Sunday, August 21, 2016

A Well-Deserved Getaway

I have been wanting to go to Singapore for months. There are a few countries that are on my go-to lists, but I need one that's close and affordable, because I realized how much money I spend for vacation last year (in my defense, I only lived in Europe for only a year so it would be stupid not to travel around). Singapore seems like a perfect destination, especially because I haven't been there for 10 years at least. Then I looked for a friend who wants to come along as traveling in twos is my favorite way to wander.

I'm glad I decided to go to Singapore. It's clean and extremely well-managed, embellished with highly modern buildings but also old, traditional ones (I always love the juxtaposition of that), and supported with reliable and comfortable transportation modes. It's a country that's too tiny to be compared with mine, obviously, but still, I'm amazed. The only thing I hated about Singapore is the hot, boiling, humid weather (even worse than mine). Singapore feels like Europe, only more homey.

The color of Singapore


Penang was our second destination. It felt even more like home there. Penang was laid-back and artsy. A nice town to walk around, despite the weather. Not only the atmosphere, the food was also awesome. The whole city reminded me of Jogjakarta, and a little of York.

The historic Georgetown, Penang

Kuala Lumpur was a lot more mediocre. I'm glad we only spent 26 hours there and spent them to explore two great museums (Islamic Art Museums and City Gallery), Central Market, and just walk around the downtown area. 

Malaysian Batik at Kuala Lumpur City Gallery.

The highlight of my trip, though, was the parts where I can reminisce my life in the UK. The weather was absolutely a lot nicer in the UK, but I could walk around a lot (65 kilometers to be exact), use reliable public transportation, immerse myself into hundreds of people who don't speak my language, observe different culture, rely on google maps to get around and get lost once in a while, talk with strangers, and visit tons of museum with great exhibitions. I felt so energized afterwards.

Traveling is not cheap, but I learned from the last three years that every penny I spend during the trip is going to be worthwhile. It's something you do only for a few days or weeks, yet will inspinre you for years and years. While I agree with people who encouraged Indonesian youths to explore the mother country, I think traveling abroad once in a while is also necessary. It's going to open your mind, challenge yourself, make you deal with the unexpected and try to roll with the punches, and in the end, appreciate your life and what you have at home. 

So save up, and go. Once in a few years. With a small group of people. Plan. Near, far, wherever you want. And relish all the experience and the details you'll see.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

About Leaving Another Comfort Zone

Last Friday was my last day at work. I still remembered how inferior I felt during the first few weeks of working in PASKA Kemdikbud, because I have to work with talented, bright, young people who have more experiences than I do.

It turns out, there's nothing to feel intimidated about. Yes, they are smart and ambitious, but they're not condescending, nor do they make me feel stupid and unheard. In fact, I became the most assertive version of myself in the last few months, and I just couldn't be prouder.

The beloved, extraordinary team.

From them, I learned about politics, economy, education, policy making, and everything else that's happening on the news, thanks to our diverse background & their broad knowledge. But further than that, they taught me about life, too. That Allah's plans won't ever be late nor wrong, that sometimes we don't get what we want and we need to be resilient, and that we have to fight for the things that are worth fighting for. They taught me to be more assertive, to not (always) take things personally, to be ambitious in pursuing what I aspire to be, to do something and not just whining about something we don't like, to always make other people (even our subordinates) feels heard and appreciated, and so much more. 

Before I got selected to be a part of the team, I did expect meeting talented, smart, hard working people that I can learn from; but never expected good friends who would listen and accept me for what I am. I never expected having another support system whom I can trust and be myself around. Never thought they would enter the circle I kept small. And yet they did! 

Because even when I become the geekiest, weirderst, most gullible, most idealistic, or most ambitious version of myself, I'd still feel heard and accepted. Even when I felt immature and emotional, they would still be there.






Just in case any of you read this, I want to say thank you for the last 6 months (that actually felt like forever, given the work burden). Thank you for making my first working-at-a-company experience bearable and memorable. And thank you for your kind words at the farewell dinner, which I will definitely hold on to when I'm having a bad day.





I usually hate saying goodbyes, but after saying it repeatedly for the last three years, I don't anymore. Leaving means entering a new world, exploring new things, and meeting new people. It means enlarging the circle even more, and finding another comfort zone. Because goodbye means hello, and that's something I should feel excited about. And it's not even goodbye, anyway, because I believe our paths will cross again someday soon.

As cliché as it sounds. (Source: weheartit)

So even though I have been in mellow mode since the last two weeks, I feel grateful and delighted that Allah had introduced me to them. His plans have and will never fail, so why should I worry about the future, again?

Friday, July 29, 2016

Tentang Pendidikan dan Politik

Rasanya seperti membaca buku atau menonton film dengan akhir yang twisted. Atau seperti patah hati, malah lebih buruk lagi. Kaget, sedih, kecewa. Bingung.

Memang jika urusannya politik, hati tidak boleh banyak bermain. "Ini sudah biasa," kata orang-orang. "Hak prerogatif," kata sebagian yang lain.

Dalam hati, saya malu sendiri. Entah terlalu polos atau idealis, tapi rasa sedih itu tak bisa disembunyikan. Apa yang sudah dikerjakan bersama selama enam bulan terakhir yang akan jadi taruhan. Terlalu polos kah saya jika sempat percaya bahwa pendidikan kita pelan-pelan akan membaik? Terlalu lugu kah saya jika sempat yakin bahwa apa yang kami kerjakan kemarin benar-benar akan bermanfaat bagi banyak orang? Terlalu naif kah saya jika menitikkan air mata hanya karena memikirkan kelanjutan hal-hal positif yang sudah dilakukan bersama?

Seumur-umur, rasanya saya tak pernah benar-benar peduli dengan reshuffle kabinet. Sampai kejadiannya berlangsung di depan mata saya sendiri. Reshuffle ternyata bukan hanya perihal mengganti satu menteri, tapi juga memecat puluhan orang hebat yang tidak punya salah apa-apa. Soal memutus perjuangan yang baru saja dimulai. Karena merubah pola pikir dan kebiasaan serta menamkan nilai-nilai baru tentu membutuhkan waktu lebih banyak dari dua puluh bulan.

Berat rasanya untuk menerima, tapi toh keputusan sudah diambil. Tidak ada yang bisa dilakukan selain berdoa bahwa hal-hal baik yang telah dirintis bisa berlanjut dan membawa perubahan besar, dan tetap melangkah untuk terus berkontribusi dengan jalan lain yang dikuasai.


Teman bekerja dan berdiskusi serta sumber belajar saya selama enam bulan terakhir.


Pak, terima kasih karena telah mempercayai kami, pemuda-pemudi bau kencur dengan minat dan semangat besar untuk memajukan pendidikan di Indonesia, untuk membantu mengawal isu-isu strategis Mendikbud. Terima kasih karena telah mendengarkan kami dan berdiskusi tanpa peduli dengan lapisan struktural, perbedaan usia, serta pengalaman. Terima kasih karena telah menjadi pribadi yang santun, bijak, hangat, menginspirasi, dan selalu berusaha mengingat nama orang lain meskipun harus dicatat.


Hari pertama berinteraksi dengan Pak Anies. Beliau yang minta berfoto bersama karena tahu kami masih malu-malu.

Terima kasih karena telah menunjukkan kemampuan bicara yang luar biasa, serta memberikan banyak ide dan terobosan yang menarik. Terima kasih karena telah memperjuangkan pendidikan dan tidak mereduksinya menjadi kartu senilai satu juta rupiah per tahun serta sekolah pencetak tenaga kerja. Terima kasih karena telah menunjukkan pentingnya peran keluarga, keterlibatan publik, disiplin positif, kemampuan berpikir kritis dan literasi abad-21, serta remunerasi dan jenjang karir yang sesuai dengan kompetensi dan kinerja. Terima kasih karena telah pelan-pelan mengajak para birokrat untuk berjalan ke arah yang lebih baik, untuk bekerja dengan lebih efektif dan menjadi pemimpin yang egaliter.

Enam bulan ini, saya belajar bahwa Bapak bukanlah sosok sempurna yang luput dari kesalahan, namun manusia yang berusaha semaksimal mungkin untuk melakukan yang terbaik. Saya percaya Bapak bisa terus menyalakan lilin dimanapun dan menggerakkan semangat jutaan pemuda untuk mulai memikirkan kelanjutan bangsanya.

Tangisan warga Kemdikbud melepas Pak Anies (diambil oleh Ade Chandra)

Sekali lagi, terima kasih untuk semuanya. Kementerian Pendidikan dan Kebudayaan bukan hanya kehilangan seorang Anies Baswedan, tapi juga sebagian besar timnya yang benar-benar peduli dengan kemajuan pendidikan dan mau bekerja keras untuk membuat perubahan.

Seperti kata Bapak, menteri boleh berganti, tapi ikhtiar kita semua untuk mendidik anak bangsa tak boleh terhenti.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

About Trust And Disappointment

This week I learned again that not everyone is a good person. There are people who couldn't put themselves in other people's shoes. People who only care about their own well-being, and simply don't care about anyone else's. People who could only see bad in other people, and good in themselves. These people do exist, whether I like it or not. Whether I could empathize with them or not. Hating them wouldn't do any good, but trusting them would only show how gullible I am.

There are also people who act like they're good and friendly. Like they're trustworthy. People who, in the end, would betray your trust and are actually not on your side, but too afraid to say it on to your face. People you'd put high expectation on, but then you realize you can't really rely on.

If you're lucky enough, though, most of the people you'll meet in your life would be good people. Some are even more special. The kind who's going to listen and be supportive. People who will love you no matter what. People who will help you grow and be a better person. People who matter, and hence worth spending time with and to listen to.


This week, I was reminded again that I will always be the victim if I expect too much from others. That being too nice to anyone won't do me any good.

However, I also learned that being all angry and aggressive wouldn't solve the problem. So would being submissive. Being assertive is the one that would work. Express what you feel with the relevant evidence, give the person a chance to justify their behavior and to give feedback to you as well (because we're not perfect either, obviously), and let them know why you want them to change their behavior. Use the "I-message" strategy, as I seconded its efficacy. So yes, the next time I felt like being mistreated by others, even in other contexts, I promise myself to always do that.

I'm grateful for having the opportunity to work with various types of people. The great one, the annoying one, the mature one, the one who couldn't stop whining, the aggressive one, and the one who goes all passive-aggressive. That way, I have a chance to learn about how to handle different kinds of people and to communicate better. 

It was such an intense week, and yet I learn so much about people and myself. 


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