“You can be anything you want to be” — we hear and read this a lot: in the media, in the (Hollywood) movies, in “successful” people’s biographies. This phrase has become a motivational mantra for success.
After standing in line for hours, it was finally my turn. I was one of thousands of high schoolers who were queuing to register for the national entrance examination for public universities. I wished to be admitted in the best technical university in Indonesia. My very smart eldest brother, who applied to the same university a decade earlier and wasn’t admitted, already warned me not to keep my hope too high. He said, “I know you’re smart and everything, but remember, we are classified as ‘non-native’ (non-pribumi). While others just need to score around 80 (out of 100) to get in, we need to be near perfect”. It was only later in my life I learned that during the Suharto’s New Order era there was indeed a quota for those who were classified as “Chinese Indonesians” to enter state universities. Having said that, my brother encouraged me to try anyway. Continue reading What would happen if … #1
….in a memory of Edward Soja (1940-2015)…
I met Ed Soja thirteen years ago, on 6 February 2002, during my first visit to the United States. He generously allocated forty-five minutes of his busy schedule to meet me in his office at UCLA. At that moment, I was just a random, uncertain young aspiring scholar who did not even know what she’d do in the next couple months. I was excited to have had this opportunity, and, yet, felt so nervous about it. Prior to the meeting, I had already rehearsed so many topics and issues I wanted to talk with him in my head. However, as the nerves kicked in, I found myself mute and petrified. I am not sure whether it was his look, his stature, or his commanding voice that made me feel apprehensive. It was probably the combination of all three and a simple fact that he was Edward Soja.
with many thanks and congratulations to Juan Felipe Herrera...
let us gather in a flourishing wayen la luz y en la carne of our heart to toiltranquilos in fields of blossomsjuntos to stretch los brazostranquilos with the rain en la mañanatemprana estrella on our foreheadcielo de calor and wisdom to meet uswhere we toil siemprein the garden of our struggle and joy— an excerpt from “Let Us Gather in a Flourishing Way” by Juan Felipe Herrera
Tears were glistening in her eyes and spilling over to splash down her cheek. She turned her head to look at him, who apparently had already looked at her. She turned her eyes to his eyes. With a teardrop hidden in a corner of his eye, he reached out and gently touched her hand. His eyes were locked on hers.
Continue reading The “Herrera” moment
In the last decade or so, I came across some intellectual celebrities in various occasions in various places. No, I don’t have any evidence of my encounters with these people, no autograph, no selfies, nada. I had some email exchanges with a couple of them but I’d keep these to myself. Also, while they’re inspirational, meeting them didn’t not make me any special. Just because they’re brilliant, genius, and famous, it doesn’t mean that I turned brilliant, genius, and famous once I met them. Unlike in scenes of many feel-good Hollywood movies, I don’t have any life-changing moments in any of these encounters. In fact, some of the stories are probably rather ordinary, as exemplified in the story I am going to tell you. Continue reading A neighbor with a beautiful mind
Gee, my last blog post was posted a year ago. Is it really that long time ago? 😉
Imagine that one day you were just watching television and suddenly heard news about a missing plane. And you were oblivious to the fact that someone in that plane was your loved one. Minutes later, you saw a familiar name in the list of passengers. Suddenly it felt like someone had knocked all the air out of you. You went numb. Your heart sank. And your blood ran cold. All at the same time. Those cliche phrases that you thought only exist in a fiction suddenly turned real. Worse, in your next minutes, hours, and days, that very same television screen would replay the tragedy over and over again, scene by scene, bits by bits, like a never ending nightmare. Continue reading No comment
“… In grappling with multiple identities and multiple realities, the reality of everyday life is experienced as reality par excellence. Micro narratives that are closer to the everyday life experience are embraced more openly, resulting in the plurality of voices, allowing for differences, nuances, and even counter-hegemonic voices. The closer to home the issue resonates, the more conversations take place. Life is local, even in the global blogosphere.” Continue reading [Publication] Life Is Local in the Imagined Global Community