KUALA LUMPUR: It is never easy to leave one’s hometown and relocate to a new place and even harder to assimilate by adapting to different cultures or languages.
However, the strangeness of being in a new place can be overcome and an individual can even grow to love the new location through a spirit of fellowship, compassion and unity among its people.
This is the context in which Nur Alishar Mohamad Ali, 23, from Sibu, Sarawak, shared her story with Bernama, while recalling her initial anxiety upon receiving a place to study at Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM) in Sintok, Kedah in 2022.
Nur Alishar had never been away from the Land of the Hornbills, as her home state is popularly called, but her fear and worries melted once she met her university mates in the peninsula, some of whom were quite excited to meet a new friend from far away.
“They were all kind and very friendly. They were also excited to meet a Sarawakian; it was like wow, you have come a long way. And it is interesting when they know someone is from Sabah or Sarawak by our accents,” said Nur Alishar, who is the UUM Patriot Chapter Sarawak Club president.
Nearing Malaysia Day on Sept 16, Nur Alishar is of the opinion that peninsular Malaysia, Sabah and Sarawak should only represent geographical areas on a map and their diversity must not be an excuse to treat people differently.
“Times have changed so our mindset must also change because we are all cut from the same cloth and should march together. The true Malaysia is where people always respect one another and celebrate our diversity, rather than picking on differences,” said Nur Alishar.
As for Tawau-born Sharman Herry, 24, from Sabah, who is studying at Universiti Sains Malaysia in Penang, the peninsula, Sabah and Sarawak are all special in their respective ways and should never be treated unequally.
“We can live in harmony if there is no one community who has the “me first them later” mentality. Not everyone is good, neither is everyone bad.
“We must love this country because even though there are shortcomings, there is still a lot of good. I am a Malaysian who lives harmoniously with all races and guards myself against outside influences,” said Sharman, who is from the Sulu tribe and has been in the peninsula since 2019.
Meanwhile, Puteri Anum Megat Ahmad, 44, who moved to Papar, Sabah in 2017 due to her husband’s transfer, said it was very difficult to adapt at first but things turned around when she met her foster mother Ruhaida Mussin, 61 and her family.
The Pahang native said she initially felt lonely as it was a foreign environment for her but the warm welcome from her foster family in Papar helped her to settle down.
“I faced many challenges for two years; it would have been worse if I did not have my foster family. One unforgettable episode was when my child had to undergo an operation, my foster family stayed by my side. It felt like my own family was here.
“If anyone asks me about what is special about Sabah, I say it is my foster family because I never imagined moving there and being accepted as part of their family,” said Puteri Anum, who moved back to the peninsula in 2019.
This year’s Malaysia Day celebration themed “Malaysia MADANI: Tekad Perpaduan, Penuhi Harapan” (Determination in Unity, Hope Fulfilled) will be held at Stadium Perpaduan in Kuching, Sarawak on Sept 16.-Bernama
Source: The Sun Daily