Monday, August 22, 2011

Long Time No Blog: YES Support Network, Challenges and Cockaroaches

Goodness gracious- it seems I've been slacking off. Ten days without a post- and so much to tell! If there's time, I'll put pictures, too. Some of them have been corrupted though, so I can't get them. Among the corrupted files; the weddings and the neighborhood.

Let's catch up: It's the 22nd day of Ramadan and I haven't been fasting for about a week, although it's been strongly pressured and encouraged. I'm sure I could, but I have begun to feel lazy in the morning, as I have accommodated myself more and more to the sleeping patterns of the family. I'm going to bed at 10:30, 11, and 11:30 when I can manage, and getting up at 5 is very difficult for me because that's essentially 5 hours of restful sleep. Today I've had only water, and not much of that. I wonder if I'll regret not fasting later, from what people have told me I probably will, but right now it's just beyond my reach.

Somewhere I haven't been lazy is school. The classes I'm taking are still above my head as far as language, but I'm catching every 5th word or so, and sometimes I recognize entire phrases spoken and whole sentences written! This is very encouraging. Malay is very simple, fortunately; I feel so bad for the YES abroad kids in Thailand, Thai is so hard. With me, I brought the mp3 files of Teach Yourself Arabic on my iPod, and I might do that during Islam class. I'm in the library for that one. I tried batik last week, and that was fun even though I failed miserably. All smudgy, the colors blending and swirling so the daffodils are partially purple and the background is partially yellow. Really, I think it was a good first attempt. As for the classes I'm teaching, I feel like I should be payed for the time I spend planning and teaching. All lesson plans for the two English classes at school are okay-ed by the head of the English Department, a very nice lady. The lesson plans for the two University English classes take me around an hour each, then I go back and revise them a few times, tweaking and such. The French classes, well, I'm pretty much winging it. I've got a plan, but I don't really use it. I hope the workload associated with these classes lets up once Ramadan ends; the lack of food is exhausting and makes people cranky before their time.You know how important it is to have sufficient food for good learning, everyone does. That's why before the SATs and NECAPs and such there's always a breakfast.

Whew. That's one of the major challenges. Good thing I could vent to some of my YES country-partners, they're so supportive! We got together last Saturday for a few hours to talk among ourselves and with the Alumni, then 2/3 of us went to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2. It was awesome, and the others can vouch for my Harry's-alive-and-he's-going-to-kick-some-ass dance. It looks a great deal like Hank Green's Happy Dance, but done from a seat. We were talking a lot about the challenges we're having, and we realized that although we were comparing, there were many times where the situations we so unique that we could only realize the diversity of the situations. There were some parts where we laughed, and before we left I cried a little, just to myself. There's a certain freedom in being able to talk to fluent English-speakers, I used all the big words I could think of, trying to get rid of them. Ah, for the release that comes with going to the city. We met another American in the bookstore (YAY BOOKSTORE!!!) and he told us in a strong midwestern accent about how he got there. He's also on a scholarship, and he sympathized with my dismay at how nobody knows what sociology is in Malaysia. Whenever people ask me my ambition (which they do all the time here) I say that I'm an aspiring sociologist. Even if you don't really know what that means, if you speak English well, you can pick it apart for a definition. Socio- like social, and -ology- like the study of, and -ist, like the person involved. So at the most basic level, it's the study of societies.

Ah, well. Too bad. One of the challenges I've had to face that I meant to converse with the other students about was money. Money money money money... I'm having to do personal finances at 15. I feel like I'm almost mature enough to do this. The 18-year-old in the group also thinks she's almost mature enough to do this.

Speaking of maturity, I've heard it said that when you can admit your shortcomings and weaknesses you are truly mature. Already here in the first month, I've had my weaknesses revealed. The first week at school I was reduced to tears by a shocking presentation on sexual education (it was mostly the dead babies). Now, I've met my other weakness and I've had to address the cultural differences about that. I hate cockroaches. They're perhaps the most disgusting, dirty, dangerous bug I know of. Earwigs come in a close second. At least with snakes and spiders you can justify fear an say they might be poisonous, but I'm truly freaked out by cockroaches because my fear scares me. It's a little like Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire where he is most frightened by the bogart in the form of a Death Eater. I'm afraid of fear. Fear is perhaps my greatest fear. Too bad for me cockroaches sometimes turn up in houses in developed parts of a tropical country and exist pretty much everywhere in underdeveloped parts of the same country. I've been told I need to get over my fear of cockroaches, otherwise it will be very difficult to go to the village this Hari Raya. I'm scared that I'm scared.

On a lighter note, I've just finished the scan. All the pictures are corrupted. I'll have to take more, then. :)

Much Learning, Much Experience, and Much Love.


  1. Corrupted pictures? How are you accessing them? If you are using software that came with the camera, skip it and try just grabbing them out of the camera's directories using Windows file manager...

  2. Thanks Uncle Chuck- that's what I'm doing now and it's working out really well!