Like everyone, for most of the (almost) 19 years I’ve lived, I have been searching for a purpose in my life. I knew that somehow, in order to do so, I had to be in an extremely difficult situation that would stretch me to my wits’ ends – just so I could find out what I’m capable of.
So when the opportunity presented itself, I jumped at it. Said opportunity came in the form of an overseas community involvement project, teaching conversational English to youths in Cambodia for a period of 14 days.
Obviously, the whole idea of leaving Singapore for a good two weeks during the otherwise mundane holidays was exciting enough for me. So did the idea of travelling to an exotic and uncommon place that many have not been to. Oh wait; I get to visit Angkor Wat – which is like one of the Seven Wonders of the World – and also the temple where Angelina Jolie filmed Tomb Raider? Stop talking, and just count me in already!
I admit a part of me wanted to go on the trip for the selfish reasons stated above. But of course, at the back of my mind, these concepts of “finding myself”, “becoming independent” and “discovering my purpose” were looming about. How phony they sound when I run these thoughts through my mind.
So life goes on. I went for the selection interview, I got accepted, I went for three jabs, I flew to Cambodia, I went to many cool places, I taught English, and I flew back home. You could also add that I did some self-discovery in between.
We don’t realise how fortunate we are to be living in Singapore. Essentials to us such as education or electricity are perceived as luxuries in Cambodia. Being so close to kids in poverty was a culture shock. Having to deal with power cuts lasting for hours on end was definitely a major culture shock. Having to ration my water usage because it’s such a precious resource was yet another culture shock.
I made so many new friends on this trip. The trip also taught me invaluable life lessons and gave me experiences I would never forget. It was one rung up the ladder of self-discovery, and I’m more than glad I took the step. Of course, I still think that I have more to learn though; I haven’t found my purpose in life or anything like that. But I’m getting there.
Photos by: Shahidah
Photos by: Shahidah