Tag: Indonesia

A Love Message to All Muslim Ladies

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Madura, Indonesia

 

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I can’t give a specific location on this one, I simply found a herd of sheep on the side of the road and decided snap some shot. Go cross Suramadu bridge from Surabaya to Madura, head straight, take a careful look, and you’ll find the field on your right. Happy searching!

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Open Translation Service!

In the spirit of looking for my own income, I have decided to freelance myself and offer a translation service with reasonable price for struggling students all around Indonesia. I will translate from English to Bahasa Indonesia (and vice versa) and charge per page with standardized format. Price will vary based on how fast you need your documents translated.

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Hopeless Fling: Islamic Book Fair’s Edition

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So here’s a short story of the night that I need to just write before I forget.

As most of you know, I’m an eleventh grader high school student who is completely head over heals at the idea of teen marriage. While the notion might raise suspicious questions to the unknowing or ignorant, I can never find myself to see what’s wrong with it, but you know that.

So this is how it began.

Today, my mother and I went to Islamic Book Fair 2016 to see Humud on stage. There was Nasyid award of some sort, and he was the guest star. Since Kun Anta was hands down the best Arabic song I’ve ever known, we decided to check him out.

So we got there, and it was a book fair, right? People were selling Islamic books, Quran, novels, ISIS history, and all the sorts. While it wasn’t our intention to actually buy anything, it was only normal to look around after Humud finished his (short) performance.

While we were looking around, a little stand caught my attention. It was apparently a stand that sells Quran with adorable and elegant covers. They styled Quran into an entirely modern look, and I highly recommend those to you. Check out their Instagram @madinaalquran or go to their website. Now before I continue with this story, you have to understand that I still believe in childish fairy tale love story, capiche? I came into that book fair thinking, where else am I going to find a good young Muslim to become my husband candidate if not from that kind of place?

What written below are my honest thoughts that occurred  throughout the whole event, I give you full permission to mock the hell out of my childish behavior.

So I visited the stand and started asking the prize of each type of Quran they sell (there was Zhafira Quran!). The flowery bunch that I saw first was cute, but the one that really made me want to buy a new Quran was the elegant denim cover with carved wood attached to the cover.

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How elegant is that? If I have a husband, I’d definitely buy matching ones.

When I bought it, I noticed the young salesman that served me was quite bit attractive. He looked like a typical college student with glasses, brace, and sleek edgy haircut. He wore a pair of skinny jeans and a top that is not double his size, and he was the closest to modern young Muslim that I can find in that place–and I’m guessing the only reason he was there was to sell Quran under his parents’ order. Islamic Book Fair seemed like the last place he’d rather be, but let’s not judge too far, shall we?

So I bought the denim Ar-Rayyan Quran, and I sure did chuckled when I saw their bright banner spelling out QURAN ZHAFIRA. The salesmen asked if that was my name, and I grinned, saying yes.

What made me think something was going to happen was when the guy asked, “University student?”

I silently thank God I didn’t come across as middle school student, but that might just be my  7 cm wedges.

I replied, “High school.”

“What grade?”

“Eleventh.”

The other salesman handed me their flyer, and I took it. “Is there an instagram?”

“Yeah, written right there.”

With one last grin, I thanked them (him) and skipped my way to look for my mother. In that moment of adrenaline rush, I thought, maybe, just maybe, that was God’s answer to my prayer of  wanting to be introduced to a good Muslim. It only make sense since we were being met in a place like an Islamic Book Fair, right?

Well, wrong.

Guess what, mother fathers, my entire idea of him being the one disappeared the instant moment I saw him with a cigarette in between his fingers. It was like popping an innocent kid’s balloon, which in this scenario, I suppose I’d have to be the innocent kid.

But God, it was an unpleasant feeling. Like, why? Why does he think it’s okay to light a cigar right in that kind of place? Darn those sinful things, ruining the image of every men in my eyes.

Ta-ta, Mr. I’m-Here-Under-Order, I suppose. It was a good fifteen minutes of fling while it last. May the next encounter be much less unpleasant. May he find this, read it, and think about stopping.

Still, I recommend the Quran. It’s amazingly aesthetic.

Here’s to aesthetic Quran.

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Youth’s Success for Indonesia’s Better Future

A great national figure from Indonesia, Pak Soekarno, once stood in front of a large audience and gave an inspiring, heart moving speech that quotes, “Bring me 10 young men, and I shall shake the world!”

This sentence that he delivered long ago will always be a reminder for each and every one of us of the one true fact; that the youth in every generation is responsible in leaving a page worthy of a life-changing story to at least one history book in the world. Take an example from Kartini, Robert Wolter Mongsidi, and Ignatus Slamet Rijadi, who all died hero in their young age with their burning passion to make changes in our country. They are all prided for standing tall with their youthful courage that has proven that their spirit can leave their names known until eternity.

This takes us to the one conclusion that will bring us forward to what I want to highlight. Youth, ladies and gentlemen. When you ask, who is capable of bringing Indonesia to its success? Then I will give you one answer—the youth. They are the key to many doors of opportunities opening up for this country, they’ve always been, unfortunately, most teenagers in Indonesia still struggle to perform and deliver their outstanding ability in getting this country out of its current state. Now, how does this happen, exactly?

As we all know, teenagers’ successions are strongly depended on their academic education that they receive at school. In Indonesia, the government runs a strict policy according to school hours and the amount of subjects that high school students have to take. We are required to take up to forty-four hours a week at school and take up to twelve subjects. While this is the current approved regulation, the effectivity of this policy has yet to be proven when compared to the success that foreign teenager achieve in other country.

We need to carefully compare these facts with those from other country proven more successful to see just how much discrepancy we have with others. Today, we’ll take England as comparison. To ensure the credibility of the information, I looked up in the internet and met a student from England who is around my age. We spoke directly through Skype, and I asked him a few questions about the school policy in his homeland. There are two points from his explanation that stood out that I would like to bring attention to. The first one is the school hours spent by the students there. This student, his name is David, explained that students spend just seven hours (from nine to four) a day at school. Second, students are required to take only certain subjects that they are interested in. In addition to that information, the students also still get four breaks a year.

Some of you might think, what is the correlation between that information to Indonesia’s youth’s success? Let’s analyze this carefully, starting from the first issue, which is the length of educational hours in Indonesia. As I stated before, us high school students are required to take up to forty-four hours a week. Now, as a student myself, I have experienced this since I began high school, and I can objectively state that this is taking too much toll on most students. The reason why the government ran the new curriculum was because they wanted to produce creative students who seek for answers rather than receiving them whole. While this innovation is certainly different and new, unfortunately, the amount of hours that we are receiving at school prevents this innovation to come true. Too much report at how tired students are up online, and instead of shaping creative individuals for the future, the school hours only shape a robotic state in every student with their studying-resting-sleeping routine. The exhaustion that students get prevents creative ideas to form, and therefore contradicts the initial purpose. Let’s take a look at England’s education policy, in which they are to spend only 39 weeks of school according to london.angloinfo.com, in Indonesia, we are spending only about six to seven weeks of holiday a year, and our education rank is at 64th in the world (http://www.prestasi-iief.org). Logically thinking, with more hours we spend on studying, it’s only natural that our rank can be higher than England’s, which is at 3rd rank in the world (www.worldtop20.org), but as the facts state, we are at far below, nowhere near reaching that quality that England has.

The second issue is the amount of subjects that Indonesia’s students are obliged to take. Students are to take 12 mandatory subjects, while England only requires 8 with 4 other additional subjects that students get to choose whether to take or no (https://www.gov.uk/national-curriculum/key-stage-3-and-4). While I am not stating that this system is better, we need to think this through carefully. One of the most worrying reason of why we should support letting students take the subjects they want is because sadly, there had been too many students questioning their time at school and wonder, “When am I going to use this subject in real life?” or “What am I learning this for if I want to be this or that?”.

In this country, while we are still letting students choose their major according to their own interest between social and science studies, the government is still, in a way, forcing students on taking subjects that they might not have interest in. Students, especially at the age of fifteen above, have the importance of determining where they want to go next in the future, and if we can take an example from England’s Key Stage 4 curriculum, it will be more beneficent for them as they are allowed to make choices and broaden their knowledge in what they are actually interested in. With their determination on achieving their own dreams, they will see school as something that can help them reach their goal instead of waking up to school feeling like it is a chore.

If these methods are implemented here, we can ensure one great future for all of us. Remember, our national figures, such as Kartini, R. W. Mongsidi, and Slamet Rijadi all managed to bring Indonesia to its high throne because they had help, because their torches were lit up brightly by a nation that supported their endless struggle and craved for the same goal. Therefore, to reach that success, not only do we have to work for it, but everyone here must be in a position to support the ideas, starting from setting youth’s spirit in education back to where it’s supposed to be. Some of you are skeptical, and maybe some of you are hopeful, but remember this, a change will happen, no matter when. The question is when the world shapes itself into what we want it to be, when the government fixes certain policies in favor for Indonesia’s success, will we, as the nation’s golden hope, be there to take a step forward and leave a page worthy of a history book? As you take that thought into heart, I will only say this once. When everything transform into how we wish things to be, we can’t let words be left into only just words. So ready your arm, take a step forward, because as this nation’s youth, we will be the one to shake the world.

 

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Who Knew What You’d Learn When You Dig A Little Deeper

History is always under appreciated by students at school, don’t you think?

And as I write this down, I’m not at all ashamed to say that I as well never paid much attention to history due to how little meaning it gives to life. History doesn’t change anything. Not now, not the future, not ever. The only lesson that still applies from history is the ideology of how experience is the best teacher. It teaches us how things that failed in the past should not be repeated if we are to avoid the same impact that happened times ago.

So I never pay much attention to it.

Until one day, I was staying at this Ramadhan camp for two weeks in a little village. I had the chance to get to know people around the camping site, and I met this woman in a little shop. She told me and my friends to call her ‘Bu Eli’.

(Bu in Bahasa means Mrs.)

Bu Eli was kind, gentle, and a sincere Muslim woman. She invited two friends of mine and I to her house for a nice evening chat. Introduction was made, and small chit chat was shared.

I remembered her beginning her tale with a simple sentence. She said gently with eyes that went a shade darker as she recalled her past. It was the eyes of someone who’s seen the dark part of life and never entirely made it back to the now.

“I’ve lived here (in this village) for twenty years. You see, I was the victim of the monetary crisis. I used to live in Jakarta back in the day.”

I sure as hell remembered not understanding what it meant. “What monetary crisis?” I asked.

“Is it the monetary crisis like in the movie Di Balik 98?” My friend asked.

“Goodness, you don’t know? It was the monetary crisis that happened back in ‘97 and ‘98, my child,” she said. “You must know, it was when President Soeharto was forced to step down after 30 years in power.”

“Oh, when the inflation happened?” I remembered studying something of some sort.

She nodded, “That’s right. It was when the dollar inflated so high that it reached 17.000 rupiahs from 3.000 rupiahs.”

My friends and I shared a surprised a look. That was a high price, indeed.

“Everything went downhill really quick at that time. You weren’t born back then. You see, many companies struggled to keep on their feet with so many debt the country had, and many prices went up. Many companies fired many of their workers to keep the expenditure at minimum, and many assets were sold.”

We listened to her intently. It was more interesting than the lectures my teachers ever gave. It was a real story from someone who’s lived the history. She was there to see it with the two of her eyes. The way she told the tale, it gave away emotions of one who doesn’t have the intention to repeat what’s happened.

“Scholars rebelled, and buildings were burned down. It was the time when the Trisakti Tragedy happened—”

“—When the students were shot down,” I said, finishing her sentence. 4 students were shot down and became hero of the tragedy. Their names were still remembered to this day.

We finally touched a ground I was familiar of.

She nodded, and it must have been a bitter reminiscent. “My husband and I, we struggled to keep on standing on our feet. We opened a book publishing company, but we couldn’t afford the price of the paper as time went by, and things just never got better.”

She took a breath and exhaled, and I held my breath. She waved her hand around, “So we moved here. We sold our assets and came here to stay.We left the rebellion, the mess, and experienced the rest of it though the news in the TV.”

It must have not been an easy decision to make, I gathered.

“Things were different in this village then. There were very few villagers, just forest and vast crops field. My husband and I started over. I believed that knowledge is a beautiful, never-ending tool that can get us back to our feet. We started a course in this village.”

“With only very few villagers, who’d come and study?” My friend asked.

“Oh, there were many students who were interested,” Bu Eli said vigorously.

“What about daily supply? Where do you get things from?” I asked too. It was a very real life Harvest Moon experience to me. I had to ask before my imagination went wild to the point where villagers trade things to get their need in my head.

Bu Eli chuckled, “It was hard too at first. Being in such a secluded place, it took hours to go back and forth to get what we needed. But as time went by, many mini mart opened up, and many small merchants stayed for good. It was quite a peaceful life after that.”

And Bu Eli is now a headmaster in a local kindergarten, a teacher in a local middle school, and a student counselor in a local high school. She’s a mother to three children, and she owns a farm or two as I recall.

“And you’ve never thought about going back?”

Bu Eli didn’t need time to think about it. It was an immediate response of, “No, never.”

“What about families?”

“The goodbyes were hard,” she adjusted her glasses back on with a fond smile. “But times were hard, and sacrifices had to be made. We still see each other to this day.”

But is this the happy ending you imagined you’d have? Have you ever regretted anything?

There were many questions, many rude questions left in the tip of my tongue. I was so eager to find out what crosses the mind of someone who’s lived the history to tell the tale. I was curious to know what made her survive mentally, what made her still stand up to this day, and what made her find her peace.

Bu Eli took me back to those old history lessons that I’d sleep through at school. I never thought much of those lessons. In fact, I never thought it deserved a penny of my mind, until I heard Bu Eli’s tale, and I realized there was much more to history than old tales and mistakes.

In history, lived the tale of thousands of people who experienced the same one event. There were victims, heroes, or simply spectators, and each of them had their own story to tell. Each and every one of them had their own struggles, and they had their own way of rising back up to face the future that was held before them.

There were many different celebration, and many different grieves. Every teardrops to every pain and every smiles to every new hope. But at the end of the day, history holds not only mere experience, but it also holds beauty of its own. Because behind the pages that were printed in our textbook, now I know the tiny glimpse of what it took to be remembered, to be timeless.

Dear you, who’s lived through your own history and made it to where you are today, raise your glass, here’s to you.

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