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Pursuit of happiness

Updated: Mar 25, 2021

Since 3 years, I have been working and living abroad. 3 years down the line, having worked in 3 different countries, it feels like I have been abroad for ages. And you know what, those few times I came back home; I would always be confronted with this question from people having a puzzled look on their face.‘How come Myanmar? As in, are you serious, who picks Cambodia? Could it not have been UK or France? Well, at least you have moved to China now, much better, but still!’

Most Mauritians seem to wish to live & emigrate in a developed country where apparently, the grass is greener. At least, those I have met. On the contrary, I have always been a Mauritian with a very idealistic dream; some will even say that I am a crazy person; crazy enough to dream to make a positive change in my own country instead of joining the arguably bigger group of citizens who would just complain and criticize their own country.

There are those encounters that change the very course of your life. One like these happened to me some 3 to 4 years back. She came into my life and challenged me so much. She made me realise that I was living a very relaxed life, supported by my parents hard earned money and evolving in an environment that allowed/provided little opportunity for personal or professional growth. This person told me ‘Melina, you need to get out of Mauritius if you really want to grow, there is an immense world waiting for you’. And I did.

It was my wake up call. Profoundly touched by her words, they inspired me to look for opportunities to work abroad. I initially left Mauritius for Cambodia, a country that I never heard of before. This country is today my second home. Moving to Cambodia, out of my comfort zone, made me realise how dependent I was on my family and this routine that has gradually settled without a conscious decision being made. I do still value a lot my family, they are something I deeply believe in, one of my values but being in a completely different environment has made me more conscious, opened my senses and eagerness to learn new things. Moving abroad triggered the following changes in (I’m sure there is much more that I have not yet figured out);

  1. I used to be picky about food but now I love food and generally I am more opened to things I would not even think of doing before, let aside consider doing them

  2. I spend more time on personal reflection and evaluation of my professional & personal development

  3. And though I had career shift, I still find time to explore similitudes & differences across culture & human behaviours.

If I have to sum up my experience in Cambodia, it would be ‘learning to learn by myself’ which was completely the opposite of what I was doing before I left Mauritius. I was probably too at comfortable with what I already had.

Discovering this new thirst for learning and adventure brought me to Myanmar, close to India, in the north west of Cambodia. There again, I have heard very little of that country before I went there. Its fast development despite being one of the poorest country in the world is just amazing. This country had recently opened its borders to international trade, embracing globalisation. There, I met with so many young people, some of those were even younger than I was, with diverse working experience, in as many as 5 to 10 countries. At that point, I felt so small, so inexperienced, so limited by my own barriers. Travelling makes you realise it faster than anything else that this world is a tough and competitive place. Then it is only up to you to be willing to level the playing field and give yourself the chance to be as great as the people you get to meet.

Still finding my path, searching for personal development, I recently moved to China. A dream come true. After working on talent management and product development in an NGO in Cambodia and on Human Resource development in a Social Enterprise in Myanmar, today, I am doing international business development in a Chinese education company. Beijing is by far, the biggest city I have gotten the opportunity to work in. It is a completely different league. I am in a new industry with a different business style but also giving me a chance to discover and understand both the Chinese & the US education sector. Today, I am developing my sales and business development competencies by striking partnerships with Ivy League universities in the United States. Aiming to bring new educational resources to high school students in China our organisation supports in finding better education opportunities, where soft skills and practical learning is promoted. Living, working & learning in China has to date, been an incredible experience.

I used to think it was all planned. I will do my bachelor in psychology, work for some years, then do my masters in criminology and eventually become criminologist or specialised in clinical psychology. I happened to cling to the belief that i needed to be specialised in something and get working experience only in that same field. Well, gone are those days.

Today, while discovering the wonders of the world, I have found that this planet is a land of limitless opportunities and countless learning experiences later, it seems like I crave for more knowledge (culture, wisdom, you name it) each time. To be honest, I do not know what’s next but I have come a long way and I’m proud of that.

Step by step, I am building myself, a confident young woman who knows what she wants. I am happy. Happy to learn. Happy to benefit from the support of my loved ones. Happy to live and not merely exist. Today, I am happily looking forward to where life will bring me next.

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