Had an interesting lecture yesterday about post-violent conflict recovery. I learnt that Lao has/had the highest amount of bombs per population. The lecturer was Dr Jacqui Chagnon from the US, and she was very interesting except that having a powerpoint presentation to introduce yourself is just slightly over the top.
Discussed our report about conflict in South Thailand with the group and it was very taxing trying to keep cool. Most of the others think very differently. For example, our group leader wants to write the entire draft of this 5-8 page report himself, while those of us who worked on individual sections work on those as well. That means every section will be written twice and after that we'll merge the two. Bizarre. I tried and tried to tell them it was wasting a lot of time, but to no avail. I missed Witty Wei-Shan because I knew she'd totally get me, as she always does in group meetings. And then we'd exchange -_- looks too.
I was catching a ride out to 7-11 to top up my sim card and asked if anyone wanted anything. One of the guys crept up to me and whispered, please, buy me some beer. And for you too. I tried like mad not to laugh. I promised I'd keep it a secret and soon returned smuggling some Chang and Heineken.
By the time I arrived with the goods, there were three of them waiting in anticipation. The beer had been sneakily hidden in my bag while I was holding all its prior contents. See, the Muslims don't want to be seen by the others. We sat by the side of the river behind our dorms and had a whole lot of fun. There was an attempt to destroy the evidence by throwing a bottle into the water but it only returned to us, too far to reach, too near to deny it was ours. Of course, we were eventually found out by a few people. But there was no problem in the end.
Having lecture now (managed to get wireless) and I had to introduce myself to the new lecturer and everyone else who already knows me. Name, country, success. Of course I had to be among the last to speak, so I had to talk about my success after a roomful of people with PhDs, children and high powered jobs talked about theirs.
I said this:
It's quite overwhelming for me because everyone here is so much more qualified. I don't have Masters, PhD, a fancy job, no children (everyone laughed. with me, not at me.). But, I continued, I'm proud of what I've done given my age, I'm proud of my independence, and there's plenty of time for the rest later on. What's important to me is writing and travelling and I'm privileged and proud to do both. And it's important to define success for ourselves. For me, there's a quote I try to live by, by one of my favourite writers Henry Thoreau, "Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me Truth." If through my writing I can find truth, or bring truth to just one person, that, to me, is success.
Oh and this other prof. just said how challenges are not a good thing and they make life hard and can be overcome by proper planning. pfft. Go on, old man, go on.
Our spontaneous action is always the best. You cannot, with your best deliberation and heed, come so close to any question as your spontaneous glance shall bring you.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson