Selamat petang, Kawan-kawan!-Good evening, friends! This past week has been really busy! I began my journey to D.C. to attend the YES Abroad Pre-departure Orientation this Wednesday afternoon. That evening, I was reunited with some of the most interesting people I've ever met! From seeing old friends from the In-Person Selection Event to making new friends, the PDO was an amazing experience.
On Thursday morning, a lot of the learning we had to do kicked off. We had some workshops over specific information for our host country. Each group of kids with the same host country had a group leader who formerly participated in an exchange program to that country. Our group of 7 was lucky enough to have Lauren, an alumna of YES Abroad as our group leader. She was able to answer a lot of specific questions regarding Malaysia and Bahasa Melayu (the national language, a.k.a. Malay). Then, our group took a bus to the Malaysian Embassy and had lunch with 44 inbound students from Malaysia. These kids were on the YES program that brings kids to the U.S. from countries with significant Muslim populations (another excellent program that anyone interested about living in the U.S. should apply for!) and were the nicest people I have ever met! They told us stories about Malaysia and its people, festivals, and traditions. Next, we said goodbye to our new Malaysian friends (by this time, both on Facebook and in real life) and took a bus to the Department of State. In the building, we listened to an amazing speech by Rick Ruth, senior advisor at the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. After Mr. Ruth's inspirational talk, we were allowed to ask questions about our countries to experts working in the Embassy!
Then, we headed out to the Lincoln Memorial. It was here where my dad texted me that he had received my host family placement! I have a host family in Chemor, a suburb of the major city of Ipoh in the northern half of western Malaysia! I have a host father, mother, grandfather, and 4 host siblings between the ages of 9 and 14! As I talk to and meet my host family, I will add a few posts about my host family, house, and city!
Evidently, my blog is now titled "Journey to the Silver State." Ipoh lies in the state of Perak. Literally, the word "perak" means "silver." So, I will be an American student studying abroad in the "Silver State."
Anyways, the rest of Thursday concluded with dinner and a session on how to be an effective ambassador. Friday was a day of workshops regarding effective communication with host families and with different faiths, "cultural baggage," and digital storytelling. Saturday brought some sadness, as many of my friends are leaving for their respective host countries, and I will not see them for at least a year. However, I am excited for them, and I know that blogging and Skype make instant communication possible. I wish them the best, and I am now ready to make my final preparations before leaving Houston for almost a year on July 10.
|YES Abroad Malaysia Group outside the Malaysian Embassy in Washington D.C.|
|Me with the speaker at the embassy|
|Outside the Lincoln Memorial|
|YES Abroad Malaysia Group at our Table during Workshops|