SEALNet – an epilogue.

 

Having looked at the title, please don’t infer that SEALNet Medan Chapter is going to end. I mean, in brief, not too fast. Perhaps not in the upcoming years, not even until this decade submerges. But knowing the fact that I should let go the title and the organization, and leave this job to my successors, I am primarily concerned on the long-term existence of it. I have no precognition on where direction exactly they are going to bring it to, nor do I possess prophetic skills to see what they are exactly going to do – whether in accordance to all the visions I have set forth in my outline or not – after leaving this CCA, and more exactly, this school.

I have never been updating any information about the progress in the last 6 months. And now I see today it’s my obligation to inform those in the headquarters, after myriad times of procrastination, while at the same time, to announce my resignation from SEALNet Medan Chapter. In general, workshop condition was slightly better off compared to that in the first year. The materials were a bit more structured, but we had not brought significant satisfaction for all the mentees, as there remained some complaints regarding the ‘boredom’ our tutelage induced. We also did not fully manage to implement all the outreach plans we had designated before the chapter’s new formation: out of 8, we only succeeded to make 3 out of them. This was largely due to the ‘overspending’ we had had in ensuring their success. Nevertheless, instead of merely paying visits to orphanages, we had diversified the scope, including visit to an NGO-operated school on the railside (which I myself did not participate in due to being abroad) and ‘study tour’ in a cow livestock and a strawberry farm in Berastagi.

 

 

The school’s name is, for your information, PAUD Dian Bersinar Foundation. It even has a blog.

 

 

Our trip in Berastagi.

 

Some of my friends inquired me, “What did you feel after being positioned for almost 2 years?” Well, there were the best of times, there were the worst of times, and, you know, it’s kind of hodgy-podgy. I had personally gone through the zenith, through the abyss, pulchritudinously, like a continuous array of longitudinal waves. Doing something that is not of your particular interest, particularly in leading it, is never as simple as I had imagined before. At least, that’s what the ‘leadership’ itself tries to define. Reminiscing through all the experiences I had felt until these penultimate moments, I had garnered a few conclusions on being a leader. First, a leader is no different from a servant; both have the needs to serve, one for the masters and the other for the public as their ‘bosses’. Second, no leaders ever believe that what is meant ‘take it easy’ dictum is entirely ‘take it easy’; some of them merely conceal such worrisome attitude, only to convince the outsiders that ‘everything is going fine’, while the others had a penchant for emotional outburst by expressing their frustrations. Third, you realize who, upon your subordinates, that are seriously committed to realizing your goals, and those who have a ‘parasitic’ tendency to stay indolent. Every institution, as I believe, has ‘germs’ by its own that leaders can’t ever purely eliminate, for whatever reasons, like, you see, having been acquainted with them for so long that the bond can’t be let loose by dismissing them. I had, personally, witnessed such phenomenon. I feel no necessity to leak it to you who these persons are, that I still have to respect their decency of privacy. But I know who upon them are willing to work, and who simply stick their names unto it.

Only in these last months I had kind of burdensome feelings in managing SEALNet, honestly. Obviously because of the amounting tasks I gotta prepare in the last year I’m in school. You know, being faced with TOEFL IBT tuition, SAT preparation, AO Maths tuition, excluding the overwhelming school exams that confiscated my time in evaluating all the progress we had made in this second year. And there was pretty much dwindling interest, as shown by the number of mentees admitted this year; no more than 70 students applied for us, and only 1 first-grader (compared to the burgeoning 70 in its first year) registered. A little more than half of them were already third-graders, clear signs that our ‘organization’ is experiencing over-rapid ‘aging’ (mini-Japan?). Taking its positive remarks, we had better capability in managing these mentees. Nevertheless, on its negative side, it just made me fully concerned on its future fate, in years to come long after I have graduated. I comprehend the adage of ‘everything that has its beginning has its own end’, but realizing its promising prospects, it was just, you know, a ‘waste’ if they simply ended it up within 2 or 3 years. The organization has yet accomplished many feats, and tackling all the problems it encounters would be a huge responsibility for future mentors to solve. If they were willing to endure a bit longer, that would be a pride of their own of having resolved the first years’ challenges and let it grow exponentially. If they gave it up, I had no more words to say. Knowing that it will be no longer my own to make it progress, I have to let it go, leaving it up to my juniors to complete the unfinished businesses. I could only, so far, outline long-term goals and visions for SEALNet Medan Chapter in years to come, but it has been up to them whether to follow my ‘instruction’ or make one by their own.

 

One of our workshop sessions included a ‘simulated mayoral election campaign’ between 2 competing pairs.

 

All of us do have still so much yet to learn. And I myself have particularly realized that there is still so much yet to gain having led it. To admit it, I have not succeeded in bringing concrete unity to the organization. We lack of promotion, for sure, that many even doubt whether SEALNet is actually ‘a  leadership-nurturing CCA or just another Facebook Starcraft-sounding online game’. Many others, meanwhile, still prefer extracurricular programs (and I don’t have to mention which they are) that will score them straight As only by ‘writing down’ their names on their membership list. It’s not uncommon in our school, to be honest, but I also do not see it as rightful and wise to describe them here. But, just, in brief, I think that’s plain unfair. I believe that I always have to make sure that all the members are evaluated and scored based on how much, and how often, they have done in accordance to whatever tasks we have assigned them and ourselves.

Well, I am, given my nearly 2-year bond in SEALNet, concerned about its fate in the near future. Its ups and downs are inextricably connected with our win-and-lose experiences as well. It still has tremendous space to grow and expand, major potential yet to be explored, more problems yet to be solved, a plethora of potential mentees yet to diminish, and, most importantly, a fact that I love to hate, a school to sustain. (of course it closes down if the school collapses!)

In the long run, I want to thank a lot of mentors (whose names I tag here) who have assisted me a lot in making this organization progress every time. I want to thank Elvira, my co-partner in leading SEALNet. You have, given your animating attitude, so many creative ideas that you embody in the outreach.  Then there is Vinnie, our lil’ petty Secretary. You are active, and you are fierce. But only through your ‘ferociousness’ (does it seem exaggerating?), you can emulate pretty much useful suggestion to improve our workshop materials. Then there is Grisella. You are smart, and you are such a great idea shower for us! I felt so guilty that I had, instead of assigning you in Project Division, placed you in Publicity. Then Lily. You are strict, well-disciplined, and despite your mere two-week post as Head of Project Division, you made me really learn how to manage a project really well, as seen by your capability in directing any outlines you have set to your subordinates. Then there’s Cindy, our treasurer, who has arranged well our cash reserves in the last 5 months. Then this ‘couple’, Iin and Riyan. Both of you have contributed pretty much in this recent year for the betterment of our workshop and outreach sessions. And there are Anthony and Budi, who have helped us in negotiating economical bus fares each time for our outreach sessions. Then there’s Ricky, who has also helped very much in our outreach. Then Ferry, who has helped quite much during our workshop session. And to the rest, all of you, exactly, (I can no longer mention their names one by one specifically here), thanks a lot!

Last but not least, I also would like to thank our coach, Mr.Supian, who, despite his occupied schedule as a teacher, a lecturer in many colleges other than our school, and a church speaker, has been an ardent supporter, and an idea-shower as well, for the betterment of our organization.

And particularly to all my seniors now scattered in universities, home and abroad, like Edric, Riandy, Winnie, Desilia, Adeline, Ricky, Juned, JA, and a list too long to go on, thank you for giving me this opportunity. I hope we’ll meet someday!

 

 

 

Well, it’s old days recalled.

Another outreach. Completely done.

 

Call it a sequel of my previous note about our third outreach. We still headed to the same subject (orphanage), of the similar background (set up to accommodate many children from Nias who fell prey to 2004 Aceh tsunami), and of the same religious denomination (Christian), but exactly of a distinct location (though quite near), different owners, and undoubtedly for sure, different name. This time, we paid a visit to Yayasan Terima Kasih Abadi.

The outreach held on 29th April was perhaps the most rumbustious one compared with the others. In average, in every session that we conducted, the maximum number of participants ever involved was no more than 30. But this time, it was at the point of 50. Unfortunately, our coach, Pak Supian ‘the motivator’, was not able to make it given that he had been invited to give a fundraising speech in the church he is used to doing his hebdomadal visit. Thus, as a resolution, all the tasks he was supposed to complete were substituted by Evando, a newly-appointed head of Project Division.

 

 

This time, quite many participants in this outreach were non-SEALNet members. Some of them had recently been faced with National Exam, some others are my classmates, while the rest are currently studying in University of North Sumatera (thanks to JA’s – nickname of Jesselyn Angellee – efforts in persuading her friends to join with us). In addition, it also appertained mentees from Tuesday class (fewer mentees from Tuesday class join our outreach as frequent as those of Saturday’s).

The orphanage itself we visited gathers approximately 115 children and teenagers, from various places in Nias, and some rural areas throughout North Sumatera. Talking about gender, the people out there are dominantly boys and young men (83 versus 32). From the age perspective, almost half of the populace are currently Primary-class students, while the rest are in Secondary levels. Around 4 of them are at the moment collegers.

Anyway, let me describe further about what we had experienced almost the whole day, before, during, and after the outreach.

 

 

It started with a minor problem: school gates, through which we were supposed to gather, were intentionally locked. Eyeing through the keyhole, we found out at least 4 security guards were sitting, perched on their chairs, listening to the radio, reading the newspaper, and playing chess game. I knocked the door, and the guard refused to open. My dad, at the same time carrying carton boxes of Yeo’s Chrysanthemum tea, called upon the guards. 5 minutes had passed, and still the gates remained stiff. Two drivers whose buses we rented for the sojourner also helped us in continuously knocking on the gates. Probably having succumbed to the loud rataplan, they did happen to unlock the gates. There was some minor debate, though, but having explained to the guards that our teacher-in-charge, Pak Supian, was not coming, and again having shown them his phone number, they allowed all of us to get in, but only in the school’s front areas, while only me and the duo drivers who were permitted to come to one of our mentors’ class, to carry some behemoth cardboards, all stuffed with hundreds of school textbooks, and second-hand clothes (matter-of-factly speaking, one of the donators bequeathed mini-skirts). The Gummizeit soon followed. Originally scheduled to have hit the road at 12 pm, we instead managed to make it half an hour later.

The trip was fairly smooth, but as we approached nearer to the orphanage, I was distracted by the exact route into the location when asked by one of the drivers. How poor my memory storage was. Having surveyed the place 3 months prior, I was almost completely oblivious regarding the position. After 15 minutes of itinerating throughout the surrounding roads, we managed to reach there (and I remembered vividly that coping with a very narrow gangway was a struggle reaching it, but I had forgotten exactly where the gangway was precisely). Time showed 1.10 pm when we boarded off the buses, 10 minutes behindhand the scheduled time.

 

 

We came into the orphanage. Almost all the people there were present, including boys and girls, kids and teenagers. And a fierce-looking lady with a rattan wood on her right hand, organizing the rows and columns of populace being seated on the marmer floor. We were offered seats on the chairs, facing the kids directly. I asked myself: wow, must it be that formal? We are not government officers, nor are we over-the-top businesspeople. Having sat only for a while trying to figure out what we would do during the outreach, we decided to divide them into three groups: one aimed for primary-class students, another for junior-high-school students, and the rest for senior-high-school ones, and university students. We played one different game for every group. The most junior team were seated in a circle, over the chairs, together with mentees, volunteers and mentors, and they played fruit salad (more friendly version of Jumanji game (to know further, please read ‘the days I had in SEALNet’). At around 2.15 pm, we stopped the games, and distributed drinks for the buddies out there. Originally, we intended to hand out snacks as well, but given that students from SMA Sutomo 2, all third-graders, were also present at the same time and had previously dispensed each of them with a colorful pack of snacks, all of a sudden we decided to allot them only after we had accomplished everything in the outreach.

 

 

Having stopped the games and rested for a while, we went on with doing activities, at a more serious pace. Firstly segregating all the persons into two groups, one supposedly for primary-level students and the other for high-school- and university-equivalent, each group was afterwards given a different activity to do: all the juniors would be asked to draw their future in the papers we had distributed, while the seniors had to answer the questionnaire given in so-called ‘interest quiz’, sort of.

What the high-school students and collagers aspire to be in the future sound fairly good, as told by one of the mentors supervising the test, Lily. All of them, in general, do seem to embrace quite high expectations, such as of being a successful entrepreneur, well-known fashion designer, critically-acclaimed novelist, reknown poet, professional, over-the-top accountant, et cetera. Quite many of them opt the former, on being able to employ rather than to be employed. Talking about reality, nevertheless, seemed to be overtly burdening for them to overcome. This is the fact, though this might be pain-staking: in spite of the superb facilities they offer, ranging from projectors to musical instruments to the well-built multi-function hall, they even had not enough numismatics to pay for these students’ registration fees for selection tests to state-owned universities (Seleksi Nasional Masuk Perguruan Tinggi Negeri, abbreviated as SNMPTN). Out there, it was almost raining cats and dogs, before the sky again turned out plain white. The rain was like a brief, metaphorical reminder of the difficulties facing the populace in this building.

 

All of the teenagers were trying to figure the interest-quiz well.

The next activity was some kind of IQ test, hosted by Nico. As shown in projector, he presented all the questionnaire, one by one. It took more than 30 minutes, before Evando proceeded the schedule by hosting a motivational speech. Throughout the motivation session, we filled the time interval by playing out 5 videos, one about a Mongolian orphan singing in full commemoration of his deceased parents in China’s Got Talent, another about a blind beggar, the next about handicapped athletes, and the other two about Nick Vujicic, the miracle-man, who without hands and feet, could still be able to set the world on earthquake, through his magical, invisible, and sizeless limbs.

 

Evando

 

Nico

 

We ended the overall outreach by singing a Christian-themed song (only to entertain the buddies). As the sky ended up darker than before, we rushed by quickly handing out all our donation to the staff in charge of the orphanage. As the wind blew more boisterously, all of us swiftly made rows, and we had our last moments captured in front of the cameras.

Honestly, we do not expect the next outreach to be visiting another orphanage. As Mauren, one of the mentors, had told me: we had had it enough 3 times of visit to different orphanages, but the feeling remains the same.

What if we make a forest trip our next outreach?

Briefly explained. Our third outreach.

Panti Asuhan Kasih Indonesia

 

One of my friends (also a mentor and secretary in SEALNet Medan Chapter @ SMA Sutomo 1 Medan), Adriana Salim, posted a video in Youtube about our outreach to Panti Asuhan Kasih Indonesia we visited on 15th April, Sunday. As you could see in the video, there was laughter, there was fun, there was motivation, there was singing, there was a brief noetic strike, and there was everything. Some of the parts included me teaching English (that would be present tense), and some others included self-contemplation speech, prepared extemporaneously, by our dearest CCA’s coach, one of our school’s most beloved and stand-up-comedian-alike teachers, Supian Sembiring. You could see the children laughing, gamboling frantically, complete with their innocent, angelic expressions.

But, personally, as I had to confess, all the exhilaration that you saw was merely, with no intention to show that I am a pessimist, tip of an iceberg. In addition, I even wanted to say that what our seniors had done (kudos to Edric Subur, Winnie Illona, and the rest of our mentors) was myriad times much better than what we had made. Perhaps this might sound humiliating, but all I could conclude from this third outreach was a bit ‘epic-fail’ episode.

 

 

Straightforwardly, perhaps I had to explain why I could dub it so. This began from our consensus, of all of us, that we would teach them basic English skills, given that their English scores are deteriorating as time passes (that’s what we heard from the founder of the orphanage, whom we refer to as bapak panti). Afterwards, having been procrastinated more than 2 times from February to April due to rescheduling of school exam, the children having vacation in Berastagi to celebrate the birthday of their largest contributor, and fear of fuel-price hike protests, we managed to conduct it, complete with all the materials to be taught, including past, present, and future tenses. I myself had even prepared grammar exercises for the teenagers, while another mentor of SEALNet, Elvira, also had had a large poster containing pictures of fruits with both English and Indonesian names.

 

Adriana (left) and Elvira (right)

 

In full contradiction, our assumption was totally wrong. It is true that the bapak panti, known as Mr.Zebua, owns 2 orphanages, one of which was our destination on that outreach. Around 47 individuals, mostly primary-class students, are registered in the database of the orphanage we visited. When we reached there, it turned out to be almost exactly 102. Everything we had set and had planned very well was originally intended only to fit 47 persons, but this became our Achilles’ heel when we found out the name tags were already empty (we wrote down all the 102 children’s names in the name tags, with aim to keep the rest – those who stay in the other orphanage – assume we visited theirs).

At the same time, I only printed grammar exercise suited for 20 teenagers, while in fact, it turned out that more than 30 others were also present on the time we visited it.

I taught present tense in front of all the individuals. Deep inside my heart, I conjectured that instead of educating human beings, I was more like bragging in front of statues. Most of the individuals had no comprehension what I was talking about (and so did the mentors and the mentees). Some said that I was more of a ‘don’t-ask-don’t-tell’ type of mentor, leaving them in much confusion – and certainly – tedium. Only few were willing to listen, mostly the girls. The primary-class students stared at me with blank expression. Mr.Supian later told me that these kids had even never been taught pronounciation of English words in their school. Some teenagers had, in fact, been taught such tenses many times in their school. What I could conclude from this statement: okay, I’m a dinosaur.

 

Pak Supian is a superb educator.

 

Our outreach succeeded largely thanks to Mr.Supian’s assistance. Without prior preparation, he spoke so well that he reminded me of the way a priest talks in front of the congregation. That quite helped in spurring their gusto. He led the prayer, the cantillation, and the carol-singing session. I couldn’t help but wonder, while I recorded his talk: how many thousands of outreach sessions had he ever undergone in his life? Mine is perhaps simply one-thousandth of his.

Somehow, it was better to have a ‘half-baked’ outreach, whose execution in reverse bore no resemblance with the timeline we had set altogether, than to have null-and-void at all. In the end, we sang songs altogether (mostly Christian-themed songs with we-know-what lyrics), and we handed out some drawing books, notebooks, unused books, Kuark science magazines, school textbooks, dictionaries, encyclopedias, snacks, drinks, and a long list to go.

 

 

I thanked everyone (especially those tagged in the note) who had paid total concentration on their efforts to make the outreach succeed. Particularly to Adriana. She has had multitudinous talents that I hardly possess. She’s magnificent in drawing out the posters, she’s superb in photography, and she’s able to make and edit videos as well. But my deepest kudo goes to Mr.Supian. Given the fact that we are not that financially able to hire such salient motivators like Andrie Wongso or Mario Teguh, he’s been very enough for us to provide satisfaction to these buddies.

By the way, on 29th April, we are still having another outreach session to go. Expect ‘the motivator’ to come back. Be very curious.

 

Both these posters are nicely designed by Adriana (except the future tense, thanks to the help from my classmate, Jesslyn Calosa). Thanks a lot!