We began our journey at 7:00 am at the Pierre-Elliott Trudeau Airport last Saturday, September 26. After our departure, we soon realized the next time we would be able to sleep in a bed would be the following Monday, a full two days later (taking the 12-hour time difference into consideration).
Furthermore, during those first two days, we took three planes, a two-hour bus ride, two hot ferry rides, and an hour-long car drive to Tioman Island, Malaysia. This is where we spent our first week for the Pre-Conference of the Round Square International Conference 2015-2016.
This past week has been filled with new places, foods, and cultures, as well as many laughs, and even a few tears. Overall, I had experiences I will never forget. We went snorkeling, and saw all kinds of interesting species of fish in the diverse coral reefs of Tioman Island. We also took in the sights, sounds, smells, and heat while hiking the dense island rainforest. Furthermore, we learned about the turtle initiative that takes place on the island: Volunteers have opened a hatchery in an attempt to preserve the turtle population on the island.
My favorite experience was the agriculture project; we were invited to a family’s private property to taste and actually plant some traditional fruits and vegetables. It amazed me to see this different side of living, especially with such limited resources, as it is an island! It seemed that every person we met was kinder and even more generous than the last. After being there only a few days we could really see the sense of community among those living on Tioman Island.
Despite the hazy skies, which created a grey backdrop for all of our photographs, and forced us to cancel our camping trip, we really had an enjoyable week on the island. At the same time, we’re happy to be going back to Singapore to enjoy a long, warm shower and well-deserved rest after another day of crazy transportation, including a ferry trip on choppy waters caused by an early morning thunderstorm. – Mikaela Ludwick ’16