Ever since my dad instilled the possibility of me studying abroad, I had looked into studying in the States. I consumed their media, admired their culture, so, I had placed her on the highest of pedestals since I was young.
When the opportunity to actually travel to this country I had invested my time to daydream in came about, I grabbed it without thinking twice and began to count down the days I had left to leave the country I was born into.
When I first arrived to the U.S. some two years ago, everything looked like how it would at a jewelry store.
Everything on the surface was beautiful but after being here for this long and seeing what I have seen (i.e: my encounter with rednecks), I find myself not adoring this country I had dreamt of being in as I used to.
Being here for this long — heck, any duration longer than a holiday period will make what happens here obvious enough — forces a person to see and unconsciously contribute to its ugliness. There are so many errors in the system that are (thankfully) being discussed currently — from police brutality to racism to sexism and white privilege.
These are all very much a part of the “American dream” just as its affiliation to being the land of free is.
But it’s not completely gloom and doom here. Sure, Americans have their faults but they have more beauty to offer than my own country and that’s what keeps my spirits to make a name for myself here afloat.
Here, I have conversations with beautiful souls about fighting the system and staying aware of the inequalities.
Here, we can express our frustrations and dissatisfaction towards authorities without it being labeled as “seditious”. Here, we do our best to be the change we want to see in the world, and being in a country that actually practices democracy, the possibilities of our attempts to make changes that benefit everyone is high; we can make it happen together.
On the other end of the world though (here’s looking at you, Malaysia), achieving these same goals are a distant dream.
As much as I miss it — mainly the 24-hour mamaks, my family, and being able to drive past the speed limit without getting a ticket — I know it isn’t a country I can grow in. Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t forgotten my roots and I love my country with all my heart, but Malaysia, you bring me down.
How can a person strive to be the best when the best aren’t, or in some cases, are restricted from swimming out of the pond?
People talk about leaving all the time, I get it, I endorse it, but did we really “leave” if we still stick to the same groups of people we had back home and if our minds haven’t been broadened? I’m still bumping into acquaintances every so often (how are we all in the same place?!) that keep themselves in the same comfort zones as they did back home — we run in the same circles and that circle just keeps turning in of itself.
Malaysia is a country that has many things to offer — and yes, more than our food — but we fail to meet it because the people that call the shots are consumed by greed, denial, and ignorance.
How is it possible for an island that is located a mere 5-hour drive away from us have been able to build an impenetrable economy and build a reputation for itself that doesn’t surround its corruption? Why didn’t we learn from them?
I started KUL with the mission to show people — not just those abroad — but our own people that we, as Malaysians, are capable of more than what we’re narrated into thinking we are. One of the things I want to work on is for you, the Malaysians, to see what we can be — and we are more intelligent (we know the difference between brands and its product, i.e: Kleenex vs. tissue papers), we have more resources but we sell ourselves short — often times, it’s not by choice, but due to the lack of platforms to express ourselves on.
I’d like KUL to be that platform for you.
We welcome new contributors and content ideas with open arms. We acknowledge that it can be intimidating to post your work on the Internet — which is something that could possibly be linked to our unofficial guideline of keeping our heads low — however, if you have the talent to make positive changes, we encourage you to flaunt it. If you have something to say that will birth a new perspective, even if it’s not something that’s widely accepted, we’d like to hear it.
At the end of the day, your story matters.
In conjunction with Independence Month, we’re inviting Malaysians to send in their work — no matter the medium or language — as we’d like to showcase Malaysians of every background. We pride ourselves in being a country that’s filled with diverse races and cultures (hello 1MDB), so, we’d like to reflect that on our site.
Don’t be shy or feel anything less than when it comes to submitting because we all have to start somewhere.
If you’d like to pitch an idea you have been toying with in your mind but wasn’t sure how to go about it, that’s welcomed too! One of KUL’s contributors, Rathika, wrote a post on pitching stories for those who have never done it before — read it here.
KUL is growing every day and we want you to be a part of this growth. If you’d like to takeover our social media accounts for the day or edit posts, we’re open to discuss that too. Full disclosure though, we are a non-profit publication, but we are working on gaining revenue in order to have the ability to pay our contributors but until that happens the only kind of compensation we have to offer are our wits and willingness to learn. So, if that appeals to you, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
And like we’ve said time and time again, janganlah malu, bro.