You guys will not believe how many drafts I have for this blog at the moment. I know it seems like I have forgotten everything but no. I stumbled upon a few difficulties and I don't know how to bounce back from it and continue writing my Chapter 21 series. I just need to settle a lot of things that's going on at the moment and I will refine and publish those drafts. I am quite demotivated because the memories are not that fresh and my feelings and thoughts might not be as raw as my previous posts. I also have trouble putting it into words and into this blog. So it sometimes needs me to be in the right mood for it. Another problem I might encounter is when I am in the mood, I might choose to write my book instead of my blog. So that would delay the whole blog post publishing as well.

Plus, Chapter 21 has not ended yet. I have so many more to say about my journey into being 21 and I am still experiencing it, writing my own path and what not. It is on going. With that, I might be publishing things out of order though the archive would still be in order depending on when it happened and when I started writing them. So ya da ya da ya da. I don't know why I am explaining this to you. Maybe I am so frustrated seeing all these drafts and this long hiatus is KILLING me.

I don't know, I am sure I will get all of this arranged. It's so hard to maintain and commit to something, isn't it?

Friday, February 26, 2016

Mental Health

I have been meaning to write this post since Mental Health Awareness week last year but it stayed on my drafts list for so long, I deleted it and decided to start fresh.

Mental health is a serious issue that has not been given as much attention as physical health. Worse, people assume that mental health problems are funny, made up and is something that can be shaken off without proper treatments. A slight cold will leave a worry crease on a mother's forehead but a depressed son is told to get up and quit being so blue. A guy with cancer gets chemotherapy but a woman with suicide thoughts gets to sit at the corner of her room trying to drown her demons down. Most people don't get help for mental illness due to a few reasons. One of it is the public stigmatization. They are scared of being isolated and labelled by their friends and colleagues. It is better to just disregard the problem rather than having to face everyone, like having a mental problem is not bad enough. Can you just imagine the suffering you have to bear when you do not get help for a sickness you face? And it is harder for them because they cannot admit of having them which means there is no one that can help.

Another reason why mental illness can go untreated is due to lack of self-awareness. People might think that mental health issues does not affect them, where as it is quite common. In 2014, one in five American adults experienced a mental health issue, one in 10 young people experienced a period of major depression and one in 25 Americans lived with a serious mental illness, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or major depression. But Yasmin, that's in the US, you say. Okay, let's see. It is estimated that about one in six of the adult population in England and Wales will have a significant mental health problem at any one time. 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year. Approximately one in every five Australians will experience a mental illness in each year. The world stats from WHO claims that one out of four people are affected in mental disorder. That's around 450 million people currently suffer from such conditions, placing mental disorders among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide. It is a comprehensive problem but it goes unspoken for quite some time. There are still communities that fail to address this issue fairly. For that, many thought that it is normal to face what they are facing. They think they are just 'unlucky' to feel unease all the time.

So now we know why mental illness patients won't get help, let's discuss about stigmatization which is the core of the problem. Many people believe that people with mental illness can get violent and their actions are unpredictable. That might be the case but not most times. Statistic has it that only 3%-5% has violent tendency. And surprisingly, many are 10 times more likely to be a victim of violence instead! So, isolating those who are mildly ill is not the right move. Just because they get help, it doesn't mean the situation is bad. Let people get the right treatment and if the doctor said it is severe, that's what a psychiatric ward is for. Also, remember that psychiatric wards are not just there because doctors are afraid that they will hurt themselves or others. It is also where these mental health patients can get better treatments. Just like any illness, they don't contain you in wards just because it is contagious but also because they need to keep a closer eye on you so you can get better faster. Another stigmatization that is completely false is that people with mental illness are not trying hard enough to get better. People with depression and bipolar disorder gets this a lot. The society do not understand that it is an actual illness and not something that could just go away. It has nothing to do with being lazy, it is really a sign of an unhealthy mind.

So how do you know if you or any of your loved ones have mental illness? The following are some symptoms:

1. Feeling worried or anxious
2. Feeling depressed or unhappy
3. Emotional outbursts
4. Sleep problems
5. Weight or appetite changes
6. Quiet or withdrawn
7. Substance abuse
8. Feeling guilty or worthless
9. Changes in behaviour or feelings

Severe ones would include strong feelings of anger, strange thoughts (delusions), seeing or hearing things that aren't there (hallucinations) or growing inability to cope with daily problems and activities.

So today, I want everyone to start with one thing, to please do not belittle people with mental health problems. Stand up for them when you have the chance, help them if you know anyone suffering from it and raise awareness as much as possible. It will just fall to place in the society sooner or later.

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Thursday, February 25, 2016

To English or Not To English?

This evening, British High Commission Kuala Lumpur held a debate in my university, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia on the topic "Does an English Medium Education Increase Competitiveness or Dilute Identity?". It was moderated by Sharaad Kuttan with 6 panelists, Cheryl Ann Fernando, Mohamad Raimi Ab. Rahim, Prof. Dr. Malachi Edwin Vethamani, Wan Saiful Wan Jan, Prof. Emeritus Abdullah Hassan and Iqbal Hafiedz. Her Royal Highness Raja Zarith Sofia, Chancellor of UTM came as the honored guest.

The topic itself is quite heavy considering that there are two arguments here, the question of identity or culture and the question of achievements. It is very interesting to see different views and perspectives of how an implementation on education will and can effect who and how. I have to admit there were too many opinions being put to the table both from the panels and from the audience, but I am just going to share on what I agreed from this debate and some opinions of my own.

First, let's talk about how an English medium education increases competitiveness. It is very clear that learning English is just a process of acquiring another set of skills, which happens to be a very useful one in extending our other abilities for English is the medium of accessibility and communication to the world beyond Malaysia. However, in order to extend the said abilities, we need to first acquire them through knowledge. Education can get us there but how do we get a fair education when everything is too foreign?

I am interested in the agreement of choice that many highlighted, since it would set a fair playing field for everyone. Let the parents choose if they want their child to learn in an English medium education or in Malay. Let them be responsible of their choices rather than letting them play the blame game on the government. Plus, when the children is learning a language that the parents are comfortable with, it will create a harmonious environment in the house where the parents can get involve in their children's educational progress. So, it comes back to the main purpose of a nation providing education for its people. If it is to fulfill a welfare requirement for the citizens, who cares what language it was delivered in. As long as they get the message, it is fine. But if the objective of providing education is to increase marketability or actually increasing global competitiveness for the development of the nation, obviously the skill of good proficiency in English is vital. Different people has different abilities and to implement a policy where everyone has to follow despite their preferences or the things they lack or their distinguish background, is just not right. One size do not fit all.

Moving on to cultural dilute, I have to say at some point, yes, encouraging someone to use English more to allow them gain the proficiency will make it hard for them to use their mother tongue sometimes. The only reason people like me still manage to balance both is because of the existence of  Malay that do not speak in English and we have to speak Malay to each other. But if everyone speaks English and totally disregard our mother tongue, is 6 periods of class every week going to suffice? That is a genuine question from me because even though I have been in different kind of environment my whole life (I move a lot and I had studied in rural area before also in an urban one), there is always someone I can speak Malay to at the end of the day, so I do not know the outcome of having to speak English 24/7 without a Malay pause somewhere in between. On another view, we need to look at what 'losing our culture' means. Is it getting replaced by a new one, or is it having a new identity that is not in line with the typical culture that the society pressures on a certain community? Speaking English does not make one English. True, to learn a language is to get in touch with the culture, but to know a culture and to practice them are two different things. A culture has always evolve with time but they are not forgotten. That's why I do not think anyone should be worried. Identity dilution is certainly at the power of individual's hands.

To sum up, I do believe English medium education is important for the development of the country with the right implementation because at the end of the day, education is about knowledge, not jobs.

Thursday, February 18, 2016


From 25th January till 3rd February, I attended a summer camp in Surabaya, CommTECH Camp Insight 2016. This is my first time going abroad so I was pretty excited. However, I was more excited of the fact that I would be meeting all these international participants and share a whole 10 days with them. I learned a lot and I had so much fun. I have made friends with people that never in my wildest dream would I have met. I have not cried for some time now but I did when the tires of the plane left the ground of Surabaya. Tears slowly roll down my cheeks and didn't stop until I was asleep.

Not planning on doing a full report of what I experienced in Surabaya. I plan on keeping the sweet memories to myself and let it be remembered by those who were there, that shared every moments with me. But I do plan on sharing information and raise a few social awareness and issues. Technically, that's all I've been doing in this blog anyway.

Now that I have been abroad, I understood the big deal everyone was making about travelling. Being in different environments, meeting different people, seeing more and more of this world opens your mind. It is a way to gain knowledge, and at its best too. Through experience. It definitely makes you realize a lot of things and what you gain varies to how you wish to see things during your journey. Being out of your comfort zone also activates this part of you that do not really care of being the fish out of the water because you already are. When your mind stops thinking about things that don't matter, that is when it soaks up information better and that's when it is able to think better. You also become more adventurous since the only justification to your decision making is 'if not now, when?'. The sensation of being free from perceptions and non-existence fear is really refreshing and quite addictive. Maybe that's what triggering wanderlust.

The world is our home but we always fail to see what our brothers and sisters from other parts of the world is facing. We stay at one place all our lives, talking to the same people every single day. Hence, we always make it about ourselves when we talk about big issues especially regarding our country. Youths are always pushed to be able to think creatively and critically but how are they able to that without the proper exposure. True Internet now gives you access to limitless information but it is not the same as human interaction. Our capacity to empathize is nurtured from it and there is only 2 ways you can do that. Go out and talk to different people or stay where you are but talk to people outside of your circle. Though the former is much more effective than the latter, both are still way better than living in your own bubble.

Here are some things I learn from my trip to Surabaya that I would love to share:

1. Unity in diversity 
Do you know how amazing it is to meet people from different countries, backgrounds, ethnicity and way of thinking? You learn so much from their experiences, stories and reactions. Even if you are not good at reading people (like myself), when our differences are too vibrant, you notice all the beautiful individuality of everyone. And it kind of gives you a new sight to how you look at people. However, what blew my mind is not how different we were but how we are the same. How we are just human. We eat, we get hungry, we laugh, we have fun, we get tired, we get annoyed, we enjoy, we cry, we love. There is nothing different in that. We always can relate to each other when we talk about anything at all and we share the same emotions in moments. Can you understand how wonderful that is?

2. Issue of sanitation is overlooked in Malaysia
So in CommTech, I was assigned a sub-course on sanitation. There I learned about the local problems Indonesia is having on sanitation, open defecation, waste water treatment and local awareness. I learn that people care when it is a problem that affects them but nobody bats an eye is that problem does not concern the comfort of their life. Malaysia has 96% of access to sanitation which is amazing but we have a problem regarding our waste water treatment. Since it is not something that we see, we assume it is all taken care of. True, it is. But the maintenance and operation is costly. Many Malaysians have no idea how important it is to pay their Indah Water bill. Sure, our problem doesn't seem as bad as other countries that are having it worse but it is still a problem. If we want to be a developed country, every citizens should be aware and concern of every issues that the country is facing.

3. Life is for living
Take a chance as much as you can. If there is something that you have always wanted to do, make it an aim and do it. Stress and bad moments are just part of life, don't make them the only thing about life. Have something to look forward to, even if it is beyond your reach. If you dream and pray hard enough, who knows it may come true. Work everyday with a goal in your eyes and it won't seem pointless, every bad things won't seem so bad. I really wish I can keep this positivity alive in me so that I can endure everything that's coming it my way and be happy. Because that's all that I want. To be as happy as I was in Surabaya.

I thank Allah every single day for this trip and I appreciate the people that came into my life because of this. Can't wait for my next adventure abroad!