The One about 2016

28 Nov

As the curtains fall on 2016, it is once again that time of the year for reflections. It almost felt as it I was caught in the middle of a hurricane, and only now have things died down. It was not a bad year, I think it was just a year where things were constantly happening.

baby

Babies: At my work place, I am part of closely-knit group of five. This year, they went through a cycle, and every one of them popped out a newborn. As I adore kids, it was fun being a part of the whole process, and feeling like now I’m a godmother to four kids.

wedding

Weddings: This year was also a year of weddings. A good friend found the girl of his dreams. An ex found his perfect match. A couple of co-workers got married. And a few others got engaged. Even more exciting was my brother proposing to his girlfriend. Hooray! I am truly happy for all of them.

international

Friends: 2016 seemed to be all about changes. My landlord/housemate moved to the US for work, and another close friend moved to Germany. But a few other close friends from the US moved back to Malaysia so it is definitely good having them in my life again – the ones who understand what its like to straddle two cultures, and two countries.

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Work: There was a never-ending source of opportunities, from conferences, to leadership positions, to interesting students, to feeling like I won the lottery at a recent workshop, which will also lead me to London. But more on this in 2017.

family

Family: My dad had quite a scare in the middle of this year. Suffice to say, it made everyone step back and reevaluate their dietary habits and their lifestyle. My dad is fine now, thank God. But a close friend’s dad and another friend’s mom passed away, making me realize that perhaps, we are not quite as young anymore.

money

Wealth: I almost bought a bungalow… almost. Paid the booking fee, then changed my mind at the last minute. No regrets though. I still have not quite made up my mind where I would like to live. So, my options are open at the moment.

love

Love: Quite a few characters definitely made this year interesting. But as I am a secretive person, that is all I shall reveal. This year I learned to let go, and I shall start 2017 on a happier note because of that.

As Shakespeare would say, ‘All’s well that ends well.’ So here’s to bidding adieu to 2016 and looking forward to new beginnings, lots of laughter, plenty of hope, and countless adventures that are bound to happen. To 2017!

 

The One about Rohingya Refugees

22 Nov

Amidst the hustle and bustle of my busy days, I seldom stop to reflect on how life may not have dealt the same cards to others. Being taken away from my little bubble can be jarring, because only during those times do I realize that there are real, bigger problems out there in the world.

A few weeks ago, a good friend of mine invited me along to his friend’s gallery. We almost missed the gallery because it was hidden, tucked in the middle of Kuala Lumpur’s most hectic areas. But I’m glad we didn’t because it turned out to be quite an experience.

To be honest, there was little that I knew about the Rohingya refugees. I knew they are a Muslim minority group from Rakhine state, but that they are not recognized as an ethnic group from Myanmar. They fled to mostly Southeast Asian countries seeking help, refuge and support. That was about the extent of my knowledge on the refugees.

myanmar

The photos at the gallery highlighted their plight, at least here in Malaysia. Most of the Rohingya people tried to stay close to one another, but of course, there are very few areas that could accommodate such large numbers on families. Because of their status, the children cannot attend school, and the adults cannot apply for jobs. In many ways, I imagine it is like living in limbo.

rohingya

While the United Nation has tried its best, priority often goes to women and children in being issued an ID. But still, according to the photojournalist, their options are limited even with the ID. Since the men, who are often the breadwinner of the families are not prioritized, they often have difficulty in getting jobs.

I volunteer with NGOs, where we too prioritize women and children. But in doing so, I never did think of the consequences. I always thought what we did was making things more equal. But perhaps, equal sometimes means taking away opportunities from others.

At the end of the day, I realized that my life is blessed. I have a roof over my head, citizenship, a good job, family that are near and dear, and opportunities, millions of them. As for the Rohingyas, I do hope they get more help, especially in terms of education for the kids. Because no matter how life turns out, I always hope that every child has a fighting chance, and it always starts with education.

*Disclaimer: The photos were obtained online, they are not from the gallery I went to.

The One about Gender Equality

21 Nov

Sometimes, when you are in a place for too long, you forget what the rest of the world looks like. Sometimes, that is a bad thing because you forget to be grateful for the things you have, no matter how mundane it may seem. My lesson came in the form of several renowned scientists from around the world.

I was part of the hospitality team for a recent conference. Basically, that meant I got to take the speakers out, show them around town, introduce them to the amazing food, and have a good time. And of course, since my team got to spend several hours with the speakers, we got to know them pretty well.

So imagine our surprise when one of the speakers from Japan pointed out that we have so many female scientists in Malaysia. Another speaker from Australia also said that was the first thing he noticed when he addressed the audience. I was taken aback and only then did I turn to look around the room. The professor from Japan continued by saying, it was not only the numbers, but the fact that there were many female leaders, including yours truly who was heading the hospitality team.

His comment made me stop and look at everything in a different light. He was right. I am young, I am a female, I hold multiple positions, and I get paid just as much as my male colleagues. The Japanese professor went on to explain that in Japan, that was rare, although they were trying to change things. Traditionally, men were given better positions, while women were expected to manage the household. However now, they were encouraging women, especially those who are married with kids, by offering more jobs or even scholarships just for women.

gender

Up until that day, I don’t think I’ve ever realized how lucky I am. Granted, there is still inequality in the world, and yes, being a patriarchal society, I am sure many women feel like they do not have the power to speak up. But at least for me, I am grateful for the little successes, including not being looked down just because of my gender. And perhaps, that’s a start.

The One about New Beginnings

21 Nov
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People are surprised when they find out I have no social media, or no Facebook to be exact. They will inquire the story behind it, and would often be disappointed that there isn’t really one. I suppose I like a clean slate. Then, with every new person I meet, it is a new beginning. I like for people to spend some time with me and really get to know me, as opposed to looking me up on the internet. After all, the image we portray online is rarely who we are in real life. So here’s to new beginnings. Enjoy the ride and welcome to my blog.