mathematics. I think it is hard to identify those things that we learn passively ourselves, but these are just the things that others are keen to notice. These would be comments like ‘you have gotten so much better at speaking’ or ‘your powers of leadership have grown immensely.’ The reason for this is that these…

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Green

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Now that I have all that awful angst-y nonsense out of the way- Time for some more flora.  I realized maybe five minutes after submitting my last post that I totally forgot some vital plants I’ve been digging up since coming to SEA, including the national flower of Hong Kong (the Bauhinia, which is the same flower you’ll find on their flag), large bell-shaped white flowers in The Philippines, and the small lavender colored buds which grow from several of the tree branches in Chiang Mai. More recently there have been these sponge-texture plants blossoming through the city which smell like…

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The Universality of “Comfort”

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As we reach about two-and-a-half months on the trip, many are beginning to feel the call to head home; as easy-going as I am, I have found that even I have begun to sense faint inner aches for western comforts (which, in itself, contradicts my intentionality). This is not to say that I thought I was immune to being western, but rather that I don’t think of myself as being one who submits to western comforts. It’s not the food that I miss; in fact, I like the food in Thailand more than anywhere else that I’ve been in the…

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The Voyage Never Ends

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Time: 11:00pm Date: November 7,2012 Place: Chiang Mai, Thailand Tonight I lay awake, listening to the Thai performers play their music at a nearby festival. While the helicopters of the nearby army base fly by, I am struck with a thought: How will I remember this night? For the past month and a half, I have traveled a good portion of South East Asia with my fellow students. As the end gets nearer, I remember the places I was a part of for a time: the cheap trains in Kuala Lumpur, the sunny beaches of Ilocos Norte. Now I shall place Chiang Mai among them. I want to make a…

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Thai Language

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“Past tense, present tense, future tense, even past perfect and present perfect! I don’t get it, why are foreigner so obsessed with time?” These are the words of my frustrated 16 year old Thai sister Pim, as Laura and I attempt to prep her for her upcoming English exam. We sit at the dining room table, dishes pushed to the side, books spread out before us, suffocating both the table and Pim with English verbs, nouns, adjectives, and of course, those dreaded tenses. I have no answer for Pim, who struggles to master a concept nonexistent in her own language. Yet…

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*Some Pretentious Title*

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The Thai approach to life is to roll with events as they happen, and the circuit for our bathroom has blown. So last night I took a cold shower by candlelight. The reason I am telling you this story is that I didn’t realize the situation was at all out of the ordinary until I was struggling to light the candle with a cigarette lighter– the second time I’ve ever used one. I had to use two hands and hold the candle in my teeth. It was only as I was performing my awkward ballet of fire (naked, in the dark, on…

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Ketchup is not Tomato Sauce…

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Carly and I decided we would share a little bit of home so we planned to make dinner at our home-stay one evening. After class we waited for Khun-ma (our home-stay mother) to finish work, we picked up Tanya from school and then went to the supermarket to pick up the ingredients for spaghetti, caesar salad and apple crumble. We got to the supermarket and walked through the aisles looking for everything that we needed. It didn’t take too long; however, parmesan cheese was hard to find and I think the cheese we got was not parmesan. As I was shopping, Khun-ma noticed…

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