In Community We Trust
- 15 Posts
- Age 19
The name that I usually go by is Effie Johari and I’m from Malaysia. I’m 18 years old and currently enrolled for a preparatory course to major in Economics in the US. I started blogging when I was 12, and writing years before that. I’ve only ever been involved in activism on a small scale, participating in national campaigns and youth-centered activities. I am a strong advocate for economic equality and access to education for all, as I believe these to be the main problems that plague my country today. Otherwise, I’m interested in feminist, anti-racist, and LGBT advocacy as pertains to Malaysia. More than anything, I want to continue to learn more and widen my scope of knowledge, so I’m very grateful to the team behind VOY for choosing me as a blogging intern for what will hopefully be a very rewarding and informative experience.
I thought long and hard about what makes me proud to be a part of my community, and a part of my country. When I was in secondary school, students had to attempt essays that ask the same question, and we gave spoon-fed answers of racial harmony, political stability, economic success. Far from trying to paint my country in a dystopian light, I have simply come to realize that those things aren’t the full truth. We have a ways to go to achieve social, political and economic equality.
We do have something that few other countries are in possession of. Malaysia’s cultural diversity is beyond racial diversity, and it feeds into a community that hosts a melting pot of rich histories, foods, celebrations and traditions. But I’ve grappled with whether to attach pride to something that the citizens of this country has not actively worked towards.
As someone who has lived here for 18 years and had to deal with all its systems and institutions, I can’t find it in me to use the word ‘proud’. However, as someone who has lived here for 18 years and interacted with its people, I can say with a smile on my face that I’m happy, and that I would not choose any other country on Earth to live in.
The people I have been exposed to are kind and compassionate, warm and caring. Communities welcome instead of alienate you, and individual people are more than willing to jettison ideas of racial discrimination. There are those who fall out of this pattern, but they are the exception, not the rule. When someone says something offensive, ten others correct them. I cannot say that I’m proud of my community – what it’s achieved and what it’s composed of – but I am proud of the people in my community.
There is hope and optimism where official sources would like to confirm finality and defeatism. The people are alive, and passionate, and hungry for change. At rallies I’ve attended or witnessed, the societies and charities I’ve been apart of, I’ve been overwhelmed more than once at how eager people are to contribute to this change.
The proliferation of alternative media sources in this country has contributed a lot to my education. I’m sure plenty of Malaysians of all ages would agree with me. Youths nationwide flock to the Internet for information, and it would be a shame if they were to receive distorted or diluted information as exists in mainstream media. That is why, again, I must repeat how excited I am to be part of the blogging internship, as I get to contribute to a web of information that youths worldwide will be reading.
I look forward to blogging every week!