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.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Southtown Star Article #1

Stayed tuned for more throughout the next six months!

I am reporting as a Correspondent for the Southtown Star throughout the remainder of my experience here in Malaysia. I am so excited for this opportunity, and I am incredibly humbled.

Thanks for the support everyone, and pass the link on!


Step 6: Realizing that "There are no Dinosaurs Here"

One of my first, in-depth experiences with Malay
culture! Fellow ETA, Michael, and I at a Malay wedding!

Marie Curie was a Polish-born scientist, and she was the first woman to be awarded a Nobel Prize in 1903 for her work in Physics. In 1911, she even became the first person to win two Nobel Prizes, when she was awarded another Prize for her work in Chemistry. Marie Curie was quoted several times in her life for saying, “Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood.”

 It is part of human nature to have fear or to fear something. I believe even the risk-takers, even the bold, have at least an ounce of fear somewhere within themselves when they take on a new challenge. Some individuals may vocalize and express their fear more than others, but at the end of the day, even the smallest kindle of fear brews somewhere inside each of us. Some of us acknowledge it, while others look past it. 
4A2 students taking on their fear of English public

I would be lying if I said that I came to Malaysia and adopted and adapted to a new culture without fear. There were moments of fear or moments when I simply could not understand, whether it was the language or cultural norms. Sometimes moments of uncertainty made me nervous, and sometimes they made me feel overwhelmed. But at the end of the day, isn’t that what this experience was and continues to be all about? It is about branching out, leaving the well known, familiar and comfortable in search of new discoveries, new perspective and new ways of understanding.

Sometimes the moments of fear, uncertainty or misunderstanding are what ultimately allow us to learn more about our selves and the world we live in.

In fact, my dear childhood friend, Natalie, who just graduated from nursing school, reminded me a couple months ago while we were having a phone conversation:

            “Rachael, people are always capable of more than they think… 
And then you look back and say, I did it.”

Isn’t that the truth?

Whether it is a family setting off on their first, cross country road trip to Yellowstone National Park with three children, a family getting ready to travel 33 hours overseas with new passports in hand, a new fireman saving a child from a firey home, a new nurse witnessing a person in dire health, a young teacher managing his or her first classroom of young children or a young woman living and adapting to a new culture overseas – there are moments of fear, but then at last, there are moments of discovery.

After an exciting, nerve racking and somewhat
intimidating hike/jungle trek at the waterfalls in Besut,
this was the beauty I was able to witness with my friends!
In fact, Marie Curie’s words often come to mind when I find myself frustrated or overwhelmed in moments of misunderstanding. However, one of my 4A1 students put it into even easier, more heartfelt words.

One day I was telling my students (in slow spoken English) about how I was nervous to come to a new country for 10 whole months and how I was nervous to learn to ride a motor scooter. I was trying to relate to their hesitation and nervousness about learning English. As some students nodded in understanding, one boy shook his head and said,  “Teacher, do not worry. There are no dinosaurs here.”

So it’s that simple I suppose.

No matter what fear you may sense within you, just remember, “Do not worry. There are no dinosaurs here.”

A shout out from my students to let you know
"Do not worry! There are no dinosaurs here!"
I bet if you think about this the next time you are hesitant or nervous to take on something, you will find yourself smiling with a new sense of energy. Works for me. Everytime.