5 Things I learnt from iProj

By Carol Chan

Although our international service is over now, the impact it has made on my life continues to resonate. I have experienced many new things, formed many new bonds and learned many valuable lessons.

1. Take more ‘wefie’s.
When the scouts of Malacca first introduced this term to us, I thought they were talking about ‘wifi’. But, they were trying to explain to us the correct terminology for a ‘group selfie’. Normally, I would not take wefies, but on this trip, I happily joined in on every shot. I was surprised to see that wefies are a phenomenon that connects people and welcomes participation from everyone. You might not get the location of the shot because of the amount of heads in the photo, but you will remember the friendships and bonds that were made that day.

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A spontaneous “wefie” taken during our break from backwoods cooking in Kualar Lumpur.

2. Strangers can be genuine too.
The warm welcome and amazing hospitality we experienced from the scouters in Malaysia and Singapore taught me to be more trusting in others. While we have never met, the scouts in Kuala Lumpur, Kuching, Malacca and Singapore greeted us with open arms and treated us like family. We were greeted at the airport with banners, smiles, dancing and gifts. Scouters went out of their way to organize events, meals and transportation for the entire contingent to ensure that we enjoyed our stay in Kuala Lumpur, Kuching, Malacca and Singapore.

In particular, I would like to recognize Scouter Lew who accompanied us from Kuala Lumpur to Kuching to Malacca! He did not have to do this, but he ensured that we always had a familiar face with us in Malaysia. Next, we finally got to meet Scouter Daniel who has been collaborating with our international service project core team for the past year coordinating our sharing session with the Malaysian scouts. Before our arrival in Kuching, he worked tirelessly to promote our contingent’s presentations. In Malacca, Scouter Kelvin, Xiao Xiao, Daniel, CL and Andy took time out of their schedules to show us around the city and shared many scouting stories with us. In Singapore, we met Scouter Teck Chong who has an exceptionally big heart. He took time off work to take us around the city and walked all day with us so we could experience all the attractions of Singapore. Additionally, at the end of every day, he magically procured local delicacies from his bag for us to try.

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The warmest welcome we had from the Kuching Airport.

3. Scouting connects you to global communities.
Since I have only experienced scouting as a Rover, I never knew what scouting was really about until I went on this International Service Project. Even though we may speak different languages and have different cultures, the values of all scouts are the same: We hope to make the world a better place. Our uniforms are similar and many of our traditions and roots are shared. These similarities allowed us to connect quickly with different scout groups. I realized that not all groups focused on leadership and management training like us. Some scout groups focused on pioneering while others were skilled in cheers, songs and dance. Many times, we had to up our energy to keep up with the vigor of the scouts abroad. Throughout the short time we had together with each scout group, we were able to share our experiences and inspire each other. Noting our strengths and weaknesses, we were able to identify the areas we needed to improve in order to become increasingly well rounded.

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A picture of me and the scouts from the 1st Kuen Cheng Scout Group

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Cultural Exchange with scouts in Kuching.

4. Life is very uncertain, but that’s okay.
I have always been anxious thinking about the future and the unknown. Our service project was packed with ‘unknowns’. Some discomforts and setbacks were worse than others, but we survived as a team. Even though the logistics team tried to plan ahead to the best of their ability, something unexpected always came along. I learned to trust those around me to make the right decision for the group. Since I knew I was not alone, I had courage to take on each day with peace at mind; I knew we would get through the day somehow. Reflecting on this, I realized that outside of this group environment, I do not have this courage. When I am alone facing the world by myself, I am not so brave. Through this international service project, I have learned that no one in our contingent is perfect. Everyone struggles and worries but they also persevere to the best of their abilities. Knowing this has encouraged me to have more faith in my ability to face the unknown alone. And although the support and help is not as readily available when we go back home, I know that there are at least 28 other people who care about me.

5. The world is a beautiful place.
On this trip, there were many sights that took my breath away and other details I found innovative or amusing. I realized that I must travel, adventure and explore other cities to experience different cultures to better understand people. At first I was scared to be homesick, but I found that it does not matter where you go – you will be able to find little pieces of home. Moving forward, I want to spend more money on experiences instead of consumer goods. There is a lot of emphasis in our society in regards to the gadgets we should own, the way we should dress, the cars we should drive and the food we should eat. When you’re traveling to perform service and not for vacation purposes, all those things go out the window. There is a lot less emphasis on shopping. I simply needed food to eat, good accommodations and reliable gear. I no longer want to stay stagnant.

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Beautiful Sunset in Kuching.

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The New Sarawak State Legislative Assembly Building in Kuching.

Although our two-week journey in Malaysia and Singapore has finally come to an end, please continue to support us by visiting our webstore at www.pccrovers.com/store. Thank you!

Cheryl Kwan

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