Category Archives: Swarthmore

Swatties Build a Wall

I am so proud to be Swattie right now!

So students in Swarthmore built a wall to show, viscerally, how leceh/麻烦/ma fan checkpoints were. Kinda. 🙂

Students For Peace and Justice in Palestine hoped “to bring to the attention of the campus some of the gross injustices that Palestinians live with on a daily basis, and which are the policies of the Israeli government. As a group dedicated to bringing the Palestinian narrative, so often forgotten or disregarded as “biased”, to the fore, we believe in the necessity of the activities and events we’ve planned. More importantly, we believe that Swarthmore students will be able to engage effectively and constructively with them.”

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Read more about Three Days in Palestine:

Organizers — Students For Peace and Justice in Palestine

Swarthmore Organization for Israel

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best arab joke i’ve heard

a palestinian, an egyptian, and an emirati were boasting to each other.

the palestinian says, “i’m the greatest among you. i killed the dead sea.”

the egyptian scoffs and says, “i painted the red sea. beat that, suckers.”

finally the emirati steps up and says, “you guys have nothing on me. i sponsored the indian ocean.”

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USApps2009

Why I wake up in the morning

(or more accurately, late afternoon)

and give a shit about the world

123, 4, 5

***

Wun Min sums it up perfectly:

I was reminded over the past few days how lucky I am to belong to the US Malaysian gang. The summer mamak Friday nights, the enthusiasm and selflessness of everyone in sharing their college application experience, the bitching and hyperness during essay reviews, the bonding we share over email spamming. It has been amazing; I couldn’t have asked for a better set of friends. :’)

I’ve written about the loud and obnoxious US contingent, but really, this is from the heart.

I said this at the workshop, and I’ll say it here. I think US > UK. For various reasons. And for the simplest and crudest of measurements, you almost never see anyone from the UK or Oxbridge coming back to promote UK/Oxbridge education. (The Oxbridge debates are a top-down thing lah, not student-spearheaded.) I think the US gang is special, if only because they’re (read: Chen Chow) so much more enthusiastic about sharing their experiences/spreading knowledge. Somehow I feel that US people just exude more energy: they are more vibrant and vivacious; excitement just emanates from what they do.

I think Zhi Wei — who (like Emily) is going to the UK but has an American soul — shares my views after meeting the US contingent at the US Apps Workshop and the Better Malaysia forum, eh? 🙂

I love you all.

When you have dinosaurs (Nat that means you) hanging out with kids it means that the kids quite happening lah. 🙂

Our essay thread alone had 296 emails, most of which were gossip/bitching.

I want to put screenshots of emails/feedback from the participants as well, but that wouldn’t be proper. 😦

But I very itchy.

***

I thought that the third day of the workshop was very honest: I loved how the faciliators opened up and shared their stories and became vulnerable and human. I loved how the participants opened up when asked to do the 25 random things meme that was all the rage on facebook a couple of months ago. From now on I shall write in vague, ambiguous terms (i.e. kid) so as not to give away anything that was revealed in confidence.

But I’m still very itchy. Ah, the perils of the internet.

I think I was very lucky: I’ve had two amazing groups in two weeks. While initially my group was hesitant in sharing, after a while the atmosphere really warmed up as people started to interject and ask questions and go off on tangents. Loved it. In the end some kids who didn’t do the 25 things meme/weren’t prepared/shy were actually volunteering to speak. So cute! We talked about bananas and teachers and cockroaches and gender and identity and love and ants and Cambodia and bribes and girls and Japanese models and replacing daughters and accents and screaming and tomatoes, and it was fantastic.

My favourite part of the workshop was the mock interview session. We got a couple of kids to come out and grilled them with questions. Chen Chow was quite scary, actually. 🙂 I particularly loved the dynamic between a couple of kids who were asked if marijuana should be legalized. This issue was brought up as a possible interview question two weeks ago, and John thought that it would be an excellent idea to see if the kids had actually gone back and done some research. And we were vindicated: the kids expounded on pertinent, major points, the issues progressed as if it were a real debate, and I was smiling ear-to-ear.

One other kid was also very impressive: he was in favour of not lowering the voting age from 21 to 18 on the basis of maturity. When asked why one could smoke and drink (alcohol) and watch porn at 18 but not vote until 21, he smiled and used the very important delaying tactic: “that’s a very good question.” Hahaha. But he would come back within two minutes with grace and aplomb: his acceptable rebuttal was that while kids under 18 were more concerned with education policies, kids at 21 would be more exposed to policies in other spheres as well, making them more informed voters.

Anand asked the most provocative question of all: why is the audience today predominantly Chinese? I loved the courage of the kids in facing uncertainty: they knew that they were going to be bombarded with controversial questions, but they still rose up to the challenge. Especially the kid who answered this question.

So my one biggest regret when applying to US colleges: not knowing Chen Chow. 😦 Kids nowadays so lucky. 😦

A blogpost is not kamil (Arabic: perfect, full, complete) without a rant, so here goes. While we all know that I’m uber judgmental, I think I have a soft spot for kids outside of KL-PJ. If you are from the Klang Valley, if you are richer than me, if both your parents are professionals, if you go to a school that I know is good, I expect you to know shit. You’ve had all the exposure and opportunity in the world: I expect you to have done something with it. Don’t come to me with vague, generic questions like “how ah?” or “what activities can i do ah?” I want to see that spark in your eyes, that fire in your heart, that piercing inquisitiveness that emanates when you talk to me about yourself and what you care about and what you want to do.

Conversely, I cut kids from outside KL-PJ (and maybe Penang and Kuching) some/a lot of slack. I think that it is already amazing that they’re bucking the system and looking at US universities. I think the KL-PJ centricity of everything Malaysian is unhealthy, and I will support diversity in representation to undermine this Klang Valley hegemony.

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Another love moment was Su Ann’s answer to a kid’s question: pinkpau said that we might not be the most qualified people to talk about (something) since we were having existential crises. 🙂 How true —  but that is for another post.

Related tangent: I liked this comment about Hafiz’s article

The thing is, your article could’ve been published a decade or two ago, and bar the linguistic innovations since then and the more contemporary issues, would not have been out of place.

Waves and waves of young idealists have felt the way you do, that this wave is different etc. etc., and then slowly merged into the ranks of the pessimistic “older generation” you speak of.

Perhaps as an analogy, the idealist colliding with the reality of the complexities of the system on which he wants to impose his ideals on is akin to your enthusiasm for carbon trading colliding with the intricacies of its economics – they end up being messed up and lost.

Also, be wary that you, and numerous idealists as well as those who patronise more progressive publications such as this one are urban middle-class folks, who are not only not monolithic in its public opinion, but much more minuscule in the great patchwork of societies that is Malaysia. Our impact is thus far less than we’d like to think it is.

Perhaps what is a bright spot is that unlike previous generations of young people, we are a product of a much larger population boom and hence we constitute a relatively larger force than previous young generations.

cheers

***

And thus at the end of the day I was very tired, but very fulfilled.

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my friend aly calls this harry potter font

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doodling.

bored.

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presentation about how people of colour cannot be racist, because of a tautological definition of racism

“you have to be in power to use any kind of ism

dominant versus suppressed

strong versus weak

“and since people of colour do not have power

white versus coloured

“people of colour cannot be racist

“they can only be prejudiced.”

voila.

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but i know the tricks: debate, oratory, persuasion

so i roll mine eyes

and i hentam lah

but then they used authority to shut me up

“we don’t have time for this”

appalled

at the small-mindedness of liberal america

(and academia)

hypocritical defenders of freedom of speech and thought and expression

only to prostitute their very own ideals for political correctness

for bloodied truth and mangled common sense

appalled.

*

doodling.

bored.

*

people of colour cannot be racist.

you win la

i shut up

appalled.

bored.

lazy.

and i doodle.

*

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Swarthmore International Ambassador

So I used to be an international ambassador for Swarthmore, but I quit for lack of time and energy. But I post my (two year-old) answers here anyway lah (thus some of which are outdated) for stalkers.

Student Web Ambassador
Name: Andrew Loh
Hometown: Petaling Jaya, Malaysia (satellite city of Kuala Lumpur) Class Year: 2010
Major/Minor: Political Science/Asian Studies
Activities: Quiz Bowl, Debate, Business Fundamentals; former ones include Chorus, Chaverim (Jewish a cappella), Badminton, Effective Grantsmanship Program.
Why Swat?

I think what really sets Swat apart from the other liberal arts colleges and Ivy League universities is that Swatties are not afraid to be themselves. Unlike in many other rival institutions, Swatties have both sufficient self-confidence and senses of humor to be themselves – even if that means being “nerdy,” “weird,” “jock-ish,” or any other adjective. Ours is a college culture highly desired but rarely found, and I think this is very, very cool.

Favorite Class:

International Politics: I have never thought of myself as a theory person; I’ve changed. The concepts learnt in this class can be cross-applied to so many different circumstances and scenarios! Insightful readings, great lectures; awesome, profound, and highly-enjoyable class.

Arabic: Languages in Swarthmore are intense and rigorous, but I come out of almost every class smiling. Not to forget the wonderful professors who make the smiling possible. 🙂

Favorite Food at the Dining Hall?

Mint chocolate chip and coffee ice-cream.

Remarks on Swatties:

I think there exists a common bond: we’re all weird in some way and we’re proud of it.

Dramatic Discoveries:

The bathroom on Parrish 4th is a great place for taking pictures of yourself. Lighting – superb.

Favorite place on campus:

Parrish parlors – ostensibly doing homework with a bunch of friends at 3 am. Good times.

Most memorable experience:

Mr. Swarthmore: I was Mr. Badminton at the inaugural Mr. Swarthmore competition, at which I strutted onstage in suit and tie, then swimwear, and sang Ave Maria in a towel for the talent component (singing in the shower). I was sixth after losing a semifinal tie-breaker to the eventual winner, Mr. Basketball.

What is something you feel really passionate about:

The Iraq, South Africa, maps, such as, like, Asian countries, and world peace.

Post Swat Plans:

Malaysian Idol.

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