A love letter, to my life Changemakers

It was supposed to be a good start of the week. A few days left to thesis submission, my days always began with sleepless nights. But, as soon as I received an e-mail from an old friend, my heart leaped reading the subject. It was Fran, the Global Changemakers’ team leader. I haven’t heard from Fran for awhile, thus I was very glad to have received some news from her. Little that  I knew, it was not a good news.

The e-mail was sent to inform an important update that the Global Changemakers programme has been discontinued. It was such, such a heartbreaking news for me. Global Changemakers is a platform for youth activists from all around the world, established and run by the British Council, supported by the World Economic Forum. Every year, it organises the Global Youth Summit (as well as a number of non-regular regional youth summits) to gather young people and train them to develop projects in order to make betterment of their respective communities. It also supports the projects led by its participants, through the Community Action Projects grants scheme, as well as Changemakers’ Toolkit that it has developed.

Global Changemakers’ literally changed my life. And, this post, was written and dedicated to thank them: Fran, Gaby, Matt, Katherine, John, and the rest of the team, as well as every single Global Changemaker in the world.

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A small note I left by the end of my first Global Changemakers summit.
January 24, 2009.
Today, 4.5 years later, I still feel the same. 

 

In 2009, I was an ordinary student in a public high school. Such a weirdo (and still am), did not really fit in school, could not handle bullying, could not manage my stress, and ended up looking for extracurricular activities outside school. I yearned to travel, to see the world, to get to know strangers, and basically, to make my life a better one; an extraordinary one. I then applied to participate in the 3rd Global Changemakers Youth Summit 2009 (formerly called Global Changemakers Guildford Forum 2009). And in a blink, my life changed.

In the summit, I trained myself to be a better person. I learned on how to speak well in front of the public, and basically how to manage a project. Most of all, for the first time in my life, I flew so far, without my parents (my last international trip was in 1995). For the first time, I landed my feet in London (and saw The Lion King at the West End!). For the first time, I finally made use of my English to its native speakers. I met inspiring young people, some of whom I’ve written about in my book. Including Simon Moss, an alumnus of Global Changemakers–who then became the respondent for my undergraduate thesis. Yet also, I got to know Fajar Anugerah, whom was assigned to ‘accompany’ me during the travels (flights). We became really good friends ever since, and he’s now like a surrogate brother to me (I could never ask for a better one).

Indonesian Youth Conference (IYC), an annual programme of Sinergi Muda, that is going to be held for the fourth time this year, was initially my outcome from the summit. After the event, the participants were encouraged to develop a project that will benefit our community in the Community Action Projects scheme, and my idea was to organise IYC. I proposed the idea and Global Changemakers provided a small amount of start-up grant, which I used to print proposals and stuff. They also introduced me to Veronica Colondam, the CEO of YCAB Foundation, who then agreed to become my mentor in organising IYC.

A few months later, Global Changemakers asked me to represent Indonesia in its programme with the G-20, in which we were asked to develop our own version of communique to be handed to the Head of States who were in London for the G-20. I did a crash course on Indonesian economics with my then-boyfriend’s Dad, especially its relevance towards the global financial crisis. We presented the communique to David Miliband in the House of Lords; and I personally met former PM Gordon Brown, President Felipe Calderon, and our very own President Yudhoyono. In that occasion, I became acquaintances with Dino Patti Djalal. He would have never come to my book launch hadn’t we met in the UK.

Time went by, and IYC was successfully held. It then became one of the most successful Community Action Projects and was featured in the Global Changemakers’ annual report. Because of that, I was asked to develop a Social Media Toolkit to help other changemakers to design and develop the social media strategy for their projects.

Now, well, I am who I am now. And I would never, ever be this person if it weren’t for the Global Changemakers.

So, knowing that the programme has been discontinued really, really breaks my heart. I really wished that there were more young people who could have been a part of it, and could have their lives changed as what Global Changemakers have done to me. But, I am surer than ever, that its legacy will live on, and every Changemaker in the world is going to leave a dent in the universe (as deep as the dent that Global Changemakers had left in my heart — a good dent, of course).

Thank you, Gaby, Katherine, Matt, Fran. I hope you would know that you have given a tremendous amount of contribution in people’s lives, especially in mine. You guys have helped me improved myself to be a better person, and supported me in reaching my dream to change the world (one step at a time). I’ve always tried to connect all the dots, and I’ve realised that Global Changemakers will always be a part of those connections (one of the bigger dots, even). I wish you all the best for your future endeavours, and I dearly hope that our paths will cross again sometime (just like what happened with me and Gaby when I had the chance to visit Bern!).

I love you, guys.

Thank you for being a part of my life, and helping me to make it an awesome one. x

That just happened

We grew up. Yes, that just happened.

Every single thing in life that happens so slowly, yet so constantly, never fail to brag to us on how we would never, ever notice that it had happened. Growing up. Finishing school. Falling in love. Losing a friend. Learning how to drive. Writing papers. Obtaining lessons from life. Then, we might go: what the hell? I’ve finished school already? 

Sometimes, we might want to ask why, why did time betray us? But then, where have we been all this time – when life was happening in our life? Yet, we will try to go back to words, pictures, conversations, memories… to relive what happened, to relive what we thought we have never experienced. But we have. Though we might forget to realise it.

You know what comes up next? The thought of realising that sometimes, words delude us. Nah, often times than not, they do. So do pictures. Memories. Conversations. Trying to encourage us to live in the past. To go back to school again, learn to drive again. To grow up once again.

Better yet. Most of us want to fall for its beauty. We want — in fact, we yearn to be deluded. But, would you? Would you sacrifice your real present to be deluded with what you thought was so good you would never ever experience again?

I probably wouldn’t.

Little Notes of Life

An afternoon in Firenze, Italy

I am a great believer of the saying that getting lost allows you to (re)discover yourself. Thus, I travel a lot, and most of the time alone. Sometimes I understand myself better when I get lost between historical buildings that are also landmarks of a city; and I get to love the person inside me stronger when my feet are enjoying the sand and the salty sea situated on one of Indonesia’s coasts. Today, I just finished a 10-day trip to Italy; spent a few days working and the rest, basically, wandering around the old city. Wondering about my life, being drowned amongst the crowds in front of the Spanish Steps. Imagining of the things that could have happened, or could not have happened. Recalling the events that have built my life up onto this moment and made me meet the people I’ve shared my life with; and the (expected) events that did not really make it.

The year of 2013 has just been here for roughly 45 days, yet so many things have come up. Plenty of things have happened, and most of them have given me a bunch of lessons to be learned. I think it would be very important to take note of them. As a reminder.

I was once a very rational person; I used to assess almost everything with my logic to give my heart a thick shield. To prevent it to be broken once again, especially when I have run out of glue to fix it. But then, love happened, and things changed. They changed a lot. But, at times, we just got to go back to square one. And start over. And be rational again.

One day, I might have a look at these notes once again; simply to prevent them from being forgotten. Consider this as a manifesto. Well, I love manifestos. I thought, someday I would have to write one like that. Perhaps that one day is going to be today. (Although these notes would probably only account a bit of it.)

Why don’t we give it a try.

Feelings are often real. But the words we use to express them, most of the time, are illusory. So, carefully think about the words we choose to use. Never say “I love you” just to create an illusion of feelings, nor to make our counterpart love us. The worst of “I love you”s are those that are not wholeheartedly said. Therefore, when you say it; make sure you mean it.

Being young is not only about leaving a mark in the world. It is also about letting the world leaves a mark within us. May it be through an event, or even more, through a person. So go. Fall in love, make mistakes, break your heart, and probably start over.

There is no such thing as “unrequited feeling”. However, perhaps, the level of requital that we get might be higher or lower than our expectations. (Perhaps it’s best not to expect anything at all, and let it be a surprise. Let life surprises you.)

When God takes away something you (thought you) have, usually you are going to get something better. However, be grateful of what you have at the moment. Keep it. Protect it. Or you might end up losing something that matters the most in your life. (And try not to regret when that happens, especially when you have failed in protecting it. Let it wander to a better place, a place that would keep it safe.)

Never fall in love in your sleep. What usually comes as a dream might suddenly show up as a nightmare. Since then, your sleeps and naps would never be the same anymore. Be in love while you are awake. Be in love knowing the risks you take, the ‘dangers’ you will face. Be in love with a person, not the idea of him/her that you have projected yourself. Be in love with a person, not the idea of him/her that he/she tries to project for you to believe in.

(Always) believe that there is probably a person out there who deserves to get the best of you. (You might meet him/her soon).

The only person in the world who could make you happy is yourself. Before others. (I usually compliment myself with ice creams too, though. Ice creams make me really happy.)

Most of the time, feeling exhausted also means that you have not make your life wasted for nothing. Keep going.

The worst feeling that you could ever possess to someone is the feeling of possessing him/her, as if that person is completely yours. Because you could never, ever “own” a person. You could only be happy when the person you choose to be with also chooses to be with you.

Words might hurt you, but words shouldn’t. (this one’s courtesy of Adriano Qalbi)

Last, but not least,

Be happy. Because you only need yourself to be happy, and because you can. Allow yourself to be happy. With or without someone else. Isn’t it such a great feeling to realise that we can be happy on our own? As soon as we have allowed ourselves to be happy on our own, then we can be happy with another person.

Enjoy your February. It’s my favourite time of the year, usually. I hope it’s going to be yours too.

Inspiration: Wear Sunscreen

In the past two weeks, I had been out of my hometown, and I currently am missing my family, my boyfriend, my best friends. So, just now I decided to send them one of the most inspiring videos I’ve ever seen in my life. I think you’ll like it too. This video was based on a column written and delivered by Mary Schmich, and it probably is going to warm your heart.

 

Unleashing Indonesia

6 months ago, a program of McKinsey & Company called Young Leaders for Indonesia commenced. I have been honoured to be able to join the 6-month program involved by 60 participants from a variety of universities in Indonesia and Singapore. The program is very competitive, and I was surprised that I was accepted as one of the attendees. At the first day the forum, it was unsurprising for me to witness the brilliancy of other participants. All the intelligent wit, high-achieving nature, and aspiration to unleash Indonesia — or at least that’s how McKinsey label this passion.

The program was divided into three forums. Each of the forum contents a specific theme, and even more specific modules. Forum I was called “Lead Self”; Forum II was called “Lead Teams”; and Forum III was called “Lead Indonesia”. McKinsey & Company shared many modules, including the problem solving framework used by McKinsey & Company, integrity module, etc. They also invite high profile leaders, including Tri Mumpuni, Kuntoro Mangkusubroto, Anies Baswedan, Sandiaga Uno, Aldi Haryopratomo, Pahala Mansury, and plenty others in each forum.

In all three forums, we got the chance to meet many leaders with similar profiles. A lot of them used to work in consulting or auditing firms, namely McKinsey & Company, Boston Consulting Group, or KPMG. Many of them used to work or are still working in banks or financial institutions like J.P. Morgan, Saratoga Capital, Goldman Sachs, or Bank Mandiri. Plenty of them left Indonesia to the U.S. to get an M.B.A. (or even PhD) degree, then come back to Indonesia to become Senior Vice President of something, Vice President of something, or CEO of something else. Some of them choose to work in the government, mostly in the President’s Delivery Unit for Development Monitoring and Oversight.

It was also not a surprise for me that most of us then became unsure about what we would like to do for the rest of our lives. A participant used to want to be a lecturer so bad; but then she changed her mind and applied for McKinsey entrance test. Another participant used to want to work in a social enterprise, but then changed his mind and want to work in a private equity instead. A lot of entrepreneurs-to-be shifted directions to be consultants; and vice versa.

And then, I realized, for some moments, I sensed that what the “leaders” have said, no matter how high his or her level is in the company or institution, is usually the same with what my mother and father said, or with what my friends said about life. Even without such experience like what those ‘leaders’ possess, they still say similar things.

I felt like I have met many younger leaders who are as inspiring. The people who did not have to go overseas to say that they have achieved something in their lives. The people who just enjoy what they do. The people who have the guts to do what they love–regardless what other people say about it. Regardless of how much money they make, or how many years have they served in the position.

It was the moment that I began to understand, thoroughly, that: no, you don’t have to be a CEO of something to be recognized as a leader. You don’t have to be a management consultant to prove to other people that you are smart, a hard worker, and a high achieving person. You don’t have to work in a certain delivery unit to contribute to your nation. You just have to do the things you love; and do it well. Do good deeds to others through your passion. Build the nation through what excites you–which probably make building the nation excites you too. That way, you’ll never get tired of doing things only to impress people. Instead, you’d be happy to be able to follow your heart and intuition.

A father is a leader too. So is a friend. Other people might not realize it, but we should. For every big changes should start within the smallest circle. A family. A relationship. A friendship. A group of friends. The smallest groups that eventually form a big nation populated by 240 million something of people.

If getting to know about a variety of industry and developing strategy is your passion, work in a management consulting firm. If helping people through medical consultations is your passion, be a doctor. If sharing your knowledge, giving learning materials, and delivering lectures is your passion, get a masters degree and be a lecturer. If making people laugh brings joy to yourself, be a stand-up comedian.

Nobody has the right to look down on you just because you are doing the things that you love. Even if to them it seems less prestigious. Being able to follow our passion is a luxury. Therefore, if we have the chance too, I think we should pursue it.

We don’t have to be under the spotlight to give an impact in other people’s lives; and we don’t have to do something just because we want other to recognize our existence. Our choice might not be the best one, but make sure we make the most honest choice; for a path chosen now is the path that we’ll get to go on for the rest of our lives.

Thank you, Young Leaders for Indonesia, for the lessons learned.

How would you like to unleash Indonesia?

Lately

Eid Mubarak, everyone. I wish you have had a blessed celebration yesterday and will get your clean slate afterwards. (I suddenly think that Selina Kyle should’ve joined the fasting period in Ramadan… Wait, scratch that). There have been quite a lot of things going on in my life, and as usual, plenty of lessons learned.

I have finished my sixth semester in uni. It makes sense to feel that impulsively taking 24 credits while organising a conference like IYC is a bit suicidal; though I managed to get through it anyway.

I boarded a (dream) internship. I have learned the last MRT boards at around midnight and many new things about IT business. Working in Singapore is relatively less tiring than working in Jakarta.

The third IYC had also been held, with its tickets sold out once again (thank you!). It’s difficult to try to give birth to “regeneration” and “delegation” in an organisation or community. Still, it’s utterly crucial, and it is a start to make an organisation or community grow into a completely sustainable one).

I’ve been working on an exciting campaign/project in the public sector area. Apparently, it is possible to restore our faith and optimism in Indonesia’s future. There are cocky public servants and/or public sector professionals, but also awe-inspiring ones.

DreamCatcher has gone through its second batch of production — again, thanks to you! Couldn’t have done it without you all, guys. I owe my readers a lot!.

IYC was involved in the celebration of International Youth Day 2012 and Global Youth Forum 2012 which is going to be held in Bali. Having a group of friends presenting in the same event might provoke assumptions on the other side, which sometimes lead to conflicts or a birth to unproven arguments and negative judgments.

Birthday Gifts!

Business cards from KartuNama.net
L’Occitane hand cream from Vanda
Lancôme Tresor Midnight Rose EDT as a gift from and fo
r myself
 
Cuddly teddy bear from Fajar,
hugging my newest book: “The Journeys 2 Cerita dari Tanah Air Beta”

A 2012 calendar from Edward Suhadi, “Lessons from A Dog”

But, the biggest, best gift would be the one I have given to myself. I have promised myself that I would not let anyone take nor absorb my happiness away. And, when I feel happy, I will be completely happy. No doubt.

Peace

There will be plenty of times in our lives when we feel that life is too hard, too difficult, for us to go through it. The times where it seems like no one is there for us. The times where we lose all the hopes and the dreams…

…but as soon as we make peace with ourselves, and with what happen, we will be much, much happier. The power of being ikhlas, and accepting things as they happen.

Please, don’t forget to be happy. Whatever happens.

Photo taken by Vanda Isfandari