LIFE has a peculiar way of imparting valuable lessons in the most unexpected of places.
That place for me was the recent 25th World Scout Jamboree in Saemangeum, South Korea.
I never thought that making a trip there would awaken within me a genuine love for my country.
Born and raised in Malaysia, I had never felt any attachment to my country growing up. It had just been the place I lived – nothing more than that.
In the hustle and bustle of our lives, it’s easy to lose sight of the profound connection we share with the land beneath our feet, the people around us, and the rich tapestry of history that defines our nation.
It was only at the jamboree, held from Aug 1 to 12, that I had a stirring in the depths of my soul, a realisation that I truly do love my country.
During my time there, I learned that there were many things that I had got used to in Malaysia and had taken for granted.
For one, there is nothing like the exceptional hospitality of fellow Malaysians. Surrounded by participants from other countries, I found myself missing the warmth and friendliness that Malaysians effortlessly exude, even towards strangers.
When my friends and I ran into other Malaysians, even though we were strangers, we would greet each other as if we had known each other for decades and in those few seconds, we felt at home.
It was as if we had been transported back to Malaysia, where everyone is your auntie, uncle, kakak, abang, jie jie, kor kor, or macha.
Despite our different faiths, cultures, customs and ways of life, we’re all Malaysians, and that makes us family.
One of the events that warmed my heart at the jamboree was Cultural Day, held at our campsite on Aug 8.
Clad in our nicest traditional attire, we prepared and shared delectable Malaysian dishes with other participants. As we strolled around, our outfits garnered compliments and caught the eyes of many.
It dawned on me then that I had often overlooked the fact that we are among the few nations that genuinely embrace and cherish our traditional clothing as part of daily life.
My friends and I had an exhilarating experience going around immersing ourselves in different cultures and indulging in cuisines from around the world.
Nevertheless, nothing beat returning to our tent to relish our remarkable Malaysian cuisine, such as cucur udang, rendang and satay.
Through my path of self-discovery, I learned that true patriotism isn’t only about flying the national flag or fervently singing the national anthem, though both are significant expressions of it.
It involves embracing and cherishing the ideas and ideals that make our nation great, as well as actively pursuing a society that reflects experienced realities, not just lofty ideals.
Ultimately, my love for my country is a strong and enduring emotion that motivates me to uphold moral principles, protect the rights of the underprivileged, and cherish all the wonderful diversity that makes our country great.
This love serves as a reminder that I call this land my home.
Adeena, 16, a student in Melaka, is a participant of the BRATs Young Journalist Programme run by The Star’s Newspaper-in-Education (Star-NiE) team.
To join Star-NiE’s online youth community, go to facebook.com/niebrats.
Tips for life
THE 25th World Scout Jamboree in Saemangeum, South Korea, was marked by a series of unexpected events.
From coping with a heatwave to evacuating due to a typhoon, participants had to rely on their adaptability skills.
Having emerged unscathed from the experience, here are my top three tips for dealing with life’s unprecedented situations.
1. Stay positive
When things don’t go to plan, it’s important to stay motivated and make the most out of your time.
At the jamboree, we had to evacuate a week in due to an incoming typhoon.
Instead of dwelling on our sadness about leaving our campsite, we made new memories and even played games together during our typhoon lockdown.
I reflect on those experiences now as fond memories that I wouldn’t change for anything.
2. Be a problem-solver
Being an effective problem-solver is of paramount importance.
When an issue arises, it’s imperative to keep a cool head and think it through.
Never rush into making a decision before weighing the pros and cons of every option.
3. Embrace a growth mindset
Overcoming our fixed mindset can sometimes be the hardest struggle in dealing with everyday problems.
Look at everything as a learning experience. All these small problems that arise and affect you in your journey is what shapes you to become a better person.
In order to truly love who you are becoming, you must also learn to love the things that are shaping you.
Now that you have read the article, test your understanding by carrying out the following English language activities.
1 What does loving your country mean? List five ways in which you show your love for your country.
2 Loving our country also means showing care for our fellow citizens. Write a message to a fellow Malaysian to show your care and concern.
The Star’s Newspaper-in-Education (Star-NiE) programme promotes the use of English language in primary and secondary schools nationwide. For Star-NiE enquiries, email firstname.lastname@example.org.