I am a very detailed person and sometimes I really hate that of me because I would spend lots of time in making a choice. Well, I had to admit that I’ve spent around 3 months searching for the right project in AIESEC portal. At last, I decided to volunteer as summer camp helper in Taiwan and it is definitely the most correct choice that I had made in my life.
Volunteering in Taiwan is really not that easy. When I was browsing through the AIESEC portal, I was mainly focusing projects in China and Taiwan because I thought life would be easier in these two countries as a Mandarin speaker, but I was completely wrong.
While the journey begin…
After arriving Taiwan, I found out that our accent is completely different and there are also many different Mandarin terms between Taiwan and Malaysia. For example, water bottle is often known as 水罐 (shuǐ guàn) in Malaysia, but it was called水壶 (shuǐ hú) in Taiwan. Besides that, Taiwanese have different terms for the types of bus service, 游览车(yóu lǎn chē) for rented bus and 公车(gōng chē) for public bus. I was really confused when I first arrived here and slowly taking my time to familiarize with their terms.
Speaking English is also challenge because we Malaysian tend to speak Manglish (Malaysian English) and often used the word “lah”, “leh” and “meh”. I always had to think before I speak or else the others will look at me like I’m an alien. There are lots of times that I had to repeat what I said over and over again. The interesting fact is the exchange participants and Taiwanese eventually found Manglish to be fun and interesting. We even spend time searching videos online about Manglish.
Working as a camp helper is very challenging, adds on that I have to work in a diverse environment. There are exchange participants from Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Slovakia, Lithuania and France. I found it really tough to work together at first because each of us have different opinions and working style. We even argue for a trivial matter such as the way of arranging the mattresses for the campers.
Thinking back about it, it was really funny and dumb. We learn to comprehend and understand other perspectives. Sometimes, things aren’t that complicated and can be solve in a minute, like seriously.
And guess what I realised about this journey?
As an exchange participant in Taiwan, I get to understand deeper about this country than a traveller do. Deep conversation in the nights with the locals gave me a lot of insights about the economic and social issues in Taiwan. Taiwanese also faces unemployment and high living expenses problems. Malaysian are always unsatisfied with the country and thinking about going abroad to make a living. The grass is always greener on the other side huh? Well, I admit that I used to be one of them.
This exchange journey had changes my perspective and teaches me to be grateful and appreciate everything I have in Malaysia. Even though Malaysia isn’t perfect, we have peace and all the necessities we needed in our daily life and I believe it’s more than enough.
At the end of my exchange journey, I learn a lot and become a different person.
I learn to be grateful
I am proud to be a Malaysian
We embrace diversity
We have peace
We speak Manglish
Most importantly, we have cheap delicious food.
What are you waiting for? Take the leap and have a life experience. Even people sissy like me did it.Chia Ping
Original story from Ong Chia Ping (Student l Universiti Sains Malaysia)
In AIESEC, we believe in developing leadership through practical experiences in challenging environment, and we do this by delivering cross-cultural exchanges. We have created thousands of stories ever since we started in Malaysia 50 years ago. Here’s just one of them.