January last year, in 2010, me and my club in campus had a mangrove tree planting in Muara Angke with the US Embassy and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). I had a small conversation with Arend, the one who handle the Public Affairs division in the US Embassy. He asked me what I’m doing in my club. I told him about our projects. He was so interested. He said that in the US, they have an Environmental Issues as a major in the university. I said, it was cool! He asked me if I’m interested to study about that. I said, of course. He said, he’ll give me the info about it. I said, OK.
The end of the conversation.
I’ve never thought it was really gonna happen before I had a phone call from “Kak Reni – US Embassy”. I was half asleep that morning, but I still picked up my phone, trying to sound better. Ehm ehm! I cleared my throat.
This was the conversation.
Me: “ehm ehm.. Hello?”
Kak Reni: “Hello, Cea. How are you?”
Me: “I’m fine, Kak. Is there anything I can do for you?”
Kak Reni: “Hmmm, what semester are you in now?”
Me: “7th Semester, kak”
Kak Reni: “How’s your English?”
Me: “Yaaa, standard kak.”
Kak Reni: “Ooh, you are in the 7th semester already yah? Do you want to study in the US?”
Me: *fully awoke, a little bit shocked* Of course, Kak! *stay cool*
Kak Reni: “OK. Please send your CV to my email, OK? I’ll send you the application form after that. Do you know my email?”
Me: “No, Kak”
Kak Reni: “OK. I’ll text you ya.”
Me: “OK. Thanks, Kakak.”
I told my dad about it and he just said: “It’s up to you. Just try it” without any excitement.
I said: “Well. OK.”
I filled up the form with no expectation. I didn’t really like the US. I love UK. But, nothing to lose if we try it, right?
My dad was sick at that time. Suddenly he said: “How is your application? Are you sure you wanna go? Do you want to leave me?”
A little bit upset, I said: “Please, Dad. I don’t know if I will be accepted or not. And please, if I am accepted, I only will go for around 1 month!”
My Dad had to be in the hospital. He was in a comma. I prayed to God, I didn’t need to go to the US, even I didn’t want to go to the UK anymore, but I need Him to heal my Dad. “Don’t take him from me! I really need him so much.” I was still 21 and my brother was 18. We still need him.
But then I realized, who am I? How could I ask those from God?
My dad passed away. And that time, I totally forgot about my application.
March last year. Exactly these days. Mom was in the kitchen, cooking. There was a news about Obama. She asked me: “Cel, why doesn’t Obama come to Indonesia again this time? What happened to him?” I was going to go to my room when my mom asked me that and I replied just for fun: “Yes, because he waits me to visit him in the US.”
In my room, My phone rang. ‘Kak Reni – US Embassy’ called.
“Cea! How are you?” she said.
Me: “I’m fine, Kak. How are you?”
Kak Reni: “I’m fine, too. By the way, are you going to have a birthday this month?”
Me: “Yes. How do you know, Kak?”
Kak Reni: “Coz it’s written on you CV.”
Me: “Ah, I forgot you have my CV.”
Kak Reni: “I want to give my brithday present to you now, OK. Listen carefully.”
Me: *I held my breath*
Kak Reni: “Cea, you are one of the applicants who are accepted to join in the SUSI program.”
Me: “Oh. Thank you, Kak.” *I was freezing*
Kak Reni: “Only that? Your expression is only that? Are you not happy?”
Me: “I’m confuse, Kak. I’m happy, though. Thank you so much!!”
Kak Reni: “Congratz! I’ll send you the details and someone from US Embassy will call you to explain everything to you, OK? Congratulations once again.”
Me: “Thanks, Kak.”
Me: “Mom, it’s true! Obama waits me to go there.”
Mom: “What?” She still didn’t understand what I have said.
I sat beside her. I cried. A happy cry. “Someone from the US Embassy just called me and she said I have been accepted to participate in SUSI Program in the US.”
Mom cried and she hugged me.
God works in a very mysterious way. Since I was a kid, I always dreamt to go and live in the UK. It was my passion, and still is my passion until now. I always pray to God to make it happens. But look what He had done! I’ve never thought to go to anywhere else in the world except UK, but He opened my eyes. He sent me to the US, to Montana, a best place I’ve ever lived, to see that there’s another place beside UK, that as beautiful as I’ve never imagined.
Now I love the US also, especially Montana. I’ve learnt so much. Not only about the environmental issues, but I’ve learnt so many things about American people, about Indian American tribes and their tradition, about leadership and negotiation, and the most important is I’ve learnt about life from people I’ve met there. I knew people not only from America, but also from other countries: Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos. I found a new family there and not only that. I found my self that I’m actually not a city type girl. I love to live in a small town, a peaceful town like Missoula and seriously want to make it happen.
When I was in Washington, DC, in front of the White House, I definitely couldn’t meet Obama of course, but at that day was exactly the birthday of Obama. Many people came there and they were singing a Happy Birthday song for him. The funniest thing was when Obama came to Indonesia (finally), I’ve been asked by the US Embassy to be the social media team to welcome Obama’s visit to Jakarta. And they invited me to come to UI to attend his speech. And for the first time in my life, I could see the President of the United States, stood right in front of me after his speech. Speechless. Yes, I was.
“My school friends would’ve never imagined that I will come back here to Indonesia as the President of the United States.” He said on his speech. Those words have changed my life. It was so inspiring. I couldn’t help my tears to not falling down. And yes! Every time I feel down, I always remember these words.
It’s true. Your word is your pray. Be careful of what you have said. It will happen to you. So pick and use your words carefully. Trust me! 🙂 I experienced that.
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