31 December 2011

Prime Year, Prime Time

2011 is a Prime Number and 2011 has been a Prime Year for me. At the last New Year's Eve, I felt like God was trying to tell me that 2011 would be a good year. When I learnt that 2011 is a Prime Number in the middle of the year, I realised why.

Now that we are only minutes away from next year, I feel like I have achieved more this year than in all my other years combined.

The scholarship, which I ended up never taking, was the start of a winning streak. Imagine beating out thousands of people to make it into the top 21. That in itself was an extraordinary achievement.

A huge portion of it goes to I-SWEEEP. It was the first real serious International Competition that I had finally made. On top of that, it was what lead me to fulfilling my life-long dream, to travel half way across the world. Not to mention the after trip to Eastern USA, Canada and UAE. It was an adventure that truly broadened my horizons that I will never forget, including some of the most amazing experiences of my life, from climbing up the tallest building in the world to sliding down the "Leap of Faith". From the huge yet cheap Texas BBQ to the most expensive meal of my life in the Burj Al Arab Hotel. It was an education in itself.

Then there was the day where I graduated in a Toga for the first time. It was the day I left Santa Laurensia Junior High School. It was the day I learnt the single best word that describes myself: Proactive.

Not long after, we had our "Official Falling Apart" of our ASEAN Youth Club at Stevan Meat Shop (which I just went to two hours ago). That was a night truly touching.

A few weeks later, we had our first "Productive Hang-out" with the new generation: GYF 2011. It was that day when we labelled that little seating area in front of Pendopo at Living World as "The Corner From Where We Change The World. Then, just two weeks later, on a Saturday, it was our second "Productive Hang-out" which turned into my birthday event. It was a huge turning point for me. It was one of those few moments where I was genuinely able to view Laurensians in a brighter light.

A letter from Brazil came telling me that I had qualified for the finals of MOSTRATEC in Brazil. Unfortunately, the Brazil trip I had long anticipated didn't quite materialise. But that's alright, because the invitation letter was an achievement in itself.

After a few months of self study, fate brought me back to my roots: PSB. The day I joined them was the day I worked on the final major project of the year: The Production. It was an experience truly ending my journey in the most elegant manner.

However, with all the Prime Achievements, this year came the worst hardships. I've lost count of how many failures I've faced this year, including ICYS, ISPO, OPSI, and really a whole lot of other things I don't really want to think about now. Despite that, it was all worth it.

Now that 2011 is about to end, I feel like I'm walking away from success. I'm about to enter a new phase of my life. 2012 has a lot in store for me and I'm waiting to see if I will make it out of 2012 alive.

It's been a Prime Year. It's been a Prime Time.

29 December 2011

The Best Of Role Models

My English teacher has this blog called 'Express Your Opinions!" where, well, the name says it all (see for yourself here). One of the questions thrown at us was "Who are your role models?" When I read the comments that came before me, Parents and Teachers seemed to be the most common answers. Yes it is undeniable that they are role models. However, for me, the biggest role models in my life don't fall under any of those two categories. The people on this earth who are my biggest role models have changed my life indirectly but in a very adversely positive way.


A role model to me is someone who I know inside-out, or at least know quite well. Thus, people like Oprah Winfrey and Bruno Mars, famous people, though are great people, don't qualify as a role model of mine. There is a simple reason behind that. Who knows what they are really like? I've experienced this first hand. I looked up to someone for such a long time just because of the reputation that he had and just because everyone talked good about him all the time, even though I didn't really know him well. Then, one day, when I did get to know him, and knew more and more about him, only to realised that I had been fooled by "The Cover". I'm not saying that a role model needs to be like a best friend who does everything with me and tells me literally every detail there is to know about him. What I'm saying is that a role model must be someone who has been able to convince me that they are admirable inside and out. The whole point of this is so that I truly learn the process behind what we see. There is no hidden conspiracy behind a person. Imagine admiring a great athlete who claims that he trains for 8 hours a day but what you didn't know was that really he's just taking steroids or whatever other drugs and just so happens to be really good at getting away with it. To see someone go from zero to hero with your very own eyes is just most ideal and convincing. This can only mean one thing, my role models are people who I know personally.

I truly do look up to my parents but the thing is, I just can't really compare them to myself well enough. I did not live to see them being my age. Circumstances were and still are different for us. Even though they do inspire me, the inspiration is not the strongest. In order for inspiration to really hit me at its strongest, it needs to be so applicable to me that I am genuinely fully inspired. In my opinion, the best role models I can have are those who are younger than me or at least the same age.

Every one looks up at all the "tall" adults around but does anyone ever "look down"? I'm sure that we are no stranger to the line of poetry "If you can do it, so can I!" Well, to better illustrate the point I'm about to make with a very extreme example, if my 40-year-old father can earn a million dollars an hour in the year 2011, can I, a teenager, with school and everything, earn a million dollars and hour in the year 2011? Most probably not. Impossible I guess, unless my father gives me his company or something. Maybe yes in the future, but who knows what the circumstances of our world will be like in 2050 when I'm 45 or even in 2012. However, if my classmate can get full marks on last week's Biology chapter test, can I get full marks on next week's Biology chapter test? If my younger brother is able cook dinner for the whole family one night, might I be able to cook dinner for the whole family the next?

I used to think that there was absolutely no way a Junior High student could win science fairs. In Indonesia, this was one industry conquered by the Senior Highs. Then, I had just terminated my science project and deemed it hopeless when two classmates, Becky and Owen, called to tell me that they won the national science fair and have been chosen to represent Indonesia in the international competition in Brazil! If Becky and Owen had never earned that ticket to Brazil (even though they didn't place in competition in Brazil), I wouldn't have even won the science fair the following year, let alone earn my ticket to Houston. They really have become role models in my life. Furthermore, they had the heart to help me with my project. They shared with me what they had learnt from their experience, allowing me to learn from their mistakes and repeat their right-doings. They were able to make me better than themselves. They lead me to a Bronze medal. In turn, they have really become my heroes.

I find much inspiration from my peers and from my Juniors. It amazes me sometimes to see a kid years younger than me obtain such amazing achievements. Whenever I do, I begin to ask myself "What was I doing when I was his age?"

I take the effort to tell all my role models how they affect me. I feel that they deserve to and need to know for their better. You don't have to look far and wide or up and high to find your role models. They may not even be the best ones. Heroes are all round us, and sometimes, you just have to look, well, down!

26 December 2011

Rooted Roots

Within the year, I have left 2 different schools, both in good terms. As you leave an institution, you think of all the people that have been a part of the journey. You know you will miss them. Then you tell them that you'll try to keep in touch with them and you'll try to meet up often. Then they say that they are going to miss you and that your welcomed to visit any time. Both parties assure each other that they will be remembered and missed.

However, do all these hopes truly materialise? Will you really remember them and will you be remembered?
For the first week apart, usually a holiday, Facebook is filled with tagged photos of your time in the institution and Twitter is buzzing with farewell tweets saying that you will be, or already are, missed. You're still Skype calling people and chatting with them over MSN or YM. In the most hyperbolic cases, they tell you that it's only been one day and yet they already miss you so terribly (then how ever did you survive being apart over the weekend?). They randomly call you up and when you ask them why the random call and why not just a text, they say things like "I miss your voice" or "you get across more details orally" or other excuses they can think of.

Then, you decide to meet up. You spend quite an amount of phone credit arranging for a movie or just a nice chat over coffee at the mall. You feel like you're meeting you father who came back from the war in Iraq. You have a great time and tell each other that you should meet up again some other time. At this point in time, you still genuinely miss each other and feel their presence in your life. They still play an important role and therefore you still think about them every day.

But time goes on and you move on. You join another institution, or get caught up in your own stuff, and you relationship with them slowly fades away. They ask you stuff, especially about your new institution, from time to time. However, you get more and more preoccupied with the new people in your lives and slowly that relationship fades away to the point, though you haven't forgotten them, you just don't remember them. They no longer become a part of you daily life.

Since I've left Laurensia and PSB, it's funny how I still remember my peers and teachers. I still think about them almost every single day. I just randomly think about them. Every time I come across the word 'New York', a name and face crosses in my mind. Every time I go to Living World (the mall near Laurensia), a memory of my former peers is triggered.

But then, the question remains. As time progresses, will I still remember you and will you still be remembered? Will I still think of you every day of my life? Does it mean that I don't appreciate you anymore or is it simply part and parcel of life and human nature to forget? For how long will I remain rooted to my roots?

Just yesterday, when I woke up in the morning, I came across my English Portfolio from 8th grade. Then, I start to think of Ms Pia, my first English teacher in Santa Laurensia. I think of how she understood me and still took the effort to take care of me in class. Then, that afternoon, it just so happened that I coincidentally bumped into her at Living World and when I greeted her, the first thing I told her was that I just so happened to had been thinking about her.

Then, about 2 weeks ago, I was studying in my room doing some Maths exercises. The character in the word problem happens to be named Kenny. Then, I think of my old pal Kenny from back in Laurensia who played a huge role in my Laurensian journey. I stop working for a while, just to think about him. Then, thoughts run through my mind. "I wonder how he's doing now. Did he get accepted at the school he applied to? He's an awesome guy. Good character. I've always believed in him. He'll lead a successful life. He'll be fine. God Bless Him." I suddenly invested a few moments of my day just thinking about him, thinking about out past together, wondering how he is now, and wishing him a brighter future. Then, the most creepy part, at that very moment, a random text came into my phone at the most random time. It was from Kenny. "How did the production go?" And so he was also thinking about me, at least for a few seconds.

Life... Will I think about my past life just every single day?

9 September 2011

The Students' Adventure - Re-routing The Race

Today I had two guests come to Jakarta. One from Singapore and the other from Canada. So this morning I went over to the airport to pick them up and we headed straight off together with my mom. Where you may ask? We thought that we would show them two places close to heart. These two places really reflect what Indonesia is all about and are well preserved. But really, it's because these places happen to be the two tourist attractions in the area that are closest to my heart. It's Taman Mini Indonesia Indah and Kebun Raya Bogor.

Why are they so close to the heart? It's because I've been to Taman Mini like 9 times and I've been to Kebon Raya Bogor probably 16 times to date. Why so many times? Because these were the two places where lead my team of PSB students to organize The Students's Adventure (TSA) Season 1 at Kebun Raya Bogor and The Students' Adventure Season 2 at Taman Mini. So with all the survey trips to organize the event, I think I now know these places all too well.

***

TSA, later renamed as SCOPE (Student Corporation Organizing Productive Events) is, or was, an annual event that we held in PSB School. It's sort of like a Junior Amazing Race but with a totally different concept. Each year, or season as we like to call it, we choose one place which is the scope of the race. The students are put into groups and run a two leg race with a Check Point at the end of each leg. Each leg consists of a number of stations each with a task that the teams must complete to move on in the race.

The most amazing thing about TSA is that it is FULLY STUDENT INITIATED. The idea came from the students' own will with no adults asking us to do it at all and the teacher mentor which we recruited (not that recruited us) was only to resolve legal matters and to show his or her face when we needed someone aged above 18.

***

Let's just keep the description simple: today was just nostalgic. Like really nostalgic. We had 6 stations in Taman Mini. Today, I got to re-visit 3 of them. In Kebon Raya, I got to revisit all the stations including the Check Points. Somehow, though there were not much people there, somehow I was seeing people, students of PSB School, running around, reading clues, fighting, carrying each other's bag (or carrying each other), completing tasks, and the scene I've seen the most which is checking into the Check Point at Lady Raffles Memorial in Season 1 and at Istana Anak-anak in Season 2. It's amazing how we did something so amazing in such an amazing place. I don't think I can describe what we went through during the days of TSA and you really have to be one of us on the Organizing committee to understand all the pain and gain. Working 6 months to prepare for Season 1 which effectively was only a 4 hour race and a preparation time of 9 months for a 5 hour race is a lot of time spent on a short time "pay" of satisfaction. But really, we've all learned so much from the experience and I'm sure it has changed all of our lives.

This post is dedicated to all the organizers of the First and Second Season of The Students' Adventure Series and SCOPE! All the best to us all in the future!

To end this tribute post, I'll publish that TSA Theme Song song we wrote before the second TSA which was never officially published (and only 4 people have heard of) followed by some photos of our TSA times. (Due to my horrible Internet speed, more photos will be uploaded on a later date)

The Students' Adventure Theme Song

The time is coming, the time is near
And it's becoming all so clear
The chance of a lifetime starts today

Let's learn, run and have fun
In the sun, all for one
Everybody come and join us here

It's The Students' Adventure where we're gonna have some fun
It's The Students' Adventure where we'll work with everyone
It's The Students' Adventure where we're gonna run and scream
All we've got to do right now is learn, run, have fun!

We're gonna learn something new today
But we don't know what anyway
The chance of a lifetime starts today

Let's learn, run and have fun
In the sun, all for one
Everybody come and join us here

It's The Students' Adventure where we're gonna have some fun
It's The Students' Adventure where we'll work with everyone
It's The Students' Adventure where we're gonna run and scream
All we've got to do right now is learn, run, have fun!




It is a TSA tradition that we take a picture of our feet on the first location survey trip


8 September 2011

GW 1.0 (In English)

This is another blog post where I copied the idea from the blog of the coolest dude around Mario Averdi at http://www.shootingaces.blogspot.com/ . So here it goes, in English...

I was born in that hospital labour room in Jakarta Barat that one August morning. I was in my mom's tummy for that extra month. I was expected to be born on Indonesia's Independence day but that didn't happen. I was taken home to an amazing home with an amazing pair of parents. I grew up. I was too skinny to be true. I never had problems eating vegetables. I moved to Perth. I lived in Perth with my dad. I attended 4 different Kindergartens. I was put in foundation English class in my last kindergarten. I continued to live in Perth. I sat my first year of Primary School in Ursula Frayne in Perth. I was still in Foundation English class. I was a jerk in first grade. I listened to Westlife, ABBA and Pet Shop Boys in the car to and from school everyday. I grew up listening to Westlife. I came to love Westlife. I watched The Sound of Music every day. I watched it so much that the last time I watched The Sound of Music was the day the CD cracked. I moved on to second grade. I went home to Jakarta. I went to SIS. I got bullied in grade 2. I was the bully the next year. I've been both a bully and the bullied before so I know what it feels like on both sides. I moved to PSB. I moved to a school in a damn freaking ruko. I moved to PSB on the first day it opened. I went to a school with 40 students from 1st to 9th grade. I was in a class of like what, 6 people? I thought my parents were insane to send me to PSB. I was proven wrong in 4 months. I won the APSMO maths competition. I won the Westpac Olympiad. I am the first person in PSB School history to have an achievement in a competition outside school. I went through this journey with my good pal Pris. I was ruthless. I was hated. I was bullied, again. I then became the bully, again. I resolved it all before the end of 4th grade. I was the vice of the Valentines Day organizing committee. I was part of the first ever fully student organized event in PSB School history. I was so proud of myself. I felt Youth Empowerment for the first time even though I didn't know what Youth Empowerment was at that time. I was crazy. I organized our so called "The Adventure Race" in Kebon Raya Bogor for the school. I was so devastated that it got canceled due to natural disaster. I put all the documents in a box and hid it away. I found the box and made the race really happen two years later. I started TSA. I saw TSA crash and burn. I was loved by my PSB mates. I was loved by my PSB teachers. I was scared taking the iPSLE. I made it through the iPSLE. I got results outstanding that words cannot describe how good they are. I cried because of my results. I made my maths teacher cry because of my results. I cried and cried and cried. I was too happy to stop crying. I sat Secondary School. I left PSB on such short notice. I left PSB not because PSB is a bad school. I left to make PSB proud in the world out there. I left the shoebox school. I worked hard for my last Honours Day event. I worked hard to make my final service to PSB a memorable one. I cried on Honours Day on stage. I made everyone else cry. I left the most productive 4 years of my life...

I'm bored. I wanna blog. I'm going to Kebon Raya Bogor tomorrow. I'm going to be nostalgic.

I'm going to continue the chapters of my life which were in Bahasa Indonesia in GW 2.0!

I'm Aaron Colin and signing out!

1 September 2011

Judging A Book By Its Cover

(As you may see, this post is still very messy, as in it lacks proper structure. This is mainly because as I was writing it, I had a hard time connecting ideas together; and this is indeed a very complicated topic. I'm going to be editing this post soon so please do check back soon!)



As I have grown up, I've heard that phrase over and over again. At first I believed it; but by "at first" I mean when I first heard the phrase in Grade 2 or 3 I think. But lately, I've come to realize that this is not entirely true, and now, I'm going to tell you why...

Let's take this phrase literally. Suppose I'm at the bookstore. These days, at least in Indonesia, bookstores tend to leave one copy of each book unsealed so that you can take a look at the content before you buy one. But in life, some things just don't have that one unsealed copy. In other words, sometimes, you only have to cover to judge the inside which is where it all gets tricky.

I like to think of it this way. In the old days, it doesn't matter if you are not physically attractive for as long as your voice is good, you can be a famous singer. These days, I bet half the people who are a fan of Justin Bieber or whoever are fans mainly because they find him cute (is he?) or because he's dating Selena Gomez (I think?) or whatever other reason. Well, if Justin Bieber had a horrible voice, he would not be as successful and famous as he is today, but still, his "cover" is his main selling point, kind of like the way Lady Gaga lives by her image of being what? Bad?

When I meet a person for the first time, I automatically want to evaluate the person. Imagine when in a huge convention of people. Of course, you want to get to know some people but there is no way you will get to know everyone. So therefore, you are put in a situation where you have to choose who you want to socialize with and most likely, you would want to meet people who you will benefit from. I don't want to waste time on a person who will not gain me anything useful. So what do I have to make my choice? Anything on the outside. I can't interview everyone then make my choice. So have to depend on things like body language or the way someone presents themselves.

There are other popular phrases like "Looks can be deceiving" or whatever that tell us that what we see on the outside may not reflect whatever is hidden within. There is a lot of truth in that. However, I feel that cover is a huge factor of consideration. A person who is good would try their best to create an appearance that reflects their inside. No point having a good product if the packaging in itself scares people off.

If the cover isn't good, it means it's not worth checking out, even though the inside is good, especially in the world we live in today, where the demands for everything are much higher and we are always after perfection and a "full-package". And think about it, if plastic surgery is placed outside my scope of consideration, if a person is genetically blessed or not, you can't change too much. However, if a person is intelligent or has good character, with will and determination, that can be changed.

I think this is a talking point which can go in all sorts of directions. So please do leave your comments on how you feel about this topic.

Best Blog Quotes 1

For those of you who don't know, I have a long list of blogs which I ALWAYS check everyday whenever possible. I do this because I feel that sometimes these blogs can be a huge source of inspiration! I can tell you know that I have a list of 3 blogs which have changed my life and have inspired me. For those blogs who are on my list of the best of the best, if there are no new posts on that day, I usually would wonder off to some of the older posts. Therefore, in this post, I'm going to quote one of my favourite lines in one of these blogs that I check often and I'll discuss them, why they are inspirational or what meaning I feel lies behind them! Subsequently I'll have more of these types of posts! So here goes the first one...

Taken From "Waiting In Line, Waiting For a Verdict" by Karin Novelia

Many people ask me, "Why didn't you join the Student Council? You would be a great candidate."
 
Blah, blah, blah. Not to be disrespectful or anything to the people who support me and encourage me to be all "over-achieving" and who realize my leadership potential, 4 words: You. Don't. Know. Me.
Okay, I would love to be Ms. Busy-body and play teacher's pet, though evidently, that has gotten me into drama before, but I'm not a "Rachel Berry", if you will. I'm not the type of person who knows she has what it takes but destroys it by being overly-'me', all obsessive and overshadowing. I guess what I'm trying to say is, that I'm still figuring things out. I don't want to push myself to doing what seems like 'the typical me thing' to do. Not many people know what I have to deal with on a daily basis. School, parents, making sure my older brother gets through school and baby-sitting a younger sister. It's the little things I've been doing for like an eternity and I love doing them, it's like the dream job you don't wanna quit, but it takes a lot out of me.
Ok, this post was published over a year ago, but I still remember this post very well, mainly because it has my name written all over it. But the lines above which I just quoted to me have a very deep meaning. FYI, I've known Karin for almost 1.5 years now. We first met when she sat for her Writing Club Interview way back when and we have had many ventures together ever since, mostly AYC related.

In the first paragraph I quoted, when she says "Many people", I'm one of them. The main learning point to take away from this post, at least for me, is that everything is not what it seems. In fact, nothing is ever what it seems. There's that famous saying "Don't Judge A Book By Its Cover" which honestly, I don't really agree with and talk more about why in a future post.

But anyways, you never know what people have to deal with on a daily basis. Karin I must say has often been labeled as the "Over Achiever". We'll I've been there and done that and I know what it's like. The point that I want to get across here is that things like Grades or Achievements can never be a representation of a person's quality. Sometimes, people also choose not to bring out their full potential. There are also people who find that the ruthless way of life isn't worth it. Really, my main point is, what you label someone is not always what they are.

15 Things I Did In My 15th Year

The 15th year of my life has been a very interesting and life-changing one filled with a lot of very high ups and very low downs. I must say, it has been one of the best years of my life so far (but I dare not say best yet). However, I must say though, if AYC 2010 happened after my 14th birthday, or even on my birthday instead of just before it, I think I would have labeled this year the best one. So, I've chosen the 15 things which I feel were the best things I have done or achieved from the day I turned 14 to the day I turned 15. So, in chronological order, here it goes...

1. Gold Medal in Mathematics Division at the Indonesian Young Scientist Competition 2010 (InaYS 2010) in Bandung, Indonesia together with my dear Science Club partner Toby.

2. Organizing the ASEAN & Youth Empowerment Day event for the entire Junior High Unit of Santa Laurensia School. It was like bullying the entire school for a whole day!

3. Published the VieR School Magazine with the team under my leadership (=D)!

4. On top of number 3, my Cerpen (Short Story) in Bahasa Indonesia was chosen to be published in VieR!

5. I was awarded the scholarship in Singapore! (See previous posts)

6. I endured my first surgery which was to remove my appendix.

7. I hit the American continent for the first time in Houston, Texas, USA after taking the longest flight of my life (16.5 hours from Dubai to Houston)

8. Bronze Medal in the Energy Category for the International Sustainable World Energy, Engineering and Environment Project Olympiad (I-SWEEEP) 2011 in Houston, Texas, USA! Met with people from 70 different countries.

9. I climbed up the world's tallest building, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, UAE, and second tallest building, the CN Tower in Toronto, Canada.

10. I braved the Leap Of Faith water slide in Aquaventure at the Atlantis Resort on The Palm in Dubai, UAE. An almost vertical drop that catapults through a Shark Lagoon.

11. Passed my UAN (National Exams) with unbelievable results (both in good and bad ways)!

12. I had the opportunity to meet and work with many students from the 16th cohort of Santa Laurensia Junior High School and we inspired each other!

13. Junior High School Graduation. Graduated in a toga for the first time!

14. The Most Proactive Student Award at Graduation! Unexpected but at the same time very expected!

15. First time hang out with a Laurensian, and the hang out was in the form of a Productive Hang-out (LOL).

So there you go, 15 things I did in the past year that I will always remember for the rest of my life. I know some may find my life a bit boring, but hey, some of these are really big things for me!

28 August 2011

There Is No Hiding A Birthday From A Laurensian

First of all, for those of you who I told that my birthday is on 29 February, which means that my birthday comes only once in four years, and believed it, you fell for my trick. My birthday was indeed a few days ago.

It has become a bit of our tradition that we would have a meeting, or a productive hang-out as we like to call it sometimes, the second weekend after the return of a GYCi Delegation. So we did have our AYC + GYF + AYC Productive Hang-out, which happened to fall on my birthday...

I have never really liked celebrating birthdays, especially with other people. To me, a birthday is just like ending the financial year where you count all your profits and losses. I treat my birthdays as a time to review what went wrong, what I could have done that I didn't do and all the things that went well. To me, it's more of a personal time.

Therefore, with the objective of making sure that the meeting was focused to productive stuff and not my birthday. So I decided not to tell anyone that the event would fall on my birthday and for those who insisted days before the event that I treat everyone to lunch, I came up with the silly scheme about my birthday being on 29 February.

But unfortunately, that morning, I was awoken to a text greeting me "Happy Birthday". Somehow, the whole world found out and denied all information that it was not my birthday. So, when I got to Living World (it's a mall in Alam Sutera Complex where my ex school is), the whole Laurensian WORLD that was there seemed to know what day it was. I had so many Laurensians who I don't know the names of come up to me and give me a signature AYC hug (nothing really signature about it really, just a hug). Text messages also kept pouring in till my phone hanged (no kidding). Including the most shocking yet meaningful of the texts saying "HAPPY BIRTHDAY WORLD LEADER!" and the text from someone who was right there in front of me but just had to SMS his/her birthday wishes. Thanks for the texts guys! Sorry if I didn't reply any of them because I either overlooked them or missed them and sorry to those people who got replied many times because I did not remember replying them. (=D)

I'll be honest, I have lately come to realize and accept the harsh fact that throughout my time in Santa Laurensia Junior High School, at least in my final 9th Grade year, every student in the school at least knows who I am one way or another (as if I'm Student Body President or something) but I don't know everyone. I do recognise the faces of every Junior High Laurensian in 14h to 16th generation, but I don't think I would know all the names, all the more have saved their phone numbers on my phone and know who's is this text from. I would not really say that I am a "popular" student. I don't even know if people associate their knowledge of me to good things. But my point is, it just feels weird. In PSB, everyone knew who I was, but that was because it was such a small school and everyone knew everyone else anyways. But here in Laurensia, it's all different. Whatever it is, I don't like this concept of being "known".

So, long story short. The conclusion: the whole world found out it was my birthday, despite that I still forced everyone to work (actually, it was kind of the other way around at the beginning) and my parents decided to treat everyone for dinner (which was still mostly a work-based session) and it turned into a birthday party when there was a cake (damn birthday cakes!). But despite my frustrations that I didn't pull off my trick, it was an awesome day, as any AYC + GYF day is. It was my last birthday spent in Jakarta for at least the next few years and I'm glad that in my last year in PSB, I spent a birthday with my PSB pals and now I have one birthday with my fellow Laurensians as well.

But the thing is, I don't want to think of that day as a celebration of my birthday. I prefer to regard the festivities as a celebration of my relationship with these Laurensians. The people who came were all AYC or GYF or the 2 people who inspired me to end up in Houston. They are kind of the perfect representatives of the group of people who have shaped my Laurensian Journey (ok, not perfect, certain people were not there and those people would have perfected the day, but it's ok). It's a celebration of our journey together and at the same time, the perfect time for me to close the book and let go of them to continue on without me.

So what was the lesson learnt on that day? There is no hiding a birthday from a Laurensian!

14 March 2011

The Journey Finally Begins --> Singapore

If there was one thing I learnt this time, it was that leaving a Maths test half blank is not automatic elimination. Suddenly, my name appeared on that website that night under "Successful candidates for Interview". Working from the back never fails me!

I remember the first day in PSB, when the 27 of us walked into that Ruko (Shophouse). I remembered how we all ended up in that tiny MPH (Multi Purpose Hall), probably only the size of two classrooms in Laurensia, on the fourth floor and we were all panting on our way up. In that room, the objective was stressed many, many times. On day, one of us would be admitted to a school in Singapore. (Note: only ADMISSION. We're not talking about scholarships yet)

And so the hard work went underway, but the wait never did end.

Primary 6 to Sec 1, not a single school admitted me after a gruelling week in Singapore applying from one school to another.

In Sec 1, we tried again for admission, to Sec 1. Even that didn't work out.

Sec 2 was when I moved to my new school, Santa Laurensia, where the objective was deemed not met since I had left PSB. But by then, a few other PSB kids had made it, all of them being from the cohort below me, the cohort which I mentored some of them during the year-end break which was my "historical" transition from PSB to Laurensia.

The holiday separating Sec 2 (Grade 8) and Sec 3 (Grade 9) was the holiday I started charging for my mentoring services because I was earning money for AYC. That was another cohort which had Singapore Success Stories as well.

I went for AYC in Singapore, where in a few magical days of interacting with amazing people from around ASEAN, most of them Singaporean students, among them students from some of the best schools in Singapore, I was reminded of my long lost "objective". It was then when I started searching for a school again. (Well not during AYC, after of course)!

After AEIS and tests at RI, things still didn't work out.

Then, as I was about to give up, everything changed, all in just a few hours.

"On a scale of 1 to 10, where would you rank yourself on how prepared you are for this scholarship?" was the question thrown at me during the interview.

With hesitation, I said 9.5 (damn I'm crazy). Since I had just blurted such a high number without thinking, I'd best not wait for them to ask why. "I'm ready for this because I've prepared for this day all my life. Like the test yesterday for example, I didn't really study for it, well, I did, but it was only a few hours of revision. But it wasn't because I feel I'm so good or snob, I've been waiting for this day for a very long time, since I first started studying, since I was in Primary 4. I didn't take a 100 hour crash course like I know many other candidates did. For me, no point I drill for this test and then before I even go to Singapore I forget everything. For me, best I actually didn't study for the test, so the results of if I make it to the next round or not reflects my true capabilities. And besides, I've been working towards this for a very long time now."

"Then what's the 0.5 representing?"

"Well, since I moved to Laurensia, since there was a huge switch in the curriculum from Singaporean curriculum to Indonesian curriculum, my engine is cold and I need time and practice to kick-start my engines again!" Of course, we spontaneously broke into laughter together.

There was also my favourite question of the interview, "Are you Singaporean?"

"Err.... how should I answer this question.... Err.. no!!!"

But it's amazing, how life can change all in a day. In just a few hours, I was signed into a Scholarship and I just could not believe it. Till today, I'm not really realizing that this is a scholarship, I still think it's only ADMISSION.

When I found out I had made the final cut, I was at May Star (the Dim Sum place) with Zoya, Owen and Vinsens. Before the food was even served, we could already see tears of joy running down Zoya's cheeks. Yet, tension continued to fill the air for us boys throughout the meal. As the final "complimentary" dish was served, we had gotten the good news.

I remember hurrying my mom to lend me her Blackberry so that I could call Ms Anna and Ms Ng, the two teachers who have shaped me to be who I am today and just so happens one is a Maths teacher and the other teaches English. I ran to the pool near the restaurant to make my calls, none of which got connected. As I gave up calling them and turned my back to run back into the restaurant, I noticed Owen having the same fate and doing the same thing. As we walked back in together, I told him "this is it Owen, it all begins now!"

And so as of 2012, like what Owen said on his blog, I will be blogging from the island of opportunities, Singapore.