Finding Myself in Borneo: Sojourns in Sabah

Finding Myself in Borneo: Sojourns in Sabah

by Neill McKee


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781732945708
Publisher: NBFS Creations LLC
Publication date: 12/03/2018
Pages: 260
Sales rank: 365,790
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.59(d)

About the Author

Neill McKee is a creative nonfiction writer based in Albuquerque, New Mexico. This memoir is about his first overseas adventures in Sabah, Malaysia (North Borneo), where he served as a Canadian volunteer teacher and program administrator during 1968-70 and 1973-74. McKee, who holds a B.A. Degree from the University of Calgary and a Masters in Communication from Florida State University, lived and worked internationally for 45 years and became an expert in communication for social change. He directed and produced of a number of award-winning documentary films/videos and multi-media initiatives and authored numerous articles and books on development communication. During his international career, McKee worked for Canadian University Service Overseas (CUSO), the International Development Ressearch Centre (IDRC), Canada, UNICEF, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore; Academy for Educational Development, Washington, D.C. and FHI 360, Washington, D.C. He worked and lived in Malaysia, Bangladesh, Kenya, Uganda and Russia for a total of 18 years and traveled to over 80 countries on short-term assignments.
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Table of Contents


1. Travel Notes: Ontario to Singapore

2. Lessons in Kota Belud

3. The Rain at Four

4. A Journey through Middle-Earth

5. Bonding with Borneo

6. Going Native

7. Dog Days

8. Borneo through a New Lens

9. Unpacking the Batik Painting

10. Blessing the Prodigal Son

11. Rounding a Bend in the Road

12. The Sabah Situation

13. Serendipity

14. Paradise Lost

15. You Can Go Home Again

16. No Longer “The Land Below the Wind”

Postscript: A Brief History of North Borneo


Chapter Notes

Works Cited

Glossary of Malay Words and Expressions Used

North Borneo Frodo Society

About the Author

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Finding Myself in Borneo: Sojourns in Sabah 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
DooRun 12 days ago
Finding Myself In Borneo By Neill McKee What a delightful read! I was hooked at the front cover, showing Mt Kinabalu and the young volunteer on the Norton motorcycle. I have a similar picture of my wife and me on our Norton taken at about the same time, only on the other side of the mountain. From the front cover onward, the memories came flooding back. Our experiences and observations were very much the same, (except for the sex, drugs, rock & roll..... and Frodo). McKee has done us a great service in articulating this wonderful shared adventure. He have done all of the hard work for me. We can now simply pass his words on as a summary of our own experience as volunteers in Borneo. McKee’s descriptions are crisp, clear and colorful like the rich tropical Borneo landscape, but the tone and manner tell the story too. Those were happy and care-free times in our lives and his words exude that. The language re-training was helpful to this old brain of mine too, as so many words in Bahasa Melayu came back to me. We will be buying three more copies of the book, one for each of our children so that they can know more about our Borneo experience without us having to drone on about it when they are held captive. Ron and Mary Hunt Charleston, SC
JaneBertrand 3 months ago
Neill McKee takes us on an extraordinary journey to Borneo and other parts of Asia – the one he made starting in 1968, first as a volunteer for the Canadian University Services Overseas (CUSO) and later as staff for the same. He shares with us the perplexing, frustrating, humorous, and personally rewarding experiences of a young man adventuring out from the childhood home in rural Ontario to discover a world thousands of miles away. Unsure of what he’d find, he knew that “finding himself” was part of the journey. The book begins with Neill’s train trip across Canada, where an elderly woman insists that he’s going the wrong direction – west – in response to his comment that he’d be travelling to “The East.” Such are the amusing anecdotes that the author generously sprinkles through his tale of coming of age and learning to adapt to a new culture. His strong work ethic and deep-seated caring for others serve him well when he reaches his teaching post in Kota- Belud (in the state of Sabah, Malaysia) and begins to explore how best to integrate into the multi-ethnic community around him. He gradually grows into his role as teacher for an unwieldy number of subjects in the local high school, navigating the social mores of this new community and picking up Malay, the local lingua franca. He brings to the situation a willingness to explore new foods, local hangouts, and near-by locations. And he learns to cope with the many challenges of his new environment. Another hilarious segment of the story involves the straight-laced Australian headmaster at his school who, having left his first wife in Australia, marries a second wife 10-15 years his junior, converts to Islam, and makes a haj to Mecca, to the bewilderment of many in the local community. His conversion in no way interferes with his habit of imbibing large quantities of brandy while playing the local game of mah-jongg, both forbidden under Islam. The locals could only assume that he’d fallen victim to a pugai, a magical spell of sexual nature cast on an unsuspecting man, and many placed bets of how long his heart could hold out with the demands of a younger woman. It is tricky to recount stories of cultural differences without making the “other” seem exotic, outlandish, or irrational. Neill manages this task with finesse and humor. He works to find compromises and resolve problems without making others lose face. For example, he methodically proposes a new schedule for classes when the acting headmaster has hopelessly botched the job, leaving his colleague to spurt out his habitual, near incomprehensible reply: “thatiswhatIsaid.” Despite the passage of five decades, the book contains many excellent photos of Neill’s travels that bring to life the persons and events described by the author. As a budding filmmaker, he was fast perfecting his skills behind the camera, and his photography greatly enhances the narrative of the book. In this story, one finds the roots of Neill’s lifelong career in international development work, with a strong focus on filmmaking and communication. He closes the tale by describing the place he has come to call home during his retirement, over 50 years later. Best of all, he shares with readers the secret of how he was able to cobble together so many of the small details of his travels and adventures from five decades past. This book will appeal to a wide range of readers, especially those who – like Neill – spent their formative years “finding themselves.”