Fulbright ETA Grant to Malaysia, 2014-2015
I spent a lot of my time in Malaysia confused. Why could I only get coffee at the café in town after 1pm? Why did teachers, not students, participate during Sports Day at school? Why did it take two days, three gas stations, one post office, and three roommates to pay a water bill? My students, fellow teachers, and members of the community provided answers when they could, and a sympathetic smile and “It must be very different in America,” when they had no answers.
However, it was an unasked question to which my year, and specifically my fierce, generous, and kind students, provided an answer – “What do I want to do with my life?” Though many conversations and moments contributed to the answer, one in particular stands out. Shortly before leaving, I was at McDonald’s with a group of Form 4 students, and Azikah said she had something for me. Azikah then sang the song “Cheerleader” to me a capella, because “Miss, you are my cheerleader and you make me brave.” My Fulbright experience in Malaysia helped me realize that I love working with, and learning from, young women, and I plan to continue doing so, whether in Southeast Asia, or in another part of the world.