In 2003 our daughter, known here as Fangirl, was selected to go to Malaysia for a year long exchange with AFS. She left in January 2003 and returned in December that same year. She had learned Indonesian for 5 years at school and 85% of the vocabulary of Indonesian and Malaysian was the same so she was slightly advantaged over someone who had none of the language at all. However when she got there she found that the 15% of the language that was different was the 15% that was mostly used. She had expected to become quite fluent in the language whilst she was there but she found that many people over there spoke English or were trying to learn it so when she would speak to them, even though she would use Malaysian, they would reply to her in English. Her best friend was another exchange student, from Iceland who excellent English so when they hung out they tended to talk in English.
She lived with a Malaysian family in Bandar Tun Razak, Cheras which is a large city that runs into KL (Kuala Lumpur, the capital city of Malaysia) They were a muslim family but were happy to take her to Christian worship whenever she wanted to go. Her parents owned a food outlet in a food court. They worked long hours.The home was close to the food court and they rarely cooked at home. Instead when it was time for dinner one of the family would go to the restaurant and pick up some dishes to bring home to family to eat.
As Fangirl prepared for her trip, learning more about the culture of where she was going, collecting gifts and souvenirs to take with her, choosing culturally appropriate clothing to take with her, I prepared by making her a quilt to take. I cut 6.5" squares of calico which we got people to write messages to her on. She took a heap to get her classmates to sign on their last day of school and we got our friends at church to also sign a pile. I put her school friends blocks on one side with a souvenir tea towel from one of her school years and those from our church family and friends on the other side. I interspersed the signature blocks with 6.5" squares of picture fabric featuring things significant to her as well as Australiana fabric.
She took this quilt with her even though she only had limited amount of luggage. She was glad she did as the messages of love and support were important to her and supported her through some tough times. Living in another culture is not easy and living with another family is harder still. Whilst she was in Malaysia her grandfather, my Father in law was killed in car accident which was a really difficult thing for her to go through whilst living so far away.
Fangirl came home after 11 months having grown and matured a whole heap. We missed her very much whilst she was away but were really happy for her to have such an amazing experience. Her host family were very special people and we are forever grateful for the love and care they showed. her. She was able to travel back to spend some time with them whilst at university and then I got to meet them once when Fangirl and I travelled back to Malaysia in 2007 for the wedding of her host sister. She visited them again on her way to live in the UK in 2011 and in April 2015 Fixit Guy Fangirl and I are going to Malaysia for a week to spend some time with them which will be great.
|Fangirl's two mum's. Just a slight difference in height!|
|The bride and groom. Both had multiple changes of clothes over the 2 days of wedding celebrations but this was my favourite.|
|Fangirl with her Ayah (Father) and Mak (mother) Sabri and Ina was what I called them (although I forgot and would call them Ayah and Mak... mum and dad! oops)|
|Roslyn with the bride and groom. Annis and Irwan|
Linking up with Quiltin Jenny at Throwback Thursday