Kickoff Meeting 2013 / 56th Merdeka Celebration

On Friday, August 30th 2013, we held Malaysian Student Association's first ever meeting for the school year of 2013-2014. How exciting! We had the meeting at room 217 of Noyes Laboratory. The event started off at 7:45pm with pizza and drinks served as a light dinner. Students started pouring in and boy did we get a lot of people coming! Students lounged around and got to know each other while waiting for the event to start.

At 8:15pm the meeting officially began and our President, Izzat welcomed the floor. Aina then started the ice breaking session, in which each members had to partner or group with people who are from the same state as they are. People also grouped into groups of the same majors. Afterwards, the MaSA Executive Board members personally came up to introduce themselves. Shortly after, everyone else gave a short introduction of themselves and told us about what they love most about Malaysia. Most answers were the food in Malaysia, some the politics, others sarcastically answered the speed "limits". The most "aww"-worthy answers were that they miss their family. Awwwww!

Next, we all gathered at the pathway next to the Noyes Lab, which is next to the Chemistry Annex too. A chalk drawing competition was held among 6 groups of MaSA members. This year's theme is
"56 years of Malaysian Independence". Everyone's drawings were really spectacular. Each group also had a chance to explain why they drew what they drew. It was really inspiring to watch them talk about Malaysia in a very patriotic way. The board members had a hard time choosing the winners. Everyone did greatly out there and boy was it a nice and breezy night to be outdoors! :) We settled with top two high-scorers, but we believe everyone was a winner that night!

It was, to be honest, a very fruitful night. We are happy to see new faces and meet new friends. And even though we are far far away from Malaysia, it does not make us forget where we come from and what we have to offer for our country when we graduate from UIUC.

Editor's note: That night I learned that even if you're thousands and thousands of miles away from your home country, the spirit of belonging to her and being a part of an independent country really seeps into you when you have your comrades around celebrating the night with you. It's not just about waving flags and proclaiming that you're a Malaysian, but it is about feeling a sense of belonging and mostly longing for your country that makes you a citizen of your country.