|Malaysia ETAs with our Bahasa Malaysia tutors|
It is hard to believe I have been here for over two weeks. In a way, it feels like I have been here less than that, while in another way, it feels like I have been here longer.
Orientation was extremely beneficially, and I feel like my knowledge of Malaysia as well as knowledge about my responsibility as a Malaysia Fulbright ETA has increased stupendously. For instance, if on a scale of one to ten, ten being most certain about everything, I probably came here as a three. I came having just the most basic, fact-based knowledge of Malaysia and my responsibilities. Now, I feel like I am at least a 7/8. The things I still do not know, I will figure out when I get settled in Terengganu and get familiar with my new environment.
|A group of us working on a project for|
The training was a fantastic way to get thoughts flowing and it inspired me to think big and set challenging yet achievable expectations for my students. Orientation also allowed us the opportunity to connect with other Fulbrighters that may not be in our state. I admire everyone in our group, because although we are connected by our passion of experiencing new cultures, we are all so different and diverse. That aspect in itself is contributing significantly to the amazing experience I have had and will continue to have.
I am excited to be heading to Terengganu. It will be drastically different than my KL life during the last two and half weeks, but I am ready for the unknown. I am ready for my life in rural Malaysia and I am beyond excited to meet my students and get acquainted with my new life for the next nine months.
In addition, I found out that I have a private house with a roommate, so it will be exciting to experience rural Malaysia life with a friend. Her name is Christina and she is an ETA from Florida teaching in a secondary school as well. We are excited to move in to our place and get adapted to life. We are expecting some big bugs waiting for us in our future home until we do a clean sweep, and we also see some motorbike lessons in our near future as we have to purchase one.
Before moving to our town and starting at our schools, we have about ten days for another state-level orientation in Kuala Terengganu before moving to our separate villages.
As for our last morning all together, the fifty of us gathered at the Ministry of Education in Putra Jaya to have a meeting and breakfast with the representatives of the Ministry. They presented us with strong thoughts and sincere encouragement. Following the meeting, we once again gathered for a picture and then the 50 of us said “see you soon” to each other, as our big group is now divided into three. Our new friends may be headed to different states, but it is comforting to know that we have people to visit in other Malaysian places as well as new friends that will be going through similar experiences. I look forward to seeing how individuals in our large group stay connected throughout the course of the year while we are divided and teaching.
I said “see you soon” to my home, friends and family over two weeks ago and I anticipated culture shock as I boarded the plane to come to Kuala Lumpur. However, in a way, I feel as though I am doing it all over again. As I write, I am sitting on the bus to Terengganu with the 16 other Terengganu folks headed there with me. I am surrounded by now familiar fellow Fulbrighters but cannot help but notice the buildings and cars being replaced by smaller roads and endless mountains and vast rainforests in the distance. Moreover, we just stopped to grab a bite to eat. As we sat there eating, we all drew attention to the fact that we definitely are not in KL anymore.
As our Director Dr. Coffman mentioned, we were in KL before, not rural Malaysia. I feel as though an entirely different Malaysia awaits us at the other end of this 6- hour plus bus ride. As I looked forward to meeting KL, I cannot wait to approach Terengganu with open eyes, an open heart and an open mind.
Selamat tinggal Kuala Lumpur! Here I come Terengganu!
|Fellow Fulbrighter Julie and I on the bus!|
Julie is headed to Terengganu also!