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 very narrow quota for those who were classified as “WNI Keturunan Cina” (people of Chinese descent in Indonesia or Chinese Indonesians) to enter state universities. Having said that, my brother encouraged me to try anyway.
The admission officer checked my documents and asked, “Where is your proof of citizenship? Where is your change of name document?” “I am Indonesian and never changed my name,” I replied. Continue reading “Being Lim”