New [Academic] Year, New Job(s)…New Me?

September brings a new batch of students at the university, and this year it also brings not one, but two new jobs for me.

I am now the Koordinator Pendidikan (Academic Coordinator) at one the departments at one of the faculties at the biggest university in Depok, Indonesia.

For those who read this before… yeah I edited this post, because it turns out that the 2nd job didn’t work out… so just one job for me!

Keep the Faith

I’m not sure how to title this entry, because it’s basically a rant about how some money mysteriously disappeared from purse.

It’s been happening to me on and off these couple of months, but I always chalked it up to my constant state of disorganization. But the past weekend shocked me and made me freak out. I am not making this up. A mere 36 hours after I received some money in an envelope, part of its contents disappeared, as in “Poof!”, “without a trace”…

The regular questions were asked. “Did you leave your purse unattended?” “Was it open?” “Did you stop somewhere and a pickpocket got to you?” Answer is no, no, no.

I really, really don’t know what happened. It’s an X-File! (The American TV show, in case anyone out there is wondering) I can’t explain it.

So why, keep the faith?

Well, as a practicing Muslim, I believe in the existence of the “other world” and it’s “occupants”. It’s explained in the Qur’an. I also believe that there are evil twisted humans that use the “other world” for their personal purposes. Rational? Nope? Logical? Are you kidding? But it is POSSIBLE.
If indeed there is someone who has a trained “other world being” out there to get my money, well then I can only counter by using the miracle of the Qur’an, the power of a certain verse we call the Ayat Kursi. No paranormals, orang pinter’s for me. An ustadz told me, “you don’t need all those people. Just read the Ayat Kursi over and over again.”

So that’s the advice I’m taking, plus I’m doing a little soul searching because I also believe that everything happens for a reason, and that this a slight “warning” from the Almighty, telling me to get my act together.

Point well taken. Here’s to a better me!

I need a day off

'Nuff said.

This afternoon my personal trainer (yes people, I have a personal trainer…I have joined the likes of Oprah Winfrey & J.Lo :-)) asked me "When is your day off?"

It was then and there I realized I haven't had a day off in the past 4 months (except weekends and those are sometimes used for work too :-(). After returning from vacation in UK on January 30th, I jumped in full speed into teaching duties, proposal writing, training, reviewing, etc, etc…There were also two weeks of taking care of Mom & Dad in the hospital 😦 It was like I crammed all my holidays in January.

Wow. Of course the question is, do we need days off? You know, one weekday where we  don't go to work? 

I think we do. Not regularly, but there are times when we need to take a "personal day", a day just for "me", to do our own thing & not think of anything else…we need to recharge our batteries every now and then. Personally I have been longing for a day off this month, but it hasn't happened yet.  

Let me know what you think!

Anatomy of a breakdown…

Today I witnessed something that I do not want to see again, ever.

 I saw someone have a nervous breakdown right in front of me.  What made it worse was the fact that it was one of my students. (See previous post about the long rambling email…).
Times are tough in Indonesia, and apparently even the brighest minds can snap. How sad. A myriad of emotions are running through me right now. To see someone who was full of life become an empty shell of himself just about killed me. 

 I hope that he is safe and that Allah protects him and brings him home to his mother & family.


Why I do what I do… A reaffirmation, sort of

I teach for a living.

To be more exact, I teach university students, or as they call it in Bahasa Indonesia, my native language: Mahasiswa.

Why teach?

Why indeed. Maybe it’s in the genes. My Dad just recently retired as a University Professor at the age 70 so there you go.
Oh, growing up, I had the requisite childhood dreams: Be a doctor, be a psychologist, be a … But as far as dreams go, “be a teacher” was never one of them.

Until I was accepted at the Department of Biology at the Faculty of Math & Nat Sciences, University of Indonesia. I won’t go into the “Why Biology?” here, but the moment I knew where I was accepted I immediately thought, “OK, study here, then apply to teach so that I could go to grad school.”

How selfish can a person get? There was no indication of a commitment to better education, no love of imparting knowledge & wisdom, no intention of “mencerdaskan kehidupan bangsa” (rough translation: build a better nation in the future), nothing. I didn’t know what teaching entailed, what kind of commitment it was (still is).

First, let me tell you straight away, to be a teacher actually requires a love (for lack of a better word) for teaching, because you certainly can’t be in it for the money. Oh we teachers can survive on our salary as a teacher…if you can call having an empty savings account by the end of the month and can’t wait for the 1st of the month, surviving. It is no secret that University teachers/professors supplement their teaching income with other projects (that sometimes don’t involve facing students).

Did I have that love? I still can’t fully answer the question. However, two recent events gave me an “A-ha! moment!” (to borrow a phrase from Oprah Winfrey).

The first event was a visit from two former engineering students. I didn’t officially supervise their work, but mainly taught them some basic microbiology techniques. After a few weeks, they left the micro lab to start their final projects. I only heard from them a few times more and then nothing until a few weeks ago they asked to meet me. Thinking that they might still need some help I said “Sure” while thinking “What now???”. Well, guess what… they came to tell me that they had graduated and came to give me a present as a token of appreciation for helping them! It was ballpoint pen with my name engraved on it. This will sound so corny, but there was a lump in my throat caused by their thoughtfulness.
The other moment came yesterday when I got an email from another former student. It was a long rambling email, talking about his recent activities (quitting from a job, running a family business…). Near the end, he wrote “I’m very excited at what I’m doing right now, and I want to thank the microbiology lab for one of my finest moments that helped me to be who I am.” Again I was moved to near tears…

So I think I have found the reason, why I do what I do… helping other people find their way to become what they want to be, is, ladies and gentlemen, why I am a teacher.

Hello world!

Well, I did it. I jumped into the pool of the Net’s latest big thing… blogging, thanks to my computer geek brother (Love ya Bro!)

So I wonder… now what?

You WRITE, that’s what!

Write about what?

Weeeell, it’s called Sita’s musings so you better start ‘musing  🙂

OK, OK… next post, I promise, till then, cheers!