#Cerita 7: A Volunteer Story during U.S. Ambassador Visit
April 15, 2017
Being an alumni of USA program can give you a spark of fame. Well, it’s not that. I’m joking.
One of the impacts of being an alumni is you can get involved in events related with USA in your region. And that’s what I want to tell you about in this post.
Weeks before the Ambassador visit, I got a notification from my friend who is a YSEALI alumni that the U.S. Ambassador would visit Palembang soon. So we were asked to gather all the USA program alumni in South Sumatera. As a response to that, I tried to reach out 3 alumni that I know. They gave good responses and we succeeded collecting data from most of the alumni. Who knows that there are more than dozens of USA program alumni in South Sumatera? Since all you can find here is Pempek (fishcake) hehe.
When the U.S. Ambassador, Joseph R. Donovan, arrived in Palembang, he had a full packed schedule here. The purpose of the visit itself are to strengthen the diplomacy relationship between South Sumatera (SS) and the United States, also to see the preparation of SS as the host of Asian Games 2018. Several of his agendas together with U.S. Consulate in Medan for Sumatera were visited Griya Agung (the official office of the Governor), gave a motivation to SS young athletes, met education leaders, and gave a free lecture for the college students. Among the schedules, I had the chance to be a volunteer in the free lecture event by Sir Joseph R. Donovan on April 5th, 2017 at the Graduate Hall of Sriwijaya University.
One day before the event held, I was asked by Kak Agus Burniat (an Alumni of Youth South East Asia Leader Initiative) to take in charge of a booth in the event. Although he did not know yet specifically which booth that I would be in, I was still excited and said yes. Then he told me that I must came before 7.30 AM to help the event preparation.
Since this is not only a regular lecture, but also related with the country diplomacy, I wore a formal attire on purpose. And I didn’t forget to wear the flag pin which is a special pin for all the USA program alumni. However, when I arrived at the event venue, I was stunned.
My reaction is normal because as an alumni of Unsri, I attended lectures here for numerous times and that was the first time I saw this hall being very well decorated. When you enter the hall, you would feel that you come to a wedding ceremony. There were red carpet, the stage with completed lighting and super nice decoration, and the chairs covered by white fabrics.
The next level preparation also applied for the event security. There were many polices monitoring outside the hall and the participants need to do a security check to enter the building. What more ‘wow’ was the fact that there were many BPOM (Medicine and Food Monitoring Institution) officials who came to make sure the snacks were healthy to be eaten by the ambassador. So I felt I was in a historical korean drama in Joseon era where the servants have to check their king’s food and drink. Hm.
Woke up from the surprise, I then met kak Agus in the hall. It turned out that the other alumni had not arrived yet. Therefore, I observed the situation and took the initiative to get in charge of the registration table. This was because I want to know the background of the participants whether they are from universities or other institutions. In addition, I also want to greet my friends who came to the lecture.
Nevertheless, being a person in charge for the registration table of this event is not as simple as the other events. Since there were 200 invited participants in total, but the number of total participants who came that day was almost reach up to 500 people. As a result, there were two long lines formed outside the hall which became longer lines from time to time. Considering this situation, I and my friend had to close the registration.
After cleaning the registration table, I came in to the hall and it was already full as I expected. So I went to Education USA booth with the other alumni. At this booth, participants can get FREE booklet about USA education, interactive map, pen, notes, magazine and more. The free things like these is very common in American universities. So this recalled my memory when I was in Arkansas last year. I diligently came to campus events because of the free food and merchandise. LOL
Back to the lecture event, Sir Donovan gave a lecture about “The Importance of Protecting Your Environment”. At the stage there were also Sir Anis Saggaf as the rector of Unsri and Sir Alex Noerdin as the Governor of South Sumatera. Such an event with different scale, right?
However, there was one thing that I regret from this event. That was when the committee neglected the most important thing in the lecture event which was the sound system. Since the sound from the speaker was too small, the participants who sat at the back of the hall could not clearly hear what the U.S. Ambassador explained about the lecture.
This inconvenience made the participants went to Education USA booth. Fifteen minutes later, all the merchandise were almost gone taken by the enthusiastic participants. Since the booth became very crowded, then the MC asked the participants to come to the booth only after the lecture would be finished. I hope there will not be a problem for sound systems anymore for further events.
Overall, I am so happy that I could volunteer in this lecture. There are several benefits that I got which are:
Building a good relationship with other alumni
In this event I met with the alumni from YSEALI, AFS-YES, and other program as well. They are humble and energetic. There are some of them who are working and already a senior lecturer in universities. Hopefully this new relation could bring benefits for all of us, both individually and professionally.
The formation of South Sumatera American Program Alumni (SS-AAA)
Realizing that there are dozens of USA program alumni in South Sumatera, then kak Agus, I, and several other alumni took the initiative to revive the alumni association. The purpose itself is to make all the alumni and future alumni will be able to socialize each other. Consequently, after the event had finished, we continued to discuss this plan while having lunch together.
At the night, we directly made a WhatsApp group for SS-AAA. One by one alumni started to join the group. This group is lead by Prof. Diemroh Ihsan, the senior lecture in FKIP Sriwijaya University. Later on, I found out that one of my high school teacher also joined the group. He is Sir Arfani (I am sorry I forget which program he participated).
The current members already planned to make a program to assist Palembang citizen who want to study in the U.S. through an English Discussion Forum. Wait for our upcoming programs soon!
There are more people who read my writings
After the completion of the free lecture event, some of the alumni still stayed in the hall discussing with participant who still have questions. Among those participants in the hall, there were two people from the media. Then kak Agus trust me to make the press release of today’s event to be given to the media. What a chance to polish my writing skill!
I had finished the press release draft at the night. Unfortunately, the embassy did not allow us to give the press release to anyone except the reporter attend the event theirselves. However, I got the permission to publish my own article since I participated in the event. You can read the article in Bahasa on Indonesiabanget.net. Alhamdulillah, one of the alumni shared my article to SS-AAA group. I hope they would continue to read my further articles.
Revitalize the spirit that once dim
I have always been dreaming to continue to graduate school, going back to the U.S.. Nevertheless, my spirit has been cloudy these days since I keep receiving rejection and failures. This condition was worsen because I saw my friends have already moving into the different phase in life: work and marriage. Frankly speaking, their happiness which spread on social media has unconsciously intimidated me without I knowing. Since everyone looks moving so fast but I am here still at the same place. I started to question myself about it.
Until I finally could revitalize my spirit after I met the alumni in this event. They made me remember that I have the right to be proud of myself. I have my own values and everyone has their own time to shine. One of them gave me an advice
“Keep trying until the failures 'stock' is out, so there is only success that will come to you!”
In addition, looking at the participants’ enthusiasm also commemorated my spirit when I was still an undergraduate student. If I could give my best back then, why not now?
In closing, you can contact me to arrange an event together with SS-AAA related to USA Education and else. See you on the next post!
Kak = Indonesian nickname that you use to call an older brother/ boy friend