Tuesday, 2 January 2018

Difficulties I Faced

Hi! To all those who are reading this blog post, congratulations, because when I attended this trip, I did not read any of the blog posts - and I regretted (or not really), however, to be honest, it is always good to set the expectation right, and be readied for any challenges ahead in this trip by looking into what others had experienced. I will talk about the challenges I faced in the working days (or the data collection days) and how I changed myself in the process.

The beginning of my working days was… not productive enough.

There were several challenges I faced. One of the significant challenges was the language barrier. I am not a fluent speaker of Bahasa Melayu, nor did the locals speak the conventional Bahasa Melayu we learnt in class. However, when there is a will, there is a way, I used my elusive body language, Google translator, plus the help from my batchmates - I found the experience of data collecting more intellectual than rigid, like a happy conversation. I thought I need to be “professional” - precise and sharp to delve into the deepest core of questions I set beforehand, but eventually as I worked with my tepuq, I forgot all of that nonsense. I just wanted to know more about them - what they eat, what they face, and what are their stories ... and that became my most look-forward-to thing while I collected data. Frankly, I am a logic freak. I like to digitalise, analyse, interject and conclude in a design-thinking manner, but the nature of Bario embraced me to a different way to a manner I found myself not thinking they way I was used to thinking but instead started to behold how things were like this by nature.

To assist my deficiency in Malay proficiency, I translated everything in the booklet beforehand.

Da..daa! (I brought my data collection booklet into the muddy field). My intention was to write whenever I heard something interesting in the field... but I found that it wasn't a good idea. 

Another challenge I faced was... who cares. The key is to relish every moment so that challenges are never difficulties but an experience to make you grow as a person, especially when you are in Bario, a place where there is no peer pressure, where nature embraces you, where you are not distracted by social media, where you feel and you connect.

So to those who are afraid that you might not be able to communicate well in Bahasa Melayu, it is time to let your body speak for you; in fact, my tepuq and I had grown to an affinity in which we looked at each other… be silent for two seconds, and then we laugh, as if we got each other’s thoughts (no joke!).


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