Good Afternoon! [in Malay]
This is the first of what I plan to be many posts cataloging the adventure that's started, my opportunity to study abroad in Malaysia! There's so much to say, here!
Here's some background;
My name is Peggy Desjarlais. I attend Coventry Public High School in Coventry, Rhode Island. Although I'm not a native of the Ocean State, after seven years [about half my life] I've come to call this place my home. All my friends and family are here. My family has hosted two exchange students from two different countries. A year ago we had a Senior boy from Germany, and this year we have staying with us a Junior girl from Spain. These experiences were so much fun, I just had to try it for myself! One day, I got a pamphlet sent to our house through the mail saying 'Now It's Your Turn!' and inside it outlined the broad idea of an opportunity through the State Department's Youth Exchange and Study Program [YES Abroad], and AFS. The main thing this program is trying to do is establish positive relations between the United States of America and the Middle East. My options for country preference were ten countries, characterized by a significant Muslim population. My first choice was Egypt [which was ultimately taken off the list due to the unrest in the government], then Morocco [french-speaking was major plus], then India [because who doesn't want to visit India?], then Malaysia [again, absolutely beautiful with incredibly rich culture], then the other six countries. I was so excited when I was notified that I was a semi-finalist and going to Denver, Colorado over a weekend to be evaluated in things like my leadership skills and how well I play with others. I would like to take this oppertunity to say thank you so much to my fabulous French Teacher, Mme. Teixera, and my camp counselor Chocolate Chip. Apparently, I did pretty well, because I was notified that I was a finalist, that I had made it to the program with Malaysia as a country placement! At this point I was jumping out of my seat, so excited and happy that I couldn't think of anything else. My friends and family congratulated me and expressed their concern for me in the same breath. I am constantly reassuring others of my safety.
[GASP] for breath after explaining that all.
Now here's a little more; mostly speculations and planning. Let's call it my FAQ [Frequently Asked Questions]
1. Aren't you Scared?/Aren't you going to miss your family/Aren't people worried about you?
I am a little anxious, but not for my safety. I just want to absorb this culture like a sponge, really taking everything in and while I do that I need to successfully represent myself, my culture, and my whole country in a positive way. I feel like this is a pretty big burden, but I have very little doubt that I can tackle it with only a few big flaws. Among these is my love of art, which may or may not accurately reflect my culture. I am scared that I won't make the best impression on people, yes. I am not scared that they will hurt me. I will miss my family, but I don't get homesick, which sounds cold-hearted and cruel, buts its really true. I go away to camp for up to 2 weeks at a time and watch my new friends crumble about 5 days in a cry on my lap about how much they miss how their mommy makes crutons. I'm not like that. People certainly are worried about me, and I hope to dispel this anxiety with such blog posts as these.
2. Where will you live? What will you do?
I will live with a family which will help me understand the culture and fully immerse myself. I will attend school, become active in community activities [I hope] and try to find some friends.
3. Why are you leaving us?
Because I've got to get out. Haha, no. Actually, that's pretty accurate, but I should phrase it better. More like, I want to be able to appreciate various cultures intelligently, and to do that I need to begin to understand how they work and what it's actually like being there, something I can only accomplish by immersing myself in the culture almost entirely. Because I don't want to experience 'culture shock' which can end in death, I will bring along a laptop computer my nice parents are purchasing specifically for this purpose, and I will be blogging almost obsessively because if this is anything like camp [in being away from people] then I've got to keep a record of what I do. I also hope I can turn this into my Capstone project, but this in on a totally different level. If this experience were a sundae, the culture would be the ice cream, the education would be the various syrups, the family and friends I would meet there would be the whipped cream [that would ultimately help me to fully enjoy, or understand, the sundae] and what I would bring back to my community would be the fruit in the sundae, the banana or strawberry that would bring all the flavors together and give me something to snack on if i choose not to eat that until the last part. Now, Capstone would be the sprinkles, or jimmies, depending on what part of the country you some from. Honestly, I could do without them, they just get stuck in my teeth and cause me aggravation.
Well, that's all for today. If you have any further questions or comments, please feel free to leave your interesting or creative responses in the comment section below [thanks RWJ for that fantastic outro]
Also, next blog post, I will be linking my fellow finalist's blogs, letting you, the reader, know what's up with them! How exciting! It's like a little bit of culture in every bite-sized blog!
Dengan Kashih (With Love/Regards),