Speech by SEA² Student Representative, Rachel Tey (Sec 2 student of NYGH), at the closing ceremony of the 2nd SEA² Conference held at MOZAC, Malacca
SEA² hasn’t just been a regular meeting or event; it’s been so, so many new experiences for all of us. I don’t think I’ve made this many friends in one day – and forgotten so many names (I apologise). But let’s forget the embarrassing encounters of people remembering my name and me forgetting theirs, and how my friends and I fought very hard for our wiFIght in our room (which we didn’t get, sadly) because WE SURVIVED without wifi!! More than that, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed myself in so many more ways than one. Never once have I been to Jakarta to play the angklung, to Negeri Sembilan to do Silat Gayong, to the Philippines to sing, to Thailand to make flower garlands and back to Malacca to make ondeh-ondeh ALL IN ONE DAY. This is better than any travel package you’ll find out there.
Learning about others’ cultures and practices has been eye-opening. I’ve grown up in a very homogenous environment surrounded by Chinese and Chinese only and I believe some of you have as well, but whoever you are and wherever you’re from, here we are together.
It’s never been this… great learning about other cultures – most of the time we are confined in our stuffy classrooms and textbooks and worksheets; it’s great to be finally out there and actually EXPOSED to ALL OF YOU, the people with TRUE AND REAL DIVERSITY and hearing about your culture, your experiences PERSONALLY from you. And I thank you ALL for being so open and enthusiastic in sharing your beautiful cultures and telling us about the amazing things about your countries. Thank you for openly RECEIVING others’ cultures, and eager to learn about Chinese calligraphy even though the Chinese characters may not make sense to you. It’s because of our diversity that this exchange has been so very meaningful.
I’ve learnt about myself too. I’ve learnt that I can build marshmallow pyramids in 15 secs, and after learning Silat Gayong, I learnt I’m not very good at self-defence and if I’m ever attacked I guess I’ll just… umm let’s not think about it. And most importantly, I’ve learnt that I’m not that bad at making friends. Hahaha.
The greatest takeaway I have from this conference is: the world that we know… is not THE world. this experience has opened my eyes to so, so many different cultures out there and has told me that: you know, no matter how much I study my social studies textbook, there is SO MUCH out there left for me to learn and discover. It’s taught me to truly, TRULY celebrate and appreciate diversity, to continue to be amazed by all of your beautiful costumes and to REALLY, see the world.
At the same time, it saddens me that every single interaction I have with anyone in this room might be my first, and also my last. But I think that’s also why we ALL treasure every single moment we have with one another. Never once have I felt I could approach a stranger with a “hey, where ya from?” and start an extraordinary friendship from there. I am absolutely in awe of how warm this community has been, how friendly each and every one of you have been and how I will miss every single moment of this journey. As our paths meet and separate after today, I hope fate will someday, bring us back together and I wish all of you all the best.
On behalf of all the participants, thank you to the SEA² Alliance members for giving us this wonderful opportunity to gather today, MOZAC for being such awesome hosts (shout out to our superb LOs and facilitators for making the past few days so very enjoyable!!!!), teachers and helpers for always being there to make this experience as good as possible and ALL OF YOU for being part of our journey.
For the last time, when I say SEA you say square: SEA x3
We might have said “hello” in diff languages, but now we will say “goodbye” as a SEA² family.
Thank you, terima kasih, kop-kun-ka, selamat, and 谢谢