#sol17- January 31, 2017
This weekend I did what probably many of you did and tried to make sense of all that is going on politically in the US right now. I spent a lot of time crying- watching and reading stories of courage and cowardice. I donated to causes that I find important and then I did what I so often do, I turned to books.
We had no school on Monday because Malaysia as a multicultural country celebrates many holidays, this being Lunar New Year, so I was lucky enough to be a part of #titletalk “live”. This monthly gathering of readers always inspires me and with the topic “Fostering Awareness and Empathy” it spoke right to my heart. I headed out to the bookstore to buy one book afterward, The Journey, as I had seen it at the store on Saturday and now was determined to buy some more books detailing the migration/immigration experiences.
I walked to the bus stop and within a few minutes boarded a packed bus and I stood smushed up against the rail by the front window. I decided I would have more stability facing the back of the bus and as I turned I noticed the sea of people facing me. What struck me was here I was an immigrant/expat/guest worker from the US in a country that is Muslim jam packed in a bus with the diversity that is Malaysia and KL in particular. I was the only “Western” face in the crowd and although I often get curious looks while riding the bus I never feel unwelcome or unsafe. I smiled and received smiles in return. I did have twinges of guilt knowing that my “home” country was now making life and death decisions based on people’s religion.
My trip for one book ended up being with 10 books being bought, as it so often does, but I headed home feeling like I had some book friends to help me teach this real life curriculum that would no doubt come up in our classroom.
Going home by bus is always a challenge. The bus stops on the other side of the road from my apartment building and the street is a very busy 4 lane main thoroughfare. There are no crosswalks nearby and although sometimes traffic may be at a standstill due to traffic jams pedestrians have to be on alert for motorcyclists as they zigzag down the street. I managed to squish my way out the door after kind fellow passengers called out to the bus driver to open the door again after it closed before I could move. As I pressed myself against the concrete barrier on the side of the road I saw anther woman get out. She immediately headed for me, grabbed my hand, and together we crossed the busy road successfully. In that moment we were fellow explorers venturing into the great beyond. Once we were across the street we let go of each other and each went on our separate ways.
I felt so humbled and emotional- there was no reason for her to take pity on me, this “foreigner” struggling with three bags, but in the end, there did not need to be a reason. Her way forward was not hindered by giving me a helping hand. Isn’t that so often the case!