Did It All Really Start from Us?

I’m one of those weird people who put too much attention on the first sentence of every writing piece, because I always believe that first sentences determine everything that follows. People might quickly decide not to go on to your second sentence, for example, or they might get twice excited just because of your first sentence. That is possibly why, most of the time I spend on typing down a post is wasted on its mere first sentence.

However, the same tenets are not evident in the case of Indonesian Future Leaders. Our first sentence–first step–I should say, was not convincing, it was rather pragmatic, naive, and stupid. We, the 7 co-founders, were simply college students at their young age of 16-17(ish) who seized the opportunity to take part in a movement–any movement would not matter at that time. Looking back, it looks like (quoting Steve Jobs in his commencement speech) now the dots start to connect and the patterns seem like they were there all this time. We are what we are now. We made mistakes, we learned, and we tried to be the men of our own words. We are bigger than we expected we might have been.


I would not care to go with the statistics (number beneficiaries and bla bla bla you can simply download the annual report here), but I severely need the world to know about several sweet paradoxes that this amazing organization has:

1. It is a workplace, yet a home.

More than a half of what we’ve been doing for the last two years was white-collar kind of job. We sat in front of our laptops, created documents on this and that, printed this and that, visited school A, B, and C, taught a number of less privileged kids, phoned many important stakeholders, as well as traveled here and there, constantly on a 24/7 professional pressure kind of atmosphere.That’s unmistakably true. But then again, I never really feel like I’m working. These people, we share some sort of similar frequency–laughed at the same jokes, shouted the same joy, and cheered on the same dreams–what more can you ask from a family? That is perfectly why, it is simply hard for me to picture a future without Indonesian Future Leaders in it. That is also why, despite the fact that I’ve been trying to mitigate the number of masochistic organizations I’m having on my plate, it will never be an option. It is a fate, one of the best decisions I’ve ever made in life.

2. It is tiring (more of exhausting), yet a source of happiness.

I wouldn’t want to lie, saying say that it’s completely fun to be a staff of Indonesian Future Leaders. Nobody would dare to be that mean to you, I suppose. So at this point, I have to say that the organization is not a place for those who seek for pretentious titles or acknowledgements and have cool namecards. It is a place for those who seek for knowledge and one-of-a-kind experience, who seek for field-based skills and contagious spirit from one another, in return of contributing most of your energy. It is tiring, yet it is a source of happiness indeed, a melting pot where desperation somehow can’t beat you in any kind of battle, because in the end you will have endless supply of energy from these people.

3. It started with a hypocrisy, yet ended with the most sincere smile I’ve ever seen.

Some people say, repeat a lie, it will become a truth one day. I think that’s what happened to this exceptional youth community. In a very positive manner, of course. (Though Iman would insist that: “It’s never a lie, Fu, never, it was an intention!”) I think we constructed our very own, personal, subjective truth–which was an ‘intended lie’–but now, to some extent, we actually did it. We professed in pride that ‘it all starts from us’, and come to think of it today, it plausibly did! Come to think of it… we might actually have initiated several great projects, acted and engaged an exceptional number of youth, shared numerous stories, and inspired quite a number of youth movements along the way! The huge, abstract lie, ladies and gentlemen, is on its way, coming to a shape. An objective, accountable shape, hopefully.

Of course, we still have a very, very long way to go. I might have repeated this over and over in my tweets, but seriously: Indonesian Future Leaders is a home to which I can honestly say that I belong to. To which I can effortlessly come back when the world stands against me, saying that things are impossible. It always remains there, as a comforting home. To which I can look for heartwarming people with their own, unique ideas and limitless spirit. To which we can one day proclaim that it really, really all starts from us.

Happy 2nd anniversary, Indonesian Future Leaders dear.


A Little Bit of This and That

Within the past weeks, I’ve been forbidding myself from blogging inasmuch as it forced me to bear the guilt of ‘wasting’, if not ‘sparing’ extra time to open Posterous and type some crap down while there’s a quite long to-do-list on my wall. However, there was a big flaw in the whole concept: I did not realize that blogging per se is a therapy that helps me get through all the mess. So if you don’t mind, let me pop all these bubbles of thoughts in my head so that I can get back on feet immediately. You can just skip this post if you feel that personal ramblings is immature and does not benefit you at any point.

For the record, I cut my surprisingly long, boring hair. It was Dan Brown who inspired me. Not through his fictional character Robert Langdon, but a simple sentence in one of his thrilling novels (I practically forgot which–and what were the exact words):

“A spiritual transformation is best begun with a physical one.”

I guess I needed a spiritual change, a more balanced chakra. I thought that the hair, in a way, held me back from looking forward, or simply moving on. Hence, I cut it. Yet I was wrong.

As it turned out, I failed to really see such a reckless decision as an achievement. Worse, I’m currently mourning over what I’ve done. I needed the hair. I loved it. Come to think of it, she–the hair–was one of the tiny bits that form my pride. The hair made me feel that I am female. I could perceive myself as one of those uncanny women who, regardless of how severely workaholic they are, managed to grow such a beautiful feature. Now that she’s gone, I have nothing left–nothing physical, to be happy of. The feeling is similar to what a queen might feel as she lost her crown. She’s still completely the same person, but there’s a part of her that’s not there.

I keep telling myself that it doesn’t matter, nobody really cares about it anyway, but apparently it does. I’m so devastated that if a time machine really exists, I would sacrifice meeting Socrates in return of 5 minutes to stop myself from going to have a haircut that day. Err. Wait. Not really.


My next minor announcement is, as you might have got fed up of me mentioning it on Twitter over and over again: I lost my voice. (Or should I put it as: I’ve been losing my voice?) Literally. No, well, hyperbolically. I can still speak, the kind of speak that normal crowd would consider as ‘whisper’, but yes people can still get my points in a discussion. On the bright side, I started to realize that human is over-blessed with many alternative means of communication: email, messengers, you name it.

Now if you allow me to get to the main chunk, you might want to know that THIS SEMESTER IS SERIOUSLY BRAINGASMIC! I mean, we actually learn on the phylosophical level on how identity shaped the world, or how those great strategists’ thoughts evolve from time to time. To put additional exciting themes to the pile, we’ll be having clashes of ideas (read: debates) on United States’ foreign policies, textual studies on ASEAN legal documents, site visits to established non-governmental organizations, and I simply can not stop.

I wish everyone a very nice academic semester, too!

P.S. I think one of the biggest issues in bahasa Indonesia is the presumption of wisdom in ‘policy’, i.e. ‘kebijakan‘. I think the government, especially in this far-from-accomplishing country, makes mistakes just as much as their people do.

Unless You’re a Book Fan, No Need to Read This

In the end, what I’m going to elaborate in the following paragraphs will come down to a single sentence: if you read (buy) more than 23 books per year, ebook reader is a more environmentally-responsible option.
So grab one.


[Disclaimer: ‘e-book’ is the appropriate spelling at the status quo while ‘ebook’ (without dash) is just my own attempt to make people accept it as an intact word and not an abbreviated phrase (from electronic book).]

As most of you might have realized, these days there’s a plethora of choices when it comes to ebook readers: Nook, The Kindle and iPad are several examples. Ebook readers are sexy, sleek, and they serve tremendous environmental benefit through a global surge of paperless reading. Let’s start with a couple of dazzling facts before you argue about how printed books are more convinient:

  1. The U.S. publishing industry consumes 16 million tons of paper to produce 2 billion books and it results in 32 million fallen trees annually.
  2. For every printed book you have on your shelf, you’ve produced
    4 kg of CO2 during its production process. In total, publishing companies emit over 44 million tons of CO2/year (that’s like 7,3 million cars)!
  3. Throughout Amazon and iTunes ebook sales, lives of
    1,267,200 trees were saved in 2010.
  4. Reading printed New York Times everyday means triggering the production of 700 kg CO2/year. On the average reading speed, having it online/on ebook readers will reduce the evil number to 10 kg.
  5. Directly comparing, printed books consume 3x more raw materials and 7x more water for production than paperless books.
  6. If every book bought in U.S. and Canada was digital, 49,6 million trees, 1,2 million tons of CO2, and emission from 193,000 cars
    could be saved each year.
  7. Other than trees, adopting paperless reading as a lifestyle also means saving energy during paper production, printing, book-binding, packaging materials, disposal, as well as recycling.

Some of my friends rebut this perspective by saying that ebook readers also consume certain amount of energy for its production and the reading process itself. I don’t deny such reality. Instead, I thenceforth strongly urge those who read less than 23 books per year to not buy ebook readers at all. There’s a mathematical explanation beyond that number yet unfortunately I’m not an expert who can elucidate further.

If there’s only one principle you need to uphold in being a paperless-reading supporter, it’s the fact that electronic devices will always evolve to the direction of energy-efficiency. 100 Watt light bulbs are now replaced by 27 Watt compact fluorescent lamps; so are our televisions and fridges. I believe that ebook readers will also get more and more energy efficient, while paper production will always cut trees and thus waste too much.

Printed books are indeed indispensable. However, we need to categorize ourselves (as readers) and figure out the most suitable reading-style for each of us. Those living in remote areas without electricity or employees who hardly go to bookstores do not need ebook readers. Students or book fans, on the other side, can help reduce environmental damage by start buying one.
With a price range of 130-250$, an ebook reader might be your lifetime’s best investation.

More and more people are becoming aware of the crucial importance of paperless readings. Since 2010, ebook sales are continually growing to 112% increase of trade from 2009. Even my most favorite female author, J. K. Rowling, has joined the campaign through her very own http://pottermore.com.

There’s a huge difference between being classic and conservative.
You can save a lot from converting to ebooks.

“It is my view you can’t hold back progress. Ebooks are here, they are here to stay. Personally I love printed paper, but very very recently, later than a lot of people because I’m not very technologically adept, in fact it was this year for the first time that I downloaded ebooks. And it’s miraculous, for travel and for children particularly, to carry around a thousand books in your pocket on a small device is an extraordinary thing, so I feel great about taking Harry Potter into this new medium. But I still love a printed paper book; I think you can enjoy both.” –J. K. Rowling