Report 2: "Challenges All Over"

Report 2: "Challenges All Over"

Malaysia calling,
I am ok! I have arrived in Malaysia, physically as well as mentally. More than five weeks have passed and gradually I perceive some differences between the two cultures that now form my daily life.

Every day, I face personal and also professional challenges, which give me the opportunity for a holistic development. So far, so good. Let’s continue with the facts: In my host family, who stays in the suburban area of Kuala Lumpur I enjoy a daily multicultural exchange. I know that this doesn’t sound very spectacular, but with nine (!!) people (plus some visitors from time to time) in one house some funny situations occur on a regular basis. For example, when I am in a hurry to go to work in the early morning and the bathroom is occupied for an indefinite time.

I could string together some more stories, but this could maybe disguise how much I enjoy the Malaysian hospitality in my home. Every day a member of my host family asks me how I am doing. Additionally, they invite me to join events or guide me to the best food in Kuala Lumpur. Let me take this opportunity to say “Terima Kasih”!

Where is the challenge someone might ask? The challenge is a cocktail which consists of the following ingredients:

1. Scorching heat
2. “I have to be at a place X as fast as possible”
3. Waiting for people, busses or trains

“How come?” One example: It is common that the departure time on a bus ticket – let’s say 4pm – is just an illusion. The real time for departure is somewhere between „The bus has to be full“ and 6pm. Patience is more than necessary. A virtue not too deeply rooted in German culture (or maybe just in me). I am working on this!

Let’s change the topic: What is new concerning my scientific work over here? First of all, the conference at the end of June was a success. Many participants were interested in my research, maybe because I was the first presenter in the session, which meant I was the one facing the challenge to entertain the audience during – about five – breaks due to technical problems. The following discussions were fruitful and I felt in very good hands. A sentiment I also have concerning my internship at the National Sports Institute Malaysia. The scientific and personal support is overwhelming. The aim of my project is to gain knowledge about the leisure time behavior of school children between the ages of ten and eleven. This is important, as health issues like obesity, which are to some extent a result of a sedentary lifestyle, are common amongst Malaysia’s children. To reach the research goal, it was necessary to develop a specific questionnaire. This instrument was piloted with five children. After some necessary adjustments we (my team and I) could collect data from 280 children during the last week. Additionally, the head master of the research school gave us permission to record some objective data (weight and height) to check for possible correlations between leisure time patterns and the BMI (Body Mass Index).

One big challenge during the whole project is the language barrier. Sometimes we needed to communicate using three different languages. Our questionnaire is available in both English and Bahasa Malaysia, but many of the children in this school have Chinese roots. This fact made the whole research not easier. Fortunately, however, we could convince a Chinese-speaking colleague to help us communicate with the children. Thank God! Finally, the children were so impressed that I did come here all the way from Germany “just” to ask them about their leisure time. Thus, the „autograph session“ afterwards was a pleasure for the kids and me!

What will the data analysis reveal? Are Malaysian children in fact becoming less physically active? Do youths prefer the computer to the ball?

I will find it out! André boleh!!

Best wishes,
André Müller

Foto: Datensammlung in der Schule
Datensammlung in der Schule