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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

Coming to a close: Beginning my journey back home

On a rainy Wednesday night (no lie… it was rainy!), I pulled three suitcases out of my house and headed to the bus station. Tears filled my eyes as I waved goodbye to the little neighbor boys who waved and yelled, “ Goodbye, Cikgu!” I watched as the house disappeared behind me, and I looked out the window of my mentor’s car. I tried to forever imprint the images of the village I was part of for 10 months.

I boarded the bus, and I waved goodbye to my mentors, as well as my friend Jamaliah who came to see me off with her family. I also waved goodbye to Christina who was staying for a few extra days. I sat in my seat, and I looked out the window. It took me a moment to catch my breath. When I did, I took a big, deep breath that brought air all the way down to my toes.

I gave one last wave to everyone.

At that moment, I still had not made full sense of my experience. However, I did realize one thing – the most important experiences are the ones that pull at your heartstrings in ways you never imagined. The experiences that have peaks, as well as valleys. The experiences that have successes, as well as failures. The experiences that make you smile, as well as cry. The experiences that culminate understanding, as well as confusion. The experiences with potential accomplishments that seem far too overwhelming and difficult to actually earn, but you earn anyway. And more than anything, I realized that some of the best experiences in life do not provide all the right answers, but rather generate the best questions.

It was one heck of a year. It was one heck of a journey. I believe it will remain one of the most important experiences of my life. It was the toughest experience, as well as the most challenging time of my life. For that reason, I think it will prove to be one of my most worthwhile endeavors as well.

As I departed from Besut, I held my head high. The visions of life in Besut were still fresh in my mind and the stories of my time as a teacher were in my heart. After almost a year, it was time to begin my journey back home, back to where I came from.

After months upon months of Skype session, I could not wait to
see my family in person!

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