|Kapas Island, Terengganu, Malaysia.|
Perhaps the most rewarding part of an adventure is the aftermath; when the traveler gains a new lens towards the way she sees and experiences the world.
My time as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant in Malaysia was the most eye-opening and challenging experience of my life. My daily life in America was replaced with a new culture, routine and community.
There were good days and there were bad days. There were moments when I felt as though I failed and moments when I felt as though my students, my community and I succeeded. There were times when I was homesick for the comfort of my own home, the Midwest climate and a big American dinner. And there were times when I looked out over the South China Sea and thought, “Wow! I get to live here!”
Now, back in America, I often look back on my experience and reflect. As I adjust back to my own identity, I feel as though I am looking at the world around me differently and with a new understanding.
I sit in church on Sunday mornings and admire the glare from the sun that beams through the massive stain glass window. I hug my family and friends a bit tighter. I speak and react with more patience. I drive my car through the suburbs understanding what a privilege it is to sit behind a wheel. I admire the Chicago skyline that extends across the shore of Lake Michigan. I savor each bite. And, I look back on my photos from Malaysia with a humbled smile. In a way, I feel as though everything that has always been part of my life still remains, but I see it with a new lens. The adventure itself is a true gift, but perhaps the most rewarding part of any undertaking, is the new lens gained afterward.
|O'hare International Airport, Chicago before I departed in January 2012.|
I was reunited with my family at O'hare eleven months later.
I came home with a new lens towards life and the world around me.