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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: Peace Corps/Fulbright Commemoration

The Terengganu ETAs, 2012.
In late October, my friend Jordan and I were asked to prepare and present a Peace Corps Commemoration Speech. It was to be presented to the U.S. Ambassador, U.S. Embassy, MACEE, representatives from the Malaysian Ministry of Education, teachers from Malaysia and several other honorable guests. 

The speech was to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the first Peace Corps volunteers arriving in Terengganu, Malaysia. At the same time, it was also to mark the conclusion of our journey as ETAs in Terengganu. Jordan and I were honored to be selected to represent our cohort. However, we understood the difficulty of encompassing seventeen different Fulbrighters’ year-long experiences into one commemoration speech. Fortunately, together, we created and presented a speech that represented our cohort and a speech that truly came from the heart.

Terengganu ETAs during our first along the coast.
January 2012, when our journey was just beginning.

“Nine months ago, as we drove north up Route 3 along the beautiful coast of Terengganu, we looked ahead and tried to imagine our future experiences in our new Malaysian villages and homes, and especially our time ahead in our assigned schools… That is where our journey as Terengganu ETAs began…”

Jordan and I went on to explain our journey as ETAs in Terengganu, a place very different than our hometowns in America. We broke our journey into five stages. We explained the stages and told little, personal anecdotes that corresponded to each stage. The five stages we identified were – shock, confusion, learning, exploring and finally, understanding. The personal anecdotes and emotion really captured the attention of the crowd, as well as the fellow Fulbrighters. Although some stages were more difficult than others, each stage was crucial to our experience. All in all, our experiences, living and teaching abroad in Malaysia, challenged us, moved us, and allowed us to embrace the highs, as well as the lows.

Jordan and I ended our speech by saying, “ Senyum sokmo.”

Smile always.

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