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Column: Diversity within country’s borders amazes


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Well this is it. My last three months of my exchange.

I’m assuming if you are reading this blog post you have been at least briefly following my previous posts about my time here in Malaysia. I’ve learned a lot, about myself, about human beings, about human interactions and my own interactions with other people. My exchange of course has been as far away from what I expected it to be as truly possible, but it has been life-altering in ways I never could have asked for.

Here are some things I’ve been up to lately:

CHINESE NEW YEAR: The year of the horse.

For Chinese New Year, all exchange students were given an opportunity to stay with a temporary host family and experience the different culture and lifestyle during the holidays. While many things were different between the Chinese and Muslim families, many things were also quite similar. The family I was staying with had only daughters and they spoke in only Mandarin.

No Malay was spoken in the house. I felt like I was in a different country. I enjoyed Chinese New Year so much, as I was given the chance to really get involved in the Chinese-Malaysian culture.

A few weeks after Chinese New Year, I went to a Malay wedding. However, it wasn’t a typical Malay wedding. It was a Pakistani-Malay wedding. This means the traditional clothing were a mixture of baju kurung and punjabi suits from Pakistan. This was so cool.

Next to the wedding was a rubber tree farm. Rubber is one of Malaysia’s top exports.

All in all, February was a very productive month.

Something severely disturbed me when we went to the beach cleanup. After the time rang clear and our job was finished, people pulled out snacks and water bottles from their backpacks and began drinking and eating. Normal right? Of course. But after everyone was finished, I saw many people carelessly throwing their garbage back onto the beach and not even thinking about it twice.

This made me feel angry and hurt that people could be so ignorant and disrespectful about the planet, and those who worked so hard that day to clean it. If you are reading this, I am begging you ... whether you are Malay, American, Chinese, Belgian, German, Mexican, Spanish, French, Indonesian, Indian or anything else, we are all human. And this is our planet. Please stop the littering. If you see garbage on the ground, take it and put it where it belongs. Don’t destroy the beauty that was given to us.

These next few weeks will be very busy for me, as I will go live with a temporary family in southern Malaysia for two weeks to experience life in a different place temporarily. All of the exchange students do this so it will be an exciting opportunity.

Courtlyn “Kaley” Heaberlin is a 16-year-old Whiteland Community High School student who traveled in July to Malaysia for a 10-month cultural immersion program. Her occasional column is excerpted from her blog. Send comments to letters@dailyjournal.net.

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