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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.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Chesley's Malaysian Adventure: SMK PNZ

My family with one of my favorite classes, class 4A1. These students were the same age as my sister.
The day after my sister's birthday, my family came to visit my school in Besut. SMK PNZ was extremely excited to host my family, and I was equally as excited to show my family where I spent most of my time as well as who I put my energy into on a daily basis.

My sister captivated the attention of the little girls in my
2A pen pal class.
After signing the school’s official Visitor Book, my family jumped from class to class with me. My students were thrilled to have visitors, and for that reason, everyone was certainly on their best behavior. In April, two months before my family’s visit, my students had written letters to my brother and sister, as well as my sister’s friend Maddie and our cousin Julia. Upon my family’s visit to the school, my brother and sister hand-delivered reply letters to my students. My students were ecstatic to see that they received responses. In fact, for the rest of the year, many of my students taped their letters to their desks in order to always remember the day my family came to visit.

My family brought magazines and pictures from America to share with the students. The boy students were especially interested in Zach’s snowboarding magazines, and all my students enjoyed meeting Hannah who was somewhat close in age to them. For me, it was neat to stand aside and facilitate discussion between my students and my family. The students were able to ask my family questions, and my family was able to ask them questions. In addition, it meant the world to me that my school community could finally associate me with my family, my home and where I came from. In the classroom, my family was surprised by some of the differences in comparison to classrooms in our community in America. For example, because teachers in Malaysia move from class to class versus the students moving, teachers do not have bulletin boards, maps or concrete teaching materials as resources during class. My family also noticed that students did not have nearly as many supplies, hardcover books, notebooks or workbooks for their classes.

My family received a little party, as well as gifts from my KHAS class.
My mom learned the traditional
Malay 'salam' greeting.

My family and I with my KHAS students.

In my special education KHAS class, the teachers and students threw something of a little party for my family. The teachers presented my parents, as well as my brother and sister, with traditional sarongs and taught my family how to properly wear them. To add, my family even joined in the class’s weekly Hokey Pokey session.

The end of the day was marked by a nice lunch that the school administration hosted for my family. The school senior assistant chose my favorite dishes as the main course, and together we enjoyed Malay cuisine. After, the SMK PNZ English Magazine group interviewed my family, and my students were able to finally put their English skills to the test.

School administration and my mentors with my family and I.
More than anything, I felt immense pride in sharing my beautiful family with my school community. Although words perhaps become lost through translation and cultural dialogue, it is amazing what you can learn through simply keeping your eyes, ears and heart open. My family’s visit to my school is my favorite example of cultural exchange from the entire year, and I know without a doubt, my students will remember that special day forever. 

My student, Najwa, with my mom and sister.
My family with the SMK PNZ English Magazine club.
My curious student, Syaswan, asked my brother many questions.
He was so excited to use his English with my family.
Some of the boy students hanging out with my dad.
My sister was awfully popular with my students.

My brother and I at the weekly Running Club meet after school with students.
My sister at Running Club with my students.

My sister came to school for a second day as well. She wore
a baju kurung, and my students were quite active that day!
The school organized a luncheon with my family featuring
my favorite dish, nasi goreng ayam.
My students really enjoyed listening to my family's stories.

My family with class 4A2.
My family and I. They were sporting the sarongs that my KHAS class gave to them as gifts.

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