31 December 2012

A Year of Gifts

Typically, the most change in an Indonesian teenager's life takes place in July when the new academic year starts and the teen enters a new class, possibly a new school. That's why the whole "new year" kind of feeling usually comes about twice a year for me. You have literal new year resolutions and you have new school-year resolutions. But this year, that isn't the case for me. It was indeed in January when I moved to a new school and practically began a new life. The school year in IICS also did begin in January for Year 11 anyway. Furthermore, it was in this year when my family's second home was completed, but that's quite minor.

This year is without question not a prime year like the last one. However, it has undeniably been a year where I kind of started life all over again. Never have I seen myself change and grow as much as I have this year. I gave up a scholarship worth over one hundred thousand Singapore dollars to be in IICS. Boy, do I expect to get a lot out of it.

Again, I must reiterate, never have I seen myself change and grow as much as I have this year. It has taken a journey of great adversity and adventure to get to all these changes and whether these changes have been for the better I have yet to learn for myself. It's been a very interesting year revolving around a new school.

On that January morning in the Multi-Function Hall, the school introduced three new intruders to the class of then 120 students. Yes, the word I have used is "intruder". I was indeed an intruder. It wasn't the first time that I was one but with experience, I have learnt that it doesn't get any easier the more times you do it.

So, I began the year with meeting 119 entirely fresh faces. I did not know any one of them prior to the year (I did meet Edward very briefly but that had to do with the fact that we were both "intruders"). Thus, I had a very simple first task ahead of me at the beginning of the year: getting to know people. Again, not the first time, but I screwed it up every time before and very unfortunately, this time was not different.

We were 120 completely different people (duh) but with a million and one similarities linking us. My first three weeks in the school were filled with getting to know one person after the other because I really made it a point to myself to get to know everyone beyond their name. Slowly, I learnt that getting to know someone takes a long time, especially in IICS where the questions "What are your hopes for the future?" and "Who in the cohort inspires you?" can baffle a person for days and nights.

But when you have 120 different people living together, there must be a common bond keeping them together, no matter how separated they may seem. That common bond is culture. In this case, it is school-culture. Ultimately, that is what has really changed me: a culture. I've learnt about another way to live life. There's nothing wrong with it I guess. It's just a new way of life, a new train of thought and a new outlook on the future. But now that I look back at the year, I think of the many things that this culture had changed in me, the many things that would not be if it weren't for the 119 people around me. Among them are Jeans and Chinos. At least now, thanks to a bunch of guys who apparently care about me, I do own a pair of each and I have worn each at least twice in public. Yes, an achievement for me. One small step for man, one giant leap (into a pair of pants) for Aaron Colin. That's all thanks to something we like to call culture. There's definitely lots more culture has done to me this year. Among those others have to do with dance moves, sexual references and lots of interesting bitching sessions.

What about those nights when I learn the most things: Party Nights. New world for me indeed. For one thing, I have earned a lot of money from these parties (hehehe). But through the many times I have been bullied in the games, like almost having my first kiss be with Calvin all because of a tiny piece of paper at Jovita's or having my Vice President Cassey search my body also for a tiny piece of paper at Angel's, and through the many times I have been styled and styled myself, from that hideous blouse I wore at Jovita's to the suit at Jennifer's to the Jeans at Delia's, and the many interesting people I have met, from Ruben Onsu at Nathania's to Prambors Broadcasters at farewell to Far East Movement at Clarissa's to all ex-IICS students from Junior High at every other one, I have learnt something every night. Every celebration I have had this year has, to my and everyone else's surprise, been an education in itself. At Marcia's, I learnt about how fun only really exists if all the people around you are having fun as well. At Devina's, I learnt more about developing intimate relationships with friends. At Carissa's, I learnt more about tact, to say the least. It has been such an education.

Friendship, I would define it as simply the acknowledged relationship between two people, to give a definition as wide as possible. I've had many in the past, thought far less than the average person. So in essence, I have had few, or fewer. Having a fresh start this year, where I knew no one and no one knew me to begin with, friendship is something that I wanted to work on this year, and it has been such a rough road. Over the summer holidays, I've met so many amazing and interesting people in Moot Court High School Summer Program, especially the SPH gang which I always had lunch with at Supermal: Michael, Marcel, Callysta and Jonathan. In school, I've made many as well. Some of them have been, well, just friends, and others have been really intimate relationships. One thing that I'm really glad about this year is that number of people I've bonded so closely with. There's Andrea D, the "Standard" buddy. Then there's Jonathan, my programming and now Maths Extensions mate who understands me maybe more than anyone else. There's my ever busy and fretting council. There's also my mentoring students 10.3 and all the other year 10 students, especially Winson who is now my neighbour and ride to school every morning. There have been so many others, like Kenneth, Irvan, Regie, Calvin, James. But the most touching and unexpected friendship has got to be with Kevin U, and the most intimate friendship, hands down with Jethro. In each friendship I have developed this year, I have met an amazing and inspirational life-changing person. I've learnt so much from each one. As a bonus, I've shared so many memories with each one. Some of them have let me into their lives more than anyone has ever done before. At the end of the day, they have made me a better man, helping me with my struggles in my new life every step of the way, despite everyone and everything.

As I am just over an hour away from the new year, I can't really think of any competitions that I have won or any awards I have received. Acceptance, both in the professional and personal world, has been nothing but difficult, presenting obstacles in my path every step of the way. Yet, I feel like I have achieved more this year than ever before. How much I have achieved this year is immeasurable. If somehow I have to put it in numbers, it's undisputably worth more than a pair of Jeans or Chinos, or more than however much it costs to throw a sweet-sixteen at the most expensive hotel in the country, or a meal with a friend consisting of two bowls of noodles, three bottles of Teh Botol and a small bag of Kerupuk Ikan a two minute drive from the school by the side of the road I walk over every day to get home. One can never create an index of how much I have achieved this year or a list of everything that's changed about me this year, yet I will never be able to say if what I have received this year is all worth more than one hundred thousand Singapore dollars. One can only ever ask me to tell the stories one by one and sit there listening till one's last gasp.

This year, it has been all about three priceless gifts that I received: Culture, Education and Friendship. Forever will I hold on to these gifts bestowed upon me, and intruder, by the people that have been around me this year.

This December holiday, I've been questioning myself every night. Does the intruder deserve all this? Does the intruder deserve the gift of Culture, Education and Friendship? Now, in the last few days of the year, since that touching event on Christmas day, I could only think of how lucky I am to be the proud owner of these three gifts. For culture and education, no one can take it away from me even if he or she tried, because that's just how those two are. Friendships aren't permanent, thought. However, I've just realised that the gift of friendship that I've received this year is one that no one can take away from me, even if one or I tried.

I have a symbol to remind me of this: an object given to me by someone which represents those three gifts all in one. As I ponder over it every night, I will forever remember the gifts of 2012. When this person gave the item to me, I had no idea what it was or what to do with it. It was all a great mystery which I had to be careful with. But as time when on and I began to study this item, I realised that that person's giving me this item really symbolises how all throughout the year, people have been giving me gifts of Culture, Education and Friendship. They may be confusing and seem useless at first but as time progresses, I learn to see the beauty in it. Now, I have this item with me to remind me of all that I have. I shall keep this item forever and ponder over it every time I feel like I have nothing.

Culture, Education, Friendship.

[Post specifically about my first year in IICS coming up soon. I really want to make sure that it's perfect before I present it.]

16 November 2012

A Taste of My Own Medicine

People know that in IICS, I'm finally getting a taste of my own medicine. I'm so used to leaving people in good terms. Now, I'm the one being left behind. Only now I know that it hurts. It really, really, really hurts. It hurts so much that in the few hours before that night's farewell event, anxiety set in. My stomach began bloating and my palms felt like they were being drilled through. Simply put, I was nervous. Damn nervous.

However, I went, despite everything, keeping in mind that this was my last time, that this could be my last chance to see these people again. My cohort is not going to grow any further. It's only going to shrink. I put in mind very well that that night would be the last time I could feel the certain way. Already, I feel the difference. We're approaching the half-way point at such a rapid pace and by that I mean in term's of the number of people in our cohort. I've lost some people I barely knew and I've lost some people who have undeniably played a huge role in my journey. They all coloured my first 10 months in IICS in one way or another. Suddenly, unexpectedly, sadly and unfortunately, it all had to come to an end and the colours just simply started to fade away.

I car-pooled with my Council-mates Calvin and Regie, listening to a wide array of songs over the loud audio system; it reminded me so much of our advance party van ride to Lembang before Leadership Camp. When we arrived and I got off the car along with the two of them, nerves and excitement ran through my blood vessels all at the same time. I was nervous. What would I say to the people who I have not met in the past two months and most probably will never meet again? But I was also excited for I had long anticipated this opportunity to meet these people again.

The door was opened for me and I walked in. They had gone well into the program. I had missed the speeches of some of the people whom I really did want to hear the last words of. Of course I missed them. I was two and a half hours late. In the instant I stepped foot into that room, my feelings changed. I was so glad, so elated, so relieved that I finally got to meet these people. Furthermore, I finally got to have fun. For one night, I got to let go of all the thoughts that burdened me and just have fun. Of all party nights, that night was the night when I had the most Council thoughts heard in the voices of my mind. I, however, came up with the excuse for myself that there were so many Council issues to bring up that it would be impossible to bring them all up and thus I might as well forget everything. Probably never before have I felt the load suddenly fall off my shoulders the moment I saw a few faces.

After making my actual presence known to certain people by approaching them and asking them the simple question "how's life?", I grabbed a random drink which turned out to be Cindy's ever popular Orange Punch, and stood behind the last row of chairs which faced the program's centre of attention. Joshua was called up to give his final words followed by Livia. They would call on Gracia next but she had not arrive then. So, they called on me, to my utmost bafflement. I practically froze upon hearing my name, and after the two MCs called on my name for a second time, the immediate reaction was the scream "But I'm not going anywhere!" But eventually, the MCs figured out which one I was. I was practically pulled up to the front to deliver my words, despite the different position I was in.

Put simply, I was lost for words and speaking in circumlocution at the same time. It was all because I was overwhelmed by the many things I wanted to say. Running through my mind every day is a long list of people I have yet to thank and repay their deeds. I should be prepared to talk, but I wasn't prepared to cut my talk down. Then, giving more general remarks would result in my talking about what I always talk about: changing lives. Furthermore, every time I fall into my own "change my life" trap, I add the part where I go "I know you guys are sick of me saying this all the time but those are the best words to describe it", another one of my phrases which people get sick of, only to add insult to injury.

As the event moved on to the games and as I breathed a huge sigh of relief that I was for once not a victim, I grabbed some food. (I must admit that I liked how the game resembled something we had done on our journey in IICS, numbers and removing attributes or items from our body. It adds to the sentimental value of the night.) Chowing down on fried rice which to be very honest had a very unique taste to it, I was accompanied by Samuel, probably the most benevolent guy in the cohort. I've seen how he makes music tapping on the classroom table, especially when the class is quiet, and I only wish I could experience what he had to offer to a quiet class on a daily basis. I had not the slightest clue that he was leaving us until the first day of Year 12 when I expected him to be there in class but as it turned out he was not. I really wished I got to know him while he was still around, because now I can't, and now I know that I'm missing out on such a great guy. I still remember him on the very first day of school in IICS, 11 January 2012, when he saw me in my classroom alone and invited me out of the class. He didn't want me to be alone, but I resisted, something I should have never done. Even at the party, I didn't thank him for that day.

I walked to the front row of the chairs towards William. I was wondering why he was sitting in the front with people he usually wouldn't sit with. I sat next to him and we caught up to each other. He asked how's school. All I had the heart to answer really was that it's different. I mean, bearing in mind that so many people have left, was I to say that it's great? Only long into our conversation did I notice his left foot without a shoe. It turns out that he was on crutches and I was probably the last person in the cohort to know. That night, I truly admired him. He went through all odds to be there. All odds he went through. He came no matter what because he holds very strongly what I could only say I believe in: "People first".

My first two intense talks I had at the event really gave me a more concrete idea of what I should have said. It also made me realise why I was feeling a little uncomfortable with myself throughout the night. I wasn't sad. mad. depressed or galau. What I was feeling was guilt and regret. I regret not getting to know some people better. I regret not treating some people well while they were around. In some cases, I even regret turning down some people's acts of kindness. Furthermore, I regret shattering every single one of the opportunities I had to give back and to repay the good deeds of my peers because I would only be human if I felt guilty that these people have done so much for me, be it directly or indirectly, and changed my life for the better yet I have done absolutely nothing in return. I regret, as linguistically wrong as this may sound, procrastinating my gratitude.

But of all thoughts and prespectives I had about my journey in IICS that night, one did not change: that my being in IICS was and still is a gift. It is a blessing from God, a privilege provided to me by all the students, teachers and other school staff and a most humbling honour.

But of all things I felt and realised that night, I realised exactly how this priceless gift came about. It was almost exactly a year before when someone made all this happen for me. Only now did I realise.

I had sat for my entrance exam and submitted all my documents. My admission was all set to go. But at that time, one life-changing deal stood in my own way: No Standard, no IICS.

It was made all too explicitly, both orally and in writing. If the school did not have the capacity to offer English (Standard) for me, another school would have been mine. So, the school began its search for someone in the cohort who was indeed required to take Standard, and although the class is now closed down, if it were not for Andrea Daniel, the gift of IICS would have slipped away from the tip of my fingers even before it had the chance to hold on to it. Her taking on the course ultimately lead me on to IICS. I really do owe her a whole lot.

As the night progressed, I realised even more how much of a privilege it is for me to be in IICS, all the more to be an acknowledged member of the society, all the more to be the Student Council President. I realised how far people around me have gone in order to provide me with this humbling gift on a silver platter. I further realised how much of a terrible person I am to be the one with the most sins, to be the one causing the most trouble and to be the one showing the least appreciation for everyone else. I now realised what I should have done and how differently I should have lead my life in IICS in the first 10 months, but that's all over. I can only dwell on the past and now I can only bear the pain of regret that I deserve.

But now it's all over. People have left and times have past. Those mistakes will forever be unhealed wounds on my body and maybe even that of some others. But now that I've realised this, all I can do is not repeat the same mistake again while some my adulation figures are still around.

I thank everyone who has played a part in my times in IICS. You all have truly impacted my life in such a positive way while I have disrespected each and every one of you. I hope to one day be more like you, someone who has the heart to respect and go above and beyond to provide such an amazing gift to someone, ultimately changing that person's life.

But for now, it's farewell and good luck. Our journey ends here.

6 June 2012

Running

Why on earth am I running? Why am I running for Student Council President?

Because this time round, I think I had the right mind to know that a new kid on the block who barely knows anything about the culture doesn't stand a chance at even being selected as a candidate.

And here I am...

It's funny, every time I tell myself it's not realistic for something to happen, it does happen; and vice versa.

So, when I found out that I was chosen as a candidate, I asked myself the standard question: do you really want to do this because if not now is a great time to quit.

There were the arguments that were equally standard as the question. I love doing this Student-Council stuff. I just seem to love organising events. I mean, come one, I've been doing it for the past, what, 7 years? Backstage, on stage, in power, no power, 20 people, 700 people, I've done it all. But is that enough.

I thought long and hard. Then, just as I was about to end it all, it hit me...

Remember Houston (if you are an avid reader of my blog, or if you know me well enough)? Who got me there? Ok, it wasn't Student Council back in Laurensia but it was two friends.

Then there are these single-digit number of friends around in IICS that turned my life around, so quickly into the "game". These angels, probably sent by God or someone, to make my journey in this school much better. To give me a piece of mind and to reduce my fretting over trepidation.

All my life, I've been shaped by my peers. I've seen how much I've grown in a good way because of them. They have changed my life. If I ever am or will be successful, they are inevitably one of the biggest reasons why. I'd probably still be the alien antisocial around if it weren't for a bunch of guys that spared a part of their lives to take me in. I look back and see all the things that wouldn't have ever happened if it weren't for my friends.

There are so many people around us who sit in a room for hours each day whom I admire so greatly. All the things I have learnt about life from them just amazes me; and it's such a great thing that my life's that way.

However, sometimes, it seems like I'm the only one who ever learns from other people, or who believes in other people so much, and that makes me feel like I'm either crazy, which I in recent days have learnt am not, or that I see something that other people simply never had the chance to see because nobody ever gave them the chance to.

I want to show the school, and then the world, what I see. I see untapped potential. I'm probably not the only one who sees it. All I want to do is let it out. I want to help you let others change your life like some people have changed mine. I want the Student Council to be only one of many sources of support. I want us to be help you achieve whatever it is you want to achieve. I dream of the day that someone comes to me and says "I wanna try out writing competitions!" and I can make it happen. It's about being each others' reason for success. It's about having an open mind to learn from those at our level from those also sitting on the students' desks.

It's amazing what Youth Empowerment can do. I've learnt in my years that we're not crazy when we say YOUth Make Things Happen. But that's only because there's a HERO in you. However, in the world of Youth Empowerment, and in the efforts of achieving that "holistic education" we all seek, everyone has a role to play, and everyone has to play the part if there is a hope that together we shine.

I want to learn from you and I want others to learn what I have learnt from you. I want to endorse you, show the school and the world how great you are and how great all us Huskies are, and help you change the lives of others.

I want to be proud to be an IICS. I want to be proud to be a Husky, and for the pride to be genuine.

And therefore, I'm running; I'm running for Student Council President...

27 May 2012

It All Comes Down To... (The Story of Production Night)

I walked into the auditorium of Erasmus Huis and stared at the tiny stage. It was all what it came down to.

***

It was not one bit easy for me to make it to that point. It wasn't easy for all of us. Though we had done it before, there was a lot of apprehension over the fact that we could not do it again. People doubted us, and it made a lot of sense. It looked to be falling apart and dwindling to the ground. It was falling apart and dwindling to the ground. However, there was no turning back. We had no choice. Somehow, we had to make it work. Somehow.

Upon my return to Raffles PSB Singapore School, I was already given a job. Who would think that a returning student who had not even sat for his first class would have already been appointed as Director for the school's upcoming Christmas production? I had rejoined the school just in time for their second production of 'Dr Susses' How The Grinch Stole Christmas'. It seemed absurd that of all plays, we had to do this one. Why couldn't we just do a play with perfectly human characters? What seemed even more absurd was that we were doing this with a school of practically 200 people, that figure inclusive of all students, teachers and non-teaching staff from all levels. Then again, we had done it before.

We staged a production of 'The Wizard of Oz' literally in 15 days. 15 days of sleepless nights and continuous rehearsals was what it took to stage, despite circumstances, a spectacular show. What I learnt from the last production's experience just before I left the school about two years ago was the true meaning of the line of poetry "when there is a will, there is a way." So, with that said, I guessed that that time should have been no different. I know how to have a will and thus, there is a way. This thing was going to happen, one way or another.

So, there was no turning back and we had to make it work somehow. When there is a will, there is a way. Yet, at the half way point, just under two months into the process of rehearsals, we deemed it true that it was not going to work and there was no way. It was a project deemed hopeless.

At one point, I turned to Ms Diana, the teacher who was my fellow Director, and told her that I could take it no more. I kept asking myself why I was doing it all in the first place. Then again, it was, and still is, my love for the school that kept me going. I had to repay what the school had done for me and my future with more than just tuition fees. I have to show them in my short three-month return not only what I had learnt in the previous school but also how all that I had learnt in my first four years in PSB has helped greatly.

I decided to step up and fulfil my duty to simply make it happen. On top of that, I decided that I would make sure it happened with quality that I am proud of. It's not that someone came to me and motivated me to not quit. I really did want to end it all. I wasn't getting paid to direct the production and it all only seemed not worth the time and sacrifices. But somehow, I couldn't leave. I just could not help but finish what I stated. I didn't want it to haunt me for the rest of my life. On top of it all, I didn't want to disappoint everyone. It was just easier to move on than to quit.

***

So the day came. It was really happening. Three buses of performers pulled over. The students skipped up the flight of stairs to the second floor and took their seats in the auditorium based on their performing groups. Their smiles shined so brightly and their laughter filled the air with glee. Their emotional state was contrary to mine that was filled with fear and anxiety.

The day had just started and things were already off to a rough start. The show was scheduled to start at three and the time was already nine. The usually heavy traffic of Jakarta's morning rush hour caused the buses to be late. Tardiness was not a common problem in our school and we had not expected it to ruin our day's plans. Almost the entire cast raised their hands when asked who needed to go to the toilet when the toilet could only accommodate so many people at one time. The children were very hungry and a time had not been found to allow them to eat the countless boxes of food the parents had generously provided for us. Major props had yet to arrive. The boy who was supposed to play Max the Grinch's dog was still at home trying to recover from a fever that just seemed to get higher and higher. Worst of all, a dry run had yet to be done with the entire cast on the actual stage for the first and last time.

It was unimaginable. The tension was way too tense. Disaster had already lurked at my heels. I looked around and saw what my pessimistic mind envisioned. Everything was just not right. Then, as things got worse, so did the stress of it all. People were screaming and scolding each other over problems that were not even clear. Innocent little kids came up to me to ask appropriate and well educated questions only to get scolded by me because I didn't have the time to spare the few seconds needed to appreciate and understand. I would scream in their faces saying things like "Don't come to me for these kind of petty things!" or "Not now, I don't have the time for you. Figure it out yourself or ask Mr X or Ms Y." I would yell in their faces and leave them just like that. Even if deep down inside I wanted to help, I just could not. I had far more major and disastrous matters to worry about. In the rapid race against time, we probably weren't thinking when we were working. We were running around like headless chickens. One teacher asks a boy to go to the make-up room to get his make-up done before wearing his costume and on his way to the make-up room, the boy bumps into another teacher telling him to do the exact opposite. Imagine the confusion this nine-year-old boy is faced with. Imagine the chaos and disorder caught in all the drama and desperation.

However, one thing still surprises me to this day. I can scold a PSB, I can starve a PSB in the name of lunchtime one-on-one script reading, and I can even scream vulgarities in the face of a PSB, and yet, they still appreciate me. They still respect me whole hearted and hold no grudge on me. They understand me and can read my true intentions that are hidden way deep down inside and they read that it is good. I don't get a group of people like this to work with in any other institution and for that, it is one quality of a PSB that I truly do admire and appreciate.

***
In the rush of it all, somehow, we come to a stage where everything was ready. Everyone miraculously appears in the back stage holding room all properly seated based on their performing groups and all neatly dressed and made up. All eyes are on the two directors standing in the middle of the room and absolute silence is heard for the very first time that day. It was a moment that was the anomaly that day. The moment was an opportunity to finally catch my breath after hours of mayhem. We gave our final instructions and composed ourselves into prayer which, compared to the rest of the day, was a moment of great peace and tranquillity.

Then, it was show time!

As every line was uttered, I followed my script that was scribbled with instructions all over it. The play progressed line by line and as each line was recited, I thought of how many times that line had been rehearsed. Writing each line of the script was a painstaking process. Some lines were the results of hours and hours of careful consideration and thought. I pondered over certain phrases over my weekend, thinking of how to make this short phrase rhyme and fit just right. It takes hours for the line "The best who of the year will be given the once-in-a-year honour to light up the Who Christmas Tree" to develop into "The best Who of every year, will be honoured to light up to tree with holiday cheer!" just to make it rhyme. Then, it takes rounds and rounds of rehearsals and one-on-one script reading to perfect that one line. A lot goes behind one line. A lot of hard work and attention to detail goes behind making that three-second moment just a little more special. All the countless hours of preparation came down to only 120 minutes of each our lives.

When the intermission finally came about, I had the chance to mingle with the audience. To see smiles on people's faces and to hear positive reviews on what had been showcased up to that point finally gave me a sense of comfort and relief. It warmed the heart. However, what was even more touching was just seeing who was there. Everyone's family was there. The Grinch's grandmother who was in a wheelchair took the effort to see her grandson perform. Down to those who worked off stage, be it the props people or even the ushers, their parents were all present to support us, along with the extended family. Former teachers, alumni and down to the spouses of the teachers all came. It was the entire family of the school. Everyone was involved in one way or another, and that is what makes it so special and rewarding.

I leave the school with an experience like none other, feeling proud to have been, and still be, a PSB.




20 April 2012

You Might Not Have Tomorrow To Do It


"If you ever plan on changing someone's life someday, do it today, because you might not have tomorrow to do it."


That's what I learnt that day in chapel. It really hit me that life is like a reality show. One day you could be playing the game and the next you're eliminated. We really don't know when time will be up.

It's not just death. It's about leaving an institution or environment or leaving a period of time where something is or is happening.

Then, one day, you decided that there's something you want to tell someone, something that will change their lives for the better forever. Something that could ultimately make the world a better place in the long run. But then, you decide to wait for whatever reason you might have. But you didn't have another day to do it. You're gone, just like that, and what great potential your "plan" had vanished into thin air.

You might not have tomorrow to do it, so don't wait for tomorrow...

11 February 2012

Last Move

Who knew I'd end up in IPEKA International Christian School? Guess what? I myself am still baffled.

There is a burning thought/story in my mind right now that I'm actually dying to share with the whole world right now. However, I best not for now.

But I must say, within 23 school days, I have been overwhelmed. Outright, I will say that I have never "worked" in an institution with people this friendly in my life. Honestly, "IPEKAns" are extremely friendly; every single soul without exception. It's just unbelievable. The level of affability and conviviality is just so amazing that I'm running out of words to describe just how high the level of congeniality I've experienced is (and I'm beating about the bush with synonyms of friendly).

When I walked through the school gates in uniform for the first time, the only word that was going through my mind was "daunting". The building was really big to begin with. It's is the biggest campus I've ever studied in before but there are a million and one other aspects that are just "daunting".

I waited in the admission office just as instructed the day before. I waited to hear of my assigned class. At that time, I didn't even know if the classes went by A, B, C and D or 1, 2, 3 and 4. To my 'horror', I was assigned to class 11.4. It's not the people I have a problem with. Heck, I didn't even know the name of a single soul yet. What bothered me was the fact that it the curse seemed to live on. 8D, 9D, Sec 4 J doesn't count because class J was the only class, and now 11.4. I seem to be cursed with the number 4 or being in the fourth class. Lucky number four.

Reaching the seventh floor of the Junior and Senior High building, my feet were to an extent sore. I then proceeded to a Multi Function Room which till today I don't know what it's officially called. Us new students were told that everyone would have proceeded there immediately. To my belwilderment, the room was empty, making me think twice to wether I wasn't following instructions or I had been given the wrong instructions or the rest of the student body wasn't following instructions. Then, a lady in teacher's uniform walked into the room and that was when I knew that I wasn't in trouble.

The teacher was Ibu Ami, IBS (Indonesian Background Speakers) teacher, Year 11 coordinator and my form teacher. I was immidiately greeted with warmth and hospitality. As we started to engage in conversation, I was still feeling intense trepidation. I had no idea what was in store for me, for that morning, that day, and for the two years to come for that matter. Yet, Ibu Ami seemed to give me the impression new students generally survive. What she did to suggest that I don't quite remember, but something did. That day, the seventh floor played with and mixed around my emotions. It wasn't like I had never moved school before. It was what I enjoyed doing. Still, this was "daunting".

23 school days later, I still heard the word "daunting" being whispered into my ears every time I walk through the school gates. I've been through a lot of ups and downs but the benevolence to people makes up for all the downs.

I've been a PSB. I've been a Laurensian, and many other things. I'm still a PSB. I'm still Laurensian, and many other things. But now, I'm Ipekan (I made that term up, ok) and I don't think I will be anything else on top of what I am now. This will be my last move...