It was a wonderful feeling of pure gratitude.

Today, my wife, son, and I had the opportunity to join my students on a one-day trip to Malaysia.

Everything about the day was perfect – the weather, the people, the bus, the lines at immigration, the places we visited, the meals we ate.

Late in the day, as we wandered around Firefly Valley Leisure Park in Kota Tinggi, I just stopped for a moment to take it all in, the temple, the river, the animals, and the views.

I felt blessed to be standing there, 9,000 miles from home experiencing a completely different culture, surrounded by people I love and care about.

And I felt a need to give thanks.

So a big thank you to Villanova University for this opportunity to teach abroad. Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined being able to do something like this when I started 34 years ago.

And a big thanks to the people at the Academic Internship Council in Singapore who are Villanova’s partner in this study abroad program and who have been responsible for planning wonderful experiences for the students, such as today’s visit to Malaysia.

And thank you to the bus company and the local tour guide we had who provided wonderful insights into the people, the culture, the history, and the food of the area.

And last but not least, thank you to my wife, my son, and my students for being such wonderful traveling companions and making the experience the best it could be.

The day ended with a chance to launch a flaming lantern into the sky, much like the Lantern Festival in Thailand (and from the Disney movie, Tangled), but on a much smaller scale. Prior to launching the lanterns, we wrote our wishes for the year on the lantern. It was a chance once again to express my gratitude and to wish that the following year is filled with more of the same, for myself and others.


*image from


17 thoughts on “Grateful

  1. small world. my daughter’s best friend is teaching in Malaysia for a year and she wants to visit her there … I had to look it up on the map and wikipedia. re: visiting over the summer? Good idea? Bad idea? Expensive idea, I’m sure.
    Any advice? Safe for a 22 year old visiting a girl friend there?


    1. Hi Susan, it is a small world. I couldn’t offer much advice about Malaysia; we were only there for a day, and it was part of a guided tour, so it was a fairly controlled visit. And we stayed mostly in rural parts of the country. From what I could tell, things seemed quite inexpensive. If your daughter decides to visit Singapore on the other hand, then yes, Singapore is quite safe. And if they stick to eating street food and from the food courts, then the food can be quite cheap. We have loved our time in Singapore, and the trip to Malaysia was a fun way to spend the day.


  2. I applaud everyone involved in making this happen for the students and faculty, and so pleased you could have the family with you. That makes it so very special! There is no greater sense of global community than to travel. Your appreciation of the culture and the opportunity is captured well in your words, and beautifully described. Soak it in, my friend, and all of you be safe. I’ll have you meditating, doing Tai Chi, and writing Shi Jing in no time…😁


  3. Outstanding! There aren’t too many of these moments in life when the stars all seem to align and everything turns out perfect. I applaud Villanova and the powers that be for making this happen. Not only will you never forget it, but having the opportunity to share this experience with your family and students makes it extra special.


  4. So awesome!! I would love to go to Malaysia, know a blogger friend from there!! Got to meet her for the first time last year when she came to the states. Glad you all had such a wonderful time. Thanks for sharing it with us!


Comments are closed.