June 30, 2011 § 3 Comments
I never liked the awkwardness of goodbyes. Not that there is nothing much to say, but rather there is too much that has to be said that you don’t really know where to begin and how to end. This internship has officially come to an end. I try to put on a straight face right now, but just the thought of the word “cry” makes that lump on my throat jump. There are just too many relationships that I wish I didn’t have to put to test over time and distance right now.
Most, if not all, of my recent posts are just floating details patched up to help me remember what I did every day, but not what I’ve felt or thought. It is probably only now that I can sit and think of everything and have the time to actually write something worthy of a blog. This entire idea of undergoing an internship with AIESEC started with my brother. I’ve known AIESEC’s exchange program for quite a few years now but I thought I would never have any time to devote to it, alongside my other duties and responsibilities when I was in college. Fortunately, it was timely that when my brother was busy with his AIESEC work, I was almost graduating. Being the killer-of-a-cat sister that I am, I kept asking my brother about this exchange-experience thing that he was always raving about. After a lot of questions, I became particularly interested and decided in the middle of trying to finish my thesis to go try my luck at it. I did the interviews at AIESEC hesitantly, not really knowing if my parents would allow me the break from the responsibilities at home and with my engineering-career [as well as entertaining doubts about finishing our research and thesis]. I did no second thoughts though in choosing a Development Traineeship instead of a Management one. I want to do my part in this world, and that’s just it. The interviews were easy enough. I think the screening period was more of trying to convince yourself that you can do it rather than trying to convince the interviewers. My parents taught me well and living by myself was the least of my worries, so I passed the interview easily enough. But even after that and after paying the fees, I was not totally convinced I would actually be doing this. I am guilty of being ready to bail out any moment during that time. I had just graduated with an engineering degree, I know I should start my career path now, but something in me was pushing me to go do something totally off-tangent to this. As most of the people I told about my plans said, “okay ka lang ba? bakit social work?” (*with a questioning stare*). I couldn’t explain it to them at that time too, all I knew was that I wanted to do something after graduation, and that this internship qualified as that something. In retrospect, I think it was my desire to get away from the drudgery of my everyday life and discover if there is something more to me than what I already know. And I chose social work because I wanted to build relationships with people that is not just on a work-level. But convincing myself was not as hard as convincing my parents. Their initial reaction, which I think is just logical, was “what the hell is that for?”. Of course they didn’t put it that way, but that was the basic essence of all the long and tedious conversations we had about the whole thing. When my parents eventually allowed me, I jumped on the first interesting internship I found and bound myself to it before I or they could even change my mind. Now, I am really grateful to my parents for having allowed me to live away for 6 weeks. I know that they knew travelling is one of the best things that they taught us we should do. I was banking on that reasoning. Done truthfully, it is supposed to make you more aware, mature, independent, sensible, and sensitive. So very long introductory story coming to an end, I bought my tickets and went off to Malaysia with their blessing.
At first, I was both disappointed yet thankful that almost all the EPs with my local committee were Filipinos. I was disappointed because I really looked forward to the cross-cultural experience. But I cannot complain because I am actually indebted to all my Filipino friends I met here for they made the transition easier. Without their help, I would have felt thrown and left in Malaysia to work (because the local committee of USM did a very disappointing reception for all of us Exchange Participants). When they eventually left after 2 weeks, I realized how easier things were when all of us were Filipinos. As the new EPs arrived, I realized that I hoped for another Filipino to arrive but knew that I would have no luck on wishing that. I felt the initial communication barrier, then the cultural differences, in attitude, likes and mere food preference. We didn’t have the same base experience, thus what was logical to one would not necessarily be logical to another. What’s more was that we used English differently. It was no use depending on connotations because we had an entirely different set. But of course this was all a learning and adapting experience for me. I realized that after looking past all the little nuisances, we were all basically the same core. Yes, we had different foundations, but we essentially valued the same things such as family, friends, and love. However, I would not deny the fact that we still had our differences that you just have to accept and understand. The experience was just not about looking for what’s the same, but more importantly looking for what’s different and understanding why it is so. And after all this, I am so happy that I made not just friends, but extremely good friends in this internship that I know will last a lifetime. I didn’t even expect to get that in 4 weeks, but it happened. If not for them, this internship would only be half as good. Nothing compares to knowing that people you’re with are actually real and genuine friends. I will especially miss my roommates, Sharon and Assel. My other housemates, Furhat and Qingqing. There’s also Ardana and Marina, who really touched me when they gave me a parting gift last night, and to think we just spent maybe 24 hours in total, or even less! There’s also Jianan and Michelle and Ayoub who are all wonderful and friendly people who I went to a roadtrip with Keenly. I will also miss my bus mate, Natalia, who is literally my bus friend – we only see each other on the bus. And all the other people I met like Jade, Remus, Maike, and Ngan who I will miss in their own nice way. And finally, I am forever thankful for having met and spent time with my “fellow-OFWS” (hahaha because believe me with all the getting togethers, we felt like OFWs and it’s no joke to be one) Ara, Keenly, Kaine, Cel, Nica, Gwen & Anna! As much as I would love to write more about them right now, this post will be too long if I do that. All I can say is I thank them for accepting me for who I am and that I love them and I definitely wish to see them again!!!! okay I’ll stop there, this is making me too sad.
Now the story of my internship at CPS is another thing. Yesterday, I said my good-byes to the children and the people at the Children’s Protection Society. I worked there for 6 weeks, frankly a very short time. I had just gotten the hang of things at the shelter and the kids had just started to get more comfortable with me when I found myself having to leave them already. I had put off writing about CPS until now because I wanted to give justice to what I had gotten from this internship with them. The children at CPS are all kids who cannot be taken-cared of by their own parents, thus the necessity to send them to a shelter. Some of them are instantly endearing, but some of them are difficult and daunting. It really wasn’t so easy at first. The feeling of trying to control kids speaking or shouting Tamil, Mandarin, and Malay all around you while all you can do is make them sit and say “quiet”, “stop that”, or “no” is overwhelming. And it’s just not the fact that you can’t understand them, but the frustration of the kids not listening to you. At the beginning, there were times that I just wanted to burst out in Filipino! I remember there was this one time that the little kids were really getting out of hand and when I was almost at the point of losing my cool and getting mad, all of them start singing “Never Say Never”. And that is simply the reason why I will always love that song. And that’s just one of the little things that happen that make me love my job. Actually, I cannot describe the fulfillment with these children. I love them so much, in their own ways. I love them even if they’re being difficult, that even though I just want to get mad at times, somehow I find them secretly amusing. I love the times when they ask me random questions, and I just get surprised with their insights and then I realize how a certain child thinks is different from what I initially thought. From them, I learned that Justin Bieber is in fact okay, that family should never be taken for granted, that children have a really good memory of what you promise them, and most importantly, I realized once again that one should never be scared of dreaming too high. :) After 6 weeks with them, I can honestly say that each and every one of them are all bright and beautiful children. It’s unfortunate that their families cannot take care of such wonderful children, but I hope that with all the people who support them at CPS, what’s lacking from their parents would be made up for. But of course, you cannot let kids always do what they want. Because however cute they are, juggling 30 kids in one house is no piece of cake. And this is where discipline comes in. Sometimes, you just have to be strict with them. I am amazed with the patience and dedication that all the staff there have for the children. Actually, I think they have done a good job in disciplining them, because imagine being able to run a house with 30 different children with only about 3 people at a time. I know that beneath their strictness is a genuine purpose of teaching the kids what’s right and wrong and how to live up to be good and sensible persons. To me, this is a really noble cause that not everyone can have the patience for. I will miss Ms. Yasmin, Ms. Suria, Ms. Nurul, Ms. Chandra, Ms. Bala,, Uncle Nadin, Uncle Linggam and all the other people I met there. All the favors they did for me, all the kindness they showed me, everything! I was really touched yesterday when Ms. Chandra made Nasi Lemak for my last day. I almost cried when I bid her goodbye and she handed me a kitkat. It’s gestures like that that make a memory last a lifetime. :’) It was too bad Ms. Yasmin was not there during my last day. She was like my mother while I was in Malaysia. :)
So there, no matter what complaints I have about whatever that happened here, I enjoyed my 6 weeks in Malaysia immensely. I learned a lot and I gained a lot. Everything I got from this internship is more than everything I lost [ such as becoming extremely dark from walking under the sun…and of course the fat that comes with all the food hahaha]. Tomorrow I’ll be back in the Philippines, and my entire routine while living in Penang will be gone. Assel and Sharon won’t be the first people I see upon waking up, there will be no more of my favorite pork pao when I walk out to the bus stop, I will not need to take off my slippers when going into work, Tesco will be replaced with WalterMart, and what’s more is I can now understand everyone! I will always have sweet memories of this period of my life. And if you read this entire blog post, can I just make a disclaimer that this is not even enough to explain how I truly appreciate this entire experience. I am struggling for words here.
Finally, these are just some of the pictures of the children. If only I could post everything, but I can’t [for their own safety]. I hope they remember me, because I will never forget them. :)
GOOD-BYE FOR NOW MALAYSIA! :)