This either is going to be insightful, influential, or rather just mouthful and old-school – a drafted short reflective memoir written passionately for a class assignment entitled ‘Hero’s Challenge’. Though despite that, my sole purpose here still is to write what I feel needs to be said, and I intend to keep it that way.
a. how it all happened
I’ve always wanted to become a published author. Nothing else satisfies and scares the living crap out of me more than to have my work out there being showcased through thousands of shelves in general bookstores, waiting for a reader to pick it up and devour its content. It was then I realized that I needed to immediately start somewhere in order for the dream to come true, and after weeks upon weeks of putting it off – I finally made myself a blog.
Everything began with me writing my first ever post about my experience joining a business competition in Tangerang. Then my writing kicked off with me publishing more and more lifestyle and in-depth posts regarding topics I never would’ve thought I’d tackle on: book reviews, travelling to the UK, my life stories, exclusive journalistic scopes, etc. I used to post quite often on the blog, but as my life started to shift into busier storms, I was left with not enough time to keep it posted.
It all started back when I was in high school, during the midst of my avid blog-writing days where I published several articles – in-depth scopes regarding several of my closest friends who were celebrating the mark of their adulthood (a.k.a sweet 17) as my birthday gifts to them. As soon as they were published, a very unexpected feedback from a long-distance reader came to my instagram DMs telling me that I had a knack of potential in writing about other people. She strongly insisted that I should create a project that’s similar to Brandon Stanton’s “Humans of New York” in Surabaya, only with a twist of my own persona that strikes differently from his. Then I thought to myself, “Why not? Listening to everyday stories from other people should be an interesting job, let alone write about them.” Then after weeks of contemplating and weighing out the yes and nos, I finally decided to conduct my very first interview.
So there was this new cafe that opened within a 5-minute-walk reach that very much sparked my interest. “Who was the person behind this fascinating cafe concept which location is quite isolated from general day to day consumers?” “Why would he/she do it?” I just had to know. And since I couldn’t possibly interview this mysterious figure all by myself, I decided to ask my best friend to come along with me so she could also offer the owner a chance to sponsor our school’s musicale performance project.
Thus, we were all set at around 4 PM, after school was done for that day, to meet my very first interviewee for Surabaya Tells (yes, I had decided to name it Surabaya Tells just because I can). To assume that I wasn’t scared or anxious at the time was an understatement. I was terrified. Having a slightly more of an introverted side myself, it was hard to approach a complete utter stranger to directly ask for an interview. After finishing our meals, I have decided to march up to the cashier and do it: I asked whether or not the owner of this cafe was present, and to my luck, she was to return to the cafe VERY soon – straight from work!
As soon as the owner (read: Sally) came home, she immediately sent out her warmest welcome to me and my best friend for visiting her humble cafe. When I asked for a deliberate interview, explaining about this whole concept of Surabaya Tells I have envisioned to someday become – she nodded and said, “Yes, I would be honored to be your first story!” Then I interviewed her, just like that. My first flawed, unprepared, yet most significant step towards something new. I could still remember my stuttered voice delivering questions, then hers answering it with her story of building this cafe because she wanted a lot of high school students to stop by and sit here to chill, or do their homework. She also told me about her other job as a lecturer in one of Surabaya’s top universities teaching tourism. My best friend also gave her a proposal for our school’s play sponsorship, and she took in consideration to invest. Turns out, stepping off of my comfort zone wasn’t so bad after all. Sally told me to keep going, because she thought my project sounded fantastic. Her approach was invigorating, she even suggested several compelling interviewees to feature on my next posts. Feeling galvanized, once I finished saying thank you and bidding my farewells, I went straight home to tell my family the news with the happiest heart.
My man (and woman) hunting days continued up until the month of December, where I reached more people than I had ever imagined, only to request a meet-up for an interview. Only this time around, I was willing to try expanding the format of my inanimate written-media format to lively short clips for followers who prefer audio-visual content to consume. I wouldn’t have had done it without the help of my brother and cousins, of course. They were the ones who’d accompany me just about anywhere to meet, document, and edit throughout the entire course of interviews I conducted at the time.
Then came the darker era of mandatory 12th grade national standardized tests prep days, or should I say – months. Thus, I had to stop working on Surabaya Tells for a while, and take an infuriating 6 months of hiatus to simply focus. This was one of the hardest things for me to do – leaving the job of a community journalist that I was already in love with doing until national tests were over. I had to wait and bear with the weighing thought of my piled up interviewees content left unpublished till further notice, which sucked. But thank God, in the end, they turned out being quite understanding after I explained to them what my natural current state was.
In short, Surabaya Tells has given me the pleasure of interviewing a total of 70+ people of all sorts so far, including figures like Laura Angelia (famous Surabayan food blogger who currently lives in Australia), Fabian Yudhistira (one of the gatekeepers from Suara Surabaya), Sendy Malumbot (a legendary band mentor who has dedicated almost half of his life to accommodate teen bands), Regina Kresnajaya (a communication designer from Suara Surabaya), Amanda Kohar (a number 1 top Surabayan foodie influencer on social media), Deka Makan Doang (also a top Surabayan foodie influencer), Jessica Sudarta (a well-known Indonesian harpist), Aniek Puspawardani (a developer of Kelecung Village Tourism in Bali), and Brandon de Angelo (one of the top 3 contestants from ‘Indonesia Mencari Bakat’), as well as many other insightful, inspirational, mindful people whose stories were also as intriguing to listen to.
Surabaya Tells was more than just a project for me, it was (and still is) my life. I could spend a day interviewing at least 3 people while simultaneously working a job as a Marketing Officer at a cafe in Loop during weeks before I started entering university. It still all felt surreal to me somehow, finding that one thing you enjoy most doing, and claiming it to be your vocation. I felt like I was living the dream as a writing community journalist who has already succeeded in featuring 20+ people on her self-built developing media once every two days on her first ever volume (#SurabayaBerceritaVol01).
So now that I’m already in university, where I am expected to fit the mold of pursuing a bachelor’s degree like everyone else in our society, the one remaining question still stands: how will I ever balance my life by conducting 3 jobs (a student, a marketing officer, and a community journalist) all at once? But enough about me for now, allow me to elaborate that matter on the final chapter of this quick memoir, so that we may now listen to me rave about how much I gained invaluable insight from my heroine for today’s blog post: Hillary Clinton.
b. regarding hillary
Hillary Rodham Clinton. The first ever woman to be nominated as president in the United States, the double-binded figure who has experienced disarrays as a woman in politics, and has been undervalued for being the dominant female leader the country supposedly needs. She has an exponentially grandeur track record of successes in helping millions of people: by becoming an activist for incarcerated young adults, a student council leader in Yale who made drastic changes for her campus, former Secretary of State who has travelled to 112 countries dealing with terrorists and signing significant change-maker deals, and a devoted mother, wife, and sister who has never given up without a fight.
The value she has brought to the United States was excessively impacting. I had the biggest privilege of reading her raw thoughts from her most recent memoir: What Happened, which brought tremendous clarity to what actually occurred during the 2016 campaign she lost against Donald Trump, written from her brutally honest perspective at heart. So it is no secret that every little information I have here is based on my reading experience devouring that bulk of a book.
There were not any chapters where my breath was not taken away by her truth in writing. I’ve already finished more than half of this book reading her detailed elaboration during her campaign travelling days, listening to countless unheard voices in West Virginia (a town of blue-collar mine workers who were losing their jobs due to the coal’s decrease in demand globally), facing distinctively biased medias undermining her policies and intentions, and of course, accepting defeat from her legendary obnoxious opponent, Donald Trump. The value her policies offered to the table was undoubtedly realistic – with meticulous calculations on how she would provide policies that would step by step change American lives as a whole. Hillary took her opportunity seriously – during her campaign travelling days she was always instinctively talking about solutions to furious, ignored, and/or unheard voices that needed her attention, and then trying her best to put change into action.
There was a time where she told us her views regarding an interview she’d done for “Commander in Chief Forum” being disappointing but predictable because when the interviewer promised to talk about national security and the complex global issues that face their nation, she ended up getting a 30 minute session of apologetic response towards her careless behavior of using her private email account to conduct state affairs. Looking at the example, the media was clearly being biased because when it came to Trump, there was no mentioning of his lies regarding Iraq. To Hillary, this inequivalence to media coverage for campaign was sickening. And that was only one of the many examples she’d mentioned in the book regarding how ridiculous the media coverage can be in America during the 2016 campaign – focusing on the wrong side of the issues at hand in order to accumulate bombarding views. This in turn, resulted to terrible optics for Hillary as a candidate.
Another story she told us was about a poor African-American majority populated town named Flint, whom nobody bothered to care about. She immediately paid a visit and saw for herself that the town was filled with toxic water, and very minimum health care centers that could help provide medical treatments for the illnesses they were suffering from just that. This filled her with great indignation. Since she couldn’t do anything much on her own, she decided to garner help by raising awareness through her social media account, and gathered extravagant amount of help from American plumbers, medics, nurses, etc to help save the future of this poor town in America. Her thought bubble that time was, “Progress comes when you roll your sleeves up, and get to work.”
She was also an active partner to Marian, founder of CDF (Children’s Defense Fund) during the 1970s to figure out why so many families in a working-class Portuguese family in Massachusetts were keeping their children out of school by simply knocking door-to-door to ask them fondly. They figured that most schools didn’t have the right facilitators to accommodate children with disabilities, so they had no other choice but to stay home with no proper education infused upon them. Marian and Hillary worked hard gathering the data they needed to file in a report which they sent out to Congress in Washington, and it took them several years to wait for the Congress to release an Education For All Handicapped Children Act which required all public schools to provide accommodations for students with disabilities. This was no glamorous work for her, but in time, after years of learning behind the desk as a law school student, she finally experienced first-hand on what it’s like to lend a helping hand removing one out of the many crises Americans were facing through her practice in CDF.
Hillary’s line of networks should mostly originate from her extensive years as a public servant. She’d often seek for advice regarding the policies she’d wish to create or modify, like the Affordable Care Act (a landmark health reform legislation, also known as Obamacare) and conduct such careful considerations and meticulous calculation with the help of her policy team at work.
During campaign trails where she would travel through the states of America, she had a glam team from Vogue that reached out to her to help her with her overall appearance, her secret service detail that provided them security wherever they went, a schedule team that arranged rundowns of day to day campaign events, focus groups that discussed poll numbers and strategies to up-scale them, press corps of journalists that were to report on their daily activities, and so many other unmentioned people who helped make her campaign work. During her campaign, she had portrayed her intent to help the states that were facing troubles like opioid addiction, school shootings, police brutality, and many other unmentioned issues by offering to discuss solutions to create better policy for contingencies. In short, she was a woman of integrity and determination – keen to (and has always been) making better changes for her nation.
So, why Hillary?
Because I believe that in order to create change, there definitely needs to be persistence in execution. Hillary has proven that by becoming the first ever woman to almost lead in the oval office as President of the United States. This alone has sparked hope and opportunities for other women to follow in her footsteps someday. Though she didn’t win, the very least was that she tried.
‘For us, there is only the trying. The rest is not our business.’ – T.S. Eliot
And in relation to trying, as an entrepreneur, I myself am going to try combining the three jobs I mentioned above. This can lead to many things, and though I might not be able to say much regarding the technicalities here, yet let this post be that of a defining moment for me to take that next step forward into being a better person.
(here comes the cliche part, but please bear with me.)
I hereby commit to develop values such as confidence, open-mindedness, resilience, empathy, and honesty without ever forgetting who I first and foremost am: a daughter, a sister, and a friend above all else, who will provide and require all the support she can to fulfill her goals as a student, a marketing officer, and a community journalist.
written from the deepest heart of a wonk who will never stop trying,