Recently, my faculty (Cultural Studies) had an event called Gamafest which was an intercultural festival with a food bazaar as its highlight. But from a fun visit to the festival with my friends turned out to be a little bit more memorable than I thought. Before getting into that, the venue was in a big parking lot near our campus, and even though it was a gloomy day the crowd never stopped coming.

A big stage was there where people from various countries did performances from comedic dramas to a beautifully done flamenco dance. Then there were band performances and my favorite was when they played “What’s Up” by 4 Non Blondes. Anyways, it was a really fun and lively atmosphere where you can basically travel the world in one place by tasting an amazing variety of food from different countries. The countries included were Australia, Spain, Uganda, Turkey, the Netherlands, Germany, Philippines, also golden triangle countries I’ve been lucky to go to in my life like Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos and of course, Myanmar.

I lived for around 7 years in Myanmmar, almost half of my childhood there. It’s an exotic, amazing, troubled and mysterious country with beautiful surroundings. Maybe I was too little to realise it then, but living there helped me open my eyes even from a younger age. Myanmar is entirely different from the more advanced Indonesia, but it definitely has progressed the last time I visited. You can’t help but see and experience things you wouldn’t have if you were somewhere else, it taught me to be humble and grateful for where I am today.

When I visited the Myanmar food booth, they sold some coconut rice with chicken (ultra delicious!) so I bought two of course and I said “Thank you” in Burmese. Their eyes lit up with surprise and happiness at my knowledge of their language and I told them my situation. They were so happy that I got to experience living in their country and I wish I could have told them just how much I have appreciated my time there. When I had to go they said “Thank you friend!” and my eyes filled with tears a little bit, the big baby that I am.

I didn’t expect that to happen then, and boy was I happy. Little do I know, it takes a simple campus event like this that allowed me to get in touch with the people of a country that has greatly shaped who I am today as a person and I’m forever, indebted and grateful.