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diversity Archives - St. Stephen's University

Bittersweet Goodbye

By | 2012, Asia | No Comments

“Malaysia: Truly Asia” is something us Asia students have been hearing a lot of lately. This government endorsed catch phrase refers to the diversity of Malaysia.

 Yes, Malaysia is extremely rich with diversity ranging from ethnicity, religion to food, and more. And although individual ethnic groups have their own strong identities, a sense of united national identity is simultaneously being formed in Malaysia.
I was talking to a local Malaysian girl I met and she told me that she calls herself simply Malaysian (not Chinese Malaysian, or Indian Malaysian, ect.). She said many Malaysians are doing the same in an effort to build unity.
Looking back on these few days, that passed too quickly, I feel blessed to have met all of the local people I have. Hearing and learning about Malaysia from Malaysians has made the experience much deeper for me.
There have been many small moments that have meant the world to me. These moments made me feel connected with people at home –  all the way across the world –  giving me a sense of home here in Malaysia.
Honestly, I have not experienced much culture shock. I thought I would, but being here feels so right to me.
I would gladly stay for much longer, possibly even live here. Each day I have fallen more deeply in love with all that is Malaysia.
Although I am extremely excited to be heading to the Philippines tomorrow,  my heart aches a bit to say goodbye. For me I think it is more of a, “see you later” than a goodbye. So, until next time Malaysia.
XOXO,
Ariel

Villicationis et amor

By | 2012, Asia | No Comments

Kuala Lumpur is a city rich with culture and people groups. The campaign “1 Malaysia” encourages these groups to live in harmony and unity throughout the city. One group that I find to be particularly beautiful in the way they care for each other is the blind community.

Much of this community is centralized in Brickfields, now known as Little India. One might miss out on this group if they don’t spend much time in Brickfields. Home to a school for the blind, one can expect to see people wandering the area with walking sticks, and some with friends who lovingly guide them. Crossing the street in KL can be dangerous even for those with perfect vision. Graded sidewalks act as a guide for the blind, letting them know where there are steps up and down, and where there are crosswalks. Local traffic also seems to keep watchful of them. Though these are simple actions to ensure their safety, they speak loudly to me.

The Brickfields area provides employment for the blind as well, with dozens of blind massage. Employment extends to the deaf community as well, with a deaf-mute laundrette just near the local YMCA. These communities are made up of Indians, Chinese, Malays, and I even noticed albinos on a couple of occasions.

parlours A moment that particularly touched me in regard to these communities occurred when I did a favour for a staff member at the YMCA. When he thanked me verbally – most beautifully, I might add – he also said it in sign language. I can only assume that because of the deaf community in the area, he learned at least some sign language to communicate with them. The fact that it was such a natural reaction for him to sign to me shows that this is a common occurrence.

This kind of stewardship and caring for those with ‘disabilities’ is a beautiful example for all of us. These intentional actions keep groups from feeling marginalized or neglected. While no culture is perfect, each does something right. I believe the care for the blind and deaf in Brickfields to be a grand example of something done right.