I have always wanted to go on such expeditions to do some community work in a foreign land and thus was quite thankful when the opportunity presented itself, albeit quite lately. I wouldn’t mind though, the early twenties seem to be a good age to partake in such a expedition where at least we have the maturity to take things with a pinch of salt and not take things at face value. What I am referring to is the meaning of OCIP and the effectiveness of such programs.
No doubt, the first thing that comes to mind upon the mention of OCIP would be along the lines of ‘build something’ in some third-world country and playing with the kids and so on. Going for this trip actually made me realize that one of the priority of the trips isn’t actually that much on benefiting the locals there, but ourselves. After all, what help can a bunch of sheltered and pampered city-dwellers offer to the locals? For all we know, we might even be impeding on their lives. That is what I feel, at least.
But I find nothing wrong in that, as the benefit we gain from such exposure has its own far-reaching implications. Seeing first-hand such living conditions of the villagers and locals there, along with their way of life compared to ours would definitely leave a long-lasting impression on those who went. Sub-consciously, we would have a basal appreciation of the things we used to take for granted of. This is where I’m glad most of us are mature enough to realise that, it is all too easy to return home to our comfort zone and forget about the suffering in these other countries. That is of course reassuring in that they are worrying about not forgetting the meaning of the trip itself.
For me personally, I didn’t come on this trip to suffer and hopefully gain some personal epiphany and gain some form of emotional and spiritual advancement. I had enough of physical discomfort in my army days thankfully and its not like I was unaware of extreme poverty. I came along because of a few things. Firstly, my mum, with her constant contributions to local charity causes, has always told me that if we could not even deal with the disadvantaged in our homeland, who are we to pursue such ‘noble causes’ in other countries? As such, I had a mind to find out what is all hype behind such OCIP trips and either dispel my misgivings or confirm them. Secondly, OCIP seemed like the most meaningful of all adhoc committees to join among the hall activities.
Well, having been through the actual trip, and not considering the time put in before the trip in preparation, I would say that it has been a really memorable trip, mainly because of the company. Looking back (it has only been 1 week), I realised that despite how I have always not shown any signs of missing the life back there, it is the plain and simple truth that some part of me still wishes to lead the simple, carefree life revolving around meaningful conversations and plenty of human warmth.
This brings me back to my trip to Nepal, where I similarly missed the life there. Perhaps its just the stressful life here. Constant chatter about the next step in life to take, applying for internships, overseas exchange, what mods to take next semester. Granted, these are all necessary pains. Perhaps tellingly, one of the questions we asked each other during the trip went like this. If you had the choice to live the rest of your life as a villager, forever happy and content but living in mediocrity, at the edge of existence, would you do it? Or would you rather undergo stressful and painful challenges, perhaps even for the rest of your life, fighting for some lofty dream or securing greater futures for your children and such. Quite naturally, all of us chose the latter.
Sometimes, we all need to take a breather in life to think about the small things, and then the big things. For me, I thought it was a good opportunity to take a step back and think about the bigger picture but I was unexpectedly brought down by small dangerous thoughts. Thoughts that revolve around singlehood and insecurities. I always think back to why am I still single, and to those that I thought have considered me before. I always hope against hope that they understand the problem lies not with them but with me. I have come to realise that I mustn’t dive too readily into another relationship based on my past experiences. As with everything I do, I tend to offer the entirety of myself to whatever I set my heart on, and that in itself is not always a good thing. Its an unhealthy obsession. So, if I were to settle for someone who is just not the right one, it would be really painful for me and for everyone. And it was during this trip that I felt the urging need to get attached, the worrying lack of companionship and physical intimacy gnawing at my insides. All these sounds lyrical but its indeed the truth. It may also be the sad reason why I may seem fickle to my friends, half-heartedly going for so many different people. I really don’t think the right one is here yet, at least not anywhere in my immediate notice.