Take the Challenges and Grow Up

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 I was doing my final project for my bachelor degree analyzing the novel Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. Back in 2011, I was a student of university in Semarang, Indonesia. Living far away from my hometown and had a big responsibility finishing the last semester, the 8th semester. My parents have spent their money so far to fulfill my need in my study and my living cost there.

But I was about to give up...I had a confidence-crisis during my study in university. I was studying English Literature and I felt I was not into it. It was a difficult subject for me and I was about to give up...but I had no choice except to continue and try to finish it. But it was stressful for me...

I was a very passive person, inactive, and easy to give up. I was afraid of lots of things.

I was glad, however, during my study in English subject.. I knew an NGO for international voluntary service and I have learnt a lot practicing my English to the foreign volunteers. I felt comfortable in that organization as they led me to learn lots of things even though I felt I was not capable to do many things. With their trust, I could gain some more confidence and I pushed myself to do more and more. I become the camp leader for some workcamps in my country and I felt I have improved my English skill a lot. I also knew that the organization also send Indonesian volunteer abroad through LTV program. I wished...one day I could be sent away...one day...I wished to live in different country and experience lots of things. I wanted to do it.. I was about to apply one of the program...but I was in the last semester, and I should finish my study. Moreover, my mother said I had to finish my study first then I could go whenever I want...

Well, finally... there was something I was waiting for...I had a goal to fulfill my dream so I had more power to finish my final project. Yes!! I had to finish it soon!!!

During my time with my final project, I have read the novel Eat, Pray, Love many times.. watched the movie many times… and the movie session in Italy always caught my heart! Something lived in my heart since then... a dream… I WANT TO LIVE IN ITALY SOMEDAY.

I was always telling ‘joke’ to my friends...that “I will live in Italy after graduation”. I could say a joke as it could be impossible for us how to make it come true. Or because they thought I didn’t say it seriously…or they just didn’t take it seriously...that was just a sentence I often said at that time…as I always had a power to finish my study soon. But truly in my heart I often really said “God…please make it come true.”

I often asked to the person I know in my organization... “Will there be any program to Italy in 2012?”
And he always said...”It’s not always... depends if the hosting organization invite us to send EVS volunteer.” I was afraid...if the program to Italy would ever stop!

After some months, finally I was graduated. I was confused whether I should look for a job or gambling to wait the program overseas offered. In my country, it is difficult to get a job if you don’t want to make a contract at least 1 – 3 years working. I thought the best time was before starting my carrier as I was still free and young. I was thinking, I wanted to try at least in 2012.. only in this year.. if I didn’t get a chance...then I would start my carrier.

After one month waiting, finally I have got a news that there was an EVS program to Poland. Even though it was not Italy but it is still in Europe... I wanted to experience living in Europe. The activities in Poland were also interesting. But how about if I was accepted then the program to Italy open???!!
It was confusing... I just didn’t want to regret so I thought some positive and negative things to apply program in Poland. Finally, I chose to try to apply...maybe it would be my path and wished there was no program in Italy. So... I applied and did the interview.

When I was on the bus going back to my hometown.. One message bip on my phone, someone told me “the right man is on the right place”. Seems like he was encouraging me that there would be surprising news. I didn’t know but..Yup... finally.. I checked my email and the announcement was there.. I WAS NOT ACCEPTED IN EVS Poland! Thanks God!
It was pretty strange though why my friend texted me like that... he was a staff in the organization and he knew I was not accepted but he also knew I really want to live in Italy. So after two weeks, I knew the reason. The EVS program in Italy opened!!! Ooh... I was so glad..it was a relief…after some months waiting...I thought my friend knew already about the program in Italy so he was just encouraging me with his text.

In short, I accomplished my dream to do EVS in Italy. LIVING IN ITALY FOR 9 MONTHS!!!
This was my big dream ever in my life until my 22 years old.
I felt alive when I started dreaming to live in this country... I felt excited to continue my life.. I felt excited to live day by day waiting my dream become true...even though I could not see by sight, even though when it felt like there was no hope...I learnt how to hold my dream and learnt to decide my future and take the consequences...I had power to not being afraid when I have met many obstacles on my path... this dream was living in my heart every day and have pushed myself to be not me... to overcome myself.. to not being inactive, to not giving up so soon, to not being afraid, to work harder and to be stronger to achieve my goals!

That was the start of everything, until I really lived in my dream, lived in Italy.

It was both easy and difficult to live in a different country. I was working with the disabled people and I had problem with the language. I had to learn Italian which is for me it was five times more difficult than English. Jesus!!! Ma tranquilla... tutto bene… tutto benissimo cara...
I didn’t have any experience before to work with the disabled and I was quite afraid how it would be. In fact, it was the best project ever in my life. I started to love the disabled people in my project and really enjoy spending time with them. I could feel the sweetness of how they would feel happy when I was around. For them, strangers are interesting and they are happy because they get new friends. It was far better as well when I started understanding Italian. I could see how funny they are. How innocent they are, but then I also know how tricky they could be. They used me when I didn’t understand the language and regulations in the workplace. They will ask more food or more coffee to me which is actually forbidden. We have to educate them and control so they won’t ask more in the future because they cannot control themselves. Some disabled have been addicted with coffee and always try to steal the coffee. Oh… they are really typical Italian, they cannot live without coffee! :D

There was a disabled who is really talkative and always tells his stories (always in a flat intonation even when he imitate someone screaming). We were in the car at that time just two of us, waiting for the others come in. I have said already in the beginning to him to avoid his talkative, “Ho mal di testa, non parla per favore (I am dizzy, don’t speak please)”. Nobody was talking for some minutes. Suddenly he called my name; “Rea…ma posso ridere? (but can I laugh?)”. And I answered, “Perche? (why)”. Then he replied, “Perche… mi piace ridere (because..I like to laugh..).”
I was speechless with his reason and suddenly he was laughing laudly “hahahahaha….”
He became my favorite disabled finally and I like to listen when he was being talkative because I also understand more Italian and his stories always made me giggled. He would talk non sense sometimes.

In the other side, personally, I could truly enjoy the new way of life. The new me. I learnt to not only accepting problems but to solve them, to be more optimistic. I was alone. None of my friend from my country was in Italy. None of my family member was there. I should survive and overcome everything by myself. I should trust myself more. I should be friendlier with myself. I have met the Europeans who like to speak up, to express their feelings and their thoughts easily… to deliver their critics/admonition straightly to the person. It was hard for me. I am an Indonesian; most of Indonesians (In my Island especially, Java Island) are not direct people. We like to keep things in our minds and keep our dislike in our hearts...it is pretty difficult for us to admonish someone or to refuse offering (we will say YES instead of a NO, but our hearts say NO all the time). However, during my stay with the Europeans, I learnt how to be an honest person. It is not ‘rude’ to admonish someone or to say what we do not like, just being honest and try to deliver it in a polite way. I learnt a lot to improve my communication skill here.

It was a unique and enriching experience. I really like how the Italians care about people. The touching…the hugs...I felt warm with it. So different with my country, even though the people in my country are very friendly and hospitable… but touching is uncommon...even hugs among friends. And how often the Italians say “Brava”, “Bravi”, “Bravissimo”, “Benissimo”, “Bellissima”... I really like those words. I felt appreciated, safe, and trusted when they say it to me. In my country, it is also not common to give compliments. I felt that the Indonesians are stiff in expressing their feelings inside. I mean, they have big smile and they laugh a lot. On the appearance you can feel the warmth straightly, but for some case they like to keep feelings inside. However, it is different with Italians. I saw them like cold and individualist (Compare with Indonesians) on the appearance...but I could feel the warmth inside...the warmth that I really miss the most when I come back to my own country.

I think volunteering abroad is a very enriching experience. We do not only learn cultures theoretically but we experience it daily. We will busy serving people but we have a lot of time to know more about ourselves. We have a lot of time to get in touch with locals and understand the new way of life. And once we get back to our home country, we can start thinking differently, to be more open-minded and to appreciate more what we have in our country.

My life has changed.
I am very happy as now I am working in my sending organization. I can continue my dream to work with my passion and be the facilitator to the ones who want to experience the intercultural learning in my country. I wish more people, especially the young generation to get involve in the international voluntary service. A priceless experience that change they way you fulfill your lives.

Fifth Edition

5While closing the 4th edition of Scriptamanent, after the final meeting in Izmir, we are already preparing the new call for the next edition of the project. Stay tuned!

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