By Sheilla Njoto
“When I see things from the present, life seems like a maze of doors. One door closed, another one opens up for you, and another one, and another one. But when I look back, it all happened for a reason—choices that I made and what I ended up doing.” he smiled.
Let me tell you a story about a guy I know. Let’s call him John.
Wearing his ripped red shorts and dirty white shirt as his primary school uniform, John got up, ate up half a plate of rice with sweet soy sauce on top and a traditional garlic cracker for his breakfast.
“If I could have half a fried egg on top of my rice, it would be the highlight of my week” he said.
As always, he would eat up alone. His oldest sister and second brother were away for work and his first brother was in Bandung for college. John's mum was rarely home, traveling back and forth for work to Mojosari, a little town that was a 3-hour bus ride away. Meanwhile his father slept the whole day and gambled the whole night.
“You know those trucks in the CBD with those little kids secretly climbing up the trucks from behind and shouting excitedly just because it’s fun? I used to be one of them.” he added.
His school wasn’t too far away so he walked. Sometimes he would meet his classmate along the way and walk together.
No, he never had books with him because he could not afford one. All the things he had in his mended bag were found somewhere in the corner of his classroom.
He didn’t mind.
“I remember how embarrassed I was when I was a kid when a friend invited me to their birthday lunch because my school uniform was the best outfit I had.” he chuckled.
He was supposed to finish grade 5, but his marks were so poor that he couldn’t move up to grade 6. Usually, when his mum came back to Surabaya, she would spank him and lock him up in the bathroom because he did so poorly at school. This time was different—he was actually failing. His mum begged the principal of the school to let him have a month of probation in grade 6 and see if he could continue.
Afraid of disappointing his mum, John elevated his grades exponentially and started being involved in school extracurricular activities, including basketball.
This was the starting point of his journey. In high school, he was recruited in a basketball club and he started playing nationally. He became a national basketballer. For this reason, he could still continue his high school despite his financial issues because he attained a scholarship by working with the club. As a consequence, he had to juggle with school and travel intercity and inter-province all the time.
After he graduated, he started dating a lady he met at high school.
“The first time I saw her was when we had mixed-class exam. Her cheeks were very rose pink. I was there and I was wondering how could someone be as beautiful.”
Planning to marry her, he needed a decent job in order to support his future little family. He started working as a labour worker at a textile company. A couple of years after, he was promoted as the cashier. And a while later, a salesman.
Having to juggle between basketball, relationship commitment and work, he needed to rethink his decision. He left basketball for good.
When he was 25, he married his wife. Ten years after, he provided his director with a business proposal to be partners in building a new textile company. He approved. Now he’s a co-founder and owner of 13-branch textile company around Java.
John is my dad. His real name is Anton.
Every once in a while he would talk to me and say, “what are you most grateful for in life?”. What is it, indeed?
Any other day he would tear up thinking on his own—with all that he has had now, why can’t he be completely content with himself?
“I remember when my happiness was only playing in puddles with my friend and taking a bar of soap and running outside naked when it was raining so I could wash myself in the rain.” he said. “Who would have known a silly kid like that can teach me something greater than what I know now—joy and gratefulness.”
When do we ever feel enough? Contentment and thankfulness. With these can we start to receive by giving instead of demanding to receive and receive.
How many people out there who are down to do anything to be in our place? To have good education? A loaf of bread with peanut butter and jam? I even have a relative who teared up smiling when she touched my iPhone for the first time.
I once asked my dad, “papa, what can I do to be as successful as you?” He laughed and said, “What is success to you?”
In that moment I realised--isn’t success about being content and being grateful? And being grateful leads you to do your best because you know that’s the least thing you can do to express that? And what you achieve is only the fruit of it and not the other way around.
What have we really done as a contribution of our own thankfulness of what we have had so far? It’s too easy to think that it’s only us and we don’t have enough to give.
Since people love numbers, I will close with this:
According to Social Policy Research Centre (2016), Australia's poverty line for a single adult was $426.30 per week. That's way above the internationally accepted poverty line of about $2 per day. Even with this high of a poverty line, only about 13.3% of the population were living under the line.
According to Asian Development Bank (2015), Indonesia's poverty line, based on its government, for a single adult was USD 25 per month, that's about 82 cents per day. When that line was used, about 11% were living in poverty. If the internationally accepted poverty line of $2 per day had been used, 40% of the population would have been living under the line.
“If you ever had the chance, go. Go and try wearing their shoes. Try walking their walk. See how they think when you ask these little kids what they wanted to be in the future and they answered back ‘I want to be a president but—it’s impossible’ and laughed at their own dream. Then you will appreciate your place.”
We often think we give to give but we end up receiving. We often think we teach to teach but we end up learning.
Asian Development Bank 2015, “Summary of Indonesia’s Poverty Analysis”, ADB Papers on Indonesia, No. 4, October, Philippines.
Social Policy Research Centre 2016, Poverty in Australia 2016, Australian Council of Social Service, Strawberry Hills, Australia.
By Andrean Kristof
Everything good in life is all about process and patience. Thank God I have this amazing opportunity to do an intern at a big tyre manufacture in Hannover therefore, please allow me to share a few things I've learned because nothing good should be kept alone.
On the first week of my intern days, we didn't had even a single chance to do work. We were given a bunch loads of reading items of literally everything in detail. From how to count alcohol contain in blood and level of distortion caused, manuals of every single machinery that we will operate, to how to perform a first aid in emergency. This taught me real hard on doing the right things exactly correct.
We repeat over our work for at least 3 times per stage because they do not tolerate flaw on our work. Our works are done according to the DIN Metal standards and that means our margin of error is by 0,5 mm. Even then, our instructor said that it was a very huge tolerance. At first I was to desperate to follow this standard because there was no way one could shape raw metal even using electric saw or sophisticated drilling machine to be something real precise. But again, time does its work. Slowly I got myself used to the rhythm of getting the "feeling". Now I can shape a rounded item using only metal hand graver perfectly (see picture). This time, I learnt that to master something, one should learn slow and willing to be processed, even if the process is painful. Nothing instant is good.
When being asked on guidance, seniors would gladly show us how to perform the work in a detailed manner. Although they are more experienced, I felt no "seniority" at all. I'm flattered on how Germans respect each other even to their juniors. Every single day, before the day start, instructors would came out and shake our hand and greet us one by one. Although it seems like it's just a normal thing to do in life, greeting people, but never before in my life have I ever known instructors, no matter how senior they are, respect a nobody like me. One of the reading item from the first week is about respect. It is clearly stated that everybody is equal and should be respected evenly. There is also the German law regulating this matter. From this I learnt to respect everybody regardless who they are and who you are.
Although I've been there less than a month, I have never seen someone coming late to work. I knew that punctuality is a serious thing in Germany, things like train would come on the exact minute as it is in schedule, but i never anticipated this level of punctuality. We have two break times each day, colleagues never pack their stuff five minutes before break time they are always on full working pace. They do not exploit time on doing personal things like playing handphone or even talking personal to other colleagues, this is simply fascinating. I do not know where this culture came from but they are very very serious with integrity. By the minute work should start to the minute of break to the minute work should end, they are working on full pace. This amazes me everyday I go to work.
It is not a secret that German cars, machinery, and beers are perhaps the best in the world. Throughout my time living in Germany, I am confident to sum up that these thing I’ve shared above are the secret ingredients. These secrets may theoretically be simple, but believe me, it is hard to change one’s imprinted cultures and norms. But I believe it would worth to try to be “Germans”. I myself am struggling real hard to alter myself. On this post, i share about the situations in work, maybe next time i may share about the culture in day to day life. I hope this post may bring something good for you, and for me. Prost!
We have different pairs of shoes but we'll let you borrow them!