About Me

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Hello, Ciao,안녕하세요, Hallo, Hola, Selamat tengahari! My name is Rachael and I am a travel enthusiast. Ever since I can remember, my parents have taken my brother, sister and I on good ol' American road trips. It's safe to say that was where my interest in new places, people and experiences was ignited. As my parents always encouraged my siblings and I to explore and ask questions, I developed a sincere curiosity for new adventures. In addition to seeing much of the United States with my favorite travel companions (my family), I had the opportunity to spend a semester in Rome, Italy, as well as a semester in Seoul, South Korea during my college career. Now, I am honored to be taking part in a Fulbright ETA Scholarship to Malaysia for a year! My family's favorite motto is "Life is all about the journey, not the destination." I invite you to join along in my journey of cultural exchange and mutual understanding in Malaysia! After all, the more, the merrier.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Step 5: Treasuring the *Little Victories*

Living and teaching in a foreign country consists of highs and lows, ups and downs. There are some awesome days and there are some really rough days as well.

I have always been a firm believer in "seeing the glass half full," and I always have been a believer in *little victories*. However, recently, little victories have become even closer to my heart and are what keep me excited and enthused for the months ahead!

Even when classes do not go according to plan and students misbehave, or I get thrown an obstacle from left field, the little victories are what make me smile. And, I think at the end of the day the little victories altogether are what can be shaped into the greatest successes and the most amazing stories. I may be in a foreign country living an unfamiliar life, but I bet if you look, you have some little victories everyday in your life too!

For me, here in Malaysia, I write my little victories down as a reminder that yes, there are some low valleys, but there are also high peaks! They certainly bring a smile to my face, each and every time.

So, here are some of mine! Enjoy!

Rachael's List of Little Victories

* April 12, 2012 
      I get to school and find an anonymous note on my desk that says, "Love u techer rassel!" (aka... I love you Teacher Rachael) 
Although it is lightly written, this is the anonymous note to
me from a student!

* April 12, 2012
     One of my 3D students said to me today, "Teacher, face so shiney like silver." 

* April 11, 2012
      My special education students can now officially say "Hello! How are you?!" and "I am good!" in English! 
One student can even say, "Good morning!" They also are well rehearsed in thumbs-up and the "air-five!"

* April 10, 2012
     I have been teaching my students about believing in their dreams and used the example of climbing Mount Everest. I told them that people practice, practice and practice to be able to climb it. I also told them that when people get to the top of the mountain they are able to say, "I'm on top of the world!" 

My 2B class holding up their English work,
"Who is Your Hero?"
So, today one of my 2B students said, "Teacher, I start train (aka start training). I go to Everest. I say "I'm on TOP WORD" 


The list of course is to be continued...

Now, I challenge you to go find your own little victories no matter where you are or what you do!

My 4A2 class doing dialogue presentations!
They were very nervous and continue to be nervous about
speaking English! However, little by little, I am going to
break them out of their shell! Step 1: Simply getting them
to stand in front of class. Step 2: TBD

Step 4: Learning to Equalize

One of our many school assemblies!
Photo: Courtesy of SMK Permaisuri Nur Zahirah

Recently, I was introduced to the technique of equalizing while taking an open water dive course in the Perhentian Islands, Malaysia. The deeper a diver goes, the more water pressure and ear pressure become unbalanced, causing deep discomfort. To avoid this pain, divers must slowly descend and gently breathe out while pinching their nose. A slow and steady introduction to the deep, unfamiliar waters makes for an enjoyable underwater adventure.

Driving my pink motor scooter through vast rice paddies in my rural, Islamic village, while wearing a bright, floral baju kurung, is not a life I could have ever fully prepared for.

My American wardrobe has been replaced with a collection of twenty-plus traditional, conservative baju kurung (explained in the previous post)

Eating lunch with fellow teachers.
Photo: Courtesy of SMK Permaisuri Nur Zahirah

Going to buy groceries no longer consists of quick trips to Target in a Volvo with a stop at Starbucks along the way. Now, I strategically decide what I need based on what can fit into a backpack for the return trip from Supermas. Supermas is about a fifth of the size of Jewel Osco and is the only supermarket in town, but it gets the job done. In fact, I always save some room for M&Ms, which it conveniently sells! 

Example of what one would see at a Pasar Malam in
A daily occurrence.
Cows are constantly socializing in frontof our house...
My weekly dates with friends have been replaced with trips to the local Pasar Malam, the night markets selling fruits, vegetables, live chickens and food. Being a regular at the market has been a fabulous way to meet locals while sampling Malaysian food. Although, I have not been brave enough to buy a live chicken yet, with many villages in a twenty- minute radius, there is a night market within reach every night.

Moreover, my favorite spin classes have been replaced with P90x videos, as well as scenic bikes rides and jogs through my village where cows, roosters and chickens roam freely and palm trees provide light shade.

Moving here requires a new kind of rhythm, and it’s amazing to experience the reality when something once so unusual becomes now seemingly normal.

 My slow and steady introduction is allowing me to equalize to an existence quite different than my own, but a life that is temporarily mine.

A group of Christina and I's students. They came over one evening
to play badminton and we showed them how to make root beer floats!