Labels

If you’re old, you’re time is over.

If you’re young, you’re inexperience.

If you love traveling, you waste too much money.

If you don’t travel, you’re not that rich.

If you’re gay, you’re hypersexual.

If you’re straight, you’re homophobic.

If you’re pro Trump, you’re racist.

If you’re anti Trump, you’re just a follower.

If don’t like changes, you’re closed minded.

If you like changes, you’re inconsistent.

If you spend too many times on social media, you’re noisy.

If you don’t do social media, you’re irrelevant.

If you think you’re pretty, you’re cocky.

If you think you’re ugly, you’re pathetic.

If you date beautiful people, you’re shallow.

If you date ugly people, you’re stupid.

If you’re single, nobody likes you.

If you’re in relationship, you’re boring to your friends.

If you like this post, you’re judgmental.

If you hate this post, you’re double standard.

 

Human of 2017 will always put labels all around your face. But as always, ripping the labels off is just so easy that you don’t even need to overthink.

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Boys Brunch: Anggoro Seto – From Indonesia’s Golden Boy To European Graduate

As this world that used to be bigger is now getting narrower, the hunger of exploring and experiencing new cultures is becoming more exciting than ever. Many international organizations offer ways for us to walk in their shoes, especially for us in Indonesia, a country where the world is somehow paying attention to.

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Up north in Europe, there’s a scholarship program called Erasmus Mundus – an opportunity for people around the World who aims to enhance quality in higher education through scholarships and academic co-operation between the European Union and the rest of the world. The program has been popularly prestigious among Indonesians aspiring international students due to its amazing study programs and university destinations that is spread all across Europe.

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Credit: Anggoro Seto

Anggoro Seto who calls himself a life learner felt like the program suited his objectives of life – fruitful international experience by learning real way of living from our Blue-continent counterparts. This long-time friend of mine just graduated last year and shared his excitement of studying in multiple European cities and living European ways during our brunch in his hometown Bekasi, for our Boys Brunch April/May/June 2017.

Feby (F): Long time no see, Anggoro! It’s been a while, eh. Congrats on your graduation. How’s everything?

Anggoro (A): Yeahh, too long! Thanks, Feby. Everything’s great. Of course, they need to be great. Lol. Europe was fun, being back home is also amazing. You told me you wanted to visit when you were in the Middle East but you didn’t. I could have brought you to places you would love.

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(F): Shit obviously happened. Lol. But that’s alright, there are still plenty of timed ahead. But it’s all about you now, and first thing’s first – Tell me about your study and Erasmus Mundus Scholarship

(A): So yeah, as you know the past couple years, I’ve been busy with my study that I took with Erasmus Mundus Master Course. As most of us also know Erasmus Mundus is a pretty well-known program from that aims to promote Eurpoean universities’ education for International students outside Europe. Continuing my bachelor study and my professional experience, I was accepted in this program called AFEPA – Agricultural, Food and Environmental Policy Analysis – Well, the program’s name speaks for itself, and it is something I’ve been doing for quite some times.

As all Erasmus Mundus programs, AFEPA also aimed to promote European universities, as well as strengthening relationships among involving countries. AFEPA also allowed me to study in 2 universities, each in Bonn (Germany) and Barcelona (Spain) respectively, along with 2 summer schools in Barcelona and Belgium. This whole experience would definetely be one the highlights of my life – ever. Many good things came along with it, from the study to the idea of living in a total different cultures up in Western Europe.

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(F): That sounds too much fun and the best part was that you got to do it without paying any cash. Why did you think the committee grant you the scholarship?

(A): Yeah! To be honest, this program was always something that I anticipated the most eversince I knew it existed. I could say that I tried really hard to receive what I received. I actually applied this program back in 2013 for the first time but I only made it to reserve list. I was obviously not a quitter so I came back in 2014 and finally made it. I felt like they could see how consistent and persistent myself was as an applicant, reflected in the whole process of application. I did lots of research and practice which I think are the key of succeeding any scholarship programs. We gotta show that we’re being serious and are able to handle the responsibility of being an awardee.

(F): Couldn’t agree more. But why were you so obsessed with Erasmus Mundus? How did you think studying in Europe was better than in any other continent?

(A): In this era, I believe that being a student doesn’t only mean that we can only get the learning process inside the class. The world offers too many things we can learn about if we’re aware enough. I don’t know though, but I somehow felt connected to Europe to fulfill my curiousity and to experience myself of what life is about in the continent. This was probably affected by the fact that I’ve experienced living in North America so I kinda wanted somewhere new for me to explore.

Just like Asia, Europe offers endless diversity but somehow they’re also united. One country is different to another and that excited me a lot. As a person who value cultures and diversity, I felt lucky enough to finally experience a whole new point of view in multiple European cities and I don’t regret it.

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(F): It’s all about the travelling too, isn’t it! So when studying, do you choose the school first or the city first?

(A): Honestly, city first. LOL. As I mentioned that my objective was to learn from every aspect instead just what I would get from school. And of course selecting countries and cities will be one of the really important keys. I’ve got Belgium, Sweden, Hungary, Germany, and Spain on my list and I finally got two of them. Now that I have to share these things with you, the more I actually miss everything that happened back there. HAHAHA.

(F): HAHAHA. Congrats to you, bro. But from those two, how different are lives and study environments between Germany and Spain?

(A): Oh man, they’re completely different. People in Bonn were much more discpline as the germans are known as. And starting my program in Bonn first was the right decision. Not that I didn’t enjoy Germany, but as Indonesian, I was more sociable and Spain was the place for it. People in Barcelona are more loose, open, and outgoing. I enjoyed both places so much as I needed those “social rules” Bonn shaped for me to start the year, and ended the experience with more relaxing environment that Barcelona gave.

(F): From every knowledge and experience that you’ve gathered through Erasmus Mundus Master Course program, how do you think they will be useful for your life?

(A): I feel like I am more developed – as I should. And it is probably obvious when I say  that the past two years experience I had was really eye opening. I kept collecting puzzles to be an open minded, mature, and independent person. And the program truly exceeded my expectation. I have the knowledge from school, get to know lots of people, and I traveled to many places during my break too. It was like I was prepared to received 100% and they gave me 1000%. I think you obviously know how them-experiences will be useful for my life.

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(F): You sound really on fire. But as we had lived in Canada 5 years ago for an exchange program, what do you think is the most significant difference between living abroad for an exchange and for a master program?

(A): Obviously really different. Back then, our program was set and designed with really specific instructions of how, where, and with whom we should live. We were given schedule, activities, and we understood that the program would somehow end at the exact designated time that made us have to go back to real life. But master study was something I needed to figure out by myself. It was a big chunk of my life that I would continously carry – not that exchane program wouldn’t – but school is more like a “real thing” if that’s even the right word. I designed myself and took full responsibility of that. This thing will affect my life in a really big portion, such as my future job – simply. I am proud that I have experience both. You should get your master soon, Feb!

(F): HAHAHA, thanks for encouraging! It does sound interesting. On the other notes, how do you think your experience will affect other people in your community, though?

(A): Just what I did to you, I always try to deliver the message. Everyone can and should experience the other part of the world the best way possible. As human being that was born and raised in the same country, I want every Indonesians who read your blog to understand that we have the same basic – we received same education system and similar social conditions. I know ‘everything’ is better most of the time in bigger cities but we do create our own opportunities. I encourage people to bring the best in them; we all should be thirsty of experiencing diversity and apply the good things in our community!

 

(F): Excellent enough. So now that you graduated, what is your next move?

(A): I just got married with the love of my life last month, and that was such a major move yet another milestone of my life. But also now that I have better knowledge especially in agriculture and environmental policy, I am really excited to apply that in real life. I would love to contribute and work in an environment where I can support, but at the same time still give me learning process. Learning is really that fun that I know I will never stop doing.

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Credit: Anggoro Seto

Anggi – as how I always called him was still pretty much the same person, but with a whole completely new spirit. He still had the same gesture, same goof, and same hilarious laughter but when I dug into his European experience, I could see how excited he was and the importance of that experience was clearly reflected by the way he told me the story.

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We had a nice mixture sundanese-western selection of brunch. Cireng, grilled meat ball, rice, lasagna, marshmallow brownies, coffee, and milkshake was served in the new restaurant called 3 Cooks in Bekasi. As we enjoyed our brunch, I remembered how I spend many meals with him back in 2011-2012, from a Subway outlet in downtown Charlottetown to a meat-ball and fruit soup stall in Cikajang traditional market. We maintained our friendship the last 5 years and I am proud of having a friend who could literally go miles to achieve what he’s always been dreaming of. Definitely looking forward to see more!

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Trivia

  • Who’s your favourite cartoon character?

Nobita

  • If you can, in what colour do you want to dye your hair?

Light brown

  • Where do you wish you can go for a honeymoon?

Maldives. Why the heck does it need to be so expensive!

  • If you’re asked to watch one movie for 3 times in a day, what would that be?

What’s that Bollywood movie called!? Ohh, 3 Idiots

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This or That

  • Bungee Jumping or Sky Diving?

Sky Diving!

  • Ballerina or Cheerleader?

Cheerleader

  • Ramen or Pad Thai?

Pad Thai

  • Edgy or Geeky

Edgy

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Credit: Anggoro Seto

About Anggoro

  • Anggoro Seto was born on 25 July 1989. He went to University of Padjadjaran (UNPAD) in 2007, one of the top University in West Java to earn himself a bachelor of Agriculture
  • Back in 2011 right after graduation, he was chosen to represent West Java in Indonesia-Canada Youth Exchange Program that spent 6 months of living in both Canadian city called Charlottetown and an Indonesian Village called Cikandang, in southern part of Garut, West Java
  • He was also active campaigning about positivity through pageantry. After winning Abang (Mister) Bekasi in 2012, he was dubbed as Jajaka (Mister) West Java in the same year.
  • Representing Indonesia wasn’t a new thing for Anggoro. Before Canada exchange program, he already represented UNPAD for Harvard Model United Nations back in 2011.

Boys Brunch: Rico Polim – Asian Sensation of Penn-State

Coming from a developing country like Indonesia to compete at the International level is always challenging yet interesting as not really many people know in which side of Asia this big archipelago is. Or when they know, they will still ask you interesting questions that indicates how primitive we are. Moreover, if you come from a developing city like Pontianak where not only people worldwide don’t really know its existence, but also ignored by many Indonesians.

But Rico Polim turned the table 180 degrees. This long-time friend of mine is from Pontianak and proved the old proverb of “It doesn’t matter where you are coming from. All that matters is where you are going” to be true. He studied both Bachelor and Master study in the United States of America and earned himself the highest recognition an engineering student of Pennsylvania State University could get, as he was named as College of Engineering student marshals which is selected for their outstanding academic achievement and contributions to engineering student life, every year.

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As he and I had this little reunion after several years when we both were home for the holiday, I got the opportunity to interview him for the January 2017 edition of Boy’s Brunch so that he could spill every amazing thing he experienced the past few years.

(Feby): Hey Rico, long time no see! How’s everything going? Last time we met, you were still in High School, weren’t you?

(Rico): Hello Feb! Everything’s great. It’s really nice to being back home and catch up with you again. Thank you so much for reaching me. I also remember the last time I saw you that you were busy preparing your departure to Canada.

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(F):  Yeah, it was 2011. It’s been to long! So how did you start this entire amazing journey?

(R): Well yeah, as a Pontianak native I always lived here and spent my education in this cozy city. When I graduated high school, I was looking for a bit of a ‘fresh air’ and followed my passion. I moved out of the city to study at The Pennsylvania State University, and took dual Bachelor Study and Master Study in Industrial Engineering and Operations Research.

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(F):  Why did you choose to study abroad, especially in the USA?

(R): I can say that I am privileged enough to be able to have parents who can support my dream to study in the place that I desire. I feel that furthering my education abroad doesn’t necessarily mean that I do not trust our education here. We have equal level of education, and I would think that there are aspects of education in Indonesia that would excel compare to the US. But in my opinion, there are also some aspects in the American system of education that happens to be more interesting for me. And my parents thankfully support the idea of studying abroad. USA is a personal dream of mine, and I worked really hard to be accepted in where I studied.

(F):  Tell us a little bit about your study. How interesting that was to study Industrial Engineering in the US?

(R): I took dual degree in Industrial Engineering which is basically the study of optimizing and reading the system, where efficient processes are developed for the particular process. It was a study that I am really passionate about as in the nowadays society, we become more connected to each other. Nowadays, a technology can be brainstormed in the US, produced in China, and be exhibited in Mexico, and my study allowed me to be the part of the process. I enjoyed the study of optimizing and reading data for tons of interesting purposes. I was in this amazing program which they combine Bachelor and Master Study and I was focusing the Industrial Engineering to Operation Research. I basically learned the mathematical property of life, for my additional ability to understand life. HAHAHA.

I worked really hard and took that study seriously. I received more than 5 awards and scholarship including the most prestigious award to be named as the student marshal for the Penn State College of Engineering last fall commencement ceremony on Dec, 2016.

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Credit: Penn State

(F):  That sounds great. But how did you survive being an Asian at school, Especially from Indonesia and Pontianak as developing places?

(R): I knew the consequences and I was prepared to face the social life there in the US. I realized that I was Indonesian with Chinese descendant which made me do not only limit my involvement in the society to just with people in own ethnicity. I always tried to get out of my comfort zone and saw people from a lot of culture and background. I was comfortable with the diversity that I experienced as much as I was comfortable with adapting to them. I would say hard work and timing was really important to survive in a really diverse lifestyle. I needed to prove my capability of being a responsible person that I was independent and lived miles apart of my family. But being responsible didn’t necessarily mean to be strict. I liked to experience new things; it’s just part of the process of being nurtured by life.

And as a minority, I was doing pretty well. I was involved in this Schreyer Society – an honourable society in PennState where only crème de la crème students get to be part of. It was awesome, members of this society gets multiple privileges that we enjoy so much. HAHAHA. I also acted as a co-captain of this club named Penn State Formula Society of Automotive Engineers (Formula SAE) where I got to make an actual Formula 1 car. It is really challenging yet obviously so much fun.  Last time we showcased our F1 car in the 2015 Formula SAE Michigan series competition where we ranked 33rd out of 120 International teams, which was the team’s highest since 2008.

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Credit: Facebook

(F): I am loving all of these stories. Were there any unpleasant incidents that happened during your study, though?

(R): There were obviously quite a few of them, but nothing big. During classes and assignments, group works could be really challenging. But everyone has their own battle, don’t we? For locals, it probably sucked that they needed to re-take some courses, but it was pretty demanding for me that I needed to re-take a visa in certain period. But the opportunity meant more to me than to them, so I guess sticks and stones didn’t break my bones. I focused on enjoying every moment and I earned my due.

(F):  I agree with the spirit. How do you think those experience will make you become a better Indonesian?

(R): Being lesser part of Indonesian community in the US, gave me the chance to being exposed more in the community. Man, our country offers lots of magnificent thing to the world. They can be amazed by even basic information of Indonesia and I enjoyed being ‘ambassador’ of this country at my school. Again, in the diverse situation, it’s always opportunity that we need to explore. I learned too many things this life could offer, such an eye opener. I got to know lots of people from not only US but also other International students and professors, and dealt with them. I became more mature of a person and I think every Indonesian youth should experience that in the best way possible.

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(F):  What do you think has shaped you as a person you are now? What made you this positive?

(R): My parents and family, shootout to them! They teach me more than I could ever think of to be the person that I am now. I am also a life learner and I feel like I learned many things from people that interacted with me as well. Like from many Indonesians at Penn-State, from the Indonesian Student Association in the early days who guided me how to survive and everything. And after all, I am obviously still learning and my graduation was just a beginning. I’m hungry for more –hopefully– great things to conquer now!

(F):  What will your next move be then? What big things are coming?

(R): I want to get a Job and continue my study to get Ph.D in the US because the excitement from graduation is obviously still there. I am coming back to US very soon, but I always want to be connected to Indonesia. I garner all these knowledge to contribute back to my community back home and help the society improve the current process. As a big Nation, our people need to embrace the digital era and seize the moment, and I believe we can. I want to tell the world that anything is possible as long as you work hard and commit yourself to what you love. Being honest and sincere to ourselves is the most important; those things are activities that I want to be associated with.

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Credit: Facebook

For a boy who will turn 22 years old this year, Rico sounded really mature yet still managed to show it in a really fun way. He ordered Bakmi Jawa (Javanese Noodle) as he seemed like he wanted to redeem his longing of Indonesian food. We had this brunch at the new hip-eatery in Pontianak called Botani, where his pure white shirt complimented the earthy ambiance of the café perfectly.

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Rico’s Brunch: Javanese Noodle

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Feby’s Brunch: Pan-seared Dory

I remember the first time I met him circa 2010 at a debating tournament where he was a debater and I was a chief adjudicator. His sharp and strong argument became the highlight that it brought him a ticket to a national level debating tournament. His evolution to be the person he is today does not surprise me and probably everyone who knows him at all. Rico is an Asian Sensation of Penn-State and as he said, this was just a beginning. Watch out, World. This boy is from Pontianak, the city that you do not really care about.

 

Trivia

  • What will you rename yourself?

Rico sounds good.

  • Who is your first Celebrity crush?

Emma Watson

  • Where do you want to get married?

Pontianak

  • What is your current jam?

Take Five by Dave Bruebeck

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This or That

  • Katy Perry or Lady GaGa?

Ahhhh I really don’t want to choose! – Katy Perry

  • Swimming or Bowling?

Swimming

  • Alpen or Machu Picchu?

Machu Picchu

  • Cappuccino or Espresso?

Espresso

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Credit: Penn State

About Rico

  • Rico Polim was born and raised in Pontianak, West Kalimantan on 11 Maret 1995
  • He was a club junkie in High School. He joined both Basketball and English Debating Club and his serious commitment in debating ranked him #16 out of 99 debaters who participated in National School Debating Chhampionship 2011
  • Grew up to be a physically active person, he lost 10kg due to his basketball routine throughout the age of 12 to 16 years old
  • He’s been in a long distance relationship since 2012 as he studied in The US while his girlfriend chose to study in Australia
  • In Penn-State, Polim was a recipient of the 2016 John W. Oswald Award, the President Sparks Award and the President Freshman Award. He also earned numerous scholarships, including the Harold and Inge Marcus Scholarship in industrial engineering, the Society of Manufacturing Engineers Education Foundation’s E. Wayne Kay Graduate Scholarship, the International Society of Automation Scholarship, the Material Handling Education Foundation Scholarship, and the Society of Automotive Engineers Long-term Member Scholarship. – a solid long list of award not a regular student could just receive

CWY Series 3 – Cross Cultural Understanding: Begins!

Previous Series: CWY Series 2 – Montreal Drama

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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“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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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“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.

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“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!”

Small Boy, Big Dream – You Won’t Understand

My blog posts haven’t been that useful in 2015. Excuses are better be left unsaid because to be honest, what am I defending for? I don’t have that much of blog followers on the first place.

Several weeks before it happened, I allocated some spaces in my brain to think of how I would spend the Christmas long weekend. This may sound exaggerating –you know, my life as usual– but I put a lot of thought in it. I was thinking of several options as, thank God, I live in a country where literally anywhere is beautiful. And for the sake of the memory, at the end I put the dot on my map to this place where several parts of my character was shaped. And then it became the travelling of a reminder. A reminder of what kind of person I was, a reminder what kind of person I wished I would become.

I hopped in to the bus around 12 PM that 24 December. I read from social media that the traffic was literally crazy, but yeah bitch, what would my life be without craziness? I was lucky that I could sit as the bus was literally full of people who were probably tired of the city, excited to see other places, or just simply missed home. Another man sat next to me, an ear phone was plugged in to his ears as he was sleeping unbotheredly, great skill.

I committed myself to do a digital detox; I would turn off any internet connection and be in the ‘real life’ during the trip. It was such a perfect timing as I did not really have to reply emails or did some other work related things, I just wanted to be a hippie –And I am not using this in a sarcastic term–, I would not care about anything else other than what I would actually be experiencing in those 4 days, and I expected that to be lovely.

But then life was always a bitch. Traffic was, to be exact. It took 11 hours to arrive in the town where it usually took only 5 hours to visit. It was an hour after midnight and the early morning was really cold at the bus station. Everything was basically the same at that station: several buses were lining up to drop the passangers, the corner stores were open with limited lighting, and many motorcycle and pedicab drivers offered everyone their transportation service, it did feel really nostalgic. But it was really different as I was just literally alone.

I asked one random driver to bring me to the nearest hotel for me to stay overnight. It took 2 places before there was an inn that actually had an available room for a lonely visitor to stay. The lady was extremely friendly to me and to another couple that I thought only wanted to stay there to have sex. You know I’m really judgmental.

The couple was disgusted by the shitty room as they went with a motorcycle in that cold morning but I guess I did not have any choice. Dirty might be a strong word but the room was so far to be said as proper, it was really ‘different’.

“I will change the sheet” Said the lady as like it would help the room to be more proper.

“This should be fun and nothing wrong with having a different experience” I convinced myself, and it was really sincere. That was supposed to be the travelling of a reminder and I reminded not to complain. Besides, I was tired anyways and I would not do anything but sleep and I would just leave in the morning.

I woke up around 10 PM the next day and as planned, immediately leave the inn to explore the city a little bit before continuing to the final destination. I took another pedicab and went to the downtown, looking around to re-feel the “city warmth”, tasted good local foods, and did a Friday prayer in the City’s Great Mosque – all by my own.

The digital detox was working perfectly fine as well. I talked to real people when I wanted to know the direction, or when I was waiting for the angkot , sort of a van that became a public transportation in most Indonesian cities. I knew more about the people and their background I was actually facing rather than spending my time looking at the phone screen and putting love on people-whom-I-don’t-actually-know on instagram pictures,  it just felt damn nice! I wish the people of Jakarta would be more friendly so everytime I talked to random people on the street, they would be more welcoming and would not think that I am capable of doing bad things to them.

After a full-hour of eye indulgence when I saw anywhere was nothing but prettiness, I arrived in my destination around 4 PM in the afternoon. I ran to my house, where I spent several time of my life with people I really cared about, and surprised everyone as I did not tell everyone that I would go ‘home’.

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“You look more handsome!” Ibu –The Indonesian nick for mother and as how I called my host mom– said. “Of course!” I replied. Typical me.

I had a great conversation with the members of the house, updating each other’s life and laughing the fool things we did that we could remember. I left the house for an afternoon walk before the sun set. That was the second Christmas day I spent in that place I called home.

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The sun almost set behind the green mountains. Everything still existed, the mural, the library (they even have a new one!), the village hall, the ram statue, the football court, and of course the ram fighting arena with its famous huts. I broke my heart that Christmas afternoon, right in the heart of Cikandang Village.

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Back in 2011, I had an international youth exchange where they put together 9 Canadian Youth and 9 Indonesian Youth in one group to live together in both Canadian and Indonesian community for several months and aimed for International relations, mutual understanding, cultural exchange, sustainable changemaking, youth leadership and other endless positivity.  We were placed in the city of Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island for the Canadian Phase and the village of Cikandang, a mountainous village in Southern Garut, West Java. We left the village at the end of the program around end of March 2012 with many beautiful memories.

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I have actually been back visiting the village after the program for three times with some other people, but the last time was in 2013, just right before I departed to Bahrain. So this visit was actually my first visit in 2 years, and the very first time when I came back literally alone in Cikandang.

My heart broke not because I haven’t moved on with my life. In fact, I did not even know what broke me inside to be exact. Maybe the fact that I was visiting with no friends or the reminder of how I envisioned the future-Feby in the past.

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I am really grateful of how my life turned after the program. I moved out from my hometown and I befriended great helpful people that gave me descent jobs in the capital city, Jakarta. I was blessed to have another opportunity to live in another foreign country, learning new stuffs and living in a total different culture, and especially at this time of my life when I was having my best job yet with lovely people around me, no reason to complain about life.

But something was missing….

And it was not my body fat, obviously. I did not know, It was maybe my attention to humanity, my sensitivity or my motivation to spread positivity.

Saying that I am not as a positive person as I was is too strong of an argument, especially it also indicates of how exaggerated I judged myself in the past. I mean, who claimed themselves of creating positive vibes by themselves? Maybe some people but I don’t think that’s my call.

Instead, I have the right to say something has definitely has changed. And honestly, until this particular word, I have no idea where this article will lead to and how it will end. Thoughts in my head are just like strings that can be straighten from earth to moon and back, but now it’s tangled. It became really messy that made it just as big as a tennis ball.

I was lucky to be born in a supportive family where my opinions and willingness are always heard and appreciated. The situation probably shaped my character to be a decisive individual and I always see the goal in any actions that I did. Every single one of them.

But I just felt that being adult is not that easy….

Life has always been a total player for every human in any ways possible. We undeniably have bigger burdens, big enough to think that the great master plans we always had suddenly became unconvincing. And as it probably got you, it might get me even harder.

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I spent 2 days in Cikandang and re-saw what myself particularly have contributed to that beautiful small area. It was probably intangible, I mean, the sidewalk marks that we hand-painted were not even there anymore. But seeing the exact same mural on the wall about not littering your garbage on the street or realizing that the blue colour or library wall haven’t changed since we dramatically decorated them made me smile a lot.

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My friends and I might not save the world or became a bunch of fairy godmothers and turned a poor girl to be a princess. But we clearly shared the same spirit. We were bunch of young people from major cities in both country and were placed in a village that was totally different with how we used to live, was a total slap in the face. Moreover, this opportunity did not just arrive in my lap in a silver platter. I fought for my spot to be there, to be the part of the team and I did not just start that because I was following the trend. I made some names for myself until those judges could decide that I deserved the spot.

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We sincerely loved the place and had the motivation that we could contribute positively to the village. At that time, the motivation was even bigger because we are entitled as “Youth of The World” which in overreacting version of me years ago, it meant really important as it led to do really important things to the world as well.

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And how I applied that in the life I had? I realized that volunteering and social movement was not a new thing. As I said, I was probably chosen to join the program because I was actively involved in those kinds of activity. And I used those learning process to be really pay attention of any actions I would contribute. I took every single opportunity to help things get better in the village seriously like I would live there forever. All with a very supporting environment from magnificent team member and locals. I sincerely had super strong willing to keep doing what I did until forever, somehow, somewhere.

But now it has been 4 years since that flame positivity burned me inside and outside. When you see myself right now and compare with what kind of person I told you before, your reaction might be really subjective because in reality, those plans haven’t worked, yet. Why? I wish I can say I don’t know but I clearly know the reason. Because it’s what life is about. Remember at that time you ordered a customized menu at the restaurant? You wanted double scoop of vanilla and chocolate ice cream and specifically wanted the vanilla scoop to be on top but the waiter came with the chocolate on top instead? You can plan, decide, or even manipulate how you wish your life be, but it’s not always up to you, it has never been, it will never be. The world and any single thing inside it work together like a pair of gear that makes certain action affects the others and that is not new information for anyone, I know.

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But we just sometimes forget about it, I often forget about it. And the reflection of it shows in our action. We can complain to the waiter who brought the wrong order of ice cream scoop or just accept and eat as it would taste the same, anyway. And that’s how I probably choose to respond the life world is offering me to.  I am not capable of fulfilling my dream 100% but I should be able to be patient and use any learning in my journey to be the ‘weapon’ of my future. I was probably part of the bigger gear who affected smaller gear in the program and I never wanted such habit to stop happening in any circumstances.

Nevertheless, the beauty of that mountainous village was just everything I needed last end of the year. This reminder, reflection, whatever you call it to make me realize of how grateful I am to be the person that I am now, and the person that  I will be. I was visiting the former head of village’s house and the family greeted me warmly. I had a nice conversation with them and heard them talking sincerely of how happy they were when we were there, joking around about funny things that happened in 2012. Rury, the eldest daughter was still in middle school back then and now she is a year away from University. She told me of how she planned to take International Relation in either University of Padjadjaran or University of Gadjah Mada, two major universities in Indonesia because of how she was inspired by the program that she was being involved with as the local. For the 5 years activities with around 90 youth in the period, irregardless the debatable sustainability and controversy it created. And that seriously made me smile a lot.

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I visited many places in the village where I liked to spend time with my friends and had great conversation with not just my host family but some other host families. You never realize of what impressions you could leave to certain community until you come back in quite some time and feel, really feel inside yourself of how joyful and peaceful your little heart to stand on the place where you usually stood. And I don’t want Cikandang to be the only place where I can feel that way.

Small boy, big dream. That I know.

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Boys Brunch: Louis Plottel – Travels Internationally, Speaks Locally

Traveling always sounds interesting but for some, it can be much more intriguing. As for Louis Plottel, a 21 year old Canadian who studies in United Arab Emirates and currently living in Indonesia –chill, He’s not that random as you might think He is– He brings traveling to a whole new level. He doesn’t just go to exotic places and instagram them with his fancy phone. Instead, Louis is more interested to live and settle for a while in countries which are quite unusual for a North American. He traveled all the way to South East and living in a very small village in Indonesia right after High School, chose to spend 4 years of his life taking a degree in Abu Dhabi, completed his college internship in Tanzania, and continued to have each semester in New York City and again, Indonesia.

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Louis Plottel, our very first Boys Brunch – June 2015

Louis is currently studying anthropology in University of Gadjah Mada –one of the Indonesian Holy Trinity– for a semester. As this is actually his third visitation to Indonesia and I had known him since the very first time he stepped his feet in this land, I have always been interested to see how he, as a foreigner, sees this diverse country by being the part of the community itself. This curly light brown haired boy has been living in Indonesian culture, eating the same food as other Indonesians, even speaking the language with a terrific skill. In my very first edition of Boys Brunch, I had the chance to kidnap him from Yogyakarta and made him spill his thought about Indonesia and its connection to the World in his favourite Magnum Café, Grand Indonesia, Jakarta.

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Who else is better to be your first guest other than your good old friend?

Feby (F): Hi Lou, nice to see you again. How you been doing in Indonesia so far?

Louis (L): Feb! Everything goes well back in Jogja. My school is great and I have made friends with lots of people, especially the locals. I really enjoy it, especially when I can practice my Bahasa Indonesia in daily conversation with my friends.

F: Glad to hear you enjoy it that much, so tell me again how many places have you actually been traveling to?

L: Well, I never really counted, though. I think I’ve been to somewhere around 22 or 23 countries. Maybe 24. Yeah, somewhere around that. HAHAHA

F: As this is not your first time coming to Indonesia, can you please tell us what you did in your previous visits?

L: The first time I came here was back in 2011, just right after I finished High School. I joined this volunteering program that was held by Canada World Youth and Indonesian Ministry of Youth and Sport with other 9 Canadians and 10 Indonesians, including you. HAHAHA. We were placed in a really small village called Cikandang, an hour away from Garut, West Java. It was amazing to have the experience. I had a really great time. The second one was summer 2013. I traveled with my friend from France for five weeks in Indonesia, reuniting with old pals and visited more places that I did not get the chance to visit previously. And now here I am again, having a full semester in another iconic city of Indonesia. Until now, I have been living in Indonesia for 8 months in total and I will not leave until August 2015.

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Lou was wearing a T-shirt that said Khalas, literally means finish in Arabic

F: Why do you keep coming back to Indonesia? Is this the first country where you keep coming back regularly?

L: You know, I think in my experience of traveling in Indonesia is a lot different than other places that I went. Maybe because when I came here for the first time, it wasn’t just for travel, it was for a volunteering project. That allowed me to have a really different experience than other countries that I just travelled to as a tourist. I am actually connecting with people on a deeper level, and I didn’t see the touristy side of Indonesia. For instance when I lived in the village I felt as if I got much deeper sense of what Indonesia is all about compared to other places that you go if you just travel, so I think that deep connection just stuck with me.

There are actually other places where I feel as if I could have the same experience as I did in Indonesia. Just having a deeper travel experience. But for me the reason why I keep coming back to Indonesia is just because it all started here! Also once you start to build up a network somewhere, it’s easy to keep going back to that network. Not necessarily easy, but it’s just better. Again, it means you can have a deeper experience. I enjoy living in a country where I can learn the language. Since this is the first country that I have visited regularly, so it makes sense to learn the language here. I mean besides countries that I live in like Canada and UAE. I can say that I live here now though, for short period of time.

F: When you travel to Indonesia, do you consider yourself as a traveler?

L: Well, sort of. I mean I’m obviously not a local person and I obviously live a different life than a lot of other people who live here. There are still other places in Indonesia that I want to go travel like a tourist sometimes, but at the same time I wouldn’t say I’m a tourist. I can say that I’m a resident. Maybe a temporary resident.

F: What do you think the most and least exciting city in Indonesia so far?

L: The least exciting is definetely Jakarta. I even think that it’s my least favourite city in the whole world. It’s just so much inequality here. And there’s just too much of everything. It’s too big for its own size, too much traffic, too many people, and too many rich people living in beside poor people.

Most exciting city for me, I mean exciting is kind of a weird adjective anyways, but I guess Jogja. Jogja is a perfect size for me. It’s not too big, nor too small. And I have lived there the longest so I have established a lot of friends there, but I also feel like there are so many cities that I haven’t been to here in Indonesia. They can be more exciting than Jogja. I don’t know. I just haven’t seen most places in this big country. And to be honest, I think that I kind of like the Indonesian countryside more than the cities.

F: What is your biggest achievement in while you have been living in Indonesia?

L: For my personal achievement I guess it is that I feel pretty proud that I can speak Bahasa Indonesia because it’s not a really common language for people to learn. And the time that I felt the most proud was when I can have an actual proper conversation with people and I actually have friendships in that language, I think that’s really fascinating when you can actually make really good friends in another language.

But I think the best thing that I’ve done in Indonesia would probably when I was volunteering with Canada World Youth. I felt really useful as we took the action to contribute to the community we lived in. But I actually hope that my research becomes the best thing in Indonesia!

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Signature style, bringing CWY spirit wherever we meet.

F: How will you think your Indonesian experience will affect your life in the future?

L: I actually thought about this a lot, recently. Like, what’s the contribution of being here in my life and honestly, the answer is I still don’t know. I actually have no idea. I’m sort of just living here in the moment because I like it at the moment. I haven’t really thought about the future. One think that might happen is if I become a researcher, or if I become a professor or something, I’m sure I’ll come back to Indonesia to do more research. Partly because I already speak Bahasa, though. That’s not set but that’s the path that my life might take. I don’t know, I try not to think about the future too much. I feel like I think about the future in terms of who I want to be instead of what I want to do. So of course Indonesia is going to affect my future. I’m always going to come back here. Because I have friends and places that still fascinate me. But I don’t really know what it’s going to mean in a broader sense.

F: You sound really connected to Indonesia. What is the Indonesian culture that you’re excited the most to share to people back home or places you’re going to travel to?

L: That’s a good question. I think part of the thing is that I don’t know if there are many people who know what’s going on in Indonesia. Compared to other countries that are just as big, for example people know a lot more about Brazil, China, India, and other big sized countries but people know very little about Indonesia. I mean part of it is just about telling people that Indonesia exists. But in terms of culture, I think Indonesian society is just set up in a really interesting way. It’s not one specific thing about culture. But I think Indonesia to me, or at least Java because that’s the place I know most in Indonesia, seems to have a really good system for allowing people to be quite different. You know in most countries there’s a lot of homogeneity. The culture sort of forces them to be a certain type of person. But here, I feel like people are so different from one another and allowed to be. Like, you can have those people that are activist and anarchist and they seem to be accepted in some way. That’s really cool.

F: So do you think people worldwide will appreciate that?

I think that they totally should. I don’t think inequality in Indonesia is good. I don’t think that it’s good that some people are so rich while some people are so poor. But I think the diversity of the society is a really good thing. And how Indonesia deals with its diversity, I think is a really good thing. Because in so many countries, I mean in America right now for example, there’s a big problem with black people being stopped, harassed or killed by the police at a much higher rate than others. That’s because the society isn’t really set up in a way that allows for diversity in the same way as here, in terms of race, identity or other things. And of course that type of stuff happens in Indonesia too but I just feel like as a society, Indonesia tolerates a lot of difference. Even like with Waria (Indonesian word for queer and crossdresser). It’s the same thing, you find that very few other countries around the world tolerate them in the same way because Indonesia has a level of acceptance for people to be different.

F: When you travel to places, do you usually have any special project to be completed?

L: I always take a picture of myself doing handstand in front of famous places. HAHAHAHA. I’m really good at it. Also, I always make sure that I meet local people and talk to local people. I think that’s really important for me. Especially to speak to them in the language that they understand.

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Lou’s signature style. This one was in Curug Orog Waterfall, Garut in 2012. Back to his first Indonesian experience. Pic credit: Frederique Landry

F: What is the best thing that happened when you travel so far?

L: Just travel in general totally changes me. I traveled a little bit before I went to NYU Abu Dhabi but I travelled a lot more after that because of the school, and I feel like a completely different person now. I just feel like when I go home to Canada, or not even when I go home to Canada, sometimes people just say things and it’s so obvious that they know very little about the rest of the world. For example people in Canada talking about Islam as a backward religion and stuff, and it’s so obvious that they’ve never talked to a Muslem, they’ve never met anyone who’s a Muslem, or heard someone who actually identifies as that. Or even in Indonesia sometimes people are talking about the rest of the world and they have a really weird perception of it, or even deeper, having skewed perceptions of one another, I feel I can just understand the way the world works a lot better now that I have travelled. I see patterns across countries, like this is what creates equality, this is what creates poverty, because I see similarities in different places, and differences too. It just allows you to understand the clocks behind the machine of how the world works. Like what allows things to turn, and I think that’s very valuable. I think I have a much better understanding now that I’ve got to see how the world works

F: OK, now explain yourself in only three words!

L: Up side down, and… um….. no, that’s three words already!

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He might be the only person in the history to ever do a handstand on the edge of Borobudur as it is strictly forbidden

I insisted that Upside down should be considered as 1 single phrase but Louis seemed either too obsessed by being upside down or could not think what he actually is beside that very interesting interpretation of himself. The whole interview went incredibly well. He was wearing a black T-shirt that says big “Khalas” on his chest that literally means “Finish” in Arabic. He sometimes had to think for several seconds when answering the questions, which I assumed that he might just realized about what he actually should do and what he had experienced around that time. But he always seemed so sure and sincere about it. I could totally see the love of travelling, especially in Indonesia through the big eyes of Louis Plottel which I really appreciated.

As our brunch came, we took a break of our chit chat by enjoying the heavenly meal. Louis had triple pancake, the thing that could remind him of home, and lychee iced tea while I had waffle, the thing that could remind me of Canadian brunch as well with regular iced tea. All menus here in this café are served with Magnum Popsicle which made us order another red velvet cake for us together. In the middle of brunch, we had more small talk that I asked him some questions that he just needed to answer with the very first thing that came into his mind without any delay.

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What Louis had: Pancake de Ostend – Trio mini pancakes with mini Magnum vanilla sticks, strawberry, blueberry, and peanut butter filling & lychee iced tea

  • What is your most favourite Indonesian food?

Gado-gado (Indonesian veggie salad with sticky rice and peanut sauce dressing)

  • Which Country that you always wish to live in?

Turkey

  • What is your must-have-fashion-item when you travel?

*laughing so hard* Shoes

  • Where is the place you wish you can die at?

On the top of Tibet. HAHAHA

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What I had: Waffle de Antwerp – Belgian waffle with chocolate Magnum stick, dark chocolate shavings and dark cherry compote & iced tea

The next round, Louis needed to choose one between two options I asked him to choose

  • Army pants or Hawaiian shirt?

Hawaiian shirt

  • Croissant or Bagel?

Croissant

  • Tokyo or Hong Kong?

Tokyo

  • Yoga or Jogging?

I like them both! Maybe I’ll choose Yoga

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Lou’s second visitation in Summer 2013 for the whole 5 weeks. This was in Solo, Central Java. Photo credit: Emma Burke

We completed the brunch with satisfaction. The interview went really well until we forgot that Louis should catch his flight back to Jogja right after that. Before we left, He just had one more task to complete. He needed to take picture in that place, anything he wanted. He decided to take this picture below so that you all can enjoy Jakarta through the eyes of Louis Plottel. Good luck for your Indonesian research, Lou!

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What Louis took. As he fancy the sentence “Intertwining beauty and suffering”. This is the view right in front of Magnum Cafe. Pic credit: Louis Plottel

About Louis:

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Lou and his Grass Routes pals back in summer 2012. Photo credit: Grass Routes

  • Louis Gerald Plottel was born and raised in Vancouver, British Columbia, the western most province in Canada in November 9th
  • Don’t feed him anything with face. He’s officially a Vegetarian since 2012
  • In summer 2012, Louis and his friends from British Columbia had an environmental project called grass routes, which he biked across Canada all the way from the west to the east and campaigning about environmental stuff in the cities they stopped by. They completed more than 4,000 km Distance in less than 3 months. More information visit: https://www.facebook.com/grassroutesbiking
  • Louis was accepted in two universities: New York University Abu Dhabi and College of The Atlantic with full scholarship for both. He chose NYUAD over College of The Atlantic in Maine, USA because He wanted to learn more cultures rather than just come back living in North America
  • Visit Ecoherence, an Environmental Club in NYUAD and ask who Louis is. Everyone will know him. Of course, he’s the president of the club.
  • How many places an Indonesian have traveled in Indonesia itself their entire life? Louis might travel more than them. He has been to Aceh, Bangka, Belitung, Jakarta, Bogor, Bandung, Garut, Tasikmalaya, Solo, Yogyakarta, Semarang, Kudus, Surabaya, Malang, Flores, and Bali. Beat that!
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The whole brunch and interview were done in Magnum Cafe, Grand Indonesia. See you for next month’s installment of Boys Brunch!

Behind the Ramadhan & Eid Mubarak

It has been day 7 after Ramadhan. It might be a little bit late but I would like to say Happy Eid Mubarak for those who celebrate it. I believe most of you had a really happy celebration back then. And by most of you means not all of you. We all know that some of our brothers and sisters all over the World had to have a quite hard times during Ramadhan & Eid, if you know what I mean. Let’s have a moment together to pray of the World peace and can’t we all just be normal friends that doesn’t involve any murder for God’s sake! Mind my temper.

Anyway, speaking about Ramadhan & Eid, I didn’t had the best time either this year. I know, I know you’re all gonna be saying “Wait, aren’t you in an Arabic country? The experience must be more real over there!”

First of all let me explain to you that Arab and Islam is a two total different think. Arab is what people call some Countries around Middle East with ruling governments and their people. But Islam, is a religion that every single one in any corner of the World can believe in, not only for people in Arab Countries can be Islam. Ramadhan & Eid, is an Islamic celebration, not Arabic celebration. So make no mistake just because you don’t live in Arab countries, doesn’t mean that you can’t have what you call as the real Ramadhan & Eid experience. What’s that real experience supposed to mean, anyway? Duhhhh.

Back again to my story, this year’s Ramadhan and Eid was the very First time in my 23 years of life to be away from home. Separated 6931 Kilometers away, I felt like there were some socially different ways between Ramadhan & Eid in Bahrain and Indonesia as I will describe below.

1. Restaurants & Cafes policy

If you own a restaurant, or you work in a restaurant in Indonesia, Ramadhan will be one of the busiest time of the year, especially after Iftar. As a country which is not ruled by the syariah law and recognize some other religions other than Islam, restaurants, cafes, and any other public place to eat are legally open during the day time when Moslems are fasting, and everybody are just fine. Ramadhan is usually used as the time for gathering. It’s either family gathering, office, school, tons of reunions from your elementary until college friends. I remember I had more than a half time of Ramadhan for tons of iftar invitations out of home that made my mom a little bit mad. #SorryMama. This whole thing, causes the restaurant business to be on top of their games. Imagine, wherever you go, restaurant will be busy and full booked in most of cities in Indonesia. This is the culture that I really miss. To meet some old friends while spilling some old secrets and jokes. Especially for me and my close friends, going Karaoke after iftar feast is a must!

But then in Bahrain, think later if you want to open your restaurant during daytime. Even if you just hold a bottle of water, man you’re gonna be in some serious business. Zero place to eat is open during the daytime (So stock your food if you are not fasting!). Iftar? Well, not really either. Apparently Ramadhan is the least busy time of the year in Bahrain. People here do not really have a culture that they will go out for outside iftar with their friends and relatives. Thus, some restaurants are even closed for the whole month. Many of them use this least busy “opportunity” to do some renovations to their restaurants so they will have a kinda new look for after Ramadhan. Most people are going out outside after tarawih (a special preayer that we just do in Ramadhan). Malls and Parks will be busy as they’re open until just before sahur. Interesting, eh?

Eventough the Malls were open from morning, the restaurants were closed and started to open on iftar time

Eventough the Malls were open from morning, the restaurants were closed and started to open on iftar time

2. Alcohol Banning

As a country who legalize Alcohol to be sold in permitted places, Ramadhan is an exception in Bahrain. It is extremely illegal to sell any Alcohol or anything that contains alcohol at all. This year’s Ramadhan was somehow a coincidence with the kids’ summer holiday. No alcohol, a god damn hot weather, not really much business happening, most expats chose to leave the country for a moment to escape, and maybe have some champagne 😉

3. Timing

Geographically, Indonesia is located right in the middle part of the Equator line (And I don’t understand why aren’t we called as the Middle Eastern instead). So in terms of timing, there is no significant time different throughout the years. It makes us always have the same time every year to do fasting and having prayer. Indonesian fasting is usually done from the sunrise around 4 AM until sunset before 5.45 PM. In the middle of summer heat, we actually had to fast longer here. The sun raised earlier around 3.15 AM and set later 6.35 PM with a hotter weather.

Also for the Eid prayer. Indonesians usually do it around 7 AM but since the Sun raised earlier in summer, they do it around 5 AM. Way too Early for the Indonesians. LOL. Luckily the Indonesian Embassy also held the Eid prayer and thank God it followed the Indonesian time at 7 AM. We were also treated some Indonesian Eid-special food by the embassy as their way to make us feel like home. Thank you Indonesian Embassy!

4. Eid Tradition

For Moslems in Indonesia, Eid is probably the most anticipated day in a year. It’s a big celebration day after a full month of fasting in Ramadhan when the whole family are gathering together. As it is most associated as a holly day and people are supposed to have zero sin (start again from the beginning as like we’re reborn), We have to make it socially too instead of just to God. People are supposed to apologize and forgive each other, especially the ones they no most so there won’t be anymore hurt inside their feeling if there was any. This moment makes Indonesian family have this tradition where they go to their family’s relatives’, and neighbors’ houses and have a nice chit chat or doing things they like together. The hype of Indonesian Eid can last to 3-4 days, can be so much more in smaller towns due to their big culture.

In Bahrain, I don’t really know exactly but as I heard, they also go to their family’s house but maybe not as intense as in Indonesia. You know how I know? Restaurants are super busy on the day of Eid! The official public holiday was 3 days and all the seats in any restaurants were full booked. It was maybe some kind of a revenge of the past month where people barely eat in the restaurant. Many restaurants were interestingly had some DJs to entertain the guests on Eid night. It is so interesting that we don’t really have those things going on. Indonesians Eid is more cultural, religious, and intimate. The province capitals will be less crowded as people will go home just for Eid in their hometown (What I understand is that Bahrain is such a small country that you can just travel the whole country in just 2 hours, so the whole land is hometown). It was a totally different feeling of having the two Eids in two different Countries. I would for sure chose to spend it home but it was also interesting to discover more tradition.

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Malls and Restaurants were the most crowded place during Eid

Overall, the experience had been just fine. It was sad that I could not make it home but you know, this heart of mine is made to travel the World. I enjoy getting a new experience in a new place and who knows in which place will I spend my Ramadhan and Eid next year (and oh yeah, I am open for any invitations. haha).