What Advice I Can Give

I’ve never been a pessimistic person. Some might even go so far as to call me blindly optimistic. Maybe I’m a romantic but for all my cheery disposition, I won’t deny that I’ve had my doubts. Being the guinea pig batch, it was really make or break yet somehow, things went beyond any of our expectations or hopes. No matter what kind of problems we faced, things always turned out fine.
I don’t have much to offer and you’re probably tired of all my pretentious ramblings but I’ll try to keep this light and tell you the little bit that I’ve learnt.

you’d be surprised by how much funnier your lady is than you
1. You’re not working with robots
As cool as it would be to get to work with robots, you gotta remember that you’re not. Whether your teammates, the ladies you’re assigned to or even the regular townsfolk you meet on the way, you always have to be aware that these are all people. They’re people just like you, with their own aspirations, emotions and thoughts. They’re capable of light-heartedness and profound wisdom. I think it’s important to build your connections based on that fact and not to keep them at a distance where we treat each other as “us” and “them”. 
Down in the sawah

2. Don’t be afraid of a little dirt

Okay, maybe calling it “a little dirt” is an understatement. I think each of us had our fair share of mud, slop and dust. Sinking into the sawah was probably my dirtiest experience, with mud and water coming up to my waist. Even with that, I had an incredible time. Tepu Uloh made it such a good time for me, it hardly felt like work. Give me assignments or sawah work with Tepu Uloh and I’d take sawah work anytime! 

we can be pretty clueless learners at times
3. Remember what you’re there for
With all fun you’re having, it’s easy to forget your purpose. Sometimes, you’re so excited to learn words like “Petabi leketang” (good morning) and “mudan” (rain) that you don’t manage to teach as much as you learn. There should be a balance where both parties exchange what they know. More often than not, you have to remind yourself and your lady why you’re there. Otherwise, you might end up sweeping floors and learning Kelabit words without actually teaching at all!!








4. Trust each other
Photo: First group photo of Batch 1 Project WHEE! 2014 together with our Bario Asal coordinator, Sina Nicole Dayang. :D

Photographer: Jeremy Chin
family

Maybe it was a lot easier for my batch to go into this already being very close to each other but from this, I’ve learnt that people are inherently good. Don’t think that you have to do anything alone, whether it’s washing dishes or having emotional problems. You’d be surprised how willing people are to help. Be real with each other. There were plenty of times when I had really deep conversations that I just know I wouldn’t have had in any other circumstances. It wasn’t just a matter of inside jokes. These small acts of trust and care actually made our shared experiences all the richer. 



5. Come as you are
Bario doesn’t ask for much. All you really need to do is to come (clueless,naive but open-hearted) and let Bario sweep you off your feet. 

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