Don’t be discouraged by a failure. It can be a positive experience. Failure is, in a sense, the highway to success, in as much as every discovery of what is false leads us to see earnestly after what is true, and every fresh experience points out some form of error which we shall afterwards carefully avoid (John Keats 1795 – 1821)
Before I begin telling you the stories of my life, especially dealing with the process that I have faced during the process of Fulbright selection in 2010, I would like to share a bit about me. I was a student of English department in Andalas University (Unand) from 2003 to 2007. I graduated from the university with GPA 3.46. This GPA was not considered as the Cum-Laude GPA, but I was proud of finishing my undergraduate degree with that score, especially remembering all good and bad things that I had faced during that undergraduate times.
When I was studying in Andalas University, I was actually considered as those students who were “poor”. What I mean by “poor” here is that I did not have fancy car or luxurious things that I had as a student and the amount of money which was given by mother daily was just “enough”. Sometimes, enough means not enough, especially if I have to go to a computer-rent service for printing my paperwork. Beyond that, considering the location of the university, which was far from my house, was also something that made me having difficulties to study. However, I did not give up. I always said to myself that I could do it. If other poor children could be successful people in their life, why couldn’t I? Finally, with all efforts that I had done and with all the blessing and help from Allah SWT, I graduate from Andalas University in 2007, with GPA 3.46 and achieved Three Prestiguous Awards from the university. The awards are Student with Achievements Award for Social Science Category (2007) from Board of Trustees of Unand and 2nd Best Student Award from the Rector and Deans in Unand.
After graduated from Andalas University (Unand), I applied everywhere to get a job. At that time, I was so proud of my achievement. I sent my job application to Jakarta, Bandung, Medan, and several provinces in Indonesia. The result was none. Long after that happened, I just knew that some companies applied the system of “orang dalam” or “connection”. After one year living my life as an unemployment, I went home to Padang in limbo. I applied to work in College of Teacher Training and Education in Padang. I was hired. Unfortunately, the salary was not as much as I thought, but I still thanked God for giving me an opportunity to have a work as a young lecturer. I tried my best to live as best I could.
One semester was over and I was hired. My name was registered as a lecturer of English in the college. In order to proof that I am a lecturer there, the college then sent my personal identity to Department of National Education in Jakarta so that I could have the national number of Indonesian lecturer. In 2009, after one year working as a lecturer there, I was asked to pursue further studies in English. It must be in Master’s degree. At that time, I had no idea where I should and could gain the degree since my salary was not that much. The only thing I could do to get this opportunity was to send my application to the scholarship provider. I applied various scholarships, such as ADS (Australian Development Scholarship), Dikti (Indonesian government) scholarship, and Fulbright scholarship. For the ADS, I failed three times even until 2011, I still did not make it. For the Dikti scholarship, I “failed”. Actually, based on the requirements, I had fulfilled all of those so that I was confident that I would be accepted. The fact showed differently. I was failed although I already had LoA (Letter of acceptance) or Letter of Offer from Deakin University for Master of Arts in Writing and Literature. for Fulbright scholarship, I failed once but then I tried to send my application again and again.
In that sad and gloomy atmosphere of my job and life, I said to myself, “I had tried my best, oh Allah, but, please, please make my effort fruitful this time. I know you are listening to my voice there. I did not wish for anything but to be able to make my parents proud of me. This opportunity is important for me. Please…” I did not stop praying and praying while I continue trying and trying. On that bright day, when I wanted to go home from work, I had a call on my phone. It was from AMINEF. I received a call from Mbak Isye. She said, “This is from AMINEF. Panel selection committee had selected you to attend Fulbright Interview”. I was so happy to know that call but then I had to realize and consider about the cost of traveling from Padang to Jakarta. It would be expensive for me. However, I kept daring myself and I said, “Yes, I will” Mbak Isye said, “Your travel and accommodation will be arranged by AMINEF. Please wait for the next email informing your ticket and the schedule for your Fulbright interview”. Finally, I was so happy to know about this. When I told my parents about this, they were so happy. Then, of course, I had to prepare myself for the Fulbright interview.
Next Post: Fulbright: Willingness to Try and Try Again
This writing is intended for Indonesian students who might be interested in pursuing higher studies (M.A or Ph.D) in the United States under the Fulbright scholarship. In Indonesia, this scholarship is organized by AMINEF (American Indonesian Exchange Foundation). Once you are admitted in this scholarship program, you will be taken care by IIE (Institute of International Education) in New York. If you are selected, you will have to do two things: First, pursue your study seriously and get good grades at the school in which you are enrolled in; Second, be active to take part in cultural activities on campus or in the United States to promote cultures of your country. This second thing is compulsory; therefore, it is expected that you need to do cross communication with American students to expand mutual understanding of two different countries. This is the main aspect of being a Fulbright scholar.