When My Mom Left.

  1. Byee mom
  2. Oh no I’m all alone again
  3. Oh yay privacyyy!
  4. Oh no I have to go back to cooking on my own.
  5. Shit. I forgot how to cook.
  6. Damn it should I tapau more food now? I don’t live in America anymore.
  7. But I like cooking though
  8. Gotta learn how to cook all over again damnit
  9. No more pacific rim here T_T
  10. Shopping in Malaysia gotta be easier right
  11. Damnit
  12. Bye moooom!!!
  13. Ok, gotta control my shopping now.
  14. Time to ADULT
  15. ADULT THAT SHIT
  16. GONNA GO ON PINTEREST
  17. I need to get my life together.
  18. I’m 23, I should have had my life together 5 years ago.
  19. Ok la not too late.
  20. Yea…I’m gonna go on Buzzfeed to learn how to adult now.

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Take Me

Are we trying to kid ourselves with the idea of a perfect love story? We’re both far from it and yet we’re constantly lying through our teeth to ourselves that we’re perfect for each other. We can’t deal with the small things, and we never absolve things. Yet we promise to spend the rest of our lives together. We’re kidding ourselves, are we not?

 


 

All I know is darling, I was made for loving you.

 

You’ve touched my soul and you hold me tight, you look at me and we go back to square one. I ask too much and you ask too little. Neither of us will lose in the battle, in the end we’ll lose each other. Yet we don’t back down, its just not in our DNA. We know we’re wrong and we know we’re right.


 

Hopeless hearts just passing through.

 


 

Dear lover,

Our stubbornness will kill us both.

Its time to celebrate our third parent.

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” — Maya Angelou

A great teacher has the power to transform the trajectory of your life. I slugged through school thinking I was never going to make it in life, constantly failing my maths subjects.

If my English teacher in primary 3 didn’t catch that I was a good speaker and made me enroll in story telling competitions, I don’t think I would have knew that I was comfortable speaking in public. I thought I was just a naughty girl in school that could’t stop chatting.

If my teacher in Form 2 (Ms Victoria) didn’t bring me to a debating competition, I would have not known that speaking well was a skill. (I didn’t join debating though, it wasn’t a thing in SMK St Columba). Ms Vic, you gave me the confidence and the determination to accept that I didn’t have to score straight A’s to be a good person.

If my English teacher in senior year, Ms Libby didn’t introduce me to literature and poetry, I don’t think I would have the courage to take up World Literature as a minor for my undergraduate.

If my lecturers in Sunway Uni, (Dr Malissa and Ms Yati) never told me to go and grab my dreams, I would never have changed my major from Psychology and I would never have fallen in love with what I decided to go into, Communications. (Its not just Mass Comm ok)

Mainly, the 2 most important women in my life are teachers. The work and the impact that I see  my grandmother has made in the lives of her students is astounding. To the point where she now has 8 grandchildren and STILL people refer to her as Cikgu.

The lives that my mother has changed over the years, making strides in the education for special needs children in Malaysia is humbling. Seeing my mother fight for her the rights of her students with the corrupted officials who give 1001 reasons and delaying what should be the rights of students. The Malaysians that we don’t want to think about, teachers who willingly go into schools to educate and be advocates for our children with special needs are truly heroes.

I truly don’t think that I would have an interest in social justice, specifically education without the influence of teachers in my life. When Li Ying interviewed me about my motivations to be a part of Teach For Malaysia even just as a teacher, everything that I researched into “How to speak in an interview” went out the window. I just talked about my mother. I talked about how I realize education is the key to success and while we sit in mamaks and lament about society is apathetic and how we are losing faith in humanity (I roll my eyes so hard when I hear a dudebro says that) I realize that there ARE avenues for us to give back. Its only either we want to grab the tools that are provided or not.

There are a lot of powerful women that has impacted my life, and the path that I’m going down now. It saddens me that society doesn’t see teachers that way, it’s insulting to see people see teaching as last resort for a job.

So today,

today is for the teachers who don’t give up,

today is for the teachers who go into places that nobody wants to go,

today is for the teachers who left their cushy jobs to go into teaching,

today is for the teachers that never gave up on their students,

today is for the teachers that open their home to their students,

today is for the teachers who become co-parents to hundreds of students every school year,

today is for the teachers who opened their hearts and don’t receive enough recognition on how much emotional labor they’ve put in to raise the next generation of Malaysia’s leaders.

So today is for my mother,

for my grandmother,

and the teachers that transforms our lives.

Selamat Hari Guru, semua.

Malaysia needs our collective effort to improve. Shameless plug but Teach For Malaysia IS working towards it but we can’t do it without you. Apply or donate at http://teachformalaysia.org/
 
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New barriers

3 months ago, I walked down the aisle… but not for a man, for a scroll.

Today I take the train to work, squeezed in like a sardine can for 30 mins. My face plastered against the door panel, I’m sure I looked funny if anyone could catch my face from the outside. Every morning I make shapes out of the condensation formed from my breath on the glass. I trace Mickey Mouse shapes with my pinky.

30 mins later, I arrive at Masjid Jamek. I try my best to rush without getting groped or squashed. Taking public transport during peak hours is a nightmare for someone with personal space issues. You don’t really breathe until you’ve buzzed your touch n go card to exit the station.

Breathe.

And my day begins. I sit at a desk, say hello to my colleagues, check my emails and start to work.

It’s a romantic idea – finding the right one. 

Burning bridges.

 

For someone who moves her life every couple years or so, having a single best friend is a foreign idea to me. How do you have best friends that go through thick and thin when you’ve only known them only a few years then having to pick up and move? And then when you move you’re forced to make new friends. 
I think that has made me a cynic. Especially love. I don’t believe in forever love. Especially soulmates.  

I believe you can love someone until you can’t love them anymore. You have a period of time where you two are the only thing that matters in the world. And if you are lucky, the time period will be a long one. But you can pour out your love and energy and effort into a person and find that you are not meant to be.  

Then I realized that at that moment in time, we were soulmates. But we can’t be for so long. You need to constantly find happiness and satisfaction, and not everyone can provide it at all time. You can find your soulmate at a certain points in time, and when that time has passed, you find another. 

Teach Your Children

“You, who are on the road must have a code that you can live by.
And so become yourself because the past is just a good bye.
Teach your children well, their father’s hell did slowly go by,
And feed them on your dreams, the one they fix, the one you’ll know by.
Don’t you ever ask them why, if they told you, you would cry,
So just look at them and sigh and know they love you.

And you, of the tender years can’t know the fears that your elders grew by,
And so please help them with your youth, they seek the truth before they can die.
Teach your parents well, their children’s hell will slowly go by,
And feed them on your dreams, the one they fix,the one you’ll know by.
Don’t you ever ask them why, if they told you, you would cry,
So just look at them and sigh and know they love you.”

Recently I’ve been involved with Teach For Malaysia as a Global Campus leader. Even though there isn’t much that I’ve done yet but one thing that I have never realised is how unassuming something can be. A school in a big city can be considered high-need, despite supposedly being “urban”.

I come from a family of teachers and educators. Maybe thats why public speaking isn’t a daunting task for me (as long as I like what I’m talking about, of course); however it never crossed my mind to get a teaching degree.

And at the moment, I love what I’m doing, I love what am I learning. But I want to make an impact, specifically among the people my age. I am optimistic about my generation, the generation that takes too many selfies and posts too many vines. But we are the generation that blog our hearts out, we are the generation that refuses to let the world turn their backs on us.

They call us children, but they won’t let us grow. So we pick ourselves up, we teach ourselves the way of the world, and we will teach our children.

This is a call for help, this is the rounding cry; this is what I’m doing, I am calling up arms. Even if you have never envisioned yourself a teacher, educate others. The first step to combat anything is by teaching, is by educating.

If you have it, realise your privilege and help the ones who are not.

Transitions

Moving schools are tough. Imagine moving countries. Moving your life.

I’ve been living out of 2 suitcases as far as I can remember, dating back to since I was 11; when my dad came home one day and announced that we were moving our lives to Miri, Sarawak. I had no idea what life in Sarawak was gonna be. The only images in my mind were trees, and animals. I was 11, what did I know?

So we packed. We wrapped up furniture, donated clothes, and gave away my storybooks (I cried at the lost of my treasures). And we moved.

Settling in a town 10 times smaller than Kuala Lumpur, I was not used to the quiet (no one honks!) and clean air (the beach was 5 minutes away). I was not used to the idea that there were more than 3 races! I was bewildered when I saw many students in my school who didn’t look chinese or indian but did not attend Agama Islam classes with me. (However I was used to being a minority despite being Malay Muslim because I was in a Chinese medium school, but thats a story for another day)

The thing about migrating and being a foreigner is that you unofficially become an ambassador. In my case, I’m automatically an ambassador for the “Malaya” people (what Sarawakians call people who originates from West Malaysia). This is a great time to educate yourself, and others. What with all the racial tension in the country, and while I was there, there was talk about about Sarawak seceding the country; but I am in no place to comment about that. 🙂

Fast forward 7 and a half years later, when I was 17; dad came home and dropped another bombshell on the family. “Pack up guys, we’re moving to Saudi Arabia!”

My first thought was “Holy shit Saudi?!?!”

My second thought was “Holy shit tak payah SPM siut!”

Admittedly, I was falling behind in my studies a little, and was more interested in my extra curricular activities, specifically tennis.

Our lives were turned upside down. I had no idea what life in a country where women can’t work, can’t drive, can’t dress the way want, speak the way they want and how my education was going to be.

But we adapt. Whether you make the choice to study abroad in a foreign country, or didn’t have a choice and still had to be starting a life in a new environment, you have to make changes. You need to learn to shake off the notion of “I’ll never be one of them”. They key to transitioning to a different country is open mindedness. You’d be surprised at the wonders you’ll find in a culture you thought would be hostile one.

Again, a few months before my 20th birthday, I packed all my belongings, gave away some books, donated more clothes; and took a couple more long flights to where I am now, United States to finish my degree.

I have no idea where I’ll be when I’m done here.

I have no idea exactly when I’m done here.

But I will transition. As I have done before. I will embrace my two constant companions, the two suitcases.

“Cute”

Don’t call me “cute”.

Don’t say “You’re so little and so cute!”

I’m 20.

Tell me I’m loud, I’m vocal, I’m passionate.

Tell me I’m spirited, kind, and gentle.

Tell me I look happy, tell me you take me seriously.
Don’t call me “cute”.

because being “cute” won’t cut it in this world.

Being “cute” allows you to treat me like a joke.

Being “cute” allows you to think I’m immature, like a little child.
Don’t call me “cute”.

Why I am a GWS major.

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I often get asked why do I study what I study.

I’m a double major in Communications, which is pretty common; and Gender and Women’s Studies, which when I tell people about it, the common response I get would be something like “What… There’s a course for that?” Yes, yes there is. #GWSMajorandproud

Now what exactly do I study? GWS is an interdisciplinary course whereby the courses that I’m required to partake would have to be from multiple departments such as Philosophy, Sociology, Psychology, English, History, Political Science and yes, even Science. Being an arts major in Malaysia already grants you a “fail” in some parents’ eyes, can you imagine their reaction if you were a GWS major?

Often times I reevaluate my choice of adding GWS as a major. Why do I need to study Women’s Studies? Why do I need to study women’s history? Women’s lit? or science from the perspective of a woman? Aren’t women already featured in normal history classes? See the problem is, the discourses of history books have been told exclusively by the privileged gender: men. Gender studies is not an alternative, but an expansion of traditional historical study in which women are given a voice.

There was a point in my life where I thought I wanted to major in English, literature especially. Then one day I realised that there is a huge disparity in the spectrum of authors that are normally taught to students. Everyone knows Shakespeare and J.D. Salinger but not enough knows Jane Austen or Maya Angelou.

The first chapter of my LGBT Studies class talked about WHY there was a need to examine LGBT history, and we talked about how there is actually, NO history to be studied if this course wasn’t created because you just cannot find representation anywhere.

Representation.

Representation is why I’m a GWS major.

Representation is why I want to fight this fight.

Representation is why I will continue to push for more people to take up Gender Studies courses (even as a general education subject) to create more awareness of social issues.

And then…

I remember one afternoon,  we were talking and suddenly we were kissing.
And after we were kissing, I remember, you said “I love you”, for the first time.
I remember thinking, “He really means it. And I want to love, I want to love him too.”I remember sitting in your room, with your blanket over our legs, and we’re both on our laptops, and the best silence.
I remember lying down with you under your blanket till the late afternoon, neither of us willing to get up and face the world, until we craved sandwiches.
I remember lying down on your chest while I browse iTunes looking for a song, and I remember you cringing whenever I play a Jay Z, and you’ll get so annoyed you’ll just shut my laptop.
I remember us coming home late in the evening after an exhausting day in college, and we took a nap that was so long, we woke up at 10pm, starving.
I remember when I had food poisoning in the middle of the night, I was crying and in so much pain and you looked so helpless… I’m so sorry. I’m sorry you have to take care of me.
I remember you waiting in your car right after my paper to rush me to the clinic.
I remember you buying a week’s supply of bread when the doctor told me to only eat bread for a while.
I remember your frown when I insisted on nasi lemak ayam goreng, anyway.
I remember “Why me?” “You’re special” and your smile.
I remember the first time I went to meet your family, I was so nervous I wanted to cry but you kept telling me it’ll be fine.
I remember the first night I slept in your house, and how your dad made you sleep on the sofa and you texted me “Good night”.
I remember your face and your smile at your kind-of surprise farewell party, and how you just didn’t stop smiling.
I remember our last night together, how I fell asleep in your arms at 3am after crying for hours. And I remember how you just held me, you just held me.I remember you kissing my hair at the airport before you leave, and the “I love you” that you whispered in a rush before I had to let you go.And then I don’t remember you anymore.