Malaysia: A Lesson on Inclusion

asia Oct 30, 2019

This month in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia concludes my 4 months spent in Asia (and 8th month of Remote Year)! Malaysia has given me an unexpected lesson on inclusion.  While the country certainly has much progress to make, especially when it comes to gender equality and LGBTQ rights, there is an impressive story of inclusion that permeates everyday life here.

Malaysia is a multi–ethnic, multicultural, and multilingual society.  The main ethnic groups are the native Malays as well as large populations of Chinese and Indians. Malaysia is a country that celebrates its diversity.  Whereas many other countries try to create a homogeneous society for the purpose of national unity, in Malaysia the various races are encouraged to speak their languages, to practice their respective religions and to embrace not only their own cultures, but also those of other citizens.  

The most important festivals of each group are public holidays in Malaysia.  I was in the city of Kuala Lumpur during the Indian holiday of Diwali and many non-Indian run establishments were closed to respect and honor the cultural practices of their Indian neighbors.  Malaysia has some of the most public holidays in Asia due to the large number of holy or cultural festivals celebrated by the variety of cultures in the country.  

Malaysia is known across Asia for the best food because they combine delicious ingredients from Chinese, Indian, and Malay cuisine.  I like to think of diversity as the ingredients and inclusion as the recipe.  While each of these cuisines alone are arguably tasty, Malaysia has included some of the best and boldest ingredients from their diverse cultures and combined them into incredibly unique recipes. 

Most of the people I'm traveling with on Remote Year rave about the combination of flavors in Malaysian cuisine.  And, while rare, there are a few that just don't enjoy it.

This got me thinking about the book I'm writing and the importance of me gathering the greatest information and tools from different sources to create the best book I can.

I've started interviewing experts on certain topics, reviewing research, reading books, listening to podcasts, and discussing ideas with friends.  These actions invite diverse opinions on the topics I'm writing about.  When I do this process, I'm taking, what I believe, are the best ideas and including them in the book to create something unique and appetizing.  I also realize that while I can try my hardest to be inclusive of the best ideas, some people may just not want what I'm serving, and that's OK.  

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