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?