Dear PRESTASI Team,
It’s been seven wonderful months since I first arrived in the States to start my Master of Laws in DC. My experiences have shaped not only my knowledge of law, but most importantly my perspective about differences. In one of the study course that I took here, prenegotiation in cross border transaction, I learned a concept of “naïve realism”. The meaning of this concept is basically people use to think that other people must have the same view with them. When the other people disagree, people having naïve realism thinks that the disagreed person is the irrational one. This naïve realism mostly led to failure of resolution to the problem that the team are dealing with. Apparently, you cannot achieve anything if you points at the differences and the irrationality of the other side of the table. I agree with my lecturer share of wisdom on this. When you try to understand, appreciate and embrace other people’s differences, you will go far ahead.
It is so easy for people to judge one’s attitude to a certain culture. Before I came to the States, I never realized that I also have this stereotype. I have many colleagues from around 66 different countries in my program. They have helped me to realize that my stereotype of countries were mostly inaccurate, or even wrong. I sits in a class with students from Palestine and Israel. They were friendly and get along very well in the classroom. I thought at first that Spanish and Latin America is more of “fiesta”. Indeed, they are the life of a party, however, I've discovered that they are also one of the friendliest and generous people I ever met. I thought Swiss people were individual, but, one of my friend was socially very active in the international student group. I thought British were calm and reserved. Well, I met at least one person who’s not. I thought all Africans were outspoken and love to dance. I found out some of them are calm, serious, and don’t know how to dance. My Afghan friend have a more polite culture, closer to Japanese. This eliminate any stereotype that I have about this developing country.
As a capital city, DC is very much international in terms of the people, languages and perspectives. I met many nice and warm people here. Often I walk through strangers on the street who greets me. “Hi, how are you?”, “have a good day”, “thank you”. Simple greetings that made me felt like I’m home. I also met not so nice people too. There are some people who are rude and treat others based on their outlook. I realized that there are good people, bad people, Americans, non-Americans. They are people, not countries. So, DON’T STEREOTYPE.
Some say studying in US makes you became “Americanized” and less “Indonesian”. I don’t understand what this saying means. The interesting thing is, a lot of US citizens comes from different countries and were not a native American. In fact, I met a lot of Indonesian who have already received American citizenships. These people are so proud to say that they are Indonesian, and they care about what is happening in Indonesia, even more than most people that I know in my hometown. Lesson learned, try to see people as they are and not from where they came from. DON’T JUDGE.
I guess the universal problem is, the world we are living tends to segregate people in types and segment. When we were a little, we received different treatment of boys and girls. Boys should not be crying like girls. Girls should play with dolls and wear skirts. As we grow up, things get more diversed and segmented like, what major you want in high school? is it natural science or social science? What kind of activities you want to take after class? Art or sports? These activities will determine how society define who you are and where you belong. What is your last name? What tribes or nations are you?. What is your religion? As a result, we became use to think that segregation is a natural thing, but it’s not. Why we never succeed? I believe the biggest reason is segregation. I still remember the saying of “divide et impera”, which contributes to the fact Indonesia being colonialized for centuries. Indonesia independence took place when the young Indonesians decides to forget the differences and looking to one goal, that is freedom. The United States was born when different States in the continent decided to come in “union” and attain one similar goal, freedom and equality.
I wish to share the golden nuggets of life I learned here. I am so blessed to have the chance to see other parts of the world. However, I discovered that I don’t need to go half around the globe to see the reality and learn from it. The recipe of how we get the most from this scholarship program is the same as to how we get the most from life. What we need is an open heart to LISTEN AND LEARN from others, irrespective of their differences. This has helped me to build a lasting friendship with other people from different countries and to gain a better wisdom in all aspects of knowledge. I really think that it does not matter where you are, what is your background, tribes, islands, nations, language, religion, education and knowledge. You could do great things and go far in life if you work together for the same greater good. E pluribus unum - out of many, one. A motto written in the seal of the United States, similar to the meaning of Bhinneka Tunggal Ika. WE ARE DIFFERENT. BUT WHEN WE THINK AS ONE, WE COULD ACHIEVE GREAT THINGS.
Note: Feitty is currently studying International Business and Economic Law at Georgetown University. She will obtain her master degree in May 2014.
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