As I approach the final stages of my internship in Malaysia, I find it fitting to dedicate this blog post to sharing my experiences during my concluding weeks in Sabah.
Save Water, Reduce Waste Event:
Our team organized a community program titled ‘Save Water, Reduce Waste’ in partnership with two important campaigns: the Save Water campaign led by Pascale and the Waste Management Campaign led by Olivia. The turnout exceeded our expectations, with participants of all ages, from school-aged children to adults. We conducted demonstrations to illustrate simple ways to compost, recycle, and conserve water.
Kota Kinabalu Adventures:
The following week brought unexpected twists. First, we had to bring Pascale to the hospital, where she stayed for an entire week. In the midst of this, our apartment’s electricity temporarily went out (no lights, fans, or beloved AC), so Olivia and I moved to an Airbnb. Remarkably, our new place was conveniently located just across the street from Pascale’s hospital, making daily visits easy. It was refreshing to experience a change of scenery and be in downtown Kota Kinabalu, exploring a new neighbourhood and being closer to the beach. Here are some pictures of Olivia and me taking advantage of our proximity to the beach, where we rented SUP boards to watch the sunset from the water.
National-Level World Indigenous Day Celebrations:
The following week, we journeyed to Telupid, a town in Sabah’s interior, for the annual national-level celebration of World Indigenous Day. These three days were truly captivating as Indigenous people from various Kampungs across Malaysia gathered to showcase their diverse cultures. It was heartwarming to reconnect with familiar faces from the Orang Asli community, whom I had met at the start of my internship in Peninsular Malaysia. We enjoyed a concert featuring Indigenous youth groups, where they shared songs, dances, and musical instruments like the sapeh (pictured below) from Indigenous groups in Sarawak, Sabah, and Peninsular Malaysia. We also had the opportunity to savour various Indigenous foods, such as wild boar soup, ube kayu pork, and sticky rice cooked in bamboo. Olivia and I also deepened our understanding of the culture and belief system of the Temiar people, a sub-ethnic Orang Asli group, thanks to our friend Dendy, an Orang Asli from Kampung Jador Pos Simpor in Peninsular Malaysia, whom I had met at the beginning of my internship.
The final two days concluded with YB Jannie organizing a going-away party and Jeannie, one of the PACOS Trust members organizing a final lunch before my departure.
A recurring theme throughout my time in Sabah, which became even more pronounced in these final weeks, is the profound importance of community and the well-being of the collective, a value shared by Sabahans and many other Southeast Asian communities. Life in Sabah has taught me the significance of active community engagement for peace, happiness, and mental well-being, not just for yourself but for others—a contrast to experiencing life in urban communities in Canada, which can often times be isolating. These values manifest in simple day-to-day activities here in Sabah.
We prioritize our community in everything we do. We gather for lunch every Wednesday after our weekly blood pressure and glucose check service. During our Friday meetings, we share meals, snacks, and drinks. Our colleagues at DAP have gone above and beyond to embrace Olivia, Pascale, and me in their community, becoming a strong support system. They organize social gatherings like karaoke and salad parties, host lunches and farewell parties, help us decipher our confusing electricity bills, and are always willing to help with transportation to hospitals and walk-in clinics. I take immense pride in being part of this welcoming and vibrant community and consider myself incredibly fortunate for the bonds I have forged during my short time here. I will truly miss life in Sabah and look back on this time with so much gratitude and happiness 🙂