Kuala Lumpur Week 4: Malaysian “Culture” and Politics

Just like any other week, this week has been nothing but an exciting and fun learning experience. I got the opportunity to interview three international student exchange participants from Turkey. I go to speak with them and learn more about Turkish culture, food, and educational experience. I think the most rewarding part of my job is getting to meet students my age from all over the world and getting their perspective on politics, education, and overall experience. The three Turkish women I met were so wonderful and I hope to keep in touch with them. Additionally, I got to speak with my friend and coworker, Zach, about Malaysian politics not only at the federal level but also at the state level. We talked about freedom of speech and how much content and press is censored Malaysia. We compared and contrast American law and Malaysian law. My conversation with Zach definitely got me thinking about my research project. Since political science and international relations is my passion, I would like to focus my research in that field. I would say that I still don’t have a full and comprehensive grasp on Malaysian politics, but I hope to learn more as I do more research

Besides work, I went out with Gypsy to a local, night hip-hop show in Bangsar, Kula Lumpur. The night scene in Bangsar is completely different than anything I’ve experienced in Kuala Lumpur so far.    Most of the people I interacted with in Bangsar were non-Muslim Indians and Chinese. It also seems like they were more willing to talk about politics and criticize the government for its shortcomings. I also learned that diversity is not the same as inclusion in Malaysia. The people at met at Bangsar told me all about the inequality between Malays and non-Malays. They explained to me how race and religion play a huge factor in Malaysia and how the government tends to favor Malays over Malaysia. This dynamic reminds me somewhat of the race relations in the United States.

Besides talking about politics and race, I also had discussions about hip-hop and the music scene in Malaysia. This also got me thinking about possibly incorporating music in my research. I am still not sure about the direction that I want to take this research, but I hope I can figure it out soon. It is sad to see my internship quickly coming to an end. It seems like I started just yesterday and before I know it, I have just two more weeks left at the International Affairs Office. I know I say this every week, but I am so grateful for this opportunity because, without Freeman, none of this would be possible. Even though my internship was not what I expected it to be (they give me very little work to do), I am making the best of it by going outside my comfort zone to interact with people and learn from them. I hope the next two weeks will be even better.

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