I wanted a challenge and I had it. It taught me that difficulties and easiness are only two sides of the same coin. --Tom Chang
My name is Tom Chang. I am a third year Biology and Nutrition student from UBC taking my first trip to a foreign country by myself. I chose to go to Pakistan because I wanted a challenge. However, I realized that the challenge soon ended after I landed or there was never a kind of challenge that I had in mind because there was no terrorist, or bombs. “Now what?” I thought to myself. What Sam, my Exchange Participant Manager in AIESEC UBC, had engrained into my mind before and during my trip was that, “it is what you make of it.”
There were more challenges ahead of me. For example, hunger, no water, no electricity, dirty apartment, or not knowing what to do if I lost my internship. I think that is the ultimate lesson I learned throughout my internship because there is nothing you can do when you are in a dire situation but only to change your interpretation of the it. Two weeks I spent my time alone in the apartment not having WiFi and without doing any internship. I was quite lost at first but I finally remembered what Sam had said to me that “it is what you make of it.” Therefore, instead of fretting over my loss of internship, I read the books I brought, watched movies I downloaded, and went to nearby cafés at night to use their WiFi and download more stuff. It dawned on me that although I cannot control the situation but I can control my thoughts.
The other lesson I learned was appreciation. During Ramadan, I have seen the both real poverty and richness co-existing together. Rich people would live in their AC-installed villas connected to an independent generator while the poor lay on the ground right outside the streets without shelter or light. It was even more staggering when I just see how many poor people there are when restaurants and mosques offer free food. Just before the offering people would sit on the pre-laid rugs and just wait. Through these poor people’s eyes I can see that begging is the only way left for them. It made me realized just how privileged and how lucky I am able to live in North America. How grateful I should be that I still have the ability to choose my future. How everything is already set up for me waiting for me to just reach out. On the other hand, these people do not have any other choice but to wait for leftovers.
During my internship I encountered a lot of different situations and people but knowing that it is what I make of it and there’s always someone who’s less fortunate than me, I had a much better experience by not thinking everything is against me and made more friends by being appreciative of what they’ve done for me. I think people in the developed countries often stayed in their bubbles and are unaware of what’s outside of their little world. I know this because I was one of those people before this internship. Now that I’ve seen what’s out there in the world and had a taste of what the world has to offer, I can’t wait for my next trip!