It has been more than one year since my internship with Sarus in Cambodia. It is almost impossible to express in words what Sarus has taught me and how it impacted my life afterwards. To be honest, I started my internship expecting almost nothing, as it was not structured like regular internship programs. However, after the end of that one month when I came back to my regular life, I realized a huge change in me.
Being a student of Asian University of Women (AUW), I am very comfortable living with people from different cultures which made me quite confident (sometimes overconfident) before my journey started with Sarus. Shockingly, my confidence was crushed to pieces within one week during my stay in Cambodia, and I am extremely glad for that fall down. The workshops, meetings, activities, and the environment people lived in were tremendously challenging, where the participants were encouraged to be honest and open up about their feelings. This made me realize that to learn about peace and harmony, we have to go through the challenges and hardship first. We need to talk about conflicts rather than overlooking the differences. I was never good with confrontations, but Sarus taught me to be strong and challenge myself and my relationships with honesty. It taught me to be independent and to be with other independent individuals. It taught me that to be a leader, we don’t always have to be in the front. We can walk with others and still be a leader. It taught me that no feeling is wrong, even if we don’t understand it.
After Sarus, I have completed two more internships and I could clearly see the difference in me. I became more patient, more tolerant, and more accepting. I could see improvements in my relationship with others. Especially, I started being more honest and sincere while talking about countries and their histories. I learned to accept others’ point of view about my own country and also to express my thoughts about other countries in a more respectful way. These are lessons that will stay with me forever, making each of my initiatives more effective and successful.
My future goal is to work in the development sector, and work directly with people at the root level. I am absolutely sure that my experience with Sarus is going to help me in understanding people and working towards building a better community around me.
Written by Towfika Sultana, 2014 Sarus intern from Bangladesh.