perseverance isn’t just the willingness to work hard. It’s that, plus the willingness to be the stubborn about your own belief in yourself – Merlin Olsen
Confront the dark part of yourself, and work to banish them with illumination and forgiveness. Your willingness to wrestle with your demons will cause your angels to sing. Use the pain as fuel, as a reminder of your strength – August Wilson
Please read earlier post entitled “Fulbright: Learning from Experiences – Failures” before reading this session to help you understand the context of what I am writing here. Thank you!
Who would say that he or she never feels a feeling of insecurity? For me, this feeling sometimes comes to me as a way that reflects how painful I was in building up my spirit to achieve dreams to study abroad. I still remember one of my teachers in Elementary school said, “You will never change if you never change yourself”. When I was a kid, I did not know what she meant by saying that I understand her words after I was not growing up as a teenager anymore but as a young adult (around 20 years old). At this age, I went to study in Andalas University. There were several things happening to me when I was studying at the university. Generally, the things were related to the way I study and collaborate in the classroom with classmates and friends outside the class. Although there were obstacles that I faced during the study period, I never gave up to give and do the best thing that I had. In 2007, I graduated from Andalas University with the title Sarjana Sastra (Bachelor of Arts in English language and literature). The predicate was very satisfactory. Not only that, I also achieved and won local and national awards competition in Indonesia. Sometimes, I had been elected by rector of Andalas university to represent Unand in national competition. Namely, English debate or National competition of Students’ Scientific Writing Event conducted by Directorate of Higher Education of Republic of Indonesia. Did I win all of that competitions? Yes, I did. Normally as the first or second winner. However, I could reach that because of many efforts that I had done and because of learning from failures that I had experienced.
Dealing with the process of Fulbright scholarship, I had waited for this to happen since I graduated from Unand in 2007. Therefore, I had applied to get this Fulbright scholarship since 2007. AMINEF (American Indonesian Exchange Foundation) was the organization that handled the selection process. If I count for how many times I had failed in the scholarship application, there would be around ten times I failed. I only had one success in gaining the scholarship.
These note below shows the failures that I had done:
- Failed in the Fulbright scholarship selection process in 2007.
- Failed in the Australian Development Scholarship process in 2007.
- Failed in the Chevening Scholarship process in 2007.
- Failed in the Australian Development Scholarship process in 2008.
- Failed in the Fulbright Scholarship selection process in 2008. I did not send any application so I lose the opportunity.
- Failed in the Australian Development Scholarship process in 2009.
- Failed in the Australian Development Scholarship process in 2010.
- Failed in the Dikti Scholarship from Indonesian government process in 2010.
- Failed in the Australian Development Scholarship process in 2011.
- Failed in the Scholarship process from University of Birmingham – England in 2007.
At the eleventh effort, I finally succeeded in gaining the Fulbright scholarship. I sent the application in 2010 and was officially considered as a Fulbright scholarship recipient in 2011. Some people may apply only once, which means, he or she was admitted to be a scholarship recipient at the first attempt. However, based on what I had experience in those failures, I believed that my willingness to get the scholarship was the fuel in moving my spirit and dreams. I never got tired to send scholarship applications. Can you imagine some people whom I knew pretty well as “good and smart” people stated that I would not have similar opportunities that the other people had? Even they said that the dream was such a big lie? In spite of that situation, I always emphasized myself that “if others could do their best to get what they dream, why couldn’t I?”
The key of struggling with your dream to get Fulbright scholarship is to keep your willingness high. When you failed once, it does not mean you will fail forever. As long as you live, there are still many opportunities and chances that you have. You are not alone. There are many people who are struggling with their life but they never give up. The only thing that you need to do is to stay motivated and when your motivation is high, you need to stay focus. Sometimes, there are things that can make you run from your focus, like having too many failures. No matter what condition that you may have, focus is important. It could direct you into the purpose of why you want to send the scholarship application form. Besides, every time you face your failure, take your time and learn it. It will be good if you could ask yourself why you did not make it. Is there any document needed for the application but missing? Have I followed all rules and fulfilled all the required documents? Did I write the statement of purpose clearly? These questions should be asked upon failures that you face. The point of successful scholarship application is in the willingness. Try and try again is the best words to express the never-ending effort. Although you said that you only try but essentially, you have done something.
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.