Written by Cindy Au
August 19th, 2011
For the past nine months, I have been carrying in my wallet a note written by a boy whose face I no longer remember. Scribbled in broken English, the note reads: “Forget me not and visit me if you have the time. I hope you enjoy your life and get the things you want.” Despite its worn edges and wrinkles, the note embodies all of my fondest memories of SEALNet Project Thailand 2010.
One never knows what images one can preserve in one’s memory, returning to the warm and consoling environment of one’s country after an expedition abroad. As I sit here in the cozy atmosphere of our hostel’s reception room to write this blog, I realize with a great nostalgia that most of what I most vividly and longingly recall from the trip last year has been lost. I remember the little girl whose eyes sparkled every time I bought her a cone of ice cream, and I remember the way the kids giggled every time I greeted them in incorrect gestures. But mostly, the trip has vanished, leaving behind only this little note and the sweet memories of the children whose smiles still shine brightly in my heart.
Today is in many ways a very important stepping-stone for our team as a whole, and for me personally. Today is the day we get to meet our high school mentees! Just as my interactions with the local students in Thailand have changed me, I sincerely hope that our team will be able to touch as many of our mentees’ lives as possible, as I am absolutely certain they will touch ours. In every SEALNet project, something in me changes, it seems to me, and further motivates me to inspire a new generation of service leaders who are not only equipped, but also dedicated to making a difference in their own community. No matter what changes take place in the world, or in me, I hope that somewhere, in another corner of the world, there is someone whose heart the sincerity of our mission has touched.
There were two very powerful activities during our meeting with the students today. The first one was a sharing activity facilitated by Sophie and Phy in which everyone sat in a circle and wrote down anonymously what he/she looked forward to the most and is most concerned about with respect to the project. After the notes had been placed in the middle of the circle, everyone took turn to come up and read off one of the notes in the pile.This activity, however simple, did a great deal in connecting everyone in the room. People’s thoughts are so exposed at moments like this, their deepest hopes and fears lying naked on the floor. As a participanting the event, I couldn’t help but feeling safe, warm, and even hopeful, as I gradually realized that despite our cultural differences and roles in the project, we all share the same hopes and fears. The atmosphere was solemn enough, the confessions were sincere enough, to give the exalted feeling of being a part of something special, something full of aspirations, something that although challenging, holds endless promises to be fulfilling.
The second activity was the round table discussion in which we all took turn to share our motivations for joining the projects. As people opened their heart and shared how their backgrounds have motivated them to take part in the project, we sat solemnly in the room, being grounded in the presence and the wonderful feeling of being understood and inspired. From the enthusiasm of the students, our team members derive a feeling of personal fulfillment. When the reflective activity comes to an end and everyone sat there silently in the room, grasping the gradual emergence of a powerful community of like hearted individuals, the high school mentees’ energy becomes that of mine, and life seems hopeful, joyful, and gratifying.
I sat there silently and smiled. I have never felt so fulfilled.
Here in this little corner of Singapore, brain and heart, faith and hope, are linked in unity as we march on toward a lofty endeavor.
- ps11 posted this