The whole thing kicked off with a wander through KL’s streets sampling various goodies with Food Tour Malaysia. It was a great chance to try some local food while getting to know some of the other conference speakers and attendees.
Anyway, Juno went on to point out that to truly be independent, we need to be dependent. That everyone needs a support network, either at home from family, or from friends, or from other like-minded people (as in, everyone else in that room!) My life abroad would definitely be a lot more difficult if I didn’t have family at home supporting me, looking after the odd bits of bureaucracy that just seem to come up randomly, and just generally being available for me to call up for help or to talk over any thoughts or issues I’ve been thinking about.
The Keynote speaker on Saturday was Sangduen ‘Lek’ Chailert, the founder of Save Elephant Foundation. She first fell in love with elephants as a child and has dedicated her entire life to freeing elephants from working in the tourism and logging industries. She had us all in tears as she spoke about the brutality elephants endure in the name of tradition. For her efforts she has faced criticism from her family, her hometown, her society, and even her government. To stand up and speak out for what she believes in in the face of all of that takes an astounding amount of courage, which she just seems to have in spades.
Sunday morning began with a few of the conference participants telling their stories. Makiko, Won, See, and Deborah shared their experiences and inspired us to be more and do more!
Next, it was my turn! Well, me and five others. We sat on the ‘Travel Talk’ panel and answered any questions the participants had on various parts of the world, solo travel, security, visas, and global work opportunities.
I’m so glad I went to this event. I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect but I came away from it inspired, motivated, and like I could achieve anything. I sat on the plane home feeling more positive and certain about what I want to do than I have in a long time. And most of all, I feel now like I’m part of something. There’s a whole community out there, which I now belong to, that I can turn to at any time for friendship, support, and advice. I hope all the other women there left feeling the same way.
Thanks AWE Connect, and I hope to see you all this year!