After a hiatus that lasted more than a month long, I finally managed to seize some time to get back to my old, classic habit, in which I poured down my ideas and my experiences, through every single type, while sitting inside an approximately five-by-five-meter space that used to be my childhood compartment. First thing I have to confess before I start the note is my mind was in excess of topics, argumentating seriously inside my head on what to write about. I was considering writing about a ‘special’ relationship between presidents and occult power, while on the other hand, another topic that circulated around my consciousness was plastic surgery among South Korean celebrities, while again, the notion of Indonesia’s exaggerative subordination on imported products, the treacherous, hair-raising thought on scientific methods towards living forever, criticism of vegetarianism, the dangers of driving in Indonesia, and dominant minorities worldwide, pullulated me, throwing me out with all the mish-mashing of all the combined ideas.
Instead of singling out one of them to be the main topic of this note, which perhaps may unconsciously trigger more helter-skelter in my mind, I resolved to write about SEALNet’s progress so far. I’ve never jemmied it for so long that the chaps and bags in United States had no ideas what we had been progressing here, exactly in Medan.
Throughout the first semester, the workshops, as I could admit, was of part success and part failure. They did really savor the part where we asked the mentees to mention as many bizarre, out-of-the-box purposes as possible about the items they had been discussing altogether. They also quite reveled the ‘problem-solving’ part, though they had less inclination to doing presentation. Getting tedium through endless presentations, I laid the idea of having them to do business – one of the most basic methods in practising leadership skills. But, throughout the workshops from November to December, the workshop was, I had to tell you, a total flatness. The main res behind such occurrence was that we were totally lackadaisical in terms of preparation of the material. It was only during the D-day that we began to discuss what we were going to teach. Worse, we communicated our ideas only through Blackberry group chats, which may, in some times, set off technical errors, like my message was not received by another Blackberry member. Another problem was half the members do not use Blackberry, which meant they were lackadaisical on what I was planning to ask them to do and worse, albeit they managed to own them, they did not participate in the discussion (Claristy later admitted that they refused to do so because of my overtly domineering position), so it could be said, between 2 and 3 workshop sessions, we delivered them half-baked, or best described, stale material. Many also criticized me for being too centralized, as though I were the only one to control the whole workshop and outreach, that it heavily burdened my head. Perhaps because of overpressure, my emotion bursted out. I snapped at some of the mentors, and all the mentees were there when it took place, while the workshop was taking place. I didn’t have any captor to stop my buoyant anger from exploding. And I wept afterwards.
I was lost up there. Fortunately, there were considerably hearty friends of mine, like Evando, Nico, Toni, Vincent, Yansen, Steven, etc, who showed full indorsation on me. The night after the incident, I was up in my bed, contemplating of all the wrongdoings I had accidentally committed that made everything ended up so severe. The other acting president, Claristy, had told me that as a leader, I had been too much fixated on my own potential, while albeit I fully accepted others’ ideas, there was tendency I did neglect them. Some time later, after fully discerning her thoughts, I concluded, ‘yeah, she’s quite right. There’s something wrong with our organization, and were my mentality too subtle to say, ‘yeah, it’s my fate, and I’m not destined for this’, I might have disenchanted so many people. Our previous mentors, those guys in America, our principal who staunchfully supported this extracurricular program (my first-grade friends once even ran towards me, and exhilaratingly shouted that he had asked students – during the weekly school ceremony – to get involved in more leadership and social service skills), our supervisor who, despite the bustle, still managed to assist us by giving ideas for better workshops (some of which we did fail to implement), some teachers who had expressed full support for the establishment of the chapter, and particularly, all the mentees who had been willingly to spend some time to be here. To provide me with more consolation, I attempted to assure myself, it’s just the first year, and it’s always the hardest in the beginning, and unless we manage to consolidate well, our SEALNet chapter will just simply be a name that ‘used to’ exist. It still has tremendous potential yet to be explored, and looking at it with deeper perspectives, we can contribute myriad ideas through this body. It’s not simply about workshops and outreach, workshops and outreach. We can do something, in accordance with the potential that we all possess, to solve problems (although I am myself a believer in theory that ‘no best solution does exist in the world to eliminate problems, because it’s always solution that triggers problems, and it’s an unending relationship’). Further, another mentor of SEALNet, Mauren, still places her Panglossian trust on its future. She cited the entrepreneurship project that we did as a ‘moderate success’, although it’s still structurally messy. Many mentees confessed that the part they liked the most was doing this sort of project. And because of this, SEALNet’s cash managed to experience soaring growth – more than 300% – from previously 2.1 million to more than 8.6 million rupiah (as of January 2012). The money itself grew after we had consensus with mentees who were willing to donate some of the money they earned to fund our activities (and it’s non-obligatory, for sure).
But, actually, the main riddle behind all this mess was of my not knowing the keyword of ‘team-building activities’. It was only after browsing Google, that I discovered this keyword had tremendous effect in determining the success of either our workshops, outreach, or even projects. The keyword, as it turned out after I typed it on Google, resulted in more than 200 million pages or so, an overabundance of sources we could utilize for our next workshops in the second semester. Every webpage that I accessed had itself come out with more than 100 out-of-the-box ideas, many of which might be utterly interesting for the mentees instead of endless cycles of brainstorming, structuring, and presenting. All these ideas are not only commodious during the workshop sessions, but also during the outreach, and it, in the long run, helped my mind to launch multitudinous ideas for the projects to be done next year. One of my ideas – that might sound irrelevant, was my plan of donating 1000 or more second-hand books to 5 orphanages which founded it very critical and rudimentary to obtain such Baedeker. Many of my friends were opposed to this notion, because firstly, the target itself was set too high, while secondly, there was also another similar program going on, in which one of Medan’s social entrepreneurs, Dr. Sofyan Tan, proposed another more avant-garde project, by persuading hundreds of companies, institutions (including our school, SMA Sutomo 1 Medan) and distingue figures to contribute. He had set his mind that the ultimate goal of this project was to accept 1 million (that is 1000 by the power of 2) second-hand books to be donated to so-called ‘taman bacaan’, or small-scale libraries throughout North Sumatera, by which Medan is the designated capital. Lastly, not all students would donate their books for the second time, because they had previously done so in the former. At first, I was overtly enthusiastic about this dream, but later on, I consoled myself, ‘the future is still a long way to go. Perhaps we can set even larger targets in the future. Don’t get disappointed.’
Throughout the meeting we held on 24th of December, 2011, we decided that on the second semester, we managed to organize only 5 sessions of workshop, with methods taken from the webpages I had accessed in Google (using that miraculous keyword). The first session would be about negotiation (still remember about the house’s prices? Read ‘The days I had in SEALNet’), while on the second, the mentees were asked to promote – like the way those people do in heavily-dramatized TV ads – chocolate bars we had bought in the nearby canteen in which we recorded their performance. On the third workshop, because it’s really adjacent to Valentine’s Day, we divided the mentees into pairs, and every pair had to design Valentine’s Day greeting card as creatively as possible, utilizing the carton papers we had bought in the school’s co-operative. On the fourth, mentees were divided into groups, and were asked to structure a story as they liked, and presented it in front. Lastly, on the fifth, it would be reflection. In the long run, all the mentors agreed to do so. Afterwards, as soon as the holiday was over, we started to implement all the ideas. In general, all the mentees did really enjoy the sessions better than those in the first semester, particularly in the second and third workshop. They even considered the second one as the craziest part ever, in which they were faced to a situation where they had to act as though they were really promoting in the TV ads. Meanwhile, on the third workshop, all the cards designed were truly beyond what I had previously imagined. They were truly so gorgeous! Some did write very awesome quotes, while others modified the carton papers by putting some beads, or trying to make some folds to make them really look like greeting cards. The best cards that we assessed were published in our bulletin board (and if you have time to visit Medan, please take a look at it). Insofar, things got up better, but the only thing that was totally distinct from the plan we had set out was on the last session, in which instead of doing the reflection, we played game altogether. (for ELDS – our school’s English debating program – members, you do still remember Yakuza game, the trick-or-treat derision, don’t you?)
In addition, we also paid a visit to Tzu-chi’s branch office in Medan, largely thanks to my Mandarin tuition teacher, Miss Jennifer, who also serves as a full-time Tzu-chi member, after long-grueling appointment in which our schedule was repeatedly postponed (not procrastinated, thoroughly) from supposedly beginning of November, to end of November, to the beginning of December, to mid of January, before it was decided that the schedule be held on 5th February, 2012. At first, I thought we might be introduced to sophisticated recycling technology, or to a lesser extent, having tutelage on how to recycle newspapers or plastic bottles. My conclusion was a mistake, indeed. While all of us were brought to the waste depot exactly behind the branch office, I just commenced to realize that it was not a recycling center at all. I asked one of the staff, and he responded that this place was instead utilized as a ‘waste-sorting’ center. There’s quite much unrecyclable waste here, as such, styrofoam and plastic bags. Instead, as an alternative, we listened to their seminar – the main topic was about global warming, climate change stuff, but I found it was more centered on vegetarianism. Supposed to begin at 1 and conclude at 4, it was contrawise prolonged from 1.30 to 5.30 pm (you know the Gummizeit habit of our people, don’t you?) Much of the time was concentrated on promoting vegetarianism, while one staff, serving as a host, claimed that it’s much better, environmentally, for a full-time vegan to drive a sedan car, than a cyclist who eats meat. Most of the mentees said they were really inspired, and truly gobsmacked, at all the surprising facts about global warming and climate change and healthy living. I did, too, but only for the first two parts, while I myself discovered a striking dichotomy between healthy living and healthy planet. To be honest, this was originally my intended topic. But, never mind about that. I’ve been scribing this article for more than 2000 words.
Aside from that, I needed to inform you that we had again made mistakes. This time, they were truly fatal lapsus. We realized the errors after we had 94 certificates (80 for mentees, and 14 for mentors) printed, and only after our school’s principal signed a snatch of our certificates: his position in the certificate was placed instead 2nd after that of our supervisor, not the 1st. Another fatal mistake was identified: we simply put down the abbreviation, incomplete with its real name. He refused to continue signing them, something which made us lose 940 thousand rupiah in vain. And, lastly, we thought that by having our supervisor to examine the certificate’s prototype was okay enough. And it turned out to be a mere partial okay, because the principal hadn’t seen it. This meant we had to prepare another 940 thousand for new certificates.
Nevertheless, for whatever reason, it seemed like we were on our luck at that time. The company accountable in printing our certificates offered us 25% discount, meaning that we didn’t have to pay that exorbitant. Instead of 940, we were charged 705. After two times of printing, we do still have almost 7 million rupiah left in cash.
Within 3 or 4 or 5 months, let’s see what surprises will come out next.