Rain in the late of May.

Ah, that smell again. The smell of rain. It makes me think of my home. It’s 8am and it’s a little cloudy, and yes, the sky is pouring down its blessing to the earth.

I miss my mom and dad. But I’m gonna see them soon. 🙂

Have you ever thought of this: this morning God gives you another chance, God shows you his mercy once again, and God fills you with his overflowing love? Too many days passed as nothing but a series of checklist and to-do-lists.

But this morning, would you care sitting quietly, looking around you and feeling the warmth of God’s love in the coolness of the air you breathe?

Would you care looking up to the sky, imagining the height of heaven and really meaning God’s faithfulness in the midst of your unfaithfulness?

Would you care hearing the sounds of the dripping rain, learning the melody as it’s falling and deep in your heart thanking him for this brand new day?

I am a sinner in a fallen world, I fall too many times. But God is so good and I put my heart in rhymes.

Have a great day, people! 😀

Dear young lady

This is a poem I wrote for myself, as I am thinking of the why of everything I am doing and going to be doing.

For a young lady I hardly know, for the one I know of longing for flying her wings so high.

riska

Dear young lady,

So young, so proud

So vocal, so loud

Like a little kid, walking on a cloud

Dear young lady,

Daydreaming, oh so ambitious

Fast-walking, oh so adventurous

Like a little kid, oh so curious

Dear young lady,

Waking up, oh so early

Working out, oh so lively

In hopes that things would turn out to end happily

Dear young lady,

You may think of going to NYC for study

Or meeting a godly man to marry

Or maybe having a baby

Oh young lady…

Go ask yourself and think more deeply

Life is more than just walking in the grocery,

Taking things into the trolley

There’s so much more than just having the titles so many

There’s so much more than just having so much money

Oh honey…

What about the why?

Why you do what you do?

And why you want to be what you want to be?

It’s a more important task.

A more important question to ask.

What do you see?

 

joyEasier said than done. Too many times our days are nothing but grooves without meaning. We see the same things all over again that we actually have lost their meanings. But to find joy in the ordinary is to take time enjoying every moment, every single thing we are to do. To find joy is to be silent for a little while, to really let the breeze of the grooves slip into the spaces of our fingers, to let the overflowing spirit fill in our hearts that we are ready to wake up again every morning, ready to do the things all over again. We may think that what we do is not that significant compared to what others have done or are doing. But I found this quote some days ago and I am reminded that everyone has his/her own part.

And how does peace come? Simple. By accepting who we are and what we have as enough for us. By recognizing and respecting who the other is and what they have as theirs. By finding within ourselves the pearl of great price, the richest thing there is in life, the sense of the presence of God who loves and companions us through all the pressures of life. Joan Chittister [Source:  “Peace” inUncommon Gratitude by Joan Chittister and Rowan Williams (Liturgical Press)]

Joy and peace exist simultaneously. If we are at peace accepting who we are and respecting who the other is also recognizing what we have as enough for us and respecting what others have as theirs, we have no time to compare ourselves and others. Then as the consequence of that, we find joy to be ourselves and doing what we are to do. We learn that there is that big picture of what we are doing, even though it seems so small and insignificant right now. We learn that no matter how small or insignificant the stuff we’re trusted with, we are all working for one single purpose, we are all heading towards the same direction, we are all part of the big picture and we are not left behind because we are small. We learn that the small puzzle pieces build up the beautiful big picture and if one piece is missing, it’s incomplete.

 

blessedIt is hard to see beautiful things in humble places because we have not been seeing deeper, we have not been seeing through what’s seen in the cover. We tend to see what’s seen, what’s in the outward look than to see what’s behind either the good or bad looks. We tend to judge the book by its cover.

It’s all about our perspective in seeing them. Blessed are those who find joy in no matter how small others see what they are doing. Blessed are those who find joy and understand the big picture of no matter how insignificant things they’re doing or even people they’re dealing with. Blessed are those who are joyfully doing their part no matter how boring it seems to repeat all the same things all over again every day.

Find joy in what you do. Find joy in the grooves of your days. There will not only sun shiny days in life, there will also be some rainy days in between. But surely, there is always, yes, always, something to be thankful for.

thankful

 

Now, what do you see?

*photos photographed and edited by SUPERRISKA*

Another day, another lesson learned. #4

This reflection is inspired by Lecrae’s quote.

“Believe the best about people. Pray for their shortcomings. You ARE NOT the standard. We all need grace.”

This is what I have come to know as a teacher: I have to believe in the best about my students. No bargaining. It’s a must.

It reminds me about an event one month ago, October 18, 2013. The first Parents-Teachers Conference in my life as a real teacher. Well, even though I was not directly involved as in writing the narrative report or meeting the parents to present the report, I learned something from what I saw.

A narrative report is a report written by a homeroom teacher which contains information of the student’s learning and behavior progress as well as his/her strengths and weaknesses during some period of time. A narrative report also includes a commitment taken by the parents and students about the improvements they are going to make in the future. A narrative report is usually reported four times in a year, or once in every quarter. The narrative report has to be written in a positive manner that the teachers should find each student’s strengths and weaknesses. According to most of my fellow teachers who are responsible to write narrative reports, it is very easy to write the reports for good, nice, bright students, because it’s obvious that they have strengths in many aspects. But there are also some other students that are very unique, in a way that it is also obvious that they have strengths, but in doing violations, in having very low achievements, or in showing no motivation in class. Remember, a narrative report has to be written in positive language. I learned that most of fellow teachers were having hard times writing some reports for some students. Every teacher had their own students that they struggled writing the report about.

This is what I learned. We, human, have that tendency to be so hard finding other people’s strengths especially if they have been already labeled as “bad” or “difficult” or “troubled”. And shame on me, I have been doing the same thing to my students too. There are times in class when I am about to have tests, I often have that picture in my head of students that I think are not going to make it. There are times that I call on some students’ names for tests, deep in my heart there is a whisper like “Oh, this student again. He is not gonna make it like the other tests he has failed.” And true as I have thought, he failed for the many times as he has been.

Oh. Such a slap in the face.

Instead of believing the best about my students, I put many kinds of labels on them.

If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect. – Matthew 5:46-48

To put those verses in teacher’s version, it will be like this:

If you love only those bright students, what reward is there for that? If you are only kind to only good, easy-to-handle students, how are you different from other teachers out there who don’t know Me? But you are to be perfect, even as your Teacher in heaven is perfect.

Taking a commitment to follow and obey Him is not a once-taken-commitment. We fall short almost every time. Well, I fall short every time. But that commitment is to be taken daily, as we start a new day, we are given a new opportunity to learn more, to be better, to be more like Him. It takes all the courage to admit that we all fall short and we all need grace. It takes all the awareness that we have limitations to surrender fully to His strength.

Another day, another lesson learned.

Hope exists.

building up sometimes means tearing down

and…. starting over is sometimes even better than fixing what has been so wrong for such a long time. There are 27 teachers assigned to go and pioneer a takeover school, formerly known as SD SMP SMA Kristen Palopo, to become Sekolah Lentera Harapan Palopo.

The first and foremost struggle of takeover schools is adjustment. The students have been used to their old system, which it was okay if they did not do the homework, which it didn’t really matter whether they could read or not the teachers will still pass them to the next grade levels, which it didn’t really matter if they did not come to school without any notification for many many times and still not got dropped out from school, which they did not have to worry of repeating class because the teachers were always ready to mark up their scores to just pass them to the next grade levels. and believe me, the list goes on.

Bringing a new system, with the hope of bringing a better one, is no easy task. Dealing with fifth graders that are not able to differentiate the letter b and d is just plain frustrating. Teaching division to fourth graders that are not able to subtract 7 with 1 is simply stretching our patience to its furthest limit.

One thing I learned, challenge is everywhere. No matter where we are, we are faced with challenges every day. Every time. Then we might ask: why bother wearing ourselves out doing such thing? I believe a better world is made by people who are willing to take the risks to do something and make all the difference.

Most of the times, we only see the darkest nights of what we are doing. For sure, if we keep our focus on the obstacles, we will only find discouragement and despair. At times also, as we think that we have done our best, we have put our best effort, but the result may not always aligned with what we had in plan, we become disappointed too. Why there seems no better option?

I got reminded by a friend here, a fellow teacher, we plant and water our students but still, it is God who gives the growth.

This is for all the teachers in the world, we might not see the fruit of what we are doing right now, but please keep in mind and keep believing that what you plant with tears right now, will not be back in vain. Keep doing God’s work! Keep the patience and diligence in serving His people.

Remember that hope exists.

hopefinally, to end this reflection let me recite a prayer from Jenna Miller:

Dear Lord, in my quest for success and accomplishment, help me to remember that to truly be successful, I need to develop the ability to learn from my mistakes, be a servant to others, and put my best efforts into whatever I do.

May this be our prayer too.

For us to ponder…

SMILE!when was the last time we put on a genuine smile like these?

when was the last time we just burst into laugh freely?

when was the last time we jump, play, and run without worries?

 

growing up sucks. we’ve gotta admit that. but growing up is part of our life cycle. that is for sure.

however, once in a while, take off your shoes and walk in the rain..

get with some friends, get some ice cream

look around and laugh at random things!

indeed, life is just not the way we used to know it.

because the older we get, the harder choices we make.

-superriska

Education and its impacts to society and the world: a reflection from a future education practitioner

I’d like to call myself a future education practitioner. Yes, in six months, I’m going to be a teacher. a teacher with her own classroom, her own students, and her new stage of life to be encountered. In only six more months, I’ll be dealing with my first year of teaching. I heard some experiences from some friends, and yeah, they all sound so overwhelming.

I am now studying Biology education in one of private universities in Indonesia, and I am now in my senior year. One more semester to go, and around 3 more months away from my thesis submission due date.

Been studying this field for three and half years, but I have never been thinking about what I’m actually doing and what should I be doing with this field until around five months ago, when I started my 4-month-internship (student-teaching). Yeah, as a student, I have been equipped and taught about many theories about education, how to deal with the students, how to get prepared, how to do teacher’s paperwork and administration, etc. but surely, what is in the theories, are not all the same with what I see in the reality. I, then, started thinking about the reason why I am even here, doing all these things. I think, we should firstly know why we do what we are doing before we go further with it, right? I don’t wanna be a working machine that goes back and forth from home to work only to fulfill a routine and gets salary at the end of every month. We were all created for more than that, right? We were all created for more than just being a working machine, working day and night, and then… feels nothing.

I really believe that we were all called to be part of this community and have our contribution to make this world a better place. Have you even thought about that? I think that life is far, far more than just going to good schools, making good grades, getting good job with big amount of salary, and then what? We end up as the kids of the consumerists world. We pursue good schools and good grade in order to get good job with good salary then with that big salary, we end up buying more stuff, because that is what this world is offering and alluring us with. Here, I’m not saying that we don’t need money, we do, but that is not our ultimate goal. We are really created to be more than just doing such thing.

All these things keep running around my head, tickling my very thinking to even think deeper and deeper. Like what I posted earlier about a quote that has been in my mind… sometimes, the simplest question can really strike us the most because we are too busy finding out big things and forgetting other little things that are actually the very basis of everything else. Yeah, we keep thinking on changing the world, making this world a better place, and etc. but have we even ever thought of this very simple question: “Why are we even here?” “Why in the world am I doing this right now?”

Simple questions that ask for the very reason of our existence. These very questions, lead us to our view of the meaning of our life, also, the purpose of our life.

Who doesn’t agree that education is an important thing? I believe we all do agree that education plays a very important role in the society. Nelson Mandela once said:

Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.

Yes, more than what most of us can see, education has bigger impacts to our society. Education itself, for me, is more than just a process of transferring knowledge to the students. It is about touching lives, teaching hearts, and helping the young lives to figure out who they really are, why they are here. It sounds so profoundly said, doesn’t it? but what that really means in real life? Even more, what does that mean to me, as a future education practitioner?

I realize that becoming a teacher needs more than just wide and broad knowledge of my subject. But it also takes obedience, discipline, and total dependence to my Maker. The one who gives me my identity, the purpose of my life, and the one I am doing all these things for.

I believe that our world now needs more than just smart people. Look around us now, we’ve got so many smart people. But how many of them do really care about doing something for others? How many of them use their knowledge, ability and smartness for the good of others?

“Intelligence plus character-that is the goal of true education.” 

― Martin Luther King Jr.

 

“Education without values, as useful as it is, seems rather to make man a more clever devil.” 

― C.S. Lewis

 

“Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.” 

― Aristotle

What we believe impacts our actions, decisions, and views to many things around us. There is no neutral belief, I believe. Everyone has their own worldview. Their own perspective on how they see the world, how they approach things in their life, how they react on things that happened to them. There is no such thing as neutrality.

The same thing as education. There is no such neutral curriculum. The curriculum has to be influenced or affected by the worldview of the maker. How the curriculum view the roles of the teacher and school, how the curriculum approach the students, they all must be affected by certain worldview or perspective.

Education itself, once again, is more than just a process of imparting knowledge, it is about humanizing human beings. We seek out to helping the students to be able to take part in the society, and even more to function at their best to contribute to the world. The question then arises, what kind of education that we, Indonesian people, need? Indonesia has been a very complex country with all of the complicated problems and things happened within itself. What do we need? Where things seem too difficult to be fixed? What kind of education that we really need to help Indonesia to grow and be a better country?

We need more than just people who know everything. We need people who can at least do one thing to make Indonesia, and even bigger this world, a better place. Curriculum that only seeks out the students to excel in academic thing and urges the students to compete for straight A’s is not what we need. We don’t need people that can recite everything written on the textbooks. We need people that can apply what they read on textbook to real life. Real world. Real situation.

Too many smart people, again, like I’ve explained earlier, they are too busy collecting cash, buying more stuff, being too consumptive.

But look at some other people…

ricardo hutahaean

Ricardo Hutahaean. A social activist that has been devoting his life fighting for civilian rights for the people in Jakarta’s suburban. Fighting for something that has never been fought by so-called care people who actually only care about themselves.

butet manurung

Butet Manurung. An educational activist that has been spending years living and teaching the kids of remote tribes, Suku Anak Dalam, in Jambi. She has experienced living in a jungle, doing what other smart people think as, maybe, something stupid.

I believe that there are more people out there doing something greater like these people. Some other people that we might never know, because the do live far away from the spotlight of this world. But they do make the difference and give their best contribution for this country. See? We need more than just smart people. We need people with the heart for the good of others.

The questions are ours to answer..

Why even are we here?

What is the reason of our very existence?

Unless you see from the right angle, you’ll find yourself in a wrong reflection.

Happy Independence Day, Indonesia! :D

Ah, Indonesia! A country of thousands paradise! Stretched out from Sabang on the west to Merauke on the east. From Sangihe Talaud on the north to Rote Island on the south. A country with the largest archipelago in the world with more than 17 thousand islands scattered around the Indian and Pacific oceans. A country of the 4th largest population in the world with approximately 245 million people. Such a big country? It is.

Today is her Independence Day. The 67th.

Red and white ornaments are everywhere.

The great red and white is flapped to her skies…

Indonesia Raya is echoed all over her atmosphere…

I cant remember the last time I joined flag ceremony. Maybe it was like around 3 or 4 years ago when I was still in high school. Flag ceremony was not more than a mandatory thing. Something that was so tiring and annoying to stand there for about an hour and listen to a message given by the principal. Such a boring thing to do! Every time I listen to the message, I was like.. “Oh cmon sir, I already know what youre talkin. We need to appreciate what our fore fathers did in the past so we can have this independence day, ryt? I memorized em all!” Yeah, flag ceremony is a typical thing, including its typical message. Its like, every year, same ceremony, same flag, same message, even same prayer sent, but still the same thing. Not more than routine.

Oh, also! Another typical thing about independence day: traditional competitions and festival.

People are always busy pimpin’ their neighborhood. Putting many red and white ornaments in their house. People dress in traditional dresses and march around the neighborhood. Little kids participate in traditional competitions. Such a celebration!

Back off for awhile from the typical things of celebrations and routine of Independence day…

Nothing’s wrong with the celebration and festival. Those are our means of rejoicing on our independence.

But, lets take a look back to our golden days…

When our people could enjoy rice from their very own harvest…

When our kids could be sent to schools and learn…

When our fathers could get a job for living…

Indonesia doesn’t hope too much more than those things..

Where God is the number one in this country,

Where humanity is just,

Where her people are united,

Where her leaders are wise,

Where justice is for all the people…

Without exception. Just pure.

In her age of 67, many are to be through…

Many homework are to be done…

67 years is indeed such a long time…

But just not enough to be great enough

Such a long journey awaits in the years to come..

Happy Independence day, Indonesia!

Our prayers, our hopes…

Let the Red stream in my blood, let the White swim in my bone..

Long live, Indonesia!

God bless Indonesia.

*Indonesia Smile :)*