How a friendship led to a literacy project in Indonesia
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I believe that a good and healthy friendship isn’t just about hanging out, shopping together, or partying together. Having fun with each other is a must in friendship, but wouldn’t it be more fun if we could improve ourselves and the people around us as well? I believe that to build a good and healthy friendship, it’s also about creating a positive vibe within yourself and making it impactful for others.
I’m so glad that I have a friend who shares the same passion as I do. Her name is Vanessa and she is my exchange friend who lives in Batam, Indonesia. We have the same passion for youth empowerment and literacy. I wanted to sustain our friendship by creating a project in Batam called Healthy and Beneficial Friendship in the Literacy World. On my one week trip to Batam, we managed to have 3 different literacy activities. I told Vanessa during our discussion by phone that I want to make sure that literacy world is applicable for everyone, with no exception. So, I told her that we should do a literacy activity in an inclusive school as well.
We held the literacy event on 21st July 2017 at Putra Kami Inclusive School. We tried to approach literacy as a fun thing to explore. Literacy consists of reading, writing, and public speaking. On this occasion, we taught the students how to have the confidence and the right attitude as a public speaker. We also inspired them by sharing our story, and our motivations as exchange students.
We are able to have this wonderful experience because we understand the importance of good literacy and practice it on our daily life. Having good literacy skills is very important because as an exchange student, we become the ambassador of Indonesia and the ambassador of our exchange country. Eventually, with the development of technology and social media, everybody can become a global citizen and the ambassador of Indonesia without having the experience of going abroad or being officially appointed as an ambassador.
To make it more fun, before the session ended we made pins and crowns together. In the Rotary Youth Exchange Program, we have a culture of exchanging pins as a way to remember that we have friends around the world. We hope that these pins will encourage the students to have a vision as global citizens and to have friends around the world. We made the crowns with the hope that they will understand the power of themselves and remember the responsibility that comes with it.
We spent more than two hours at the school. It was time with a lot of fun and excitement. Was it challenging? Yes, it was. Was it complicated? Not so much, if you are willing to appreciate, learn, and embrace the regulations and customs. Will I do it again? Yes, for sure!
I learn a lot from that experience. After all, the kids who are at that special needed school are just kids. They are learning and want to have fun. Perhaps, at their age they are a bit older than usual to be at that stage of education but this doesn’t mean we can put them aside, ignore, or even mock them. Everybody is gifted in their own way. As humans, we have to support each other to recognize the best version of ourselves rather than tearing each other apart.
The motto I held on to during the session was, “I’m going to make the session be one of the reasons why they leave the school with happiness and a feeling of empowerment. I come with no prejudice. I will put aside the stereotypes, appreciate everyone, and be an open-minded person”.
It was my first time in this kind of situation. I can’t lie that at first it was quite overwhelming to manage the children’s sense of wanting attention. Well, I believe that humans need to be considered and respected. We must respect others. I might have been the center of an event, but I can’t be self-centered person. I encourage myself to be a better listener. I learn on how to give everyone attention equally without shutting down others’ initiative.
Listening to their stories, responding to their enthusiasm somehow brings out the good vibes in you. Open yourself to the opportunity to learn from everyone, everywhere, then you will feel blessed and empowered.