I’m not much of a blogger – or at least, I’ve not done much (read: any) blogging up until this very moment in my life. Journaling, sure, but it’s another step to write down your thoughts and experiences, then post that on the vast expanse that is the internet for all your friends, colleagues, and strangers alike to read as they wish. 

Reading through past intern’s blogs, I definitely see the value in making blog posts a requirement while on placements. Aside from providing some awesome, in-the-moment, personalized content for the CAPI website, it gives us interns the chance to reflect on and express our challenges and triumphs, while giving other interns (past, present, and future) the opportunity to take a glimpse into the experiences of people who’ve been through or who are about to go through the same thing.  

Almost 7 weeks ago, I stepped into the hot, humid air outside of the Kuala Lumpur International Airport after over 36 hours of travel. 

When I got off the plane, I had no real, concrete expectations about what the next 6 months would bring. Of course, I was full of hope: to do a good job and work hard for Malaysian Social Research Institute (MSRI), the organization I’m working for here; to gain soft and hard skills needed to be a successful fundraiser and to work for an NGO; to learn enough of the language to have a solid conversation; to make new friends and have fun; to explore Southeast Asia; and maybe, to grow out my hair. 

I figured that as long as I showed up with compassion, grace, awareness, and a willingness to work hard doing whatever is needed or wanted of me, I could come out of this with my head held high. 

As my fellow interns can also attest to, it’s not really been an easy or comfortable experience to move across the world and step into a new life. It’s sometimes extremely unpleasant, challenging, and disorienting – definitely not always a great time. Unexpected obstacles are constantly presenting themselves, pushing you outside of your zone of familiarity. 

The challenges, though, are ultimately what will bring growth down the road. I think there’s a saying that goes something like “you can’t grow in your comfort zone.” I’ve really been leaning into this idea for the last 7 weeks. Achieving the growth that we all came here for requires at least some minor discomfort, and will likely require overcoming some unexpected challenges. 

The idea of blogging, for me at least, is a slightly daunting task. Writing out my thoughts and experiences to be read and, probably, scrutinized by friends and strangers alike is a foreign, scary challenge.

And yet, as I was reflecting on these blog posts, reading through others’ posts, I realized that so too is this internship, at least in some ways. Don’t get me wrong – it’s not 24 hours a day, 7 days a week of immense, horrible hardships that make me question my sanity for applying for this internship. Not at all. But day after day, unfailingly, I encounter some new obstacle that challenges my assumptions and expectations. That in itself is a vital part of the internship, and will be the ultimate source of growth while away for these 6 months. It is also, possibly, the main underlying motivator to embark on the CAPI internships. Being pushed and pushed, challenge after challenge will provide an opportunity to challenge our assumptions and change ourselves.  

The next 4 months are sure to bring a plethora of new challenges, but I have high hopes that there will be lots of opportunities for learning, engagement, and fun. I’m really looking forward to getting more settled into life here. I want to work on photography. I want to deepen my understanding of Bahasa Melayu, and get to the point where I can understand some of the lunchtime conversations.

My next blog posts will go into more detail about MSRI and they work they do for the community, and the work that I’m doing for them. Stay tuned for more!