Life is a rollercoaster ride, with ups and downs. From time to time I have experienced crises from transitions and life changing events. Unpredictable moments arrived, sometimes sweetening my life with tiny little details; other times intruding on my simple life. Those details have made my life exciting to remember.
I spent most of my life in the capital of Indonesia, Jakarta, where gleaming skyscrapers grace the skyline alongside heartbreaking wooden huts; where the road is an arena for cars and motorcycles to fight. I have so many memories living there. Some of the most terrific memories are of my elementary school teacher, Miss A. She was my first grade teacher, a middle aged woman with a lovely round face, big eyes, and a smile always on, making her look so motherly. The first day of school she walked into class and looked around, taking her time. She seemed to understand totally the confusion and anxiety that plagued all of us young children, for the first time in our little lives, packed into this room, to study and be studied, and to comply with orders. As she spoke in front of the class, there was a warmth that shone from out her face. She made the children feel better. There was a motherly aura about her. Abruptly, the butterflies in my stomach were gone. From that first day on, we were really close. Miss A helped me through a long six years of elementary school. She owns a place in my heart as a second mother. She taught me, told me, and trained me to bring out the best in me. I knew that her patience, persistence, and dedicated support guided me to be successfully awarded as a valedictorian.
Graduating elementary school with a surprisingly outstanding grade, I was offered the chance to attend an acceleration class. These classes are for students who have the ability to learn and absorb lessons faster, so they can finish middle school and high school in four years. The admissions test was awfully long with questions that could make those neurons in one’s brain rigid. I did not expect too much. Nevertheless, about one week later, a postman delivered a thick, brown package with my name on it. I opened the envelope and read the letter quickly. I had been accepted to the acceleration class. Directly, I called my mom. She shouted gloriously on the phone and congratulated me.
Enrolling in an acceleration class means learning twice as fast and studying twice as hard. It required hard work, patience, discipline, and persistence. It was exhausting and demanding. There were times when I felt I could not bear the pressure. That last semester, college applications and final assignments were due. Challenging tests awaited. I felt helpless. I wished I could quit and have a vacation. But this near the end, I pushed myself to the limit. I managed to sleep for only two to four hours every day to get everything done. Fortunately, without significant pain or illness, I got through it. In August 2010, I graduated high school at the age of sixteen.
I attended University for one year. I studied business with a concentration in accounting. It was enjoyable, although hard. I worked as well. I was offered a job with the promoter of a massive jazz festival in Southeast Asia, Java Festival Production. I was assigned to work as assistant to the event coordinator. The Java Jazz Festival is a 3-days event with up to fifty shows and hundreds of performers per day under one roof. As the assistant to the event coordinator, I was responsible for fifteen promotional events and artist relations. The pace of work was unbelievably fast. The working hours sometimes were extremely long. Despite this, the mood was electrifying. In the offices, we could sing or dance when we were bored. We could take breaks when we were tired as long as we got our job done. On the day of the Java Jazz Festival, all the hard work paid off. The event ran well, the promotion was a success, the artists and the audiences pleasantly enjoyed the shows. It was a preciously proud feeling that was indescribable. It felt like there was the wind whispering, “You did it!”
Not so long after the Java Jazz Festival, my mom received a large package with Cyprus post mark on it. I looked at her curiously as she opened it. She gave the letter to me. I read it too. The letter stated that we had won the Green Card Lottery. We did not immediately believe that we had really won. We thought it was probably a scam. When my dad came home, he explained that he once registered all of us for a green card lottery, years ago. We realized we really had won. We were notified to submit all the required forms and documentation to the U.S embassy in Jakarta. After a month of waiting, my mom got another notification that our interview was set on June 3rd. On the day of the interview, I felt my palms sweating, my heart beating fast. I had fearful fantasies that the interviewer would be a skinny, holy terror; a fierce woman who frightened us. In reality, the interviewer was a woman with a pale oval face and square framed glasses. She was really kind and pleasant. The interview flowed like a chat. We did not even realize it lasted an hour. She decided that we were qualified for the green cards. One hour later, we walked out of the embassy with three immigrant visas. I felt so lucky to have an opportunity to live in the United States. I felt like I could live the life I had imagined.
My life is a set of continuous surprises. Random events arise. I do not ask for them. Sometimes I just wonder why and how it has happened. Whatever their source, those events have a common tie, a common solution; to keep hanging on whenever I encounter a difficult time. I have faith that life will be easier once I get the hang of it. Experience teaches perception; dawn comes after darkness; triumph can follow defeat. Additionally, difficult times made me understand better how rich and varied life is, in every way.