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Education is one of the most important thing in my family. I am not kidding when I say my life is for studying and I love studying, as far as I can remember that is the only thing I can do (sorry that I am so serious. Eh wait, #sorryNotSorrymasen lol). Supported by argument that in Islam, one of the people that enter jannah/heaven are those who dedicated to those who study and try to seek knowledge. That is my personal motivation, thus it is said in Islam that one must study from the moment they were born until they died. It implied the importance of study as a lifelong learner.

My father, has 9 sibling after him ( he has 12 siblings haha), and my grandparents were farmer. It was almost impossible to get them to school, let alone going to school, it was already hard for them to find things to make ends meet everyday. My dad has brilliant mind, I bet if he had the chance to study and go to university, he will make a great engineer, he could achieve way more than me. Had he got the chance. But no, upon finishing his high school specialized in agriculture, he chose to work, as a police. It wasn’t of pretty reason, he simply wanted to helped his parents and get his siblings to school.  When I was a kid, every year we visited our grandparents, and my dad’s younger sibling would asked school stuff. At that time I didn’t know why but later in life I find out that most of my dad’s younger sibling tuition and school stuff was supported my may dad. I don’t know how much my dad support the education of his family. Well until the 12th child, at least they finished high school. One went to Gadjah Mada University.

My mother has 5 siblings, three younger sibling. She has rougher life. Her mum passed away when she was young, so her family spread apart since her dad couldn’t support them. So they were taken in by relatives. My mum, having a kiai/a person who has Islam knowledge as dad, she has stronger faith. She too, tries to finished school despite of her condition. She mentioned brief time when she had even hard time to find something to eat. She had to pick up vegetables from farm near her house and cook herself for her family. But in her mind (and all of her siblings) were that they need to finish school, no matter what. All of her family does. Her younger brother entered Bandung Institute of Technology, two of them. And one of her younger sister finished her bachelor education in English ( I did my English conversation with her one time at a bus, and it helped me a lot in using my English at conversation level). I attended her youngest brother’s graduation in ITB, which then become my bachelor campus too. I enrolled there majoring in Biology, did my undergrad thesis in dept. Engineering physics, and now studying Applied Cognition and Neuroscience in UT Dallas.

From the history of my parents, they always support their siblings education. In my core family, we may not eat fancy food, we may not have beautiful clothes, we didn’t go to awesome restaurants (but then I get to eat my mum’s cooking everyday), we didn’t go to malls that often,  since material things will fade away but not education. Education and knowledge will stay forever in our mind.

Even until now, that I am already studying in my master degree thanks for Fulbright scholarship, and my parents’ sibling has their own family, they still support education for our neighbours at home. Ah, my neighbourhood. I lived in Depok, around 30 minutes from Jakarta, Indonesia’s capital city (without traffic). Yet, when I was in junior high, I saw girls dropped out from school after they finished their elementary school, sometime not even finished. I was shock, I have always been imagining myself studying my master degree in Japan (yes my dream), and looked at the girls (and some boys too), really gave me a great shock. At that time, I wanted to inspire them that we need to go to higher education. Me and my mum even make an English course for free for our neighbours and I tried to convince them that we will live in globalization (I was 14 that time ahahah what a life) (ah good idea, I might make another English course when I am home), and encourage them to enhance their education and skill. That didn’t last long tho, that course lol. Oh my gosh, that was a funny experience, I wasn’t good enough in encouraging them probably. But one of my neighbour continue his education to college lol 😀 maybe that is also effected by financial condition too. Anyway, my parents gave scholarship to one girl in our neighbourhood I guess, and planning to give another one to our helper’s son. I am so proud of my parents, and I hope I could do that too. That is actually my dream, I wanna give scholarship to Indonesian students if they can be accepted in Harvard, MIT, Oxford, and other universities. Or creating resources so that people that have low financial condition can access free online courses from Standford, Berkeley or coursera haha…. well.. dream on, ulfa. But then I have to be successful first. hahaha Long way to go lol 😀

Dallas, TX.

-in the midst of thinking about my future-