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KL Archives - St. Stephen's University

My Own Experience

By | 2012, Asia | No Comments

As our group of stressed, overtired, and hungry students piled into a tour bus about to head to Hong Kong, it finally hit me — the feeling of not knowing what to expect. Along with the not knowing came the fear that I might get “the full experience,” the experience that past SSU students have had and come back to tell tales of, great moments that I could only hope to have. But why must I compare my experience with theirs?

While walking through the canopy of a rain forest near Kuala Lumpur I was struck by the thought that this is one crazy and insane trip I am on; that no matter what, it will be the best for me. It was as if my thoughts turned from comparing my time in Southeast Asia with other students’ trips to where I really started to experience Southeast Asia for myself.

Simply put, I can never relive the moment that I am now in. My experience in Southeast Asia is special to me and only to me, no matter how much I explain how great it is to others. From the concert night at Northwestern University to the conversations I have with my homestay family, others will never grasp the full reality of the trip that I am currently partaking in.

In conclusion, my trip so far has been amazing. Every time I open my eyes I am greeted by the warm hearts of the people that I am living with. I stand in amazement every time I see the sun rise as it means another day in Paradise. To each his own and may the other trips following mine be even greater.

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.