CWY Series 3 – Cross Cultural Understanding: Begins!

Previous Series: CWY Series 2 – Montreal Drama

# # #

I hung out around fancy airports lately. It was really exhausting, but the excitement beat every negative feeling. And I really did not appreciate the complicated-ness of this travel. It looked organized but somehow I did not feel comfortable. And if you ask me why, I would not say anymore statement. I also could not decide which was more annoying: the jet lag or the cold – I was born and raised in equator city, what do you expect?

No automatic alt text available.

I walked slowly behind my friends on purpose because I wanted to see around as half of my mind was still inside the plane. This airport right here, was not as fancy as the previous two these past two days. My Canada Air flight from Montreal to Halifax had only two stewardesses. One stewardess dressed like a real one; wearing that dress you saw from TV and all smiley.  While the other one, who was really unfriendly, wore glasses and dressed like she was about to do morning run with the body type that you would never find in any Indonesian flights. I did not know whether this country was too tolerance or my country was just appreciating beauty more for the sake of passenger’s comfort. And what I meant by beauty was of course a friendly personality. I wasn’t talking about beauty through body type at all, because just two seconds ago, I walked pass a body-sized mirror and saw beauty in a freezing 98kg flesh, blood, and fat (n) Homo sapiens.

The exit door was already behind me, bunch of kids were smiling while holding “Welcome to Canada” signages. People shook each other’s hands and introduced themselves. I did not usually approach people first which gave me no reason why I should start that time. I saw a blond girl with glasses whom I also saw on the plane. She smiled and “Hi” me.

“Were you also on the plane with us?” I replied. Frederique was indeed on the plane but was just too shy to introduce herself as part of our group. I met and introduced myself to several people after.

Someone yelled “Timbits, anyone?” and walked around while holding a box of Tim Horton’s timbit, something that looked like a sugary donut hole. I didn’t feel like I wanted a bite of timbit nor embarrassed myself when another person yelled about the last thing I wanted to hear at that very moment – an important moment when a perfect impression was what matter the most.

“So guys, we have this very special dance that we always do to keep our spirits high!” That was Amelia who initiated an interesting dance called G-O-O-D-J-O-B for public to either enjoy or laugh at. I enjoyed crazy things in some occasions but randomly performed that particular dance in front of people we were about to live with for the next 6 months was a bit immature, I could say. Who didn’t love Amelia!

“Hi, I am Louis, nice to meet you” someone talked to me right when a big bus driver told us to pay attention as he had an announcement. Most Canadians looked really fancy with long sleeved shirt

“Hello, I am Feby, nice to meet you too!” I could not decide in which accent I should speak. I was really good with accent but I would not want people think I was weird to speak in British accent in North America.

The driver had finished explaining as we were lining to get inside the bus. I sat next to Felix, a tall boy from Quebec City who was really quite. He told me the committee of CWY told them to dress up a bit because the Indonesian might wear that famous attire of theirs, which was why Felix wore a formal shirt with a tie. That Canadian road was really neat; there was no hole on the street and the 1-2 hours long ride was decorated by trees on every side of the road. Felix said that it was technically still summer, so all leaves were still on their branches.

I still could remember clearly how things smelled. I was in a room with 3 floral-pattern-sheeted beds, with 2 chocolate balls below our each name that was written on an orange paper. Someone mistakenly thought that Laksmi was a boy because I saw her name on the bed that was nearest to the door. While on the other side of the room, Felix was unpacking his stuffs from a very large luggage. They put us in the same convenient room on the upper floor of the house. The bathroom was also big, and I could see pretty much everything around the area of the camp.

No automatic alt text available.

This whole area of Tatamagouche Learning Centre was so huge. They had the main building where every activity basically happened: dining hall, recreation room, library, chapel, and offices, that was surrounded by smaller houses for bedrooms with also living rooms inside them. Beside buildings, the area had a massive field of beautiful grass that you could roll your body onto for days, a really large lake where you could go canoeing, and small forest where we usually had our bonfire. That whole scenery was the view that I usually just saw on movies, but it was real at that time.

No automatic alt text available.

The boys of Charlottetown and Truro were placed in this old big house called the Campbell House. Louis, Thomas, and Anggoro were all in a smaller room right beside ours. We walked down the stairs together and headed to the main building for our very first meeting. The six Project Supervisors were all there to greet us as we needed to stand in a giant circle so that everyone could see everyone.

Image may contain: one or more people, grass, tree, child, sky, outdoor and nature

“We need you to mention 2 things about the place where you’re from” Said Suzanna, Truro-Sei Gohong project supervisor explained the activity as the introduction of our diversity of origins and backgrounds. Gillian and Dini high-fived each other when they just realized that they both wore Harvard University sweater as the first person started mentioning things about their city. Renata said “12 million populations” to describe Jakarta, Aryo said “City of hundred rivers” about Banjarmasin, and I said “Equator” to inform about Pontianak.

The introduction game was fun but I was having a jet lag. I fell asleep several time when the Director of the learning centre explained about the house rules. We continued to have supper which took place at the big dining hall at 5 PM. Yes, freaking 5 PM. The room had several circle tables for people to sit around. I didn’t know where to sit as friends whom I liked to gossip with like Renata, Mayfree, Reyska, and Meilia were busy with their group. I guess every time from that moment, was supposed to be the time that we had to know our own group better. We didn’t know our counterparts yet and I needed to know which person should I share bedroom with for the next 6 months.

“Do you Canadians always have supper this early?” I asked, with an inside battle of which accent should I use. I was in this table with mix of Canadians and Indonesians from my group, including Kim our Canadian project supervisor.

“Well, closer to winter, the daytime is also getting shorter. Some people consider 5 PM as also early time for supper. 6 or 7 PM are usually the more normal time.” Said a Canadian I could not remember.

That made more sense, it was not even really dark outside. There were these huge windows sized as big as the dining hall’s wall where you could see everything outside, the hilly grass field and the lake. They also had this wooden benches right outside the doors where we usually used for breakfast as the weather were really nice.

Image may contain: one or more people, people sitting, people eating, table, food and indoor

We had this fried rice with sunny side egg for supper. I didn’t really like the taste, they put beans with the rice and that made the taste a bit interesting. I finished eating and had several conversations with some people before I decided that I was tired enough and needed some sleep. The next 3 days would be full of trainings during the daytime before we left for our each community.

The first meeting that morning was with Francois Tardiff, the CWY Program Director of Maritime Area. The Indonesian were showing that famous Saman Dance as an opening where Sudiani had a bit of an incident of losing one buttons of her pants, things that made me and Amelia laughed for days when we heard the story. Sorry, Sud but that was funny!

No automatic alt text available.

Francois was explaining about the general rules of the program, things that we basically were already informed during our 2 weeks of Pre-Departure Training. But he explained it in more casual-not intimidating way. After the session, he divided us into several group to make a skit about each points of the CWY rules during the program – in which I later was infamously well-known as the boy who funnily pronounced the word “Answer”. The sessions were really needed for us so that we understood certain important things to stay away from trouble, and not get kicked out of the program especially in the first few weeks.

No automatic alt text available.

Later in the afternoon, we were finally divided into meetings with our group only. The Charlottetown-Cikandang group was in the ‘common room’ of the building where 20 of us, including the supervisors would have more focused training sessions of program’s objectives and characteristics with one facilitator. Kristin, our group’s facilitator was a friendly, smart looking middle-age woman that apparently knew lots of thing about Indonesia. She’s been to Indonesia, became a facilitator of CWY-Indonesian program for several times before, and her Batik perfectly suited her easy-going personality.

She wanted an Indonesian interpreter from the group, thing I thought really unnecessary as all the Indonesians spoke English, but she insisted as she wanted to make sure that everyone could clearly understand of what was actually happening in the conversation. And of course, again, everyone asked me to be that interpreter.

Image may contain: one or more people, people sitting and indoor

“Tell us something that we all didn’t know about you before” Kristin asked everyone

“I am used to speak in British accent, as many of my Indonesian fellows might have known. But I am afraid that everyone will think that I am weird, as a non-native speaker to speak in British accent in North America.” I answered.

Many people looked interested. “Can you please show us!” Someone asked.

“I can’t, that feels weird if someone asks me so.” I replied.

“Man, you just said ‘I can’t’ in a non-North American accent.” Someone told

Everything felt mixed-up. It was hard to omit my obsession of Spice Girls, Harry Potter, and Keira Knightley for an instant first week of adjustment eventough I regularly watched Gossip Girl and Mean Girls was still one of my most favourite movies.

We were back to more discussions and fun-task. Kristin explained that we were in this honeymoon phase where everything still felt exciting. But soon later in the program, especially when we would be in the community, that phase would just change in several cases when we interacted more with a lot of components in the program: Counterparts, host families, people from the group, work placement, and the community itself.

No automatic alt text available.

“We all come from different places with different cultures and common practice, and adjusting ourselves into certain group of people in a short time can be really challenging, and of course it’s really normal to have those challenges.” Kristin explained.

“The way we interact, the way we think, even the way we eat can be different. And this program is designed to achieve cross cultural understanding. We all come here to learn and share and combine those differences into one unified message: to be the youth leaders of the world.” She added.

“Let’s have a little activity to show how 1 thing can be reflected differently in all of you.” She asked us to stand up in one area and asked a case: “One evening, you are in the passenger seat while your friend is driving. All of a sudden, your friend hit someone on the road but your friend just continued driving without helping the victim. As a friend, will you report him/her to the police of hitting someone on the road, or you’ll just protect your friend? Those who’ll go to the police please make a group on my right, and those who won’t, make a group on my left.”

I suddenly remembered my friends back in Pontianak. I have this clique consisted of 8 persons and were really closed during our 4 years in University together. We just graduated together literally a month before my departure to Canada. We indeed had been in a similar situation when we hit our lecturer’s car in the campus parking area, but this case that included police was a whole new level of friendship-test. I loved them and a 21-year-old me chose to move to Kristin’s left area.

The group was divided equally, each group also consisted of fair mix of Canadian and Indonesian – which indicated this case obviously had nothing to do with nationality and culture.

“Now I am going to add a new fact to the case. What if later on you find out that the victim had a terrible injury that was caused by the accident, and unfortunately the victim can’t do any activities for a long time meanwhile he/she is the only working person in the family?” Kristin added.

That scared me. I felt confused and I thought that the accident would have been my fault as well. The only way my friend would drive irresponsibly was just because I would have let them to do so. Several people moved to the right but no one from the right group moved to the left. I was in doubt until I decided to stay in my place. There were very few people stayed in that group, including the blonde short-haired Gillian with the nose ring.

I told her that time: “You and I should be best friend!”

Advertisements

Being Single

 

The accuracy of her words is mindblowing!

People need to understand that there are just some people who choose their life path differently other than what society demands. When someone is single, everyone will easily judge and say inappropriate things like “Maybe she needs to loose some weight”, “He needs to get a better job to afford a relationship”, “She’s too brilliant, boys will be intimidated”, “He’s gay”, “She was divorced, no one wants a widow with kids”, “He’s not that good looking but too picky!” etc.

Why is it when someone is single, that means that he/she isn’t ‘chosen’? Why is it necessary to fabricate a bad sentiment to victimize some people with different values and probably unpleasant past experiences? Not all single people are desperate because there’s no offer on the table. Most of the times, they are the tables.

“Most single people understand the importance of protecting their good energy” – Michelle Obama

 

CWY Series 2 – Montreal Drama

Previous Series: CWY Series 1 – The Day It All Started

# # #

Pontianak was just a regular city in a regular country. Our city was not really well known for many of ignorant Indonesians as we live in western part of Borneo. People were actually thinking that we still lived in a jungle and dealt with cannibalism in our regular days just because we lived in an island that used to have the one biggest area of forests to contribute oxygen.

As most of the forests had disappeared, what could we do other than finally moved on and lived in an actual solid house? We lived in an actual neighborhood that made us feel bad to eat each other so we did not have much choice but to eat an actual ‘normal’ food as everyone else usually had. We also went to school to catch up with other cities, kept us civilized enough to run technology for our necessity, such as going around to places with modern vehicles. Like what I usually had every other day.

I usually drove scooter in Pontianak always-sunny-day, sunny because the equator line was just literally above our heads. The heat usually sneaked up underneath our clothes right into the skin, daytime could be annoying, but night time was supposed to be comfortably warm. Unlike that night when I almost froze to death!

I still remember that night when we had a big group discussion, a month before our departure during the medical check-up, about stuffs we should or should not bring all the way from home. Some people have had experienced the North American life and they were more than happy to share thing like “just bring your own shampoo, it’s gonna be expensive if you buy it there”, or “you might want to bring some instant Indonesian spices and noodles, just in case you miss them”, and even “don’t buy any winter coat from home, we will be able to just buy them right when we arrive at the thrift store.” And as a kind-loving-sincere person who trusted his friends no matter what, of course I followed what they said.

But then I wanted to choke them all to death if only I could even move my hand. We just got off the bus that charged us CAD 8 from the airport area to downtown Montreal and I just wore a hoodie that obviously was not enough. That was around 9PM and I missed Pontianak’s weather already. “Where’s that freaking thrift store you said I could buy my winter coat!” I yelled at my friends as the frozen breath came out from my mouth. They were laughing as I was shaking. Fairuz, the girl from Aceh was kind enough to give me her scarf as like it would help. I took her scarf and put it around my neck, nothing really changed but at least I know I could rely on her.

I was not the only one who struggled, though. Azis’ face was red and he just kept silent following everyone everywhere. We walked towards the we-just-followed-our-heart direction until we found a cool church which might look like a regular pretty building for the locals but we have never seen any glorious, strong, and magical landmark like that with our own eyes at our home town. And of course, fancy things like that would always be a picture time.

We actually had fun in the downtown as I always loved classical things and the city was beyond beautiful. We had a little jog to keep ourselves warm and kept walking like we were so thirsty of great visuals. The jet lag helped, though. It was day time back in Indonesia and we were such a group of mature young people who would never sleep during our biological-day-time.

We arrived at such a huge park in the middle of the city. I could not remember, actually did not care, but all of a sudden someone was yelling “Maple leaf!”. And like a group of sheep, people were following that bitch to run for a maple leaf picking. That was the end of summer (I know, it was weirdly freezing already) and people said that it was one of the best times to collect some leaves as some of them would have had turned beautifully red, just like the one at the center of Canadian flag.

The park was full of dropped maple leaves and I did not understand why they would be crazy to fight over the best leaf instead of enjoying the moment first. I remembered that day when I was at the second grade. I just went home from school and saw a music video on TV by Spice Girls called 2 Become 1 that took place in New York City but my Mama mistakenly told me that it was in London because she knew that The Spice Girls were from England. I did not know that the song was about sex but I always wanted to visit London right after that. And that Montreal downtown kinda looked like that. I saw big beautiful classical building around, stood right at a giant neat city park, and white people were everywhere crossing the street in the cold night. I still regretted that I did not have the coat and the boots just like what Ginger Spice had in the music video, but that was still a beautiful moment to enjoy.

I still could not remember who but someone handed me a single maple leaf to take a picture with. I took and posed with it with my super red cheeks. We ended up taking a group picture where we put a single leaf in front of our each foot in a perfect circle shape, just like my face. It was a cool pic to post on social media before it became cheesy when you look at it now.

“Kak Asni, I really need something warm, or else I will start to breathe ice!” I said with a constant shake all over my body.

“Yeah, let’s find something to drink.” She said. She looked cold too. The last time she came to Canada was 5 years ago in British Colombia where the area wasn’t as cold as Quebec.

“Where?” I replied

“You probably can ask those people over there” She pointed at a bench where some people were sitting and laughing.

I knew she thought I had the best English in the group so it would be easy for me to speak with the locals. And that’s true, everyone’s English might be great but mine was always greater. I walked toward the bench and I saw a lady with 5-6 men having a funny conversation as they laughed a lot. All of them were really attractive.

“Excuse me, can I ask something? Do you know where I can get a hot chocolate?” I asked them with my best accent possible. I was always proud of my perfect accent.

Some of them were grinning right after I said that. Some started laughing and looked at each other until someone started replying me

“Oh jeez, are you a hooker?”

Oh no you dirty bitch, you did not just say that to my face! And my face got even redder.

“Kid, don’t be a hooker, go back home and sleep.” And they were all laughing.

These people were completely drunk, I mean, why wouldn’t I realized that since the beginning? And they don’t speak in French accent which made me assuming that they weren’t locals. They kept going on with their hooker jokes and for some reasons I did not move. It happened for about a minute until the only lady there felt pity about this big Asian kid and stood up.

“Stop it, guys. That’s not funny!” She told her friends as she walked towards me.

She looked nice and totally sober. She apologized on behalf of her friends, took me to the side, and asked me where I was from. I explained to her that I was from Indonesia with a group of freezing friends while we could totally still hear the drunken men cheering in the background.

Her name was Kim and I took her to the group. Kim told us that they were also visiting Montreal from Ontario and she insisted to take us to nearby Tim Horton’s by herself, maybe because she felt bad that her friends were being total assholes. Thanks for helping us, Kim!

Kim in the middle

I knew Starbucks pretty well eventough they didn’t have an outlet in Pontianak but I didn’t know that the Canadians have their own original coffee shop chain called Tim Horton’s which could easily be found pretty much everywhere around the city. The place was definitely warmer than outside. I got myself a hot chocolate and a donut while looking outside through the window, it pissed me of how tricky the city was: It didn’t look freezing from the inside at all! The city was still pretty much busy. Some people were still walking outside and there were more than a dozen persons in Tim Horton’s excluding us, like this one big long-yellow-haired guy with a lot of piercings who just came in. He was smirking as we had eye contact which later on I regret. I was just called as a hooker by some random strangers. I didn’t think staring at an eccentric guy on the exact same night was a good idea.

The hot chocolate was satisfying as I definitely didn’t have any other choices. I did not want to take any coffee because it was midnight and I needed to be as tired and sleepy as possible to adjust the new time zone.

“Your cheeks are really red” Anggoro told as he sat beside me with a cup of something. I looked at my reflection through the window, hard to see but I actually could feel how red it was.

“Those stupid rude men called me a hooker, thank God it did not change to blue instead!” I replied. “I’m tired, let’s just go back to the hotel after this. We will have a morning flight tomorrow and tonight’s drama is more than enough.” I told Kak Asni who happened to sit in front of me.

She laughed. “You just had one, more real drama is waiting for you in the next 6 months, Feb!”

As soon as she finished her sentence, someone screamed really loudly as we shockingly looked towards where the voice came from. A petite girl just literally ran to the door and went outside the place as fast as she could. We instantly followed her outside with lots of confusion as everyone was staring to a bunch of annoying Asian kids who did not know how to chill in a coffee shop.

“HE CARRIED A FUCKING SNAKE IN HIS PANTS!” It was Amelia, who screamed hysterically. According to her, the eccentric man whom I saw apparently carried a snake inside his pants. He took pulled the snake out of the pants to show Amelia, as like he knew what exactly her phobia was.

“I saw it too. It was tiny but still scary, though. It was a real living snake!” Added Noval, who just wanted to make sure that the word snake referred to a real gross long living animal that should not become a pet instead of a different way of telling us that the man was pulling his penis from his pants. Because you know, sometimes people said penis as a snake too. Weird, right.

Amelia was too shocked to cry, but I could totally how devastated she was. She look like she could not breath and could just pass out anytime soon.

“Have some water.” It was Fairuz again who offered help in the form of bottled water. Amelia finished that in 10 seconds as people were helping her to sit at the bench across the street.

This happened too fast until I did not realize that my fragile body started to feel cold again as we were outside. Everyone’s face looked really tired, obviously, and I personally started to feel scared of being in a whole new place.

“Kak Asni, let’s just please go back to the hotel.” I half begged.

She agreed and waited for a few moments until Amelia had enough strength to walk to the bus shelter. It was not a really long walk until we arrived in front of a big building with the sign BUS STOP written in both English and French. There was a route-map that told us the bus from this shelter would take us to where we were from, and it said the bus was operating for 24 hours.

It was 2 AM in the morning and we waited for around 10 minutes without any bus, or anyone around. We started to feel really cold again but this time I felt so awake. I could not remember nor care but someone said “Let’s do saman dance to warm each other up”.

Bad idea. I did not know how to do that. Saman dance (or usually translated as Thousand hands dance in English) is a traditional dance originally from Aceh which always became a dance that all Indonesian volunteers of CWY had to learn in our Pre-Departure-Training every single year. It’s a beautiful dance with a really good philosophy where everyone should sit extremely close next to each other tightly with a lot of hands and heads movement in a harmony. The more dancers, the longer the line would be, the more beautiful it would look. While as for a non-Acehnese and not really a dancer kinda person unless you played Beyonce’s Single Ladies so that my inner-stripper could be release, I found it a bit hard for me to learn such dances.

I didn’t think I was the only one who could not dance that time, so I just squeezed myself between 2 people, mainly to make myself warm and planned to just follow the rhythm. Fairuz was playing role as the singer –There is no music in saman other than the voice of the live singer– and everyone was ready in the line.

She started to sing as we followed her rhythm excitedly. I knew the first several movements and changed my mind that it was probably a good idea to just release everything that happened that night. I slowly looked at my surrounding, thought of how scared I was before this crazy idea to dance an Indonesian traditional dance right in the heart of Montreal happened.

Before we left, the alumni told us that this program would offer a lot of new things in our life: New place, new people, new friendship, new culture, new lifestyle, even new drama. What we needed to do was that just enjoying the journey with all of its process and just hold on to our main objectives of why we would want to be there.

That early morning dance in the side of a big street we did would never happen anywhere else in any occasions if we did not just pass something like what happened to force us unite as one ultimate team as we should be. That new big experiences ahead should not be passed individually, especially with the amazing people you shared a lot of things in common with. I kept dancing with few mistakes in the movement but I did not stop doing it. Looking back at it in 2016, I could actually see it much deeper of how that night in particular just represented my next 6 months was like: We got excited, we got drama, but we could always rely on each other.

I was happy that I shared the night with the group that I love. The bus came and we got in with full of laughter. Kak Asni, Feby, Amelia, Fairuz, Anggoro, Noval, Laksmi, Nadia, Dwi, and Azis went back to a hotel with whole of new excitement of the next day. Kim, Kevin, Fred, Louis, Gillian, Max, Felix, Kayla, and Julia better brought their asses at the Halifax airport to pick us up, tomorrow!

# # #

Next Series: CWY Series 3 – Cross Cultural Understanding: Begins

Boys Brunch: Tubagus Yusuf – Young Ambassador With A Mission

For Tubagus Muhammad Yusuf Rifaiz, hopping from one country to another has always been a solid plan. Way further than just travelling abroad, He always brought agendas during the trips, and those are pretty cool ones. He represented Indonesia in many International occasions, from a music festival to being a youth ambassador.

Wxtkf7ux

Connected through a friend in the same organization, I had the chance to sit together with him in the second installment of Boys Brunch. Iyus, how he is usually called, has been combining dream, mission, and of course, style for us to be inspired of. Starting his Journey in Surabaya, this Airlangga University alumnus spoke the truth of how blessed his life has been for being an Indonesian youth.

Rnmp5bht

Feby (F): Hi Iyuz, thank you for willing to be featured. How’s life?

Iyuz (I): Hi, my pleasure! Life is great. I am enjoying myself in Jakarta after moving out from Surabaya last 2 years. I am currently working in a startup company which I pretty much enjoy, doing business-related stuffs are always things I am passionate about.

F: That sounds really exciting. What do you usually do besides working?

I: Well, sometimes I just go to the gym. And I am kinda social person so I usually hang out with my friends; watch movies, karaoke, or just chill at cafes. Other than that, I go travel. I just went to Australia last month. It was so much fun.

F: You seem that you internationally travel quite often. So how did you start your international journey?

I: Thanks! I guess I am pretty lucky to be one of that Indonesian youth who is able to travel abroad for quite some times. I love to see what this world can offer to me in different ways, and I somehow manage to receive several chances to do so. Back in 2012, I was in my University Choir group and we became the first champion that allowed us to represent the university in the worldwide level. We went to Poland, Netherland, and France. From there, the opportunities just got wider. Just a year after in 2013, I joined the ASEAN Youth Exchange Program that brought me to Chulalongkorn University in Thailand. Still in the same year, and I was really excited because it was always a dream of mine to go there, I represented my University once again for Harvard National Model United Nation in New York! And at the end of that year again, I was selected to represent Indonesian Youth for an International Youth Exchange called Ship of South East Asian Youth Program (SSEAYP) that made me visited Japan, Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, and Singapore and showed how beautiful our culture was.

F:  Why do you think it’s necessary to attend International events if you just want to travel?

I: I think it really depends on how we see it. By utilizing many occasions, it makes the meaning of my activity to be doubled up. Representing my community, my university, or my country to the world makes the journey become so much more meaningful and insightful in a lot of ways. Let’s say our interaction with the locals, for instance. When we travel, we will just probably interact with them when we are lost or at the store for assistance. But when we go in occurrences, we make real connection to them. We become friends and they share you the world from their perspective and vice versa, you get to introduce your view and value directly to their ears. You’ll feel that you are part of youth of the world just like them, you will miss each other when you separate and that makes you and them richer for the things which are intangibly exchanged. And I think you agree of how beautiful that feeling is. New York like it is for many people around the world, has always been my dream since I was a kid. And to be able to finally step my feet on its ground by bringing the country’s mission makes me really proud, both as a dreamer and as an Indonesian youth. I travel with a good mission.

Wxo2iicw

F: Consider yourself as the young ambassador, how significant is your international representation to your community?

I: I will always owe my international participation to Indonesia and its young people I represented. I feel the need to give back to the community in the most positive way possible. I am involved in East Java PCMI –an organization for International Youth Exchange Program alumni– and SII –The Indonesian’s SSEAYP alumni association– that aims for regeneration. I want the opportunity of Indonesian youth having International experience to be owned by everyone, at the youngest age possible. With those organizations, we motivate, select, and prepare the potential youth to be ready to face the International program that I was involved in.

F: On your best advice, what are other cultures that you think will fit into your community?

I: I love how dynamic the world is. Each place has its own dynamic that we just need to embrace when we are there. Their values, cultures, forms of interaction make this world so unique and we have to be able to blend in. Also, some countries are really open minded and I’d love to see more open mindedness in Indonesia. More understanding and tolerance will make this place to be more convenient, I guess.

Qep1r8k3

F: On the other hand, what is the culture that you have which you’re proud of sharing worldwide?

I: I must say, our people are really caring. We tend to be nicer and kinder toward each other. I guess it is our natural habit to have a win-win solution and put other’s happiness on the top of ours. It can fire back at us, though. HAHA. But it’s still beautiful of how we feel about people who are not just close to us but also those who aren’t.

F: You have traveled to many places, but do you have a favourite destination that you haven’t been to? Why so?

I: It has always been settled: New York City, Paris, London, and Tokyo are my four dream cities since forever. I have been to all of them but London. Cross your fingers and wish me luck, soon!

F: What’s your next international plan?

I: Like probably almost everyone in Indonesia at this moment, I want to take a master degree abroad, specifically to The U.S. I am thinking of taking MBA as I told that I am passionate about developing business. There is no such a mainstream things in order to get proper education, right?

F: Do you have any plan about your hometown, Surabaya?

I: Oh man, I will always be attached to my hometown. All the reasons of my adventure, one of them is probably Surabaya. I travel far to come back home and become the part of its development. It’s the second biggest city in Indonesia and we need to step up our game. I am willing to combine my passion in business with my commitment as the responsible native youth, let’s start from there!

Iyus was friendly and cheerful during the conversation. I was really convinced that he was a choir champion as he hummed excitingly almost most of time. We spent the rest of the morning by enjoying our brunch; he had mac and cheese and coconut pie, meanwhile I had my favourite tuna grilled cheese at The Goods Café, Lotte Shopping Avenue.

F2i7vwwj

Iyus’ Brunch: Mac and Cheese, Coconut Pie, and Lychee Iced tea

Lycwbqiz

Feby’s Brunch: Tuna Grilled Cheese and Diet Coke

As my boys brunch tradition, I would ask several questions that my guest needed to answer spontaniously. Check them out!

Trivia

  • What is your most favourite food?

French Pastry

  • Place you’ll always come back to?

New York – who wouldn’t?

  • Must have fashion item?

Long black coat – my favourite look is always with the long black coat!

  • Country you wish you were born besides Indonesia?

United States of America

Hfi4d3qw

credit: @iyusrifaiz (instagram)

This or That?

  • Suit or Shirt?

Suit

  • Pasta or Pizza?

Pasta

  • Egypt or Turkey?

Turkey

  • Badminton or Football?

Badminton

 

326wxvay

credit: @iyusrifaiz (instagram)

About Iyus

  • Tubagus Muhammad Yusuf Rifaiz was born and raised in Surabaya, East Java on 15 November 1991.
  • Iyus is a theatre show Junkie. He has watched Wicked, Phantom of The Opera, Matilda, Beauty And The Beast, and Shrek in way up north Los Angeles and New York all the way to down under in Melbourne.
  • He might be sailing around Southeast Asia in a fancy cruise in SSEAYP 2013, but 3 years earlier, he have had experience cruising to Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand with his mother already.
Kvmyhumi

credit: @iyusrifaiz (instagram)

Body Celebration

As I have just come to my sense that this cruel world has always been trying to show the life of hell to each of its creature by creating this natural instinct of insecurity that is spread externally and internally, I am finally choosing to refuse all the judgement of myself, by myself, and to myself, especially of how I should appreciate the way I look.

I spent almost the past 10 years of my life believing my soul has been fitted to an un-ideal body as it is bigger than what society thinks it should be, and that bigotry stops now!

Me and my body are as beautiful as a morning sunrise or any of your favourite things. I will still appreciate my body by supplying it with good consumption of food and having exercise as having a tight skin still obviously look nice, but if none of that goodwill turn out to be the way as what ideal beauty demands, I will never be sad and just be totally rocking it.

Wearing larger size of clothing will not me less valuable or less worthy. My body is a celebration and if the society thinks that I look big or fat, none of that thought are my problems. When you tell me “you’re fat!”, that’s your problem and you can all suck it! 😉

Anak Rantau

Anak rantau pergi jauh membawa mimpi-mimpi masa lalu

Penuh semangat memeluk masa kini yang kata orang cepat berlalu

Melangkah gamang menuju semak-semak dan jalan berbatu

Tak ingin berpikir kapan kembali dan bersatu

 

Anak rantau mencintai tempat-tempat baru

Bersorak-sorai berbangga hati membuat kenangan yang tak semu

Memamerkan pigura digital supaya seru

Pantang bersedih agar tak malu

 

Anak rantau rindu Ibu yang selalu memberi restu

Minggu lalu, Ayah berkunjung dalam mimpi haru

Membuatnya bangun dengan tetesan air mata syahdu

Memeluk guling seperti bayi meringkuk sedu

 

Anak rantau membuka kembali catatan terdahulu

Mempelajari setiap jengkal sampai ke ujung kuku

Bertanya kembali kepada dirinya yang dulu

Sudah seberapa jauh dia melangkah maju

Membuktikan bahwa dirinya tak akan pernah kalah dari semua tantangan perjalanan itu

 

Jakarta, 7 Mei 2016

Isa Town, Bahrain – 2014

CWY Series 1 – The Day It All Started

People like Anggoro, Fairuz, Dini, or some other who have experienced North American fall/winter might have already understood that weird combination of bright sunshine and freezing-air-that-made-you-numb. But I still could not accept that the wind slapped me so hard that afternoon, just outside of Pierre-Truedeau International Airport while we were waiting for the bus. We were fully suited and tired of 16 hours long flight. Some people were just well prepared, they wore sweater underneath the coat, put on a scarf or had a big fluffy ear puffs in the middle of their red faces.

“I need to lay down for a while” as I obviously didn’t have a proper sleep, and those extra layer of clothing preparation besides a pair of leopard mitten that I borrowed from Reyska. As like it would help.

One bus with the first group just left before us. Another bus arrived and our group put our belongings in the trunk. The bus was too small for 11 people including the driver, but maybe it was just fine enough to be really close to each other and kept ourselves warm. And in just 15 minutes, the bus stopped at Best Western Hotel.

Those pile of luggage doesn’t look like that attractive now

I was in the middle of most diva-ish situation when I had to stay overnight with 2 of the most brilliant musicians in the group. Noval and Azis better shared the bed as we only had 2 beds in the room, and diva didn’t share bed. But diva did get thirsty. We saw nothing but empty glasses on the table. This hotel didn’t provide water for the visitor.

I went to the reception and stupidly shocked of what the friendly lady said.

“You can get water from the tap. We all drink tap water here.” She said in a French accent

Not sure, I called Kak Asni and she said don’t worry because tap water was indeed drinkable there. I went back to the room and found Noval had a glass of tap water already.

“Anggoro told me.” He said.

Alright, so who cared? I drank and it tasted like I-won’t-get-diarrhea. Something that nobody would ever do anywhere in Indonesia, at least not before you boil it.

3 of us laid down had a very little sleep and get ready as we needed to be in the hall for an arrival briefing.

“Hi everyone, my name is Giselle from Canada World Youth” the curly-haired lady announced herself. I could tell that her first language was neither English nor French. She announced few basic things about tomorrow’s departure. Another flight, of course.

Later I figured, Giselle was originally from Brazil. It was interesting enough remembering the fact that she was representing Canada World Youth, the organization that gave a third-world-country youth like me opportunity to join such an amazing program.

I was sitting on a couch at one corner in the city of Montreal, listening to Gisele’s explanation of our next travel arrangement. My other Indonesian friends who had just traveled all the way from South East Asia with me were sitting around me as well.

Those names I previously mentioned at the beginning were some of few weirdos I had to deal with almost every day, around 4 years ago. We started our journey in our each 27 different places all over Indonesia, wanting to get an International experience and were finally recruited by Indonesian Ministry of Youth and Sport to represent the Indonesian Youth in a program that they partnered with Canada World Youth.

It was September 2011 and this exchange program was at its 38th year. We had 2 weeks full of pre-departure training with the alumni in Jakarta as they expected we would be ‘ready’ to face the bittersweet of the 6 months program. 27 of us were divided in 3 groups who would live in 3 different communities, with each person would be paired with another Canadian youth as our counterpart, and each group would also be facilitated by a pair of Indonesian-Canadian project supervisors.

I was in the same group with Laksmi, Azis, Nadia, Fairuz, Anggoro, Amelia, Noval, and Dwi. Kak Asni was our project supervisor, she joined this program earlier in 2006 and Indonesian supervisor always had to be an alumnus of the program, just like her. We were supposed to live in Charlottetown, the capital of Canada’s littlest and eastern most province Prince Edward Island with environmental-focused project and volunteering.

The whole crew with the Chief of DPD RI – Irman Gusman

Other two groups were placed in Halifax and Truro, both in the province of Nova’s Scotia. The members of those groups might not really be that important to be mentioned, now. They will just naturally appear in the next posts through some incidents, if I feel like to.

Like Salam the member of Halifax group, right now. He just ran back from his room with a big bottle of chili sauce in his hand. “Can’t live without it!” he said.

Gisele had finished explaining about things I couldn’t even remember now. The short meeting was ended with an early dinner, at like 5 PM. Canadians had an interesting dinner time, I thought. Back in Pontianak, a city where I lived, I could just eat a bowl of noodle and would not call it as dinner and would eat a plate of rice and chicken 2 hours later, the meal that I would call as dinner. No wonder I weighted around 98kg.

Gisele distributed the dinner boxes. 2 big chicken breasts and french fries were in it. Without rice, of course, as this was unusual for the Indonesians to eat anything without rice and chili sauce. Some people were approaching Salam to get a bit of his chili sauce, I assumed that big bottle was his 3 months’ supply and decided not to ask for it. I did have my own in my luggage, but it was day 1 and that bitch Feby really loved challenge.

We finished eating and came back to our rooms as we had quite early flight the next day. But again, it was day 1. No matter how tired you were, you would not miss your very first North American night by sleeping. 10 of us were gathered in a room to discuss on what we called ‘group rules’, basically some bullshits of Do’s and Don’ts that we might not commit several weeks after.

Group Rules situation. It shows that we were not interested

I saw Wan Vina from Truro group changed her BBM profile picture at the downtown of Montreal, which was obviously the place where we should be at that very moment. We convinced Kak Asni that we should go around Montreal that night, as the very first group activity that we had never done before.

She agreed as we were all set and waited for the hotel’s shuttle to the bus station. And that’s how my group and I started to have our Canadian experience for the very first time.

# # #

Next Series: CWY Series 2 – Montreal Drama