Day 89 – Culture Shock!

This morning, we landed in Kuala Lumpur safe and sound. Our host Jerry was there to pick us up and take us to the boarding school we will be working at (about 1.5 hours outside of K.L.) As we were all excited to be in the city, Jerry decided to take us for a tour of the twin towers (second tallest buildings in the world, after Taipei 101). Very impressive! Now if that’s not a great way to start off a trip, I don’t know what is…

K.L. is so very different than Bangalore. First off, it is very westernized, very metropolitan, and very orderly. People drive cordially, stay in their own lanes, and very rarely honk. The roads and highways are very nice, there are no random cows in the streets, no stray dogs, and very little litter. That said, the exchange rate is 3:1 whereas in India it was 40:1.

After the morning in K.L., we headed off to Melaka. The drive was gorgeous! Nothing but think lush green palm tree forests! Like nothing I’ve ever seen… Comparable to the forest in Seattle, but instead of Evergreens, all of the trees were Palms.

Once we arrived at the school, that is when the culture shock reality started: The school is a private Chinese school, grades 7 – 12. The student body is approximately 2,500 students with around 200 of them living on campus. They go to school Monday – Saturday from 7:30am – 4:00pm and then have mandatory study hall from 7:30pm – 9:00pm with lights out at 11:00pm. Though their are a ton of activities from 4:00pm -7:30pm (Guitar Club, Karate Class, Traditional Chinese Drumming, etc), the main sports are basketball and volleyball!!!! How lucky am I…

After meeting with the Principle, the Hostel Warden showed us to our rooms. April, Amber, and Josie were each assigned to different rooms, which they will be sharing with 7 other girls. These rooms are very simple: 8 bunk beds, 2 desks, and a couple of chairs. Most of the beds have mosquito nets, others don’t. April and Amber are each in rooms with Junior High girls and Josie is with High School girls.

After dropping the girls off in their respective rooms, the Warden took me and Ross to our room. Located at the end of the boys floor, we were led into what previously seemed to be an office but was now turned into a storage unit. In the main room (office reception area), there were a ton of wooden pallets and random boxes completely covered with dust. Off of the main room, there were four breakout rooms (offices) and three bathroom stalls that hadn’t been used in years. Office one was filled with more pallets, office two was full of mattresses, office three had a rusty fridge from the 1950’s and some dusty old cabinets, and room four was our bedroom… Two twin beds, a desk, and no dust… Good to go.

[ Before I go on, I need to address the climate. It’s hot. And humid. Definitely hotter than Florida, I would compare it more closely to Dallas. Without A/C. Our dorm rooms have large ceiling fans, but some of the windows are made not to close (thus the need for mosquito nets). 105 degrees, 100% humidity. And though you might think the locals are acclimated, they’re not. The walk around with soaking wet shirts just like me.]

Once we dropped off our bags, we decided to go outside an hang out with some of the students as it was after 2:30pm and many of them were done with their classes. As this is a Chinese school, 98% of the population is Chinese, so we all stand out. That said, all of the students are very eager to engage with us. It didn’t take but ten minutes of standing outside before we were invited to play basketball. So, over the next two hours I lost about three gallons of water through my sweat glands as I took some kids to school. Unfortunately, I also nearly broke my ankles a half-dozen times as I was playing in my running shoes… I will definitely need to get some basketball shoes tomorrow.

After basketball, we all went back to the dorm where the kids told Ross and I that it was time to go shower. So as not to offend anyone, we agreed. The shower facilities are as follows: There are ten stalls, with a hole in the wall above your head. From that hole pours ice cold water. That’s it! (What more could you need…) So we showered up and then headed to dinner in the canteen (cafeteria). As volunteers, breakfast and dinner are free for us, but we have to pay for lunch. For approximately $1.50, you can get a huge plate of food and a speciality fruit drink. Even so, the vegetarian meals here are fantastic, so I’m going to try going veg for a couple of weeks and see how that works. After dinner, we all headed up to our room where Ross pulled out his Djimbe (drum) and they guys all took turns playing it. During this time, Ross and I moved all of the pallets into one of the offices, put an additional mattress onto each of our cots, and I dusted and swept the office with the fridge in it so I could put my suitcases there.

Around 10:00pm, I was spent. So I hit the lights and put another day to rest in the record books.

God is love.

Until next time,