Friday, November 20

When I first stepped into the departure platform in the airport, I was bit nervous as well as in tense since it was my first journey abroad all by myself. I was thinking of what would happen to me, how I face if something arises. Since I had never gone through the standard procedure in the airport all by myself, I always had my dad to take care of those things. 

And to be honest I hardly had any idea of my project and what I had to do. But anyways my curiosity and my confidence that I can do anything by myself enabled me to get through all the challenges. When I first called my exchange participant (EP) manager for the first time after I came out of the Malaysian airport, I was so confused and perplexed since I couldn’t understand a single word he told me as I wasn’t familiar with their accent and all. Fortunately I managed myself to go to the station he asked me to come. Then we travelled to our university, “UKM”. When I went there I met a bunch of AIESECers which gave me some relief that I was in the right place. Next morning I was so anxious to see my group members as from the moment I woke up. When I went to cafeteria I met a bunch of strangers from all around the world whom I never thought that they would be a part of me. But then I realized after our first info session that I was in a mix cultural family and I was part of something bigger than myself.

I had never worked with a bunch of foreign students just like me before. My new family members were Aiza from Kazasthan, Adzhara from Kirigizthan, Milk from China, Abira from Pakistan, Bilal from Pakistan, Astitva from India, Donavan from Taiwan and Saiveer from India. 





When it came to choose a leader within ourselves, I was wondering where I would fit in this team of mine. Even though I wasn’t voted to become the leader I determined to contribute my best to my team. Then came our first workshop along but we basically didn’t prepare for it that much since we went to some mall to have some fun Fortunately we managed to get some slides from the AIESEC which helped us immensely in our workshop. In our first workshop we had to spread awareness of recycling specifically e-waste recycling to the students in the age group of 12-15. It was literally a disaster since we weren’t prepared and hardly anyone was interested in what we were saying. But to the end of it we pulled ourselves back from the hell and finished with a bang. But as soon as we came back we reflected back ourselves and recognized what went wrong and how we should improve ourselves for the better. It was such a team spirit I never had felt before since we worked hard and made all the slides by ourselves by handing over different sections to each and every one of us. 



Then came our first weekend which everyone desperately anticipated. At the time my new family had grown to 30 members including all the exchange participants from all the 3 projects. We decided to go to the Cameron Highlands as a family since it is rather better than splitting us and going to different places. At that time I was so overjoyed and was feeling so crazy since after we went there we enjoyed a lot and did some ridiculous things which I never ever had thought I would do. In the next week we had to teach the basic knowledge of e-waste and IT to an orphanage. Until then we never thought or experienced that kind of a thing. They were so keen on learning and here and there were cracking some jokes, we became so bonded with them throughout the week. 


After toiling hard all the week long to teach kids and make their lives for better, we went to Lankkawi island for 5 days since it was the festive season. We enjoyed and had an awesome and a nostalgic time in our lives with the beautiful beaches and breathe taking small islands. Then in the next two weeks we had to teach about Photoshop and video editing to another orphanage which even we weren’t that good. So we had to learn them by ourselves at first by watching some tutorials in youtube and staying up the whole night. Since I was good at teaching, I had to conduct the first session. When I went there suddenly a bunch of little girls and boys gathered around me and called me,” teacher teacher” with their sweet voices which I had never heard from kids. 

They were absolutely so eager to learn which inspired me so much to use all my energy and effort in teaching. I have to say that I had never seen such a bunch of kids who were interested in learning. Their affection towards me motivated me to strive hard and teach all throughout the two weeks. The look on their eyes is still is in my heart and their sweet little voices still is echoing in my ears. I then finally realized the real purpose in my life, I had gain a lifelong satisfaction which I can never earn by money or whatever. At the brink of desperation and at the time I had lost hope in myself and the world, those kids gave me a new purpose a new life a vision to worth living for. We were so much bonded and attached to them since we played with them, shared our experiences with them simply we spend all of our time with them. At the end , just before we had to leave , some little girls asked me ,” Teacher teacher are you coming back?” , which brought some tears into my eyes and for the first time I felt that much of an agony which burned me of love affection to them. So reluctantly I had to say good bye to them. Then they hug me and thanked me for teaching. 

They were the best days of my life and they are the best students I have. Then I determined to come back in the future and make heaven for their lives. In that weekend we travelled to Pangkor Island with our mentor Vincent for our project work. Second day morning we cleaned the beautiful beach of the pangkor and then we made some new innovative stuff by using waste. It was so much fun for the team since we came up with the most crazy and ridiculous creations ever. Then at the night we had to collaborate with the local children and help them to make some upcycling creations of their own. In that situation we faced the most challenge of all was that none of the children could understand English not even a little. 

Then our saviours, our Chinese guys came into action and helped us get through that challenge as well. In the next morning we had to spread awareness of recycling to the locals by distributing leaflets to houses. So I teamed up with Milk since she could speak Chinese so I had to do nothing while 
she did all by herself. Then we came back to our university again. Next two weeks went into flyer and the days literally flew. When it came to the last 3 or 4 days I was beginning fell afraid to go back to home since then I would lose my new family. Again I was in a confused situation and was in two minds whether to go back or not. At that time we were like a real family, we shared everything and we knew everything about each other including all the darkest things.

Then came the global village which we had to maintain a stall for our respective countries by ourselves. I, Insaf and Yasiru did a great job in preparing and making ours the best stall in the event. At then I realized by seeing all the stalls and my mates what was the meaning cross cultural experience. We all were dressed in our national attires and our stalls were filled with our cultural trifles. It was a wonderful and a marvellous event. In the next night we were given the certificates in the award night. It was the last night we all were together as one family for the last time. At the end of the night everyone became so emotional of leaving one another and almost everyone cried that day. And then with a broken heart I came home of losing my second family. 


"Through my amazing experience thanks to AIESEC I have gained the life essence of friendship, love, passion, affection. And I have realized the purpose of my life"



Want to know more about going on an exchange?

Pawan Samarakoon
Faculty of Engineering
University of Moratuwa

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