There is a first time for every single thing and my first RCA outside my own country (Indonesia) was definitely anticipated to be quite unique and thrilling. There isn’t always a chance for firsthand experience for the things I love doing, sometimes I have to be satisfied with listening to or reading others’ shared stories. In RCA, each experience is firsthand. So if firsthand experiences stick longer in my memory, I reckon first-time firsthand ones would stick even longer.
RCA experience has been and is always meant to be professional exposure, but the way it touches and shapes me on a personal level has been priceless. It humbles me over and over again, and is a constant reminder of what humanity is all about – both in the sense of how ordinary humans interact with one another, as well as how compassion, sympathy and empathy emerge strongly because one experiences firsthand being in other people’s shoes.
No matter whether it is within own country or outside, I look forward to being surprised in seeing and experiencing differences as well as similarities which humanity can offer. I could see some common threads between rural areas from staying in two villages of far-western Nepal and the villages in Papua, Indonesia. Whether a farmer in the steep rocky hills of Nepal or in the fertile coastal land of Papua, my papas welcomed me in their homes and treated me as the sister of their own daughters. My Papuan father gave me his secret trick of getting hold of good quality seeds which he could guarantee make very sweet rambutan fruits – it turned out to be a hilarious secret which made me laugh so hard that I can’t share with anyone else! My Nepali father gave me a very useful tip to have beautiful hair like my sisters there: the mustard plant they grew themselves in front of their house. He even told mom – his wife – to pack their home-made mustard oil for me to bring home. Of course I regretfully, kindly turned down their generosity… but it is those exact generosity and warmth presented by my host families and their close-to-nature life that I bring home and reminisce.
Furthermore, the experience taught me that although the two countries may face different seasons and consequently different challenges, as well as having dissimilar traditional social stratifications and groupings, our coping strategies and how we rise above challenges indicate that we are not that unalike.
But of course, I am ready to have these conclusions challenged in my next international opportunity!