I had been wary of informing my parents about my plans for the KaosPilots. They know I’m interested (they did know I went to Stockholm for the workshop there in November!) but so far they’ve been rather skeptical about the program. They would much rather have me finish my degree, stay in Australia for the PR, settle down, get a job. Get back to normal, essentially. Spending 3 years in Denmark while potentially sacrificing my degree seems like craziness.
In the past, when I tried to involve my parents in my international learning plans (Up with People, a UN conference, etc), I would have to face a lot of skepticism and pessimistic comments. “Why do you have to go? What’s the point?” It’s ironic that my dad would more readily buy a guitar the second I conceive of it but needs way more convincing to support my educational goals. They do come from slightly more traditional backgrounds – finish school, work, settle down. My way of life – jumping around from school to school, country to country, learning experientially – is still alien to them. They understand that this is how I learn best, but they still have a hard time comprehending that it’s what I need to thrive in life. To them, it’s like “why can’t she be normal?”. And sometimes I feel that way, but then that means I wouldn’t be myself.
I had not involved my parents in my fundraising so far. I don’t want them to give me a cent for this. They have paid for me in the past (mainly because my fundraising skills were nonexistent – I tried, really) but with that payment comes a certain degree of control, of obligation. “Oh, we always bailed you out, so you can’t ever get upset!” Considering that my parents often drive me and my sister crazy (anyone with the Typical Traditional Asian Parent can understand), this gets rather difficult. Also, my family’s relatively well-off status in Malaysian society (they’re not megarich but they are in the upper end of middle-class) means that I’m often not taken seriously for my efforts – “oh, she’s a rich man’s daughter, she’s privileged, she doesn’t know anything”. Sure, I’m hella privileged, but I went through most of the same things as a typical Malaysian – government school, exams, the lot. I didn’t even have public university as an option because of my citizenship. It’s unfair to dismiss my advocacy work in education simply due to my background, but that’s the reality of it.
Also, I’d rather be independent. I want to earn this. Every cent. I want to know that I got this because I earned my way in, not because I managed to pay for it. While I did earn my Up with People experience through my character and personality, I still have a feeling in the back of my head that one big factor was that I could afford to go without a scholarship (at US$14,500, it was a pinch, but doable). I did eventually earn the respect and friendship of my crew, which money can’t buy. But for this, I’d rather know that I earned it through my effort, my knowledge, my networks, my work. Not because I’m a leech.
So anyway. Somehow word got out to my dad that I was trying to get to Denmark. Perhaps one of my relatives who got an email or Facebook invite told him about it. He asked me what it was about and I told him that it was a business management program for 3 years that I was planning to take when I finished my degree. I told him that I had one year left (he was surprised that time flew so fast!) but that my final semester was all electives so I’m trying to get credit for them somehow. I told him that the KaosPilots were on BusinessWeek’s list of the Top Design Schools alongside Harvard and MIT (That got his attention).
Dad was fine with it.
It was me saying that I’d try to finish my degree early that sold him. As far as he’s concerned, once I’m done with the degree I can do whatever. He did tell me not to stress about it – he’s seen me stress out before and doesn’t want me to get sick! He’s a workaholic too, I inherited that from him. He got intrigued about their inclusion on a list that also has Harvard (he did a management course, might have been an MBA, in Harvard many years ago). He did say that if I could get money for it, if someone would pay me for it, then I can go. Which is basically what I’ve been trying to do anyway.
So great! One big hurdle down. It was less dramatic than expected (though I’m sure the drama would flare out even more as September comes closer, especially with Mum) and basically gave me free license to do my fundraising however I wish. Yay!