The last couple of days had been quite confusing for me. I did not know what to do or what to expect on daily basis. Almost every single day, in the last week or so, spent with only a handful of activity. Running, watching TV shows, doing laundry. Nothing more, could be less. The only “mindful” activity was probably preparing the PPI UK’s Presidential Election and that is all.
It’s currently nine days away from Musyawarah Besar (Mubes) PPI UK; the deliberation forum to select and inaugurate the new President of PPI UK. It’s nine days away from me stepping down from the position I fought for nearly a year ago. The distance that separates me with a “professional tranquility” is merely nine days away. And yet, I am still wandering around, clueless about what I should do today and the day after.
This past year has been a roller coaster ride for me. I had to constantly adjust my focus in both academics and PPI UK. The first semester was a catastrophe. I was struggling to set my feet on both ground, chasing both academic requirements and the demand of the organization. It was all about finding the perfect rhythm and get the best out of both worlds; still with my ambition to at least get a Merit whilst paying an equivalent attention to the early stages of PPI UK.
But then I got lost. When Tolkien tells us the story of not all who wander are lost, well, not for me. I tried my best to stay on track, not wandering around, and yet I lost. Without much realization I started to shift my attention more to the organization rather than chasing my grade. I started to spend more time doing meetings, discussing about PPI UK’s programs, and responding to almost every single criticism rather than reading and highlighting papers and articles. Until finally, at the end of the first semester, I had one failed subject.
I will not lie to you and say that it didn’t shock me; because the fact that it did. I was extremely afraid that LPDP, the institution that generous enough to pay for my study here, will withdraw their scholarship and ask me to reimburse all the fees. Not to mention that I was also afraid with me being labeled as a flop President that fails to set a good example for its constituency. All the negative thoughts linger around my head. I then tried to talk with the representative from my School and they said that I still have a chance to go on with my research agenda as long as in the second semester I got none failed subject. And thankfully, I had none.
During the second semester, I came back even more determined. But I stated to myself that I’m going to take things slowly and absorb them bit by bit. So I started to enjoy the whole process a wee bit more. I began to blend in with how the system works and also pick my pace up for the organization. And I felt pretty good about myself both academically and organizationally.
But the most intriguing part of my life in the last year hasn’t come from my academic experience. Since I experience the academic life all by myself, I could not pick any story that’s worthwhile to be told. But the things I have got from PPI UK are a different story on its own. I met lots of people with different background, different perspectives. I learned a lot from PPI UK not only about organizational management but also about life.
The first time I decided to be a Presidential Candidate for PPI UK, I didn’t even imagine that PPI UK was as big as it is today. I was too naive to see the dynamics hidden behind this lovely organization. I put aside the importance of other collateral organizations such as PERIUK, KIBAR, PERKI, etc. I turned my face away from the fact that PPI UK is not alone and there is the Embassy behind it. I also didn’t yet realized that PPI UK is consists of 35 chapters, each with their own unique characteristics. And now, my eyes are wide open.
PPI UK is that big. Thus, being the President of it brings a great responsibility as well. As Ben Parker, the uncle of Peter Parker in the graphic novel series ‘Spiderman’, says that with great power comes great responsibility, being the President of PPI UK for one year has really taught me a lot about what responsibility really means. For instance, during my term in office, it was projected that there were 3.000 Indonesian students spread across higher education institutions in the UK. Those students ranged from Foundation level to Post-Doctoral level. Can you imagine the responsibility to facilitate no less than three thousand brilliant minds spread throughout this foreign soil?
Realizing such responsibility, my hands are tied in the UK. It means that I have to always be on standby mode here in the UK and be ready whenever there’s an issue coming our way. Visiting PPI branches was my weekly agenda. Replying to messages was my daily routine. Meetings were part of my identity. My life was full of PPI UK and, honestly, sometimes it gets under my skin.
I was also faced with the responsibility to find sources of funding. PPI UK has various ambitious programs that intended to facilitate various kinds of interest from Indonesian students here. PALAPA Project 2015 was rejuvenated to not only accommodate Indonesian students’ business idea, but also to bridge our very own creative industry, Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) into the international market. We need no less than £25.000 to make this happened. ISIC 2015 was organized to gather Indonesian scholars, put together their ideas and solutions for problems faced by Indonesia, and to provide an international network for each of them. We also need no less than £30.000 to organize it. The process of collecting the money was a complete sweat and tears. I even head back to Indonesia just to meet potential sponsors. But God is good for us. He really helped us making all of these happened.
And now here I am, counting down my days to step down as the President of PPI UK. I am currently hoping anxiously that someone will continue our battle to bring PPI UK to a whole new level. There are three candidates that are brave enough to take the challenge on becoming the next President of PPI UK. Each one of them offers a clear idea of what to expect and how they will execute it. And, if I may, I only have one request to each one of them: go forth by using your heart. Why?
I am a man of traditionalism. I believe in hunch, premonition, feelings, you name it. I could somehow feel – not think – about what’s right and wrong. I could definitely sense, especially in this type of race, which candidate is using their heart and which one is using their brain. Which of you are using an altruistic reason, which of you are going after some personal achievements. I am not a saint, I certainly not. I also do not intend to implicitly say that the reason behind my candidacy a year ago was beyond Godlike. I am damaged; I am faulty just as much as everybody else. But one thing I firmly believe is that somehow, someway, the universe has its own mechanism to make the good prevails.
My warmest hug for all PPI UK family members who read this article.