29 August to 4 September
This was a very festive week, since the National Independence Day was celebrated August 31.
On Monday and Tuesday, with the help of some friends, Ibe (AFS student from Belgium) and I worked on painting a mural in the school. We also helped Amma clean her classroom in preparation for officials coming to evaluate our school.
Tuesday night, I went to a Merdeka Eve celebration. August 31 is Merdeka Day, the Malaysian independence day.
I saw a traditional Malay dance, met the wife of a government official, heard some speeches (which I didn’t understand), and saw fireworks!
The next day, Wednesday, we did not have school due to the national holiday. Amma took all four of us AFSers living in Tapah and nearby Tapah Road to Ipoh for the Merdeka Day Parade.
Malaysians highly value synchronized marching, known as kowad. School students participate in chewed groups at school who attend competitions. This Independence Day parade consisted of lots of marching/ kowad groups: school groups, government employees, public works employees (the water and electricity companies each had groups marching), and the inspiration for it all– the military (each branch of the military was represented with marching in the parade).
After the parade, we went to a saree shop, a place that can best be described as a heaven on earth full of some of the most beautiful fabrics ever.
At first, the overwhelming explosion of color makes it hard to see the beauty of one individual saree, but the more one looks at the sarees and imagines wearing them, the more beautiful they become, until the viewer decides that they would like to buy and wear every single one of the thousands of sarees in the store. After two hours in the store trying on and buying Punjabi suits, I decided that I would like to wear a saree 24/7: I would like my school dress code to just be sarees, and sarees should be invented that are waterproof, some that are pajamas, and some that are exercise attire.
At school on Friday, we went to our first class of the week for 80 minutes, since most of the week was spent preparing for visitors coming to the school to evaluate our library since SMK Dato’ Panglima Perang Kiri (our school) is a candidate for having the best school library in the state. (Our library is really nice! I don’t have pictures, but it’s very pretty and colorful and there are board games!)
On Saturday, we went to Penang for the day since Amma had a meeting. My host brother took me to a market nearby where vendors sold everything from fruit and drinks to rat poisoning: clothes (including a lot of Nike/Under Armour/Adidas replicas) and bags, metal sculptures and old currency, pet rabbits and fish and birds, toys, cellphones, and pesticides.
Later that day, we went to Ipoh for another of Amma’s meetings. Anne (means brother in Tamil, pronounced ahn-neh) took me to Ipoh Parade mall, which was very fun!!
The next day, I relaxed at home, and then later that night accompanied Anne and Periamma Muthu (Aunt Muthu) to a temple in the town of Bidor.
It was a fun week! My homesickness is less frequent, and I really love my host family.
Next week’s update will come soon. Let me know in the comments if you have any questions! Enjoy