Saturday night was the farewell dinner for the Gustavus 2016 Semester in Malaysia at Universiti Sains Malaysia. It was a swanky affair–held a the Equatorial Hotel Ballroom. There was a delicious meal, dance and musical performances, and a few speakers.
It was incredibly humbling to see just how many people were involved in this endeavor. There were the administrators, the IMCC staff, the module coodinators, the lecturers, the Buddies… A whole lot of dedicated and thoughtful people made our stay in Malaysia so incredible.
The theme for the night was Baba Nyonya. Baba Nyonya is an informal term for the Peranakan or “Straits Chinese,” the descendants of Chinese immigrants who retained their native religion and traditions but adopted the Malay language and clothing. Their culture and history is a unique fusion of different regions, and perhaps a beautiful symbol of the partnerships that USM’s International Mobility and Career Center creates with its students all over the world. Far and near. Old and new. Comfort and adventure.
We had so much to celebrate: new friendships, new knowledge, and wonderful memories. Yet the evening was bittersweet, for we all knew that goodbyes were looming; the first of the Gusties left the airport the very next morning. The official program is over but the friendships have just begun. How lucky we are, to live in an era where we can still stay in touch from opposite sides of the world.