One Year Goes By So Fast: Farewell, Remote Year Kublai!
All good things come to an end - well sort of. We say farewell to the Kublai Remotes, now Citizens of Remote Year, in this post that summarizes their year on the road.
One year full of getting to know the world, each other and yourselves, Kublai.
Can you believe that 365 days have passed since you first stepped off the plane in Kuala Lumpur?
Remote Year Kublai capped off their year-long journey in Lima, Peru. Over the past twelve months they have been side-by-side, traveling together on transition weekends, working in a new workspace each month, and trekking across mountains, waterfalls, and the busy streets of Phnom Penh. The Kubs (as they like to call themselves) have done it all together.
A year away from home has a way of putting things into perspective. When you’re miles away from your closest family and friends, you begin to reevaluate the things about yourself that always seemed inevitable.
Are you really afraid of heights? Is it true that you’re a picky eater?
Do you actually prefer to stay at home?
Or have you been held back by your comfort zone?
One Kublai Remote, Zoe Weiner, went on this journey of personal discovery during her Remote Year.
“I re-discovered who I am. At the beginning of the year I was so, so lost. I’m still pretty lost, but, I have more confidence in myself than ever before,” Zoe said. “I’m working toward starting my own company, and planning on travelling on my own while doing so — two things I never would have thought I’d be able to do before Remote Year came along.”
We know that feeling. It’s a personal phenomenon that only an experience as life-changing as Remote Year can create. It’s the feeling of finally being found.
Tramily Over Everything
The people that you meet on Remote Year aren’t just a part of the experience. They are the experience.
They are the ones that break down your boundaries and push you to realize your next level. They sign you up for morning sunrise hike you would have never considered before this year, and dare you to try the fire ant curry that gave you pause. They hold your hand as you jump off of cliffs and proofread your latest project in the early hours of the morning so that you can meet a deadline.
Sound familiar, Kublai?
Each memory that you create during your year of work and travel will be in the presence of your fellow Remotes, with them either cheering you on or comforting you through a tough moment. You’ll win together and lose together, but you’ll make your impact on the world as one.
For Zoe, one memory comes to mind when she thinks about the moment that she realized she was on an indescribable journey.
“Standing at the top of Machu Picchu after hiking it for 6 hours in the pouring rain with 36 of my peers. I was so proud of all of us, and I knew that I couldn’t have gotten through it without my support system,” Zoe said.
That support system was the backbone of Kublai’s year, with each Remote finding a way to make a connection with another, no matter their differences.
“We’re not clique-y,” Catherine (AKA Beach), a Kublai Program Leader said. “Everyone is very open to hanging out with each other, really. I’d say no one is exclusive or exclusionary. We always have this problem because we’ll roll into an event 50-deep and we’re like ‘Guys, we have to split up occasionally.’”
Nik, a Remote Year Experience Manager in Kuala Lumpur, was also witness to this bond. He developed an instant connection with the Kubs when they started their journey in his city, getting to know them as they first met each other.
Although Kublai’s month in Kuala Lumpur flew by, Nik never forgot about this incredible group of Remotes. In an emotional story that rivals any romance novel, Nik created a way to remind himself daily of the memories that he created with Kublai.
Ever since Kublai’s Orientation Weekend in Kuala Lumpur, Nik has worn a bangle.
So I've been wearing this bangle the whole of 2017 ever since Kublai's Orientation Weekend one year ago.
The Chinese monks that Coca and Jason met at a temple in KL told 'em that the bangles were blessed and when it falls off your wrist, it'll be a whole year of good luck in your travels or any endeavour you take on.
Thus today on your last weekend together, I bid all you Kubs good luck in your travels (home or away into Month 13 onwards) + all your future endeavours you will take on!
Conquer with love and don't forget to ring us up when you're in our neck of the woods aight... we'll go trampling through more haunted houses and feast over satay afterwards. ;)
<3 from KL,
Photo by Nik Nadzru Iskander
Another team member who created a close bond with the Kubs was Tue Le, the Remote Year Regional Experience Director in Asia. Their relationship was so tightknit that Kublai rallied together to make sure that Tue was present at their farewell event in Lima.
For this event, Tue wrote a heartwarming message that included every Kublai Remote. When we read it, we knew that we had to share a portion of it.
When you join Remote Year, they tell you that every Remote program is special in its own way. What they don't tell you is that you might fall in love so hard with the Remotes that it's physically impossible to forget each one of them. You arrived in Asia in late January 2017 and watching you leave Asia 4 months later was one of those tough moments that Remote Year can never prepare you for. I'm not sure when all of you transitioned from being "Remotes" in my mind to becoming "family and friends", but there was no looking back after it happened. After you left, I spent the next day in a fetal position wondering how I would ever love another program again.
All of you may have felt like you were just a face to us, but you weren't. Most of us can remember your first and last names (who can forget Buyandelger Batsaikhan though), where you're from (as if you couldn't tell from Fluker's accent), your quirks (Vanessa on the Mekong Delta track #LMAO), what made you tick (Allison always needs you to shoot muuuultiple shots for her Instagram posts), what dietary restrictions you have (vegan for Kathrin, Christina and Kara and for the love of God, no mayo for Jide), who was likely to fall asleep during an event (Mei for sure, but Paully was a close second). We celebrated some life moments together (Will's engagement), melted whenever we saw the huge smiles on your faces after an event (Emily, Amber, and Laurent), and celebrated whenever we saw someone we loved opt back in (yay, Aaron!). We marveled at how Sasha and Sutton NEVER missed a Track, laughed when Simon said he would never plan a trip again after Ha Long Bay then proceeded to plan more trips, wondered why there weren't more Nicks in Kublai (is 3 enough!?!...clearly Francis, Lanspa and Lucas make a good case for why the more Nicks, the merrier), cheered every time Maxime found a new hidden gem to eat at, obsessed over your photography skills and social media posts (Jay, Cari, and Andrew D), overdosed daily on your cuteness (Tan and Linsey), giggled whenever we saw you Photoshopping (Yam), and loved the passion that came out through your Positive Impact work (Tina and Rusty). We wondered how your hair always looked perfect even on windy and rainy days (Zoe, Lauren, both Amandas, Michelle and James D), begged to see your dance video (it was always a firm no from Carin), lived for your ridiculously amazing hugs (Greg, Lydia and Mason), stopped counting how many abs you had so that we wouldn't feel inferior (Jack), remembered who came with a ton of luggage (Drew, but clearly because he has good fashion sense), loved our long talks on the bus (Susan), and genuinely mourned whenever our time together was cut off way too soon (Brittney, Rebecca, James R, Josh, Jonathon, Kate, Lena, Tom, Vlad, and Alison B). Most of all, I will never forget how two beautiful 6 ft tall girls leading the program wormed themselves into my heart with their intense Australian "humor"/sarcasm (Beach) and incredible #wokeness (my Cali soulmate, Coca)."
A Year with Kublai
Kublai’s year on the road was filled with adventure, cultural impact and milestone moments. To give you a shortlist, Kublai Remotes have been involved in:
One marriage proposal in Bangkok
A 3-boat picnic on a Bulgarian lake
Launching multiple businesses
Raising $700 USD at a silent auction in Saigon
Creating a dance mashup video with a clip from every city
Setting up a solar panel business in Cambodia
Endless impromptu roasts of each other. As Kublai Program Leader Coca said, "The sense of humor is quite strong here. No one is safe."
Along with bonding activities and entrepreneurial ventures, Kublai Remotes experienced Tracks™ during their Remote Year. Tracks™ are a series of events curated by each Remote Year city team to ensure Remotes have authentic local experiences in each destination. One such Track took place in Cambodia, where Remotes got to hear from Aki Ra, a man who was named a CNN Hero in 2010.
“He was a child soldier back in the dictatorship in the ‘60s. He was so small that they had him lay landmines around Cambodia. As an adult he felt so much guilt for it because obviously he didn’t know what he was doing and didn’t have a choice anyway,” Coca said. “He came and talked about his experience and his work. He started these huge demining operations all throughout Cambodia and started a museum. It put a lot of things into perspective.”
So, what’s next?
Remote Year doesn’t end after twelve months. All of the Kubs who completed the program have gained Citizen status in Remote Year, meaning they can join any of the ongoing Remote Year programs on a more flexible basis. Though Remote Year Kublai has concluded, the now-Citizens are left with the words that have been guiding their journey all year long: conquer with love.
“Our motto is “conquer with love,” which I initially thought was kind of silly. But now, I get it,” said Zoe. “We really have conquered this year with so, so much love for one another. Even when they make me crazy, I absolutely adore each and every member of my tramily with my entire heart. I have never been surrounded by a community who cared so unconditionally about every person in it, and I am endlessly grateful for all of it.”
365 days later, you’ve made it.
12 cities. 11 countries. 3 continents. You’ve done it all.
Are you ready for your next adventure, Kublai? We can’t wait to see what it is.