Frustration and Calmness


Patience has always been one of my weaknesses. Being a part of the peacebuilders fellowship and having to work in the field where not everything can be planned ahead, I am already feeling my patience being tested. I have always enjoyed flexibility and not having to sit in an office all day has been my ideal job, but waking up in the morning and not exactly know what to expect is a whole different story, especially in a place where I am not used to. I want to get this work done. I want to get it done properly. It is real people and their true suffering we are talking about after all. Not certain on how to walk that path is getting me anxious…

The almost unbearable hot and humid weather, which often followed by a heavy rain, coupled with unstable internet connection add up to my frustration. Thanks to Janine’s calmness and continued reassurances that keep me relaxed and optimistic.

Just when I started to get restless again and felt that I had to be doing something ‘concretely’ productive (though wondering around the city, talking to people, and taking a bus out of town were an unforgettable experience to explore the dynamic of the city), Janine and I heard back from the ActionAid Myanmar. We both had a good feeling about this and we were right.

We met with Dr. Ahamad, the country director, briefly and had a meeting with Dr. Kumar, who is an Advisor-Governance and Field Operations. Both doctors were very kind, informative, and welcoming. Dr. Kumar sat calmly on the other side of the table while Janine and I explained him about our fellowship and our expected outcomes of the project. He then kindly agreed to take us along to visit the villages and to live with the locals. Just before leaving his office, Dr. Kumar turned towards me and said “They won’t think of you as a foreigner”.

“I don’t speak the language though”. I argued (which I probably should not have given his amazing experiences and the lack of mine).

“They won’t”. He repeated with a reassuring smile.

Thinking back, this is one of the reasons why I chose to come to Myanmar. I was hoping that my identity as an Asian, among many others I identify myself with, would allow me to “fit in”. I am hoping that the people would open up to me and share their stories if they wish…

Again, I am writing this blog on a plane ride. Due to my family emergency, I have to come back to Thailand for a few days. Coming to the airport right after the meetings, I am still wearing a “longyi”. It would be interesting to see how people, including my family, react seeing me in this. This will be another small social experiment for tonight.

Smiling to myself, I take another deep breath and remind myself that things will be just fine…


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