I just tried to put the photos from my camera that I submitted to the yearbook on the blog but something's not quite right. I'm in a shady-feeling cyber cafe right now (judging by how the otherwise good-looking teenage Indian clerk is staring at me) and I sure hope this doesn't mean my pictures didn't make it to the email I sent to Kaka Siti (One of the nice AFS Office ladies in charge of the Yearbook submissions along with Phillip)
So, without further ado, here it is; all typed up and ready to be squished in with 1-2 of the 15-ish pictures I sent along. Whew- I'm all nervous again, don't judge me!
I am approaching the writing of this entry in much the same way as I approached this year in Malaysia. I’m overwhelmed by the realization of my luck, then and now, and I’m rejoicing in the people who have helped me get there, or here. To both sets of parents, to the program volunteers and to my giant support group- I will thank you for as long as I have a voice. Truly, I’ll never be able to explain the excitement that has exhausted me, not the growth I’ve experienced in the past twelve months, but I’ll sure try.
“Why are you here?” has become a common question this year, and when it’s asked with different intonations it requests different answers. HERE; as in why are you in this country, Malaysia, land of the eternal summer and rambutan in abundance? Why are you in a foreign country at all? Then there’s YOU; as in why is it you that’s here, and not someone else? What’s so special about you as an individual that you’re here now? As if these questions weren’t destabilizing enough, my convictions were repeatedly shaken by the WHY; why am I here? What possible reason does the universe have for setting you of all people, here of all places? This question quickly escalated to the metaphysical level, as it has been asked by every human being since the realization of consciousness, and soon it enveloped me. I brought it back down to a feasible level and looked at the students who have come here with real goals like life experience, love, and something to put on a job application. My hours reading religious and philosophical texts as well as my creased street maps marked with the coordinates of the beautiful temples, mosques, churches and holy caves that dot this amazing country may suggest a very big reason “Why”. Perhaps I’m not really searching for God, but the virtue of goodness in people, the physical manifestation of quality, the kind found in these ancient, colorful, fantastic cultures.
The similarities and differences between people have always captivated me, and this experience has opened my eyes to the beauty of the variety and has made me a believer in the potential of social change. This big picture is full of small worlds; the person-to-person relationships. Everyone I’ve met here has left an imprint on me- I can’t forget you because you’ve changed me, you’ve shifted my point of view. We live our lives in the perspective of looking toward the future, based in the present and learning from our pasts, and all of you have given me this;
A Learning of Life and Love,
A Life of Love and Learning, and
A Love of Learning and Life
Sincerely, Peggy Desjarlais
So that's it. That wasn't so hard. Just kidding- it's been a learning/growing experience in itself trying to get that thing written. I started out making a list that wasn't a list, then I did this weird hippy thing about my growth as an individual, I even pulled out the old Thaipuisum-was-scary-but-awesome story. None of these things seemed to fit me or my interpretation of the loose instructions we were given, which were, essentially, to write about a single thing instead of trying to sum up the whole damn year. I picked "Why Am I Here?", reminiscent of the Monty Python song that begins "Why are we here? What's life all about? Is God really real? Or is there some doubt? Well tonight, we are going to SORT IT ALL OUT, for tonight is the Meaning of Life". In the same sense, I've been listening to the Universe Song by the same artists on repeat for a while. Whenever life gets you down, Mrs. Brown, and things seem hard or tough; when people are stupid, obnoxious or daft and you feel that you've had quite enou-ou-ou-ough... Just. Re. Member that you're standing on a planet that's evolving, and revolving at 900 miles an hour...
See, I am my parents' child. I love realizing that again and again, it makes me feel closer to my biggest fans :) Anyway, before I get all teary-eyed, I'll sign off.
Much Love, See You All Soon!
(PS: I've got my return dates, I'll be back in Rhode Island just in time for the Fourth of July!)