Fulbright in the World Indonesia Scholarship Festival Padang (UNP) 2019

The opening session of WISH Padang 2019 was filled out by the Rector of Univeritas Negeri Padang (UNP) who had been represented by the assistant of the third vice dean of Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences of the university. Besides, the governor of West Sumatera province also attended to open the event formally.

On April 27, 2019, I was invited to be a speaker an event about scholarships in Indonesia. The event name was World Indonesia Festival, as the committee called it as WISH Padang 2019. I presented about Fulbright scholarship.

Mata Garuda Sumbar and LPDP Awardee also attended the event to share the views and tips as well as tricks on how to win and get LPDP scholarship. The chair of Indonesian Scholarship Network (ISN) from Jakarta also attended the event. Thus, it provided good values for students and visitors to know more about scholarship that is available in Indonesia or overseas and open for Indonesian students.

In the session of Inspiring Talk, the committee invited Prof. Saldi Isra and Prof. Mestika Zed. These two public figures increase the worthy of the event.

IELTS Coaching Clinic by IDP, IELTS Simulation by TIME Language Center, and Blajar.id also provided information on Tips and Trick of scholarship application.

Additionally, the event also has Stand and Expo that display various types of scholarship available for students who are interested to study overseas, such as Japan, Ireland, United Kingdom, USA, and Australia.

In short, the WISH Padang 2019 event was successful because many students and visitors came to the event. Almost 3000 students came to see the scholarship event. The event itself was sponsored by W-DANK LOKALATE, a product of Nutrifood in Indonesia.

This picture shows my support for Nutrifood W-DANK with Indonesian traditional taste (Kopi Gula Aren and Kopi Durian)

Standing with Ibu Akhriani in W-DANK Nutrifood Stand (Kopi Gula Aren and Kopi Durian) So Tasty!! 🙂

Endorsement: Just to let you know, the taste of Kopi Gula Aren and Kopi Durian of W-DANK have added extra variant of taste of soft drinks in Indonesia. Ms. Akhiarni (Ani) gave me a glass of coffee with ice and it was rich of taste. I recommend drinking W-DANK Kopi Gula Aren and W-DANK Kopi Durian to enrich your taste on Indonesian traditional soft drinks but with modern packaging.

Have a great weekend!

Writing Assignments for Classes of WRITING II, Academic Year 2015-2016

This post is designed for students who are taking Writing II course with me. The topic of this post is designed by following the course syllabus for WRITING II.


For students, please follow the following instruction in order to complete your assignment.

  1. Type your full name and NIM on the comment.
  2. Write your essay draft to the comment of this post.
  3. Attach the word count beneath your text.

I will comment on each essay after submitting it in this post. You need to have a registered email address to comment on this post. Please also remember that plagiarism is strictly prohibited. If I found your essay is not authentic, or you copied it from elsewhere, your assigment score is bannished immediately.

Please attach your essay on the comment below. Good Luck!

(If you have commented once, please avoid doing it two times. Otherwise, your essay will show up here two times as well).

For example:

Full Name:
Essay Title:
Introductory Paragraph

1st Paragraph

2nd Paragraph

3rd Paragraph

4th Paragraph

……and so on

Concluding Paragraph

Word Count:

Specific Ways of “Reading” for Specific Cultural Texts

Reading Culturally = Intellect + Intuition
(Syayid Sandi Sukandi) A Fulbright Scholar

The following writing is shared in this blog for the purpose of sharing and for educational purposes only. Your comments and feedback are highly valued. Thank you.

Syayid Sandi Sukandi
Dr. Joel Hardman
September 13, 2012 – Week 4
ENG 544 – Reading and Writing Pedagogy in TESL

Specific Ways of Reading for Specific Cultural Texts

Reading the two articles, written by Grabe, Birsch and Eskey, brings my mind back to the times when I taught the course entitled Cross Cultural Understanding in College of Teacher Training and Education in Padang, West Sumatra, Indonesia. This course equips students in the college to learn how to engage with cultural concepts that are not similarly connected with their cultural background. What I could reflect after reading Grabe, Birsch, and Eskey is that there are specific ways that we should inform to the students regarding the activity of understanding texts containing cultural elements in them, even though the students might already have understood the linguistic elements of the texts.

The ESL students whose background primarily Indonesian cultures tend to view Western texts through the mindset that they already have. One of the meetings that my students and I had in the class was discussing about the concept of the melting pot and fish out of water of American’s life. These two phrases contain cultural elements. When the students read additional sources to understand those phrases, they had to read texts that explain what and how the United States of America is. Since students who are taking this course are students enrolling in the last year of their studies, they are expected to have good amount of skills to engage with Western texts, such as their grammar skill and their background knowledge. As Grabe points out, “Some of the strategies that are important for comprehension involve grammatical knowledge while others focus on processing skills and background knowledge” (51). Reading comprehension in L2 (Second Language) might not be necessarily assessed through how many cultural words, or content words they may know, but how they could get the overall meaning of the texts that they read culturally.

To be honest, though, Eskey’s article resonates with all dimension of understanding that I had since I was working as an English lecturer. He mentions that, “As human beings, we have what could fairly be called a biological instinct to learn to speak, but we must be taught to read in some particular culture that employs written language for some particular purposes” (7). This statement, to me, does make sense. A basic cultural text that we discussed, for instance, is the idea of technology. The value of technology in Indonesia might not be that similar with that in the United States. Technology is a tool for making life easier in terms of daily basis. For the society that already engage with “technology”, this word might mean something else. Another text that we discussed was about religion and faith. The idea of religion and faith in the Western society are not that strong compared to those in Indonesia I perceive. When I took current news dealing with religion and faith from the Western media, the definition of these words become different from what my students have understood in Indonesia. As a teacher, I gave them specific explanation that the discourse of such texts may not be correlated what they already know, but to some extents, they should be able to differentiate things that they should comprehend with the things that they could take as new definitions. Many specific words also are interpreted as political words, when they are being used in specific contexts. This notion draws my mind to see that specific ways of reading are for specific cultural texts. These modes help the students more in understanding different texts throughout their lives.

Misunderstanding in this expanded worldly communication can happen because of the lack of reading skills worldwide. Even when critical thinking comes to play, many students are not ready to face texts that are written outside their common circle, or to put it simply, their personal background. When they are asked to understand such texts, they resist. They also mention that the texts were wrong or the author has been misled in his or her mind. When this situation emerged in the classroom, I emphasize to my students that the frame of mind that we already have could be implemented to think critically for they read. However, to come into a better conclusion about particular ideas, they must read many texts with different topics so that they do not have narrow view toward many specific topics. “Poor readers avoid reading and lack of reading practice means they do not improve” (Birsch 9). Birsch’s idea is clear at this point. Our life improves when we could adjust ourselves with new things, especially when it deals with our students. Their ways of life are different from us. We might be used to typing with typing machine. Now, they have all these equipment. Our task is to lead them to better and meaningful ways of life. One of them is to help them “read texts” in different ways in order to get meaningful “image”, right?

Works Cited

Birsch, B. English L2 Reading. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. 2002. Print.
Eskey, D. “Reading and the Teaching of L2 Reading.” TESOL Journal, 11, 1. 2002. Print.
Grabe, W. “Research on Teaching Research.” Annual Review of Applied Linguistics, 24, 2004. Print.

“Humanizing” Our Writing

“Easy reading is damn hard writing” Nathaniel Hawthorne
“Difficult reading is always a form of the writer’s ego to show off his credibility, which is not needed by the readers” – Syayid Sandi Sukandi

This post has been discussed in one of my classes in Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. It turns out that I even fall in love with writing. “The more I read, the more easier how to understand my writing is. The more I discuss with open-minded people, the more I can feel what the magnificent use of writing is” – Syayid Sandi Sukandi, A Fulbright Scholar of English


To those of you who love to write, putting your ideas into writing would seem to be easy to do, especially when you have gained a lot of experiences in writing and jotting down your ideas into a meaningful piece of text. However, sometimes, before writing something, please ask yourself these questions, “Why should I write? What is it for?”

The questions of “Where are my readers? Who are they?” are connected with “Why should I write? What is it for?” These four questions are actually connected with the essence of the purpose of why we write. This is where the process of humanizing writing starts. From a novice writer into an advanced one, readers are always involved in certain ways. Peter Elbow, a distinguish Professor of English in the United States has stated that someone may write well, even without a teacher. It does not mean that the person does not need a teacher. What it actually means is that the teacher is only a facilitator. The one who should write more is the person him or herself. Understanding grammar well is not enough if someone wants to write well for the readers, except for him or herself per se. If you could answer the two questions above, you will have a sense of to whom your writing will be intended. In other words, your writing will have a purpose. Eventually, your writing will likely be successful.

Therefore, writing something complicated by using an easier written expression, help the readers understand our writing well. Briefly, specific words are for specific readers. As Georges Gusdorf mentions in his book, Speaking (La Parole), translated by Paul T. Brockelman in 1965, p.44, “…language cannot justify anything and everything. It is up to each person to assure the responsibility for his own language by searching for the ‘right word’”. Words will work better if the words can work well in the mind of the readers. If the readers do not have the same meaning as what the writer perceive about the word, the use of the word will create chaos in the mind of the readers. Eventually, what happens is, your writing becomes useless and meaningless. You don’t want that happens, do you? Or, after you wrote something, and suddenly said, “That’s it! I am done!” Is that all? In fact, writing is more than that.

What about writing for public? Writing for a larger audience? If you are a native speaker of English, what about writing for second language speakers of English? The specific “form” of language is used for specific “purposes”; even English has its specific form that is known as English for Specific Purposes. Namely, there are several words that can only be used within the context of business. For instance, “The bank has set its interest rates”. The word “interest” here is not the same as it is found in, “She interests me”. Consequently, we need to adhere that the words we use in expressing our ideas should be properly chosen for the readers. If you speak or write something interesting in your mind, but your listeners or readers do not understand what you are saying, the communication turns into a deathly hollow. Yudhijit Bhattacharjee mentioned in his writing Why Billinguals are Smarter in New York Times, “Nobody ever doubt the power of language. But who would have imagined that the words we hear and the sentences we speak might be leaving such a deep imprint?” Then, the question is, “Will a writer’s work be read if the writer writes with words that people rarely use?”

To make it brief, it can be stated in this simple phrase, “Think deeply; write simply”. Whatever we write in our writings, always consider the readers. Making our thoughts easier is a lot more useful than making it complicated for people. In this digital world, writing has become a life-style. Readers are the people whom our writings will take us to the next level. Humanizing writing sounds a pretty good thing to do by everyone, if they are in need of being understood well in this enchanting world.


“A student without having an ability to show his or her credibility in an appropriate occasions will look like never learning anything” – Syayid Sandi Sukandi 

Essay Writing: An Introductory Essay

This writing is intended for all students and learners wherever you are


Attending a university degree, either in bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree needs the ability of writing a good essay. This ability is considered as a must. Before you write an essay, of course, you need to understand what the essay actually is. In this writing, the points that will be explained are what an essay is, parts of an essay, how to write an essay, function of an essay, and characteristics of a good essay.

What an essay is

Before we begin writing an essay, we need to understand what an essay is. Essay is defined as a piece of writing, usually short, on any one subject (Hornby, 1995: 392). Meanwhile, Anderson explains that:

“An essay is made up of a number of paragraphs that develop and support a single idea, impression, or point. Although the term ‘essay’ may be used to refer in general to writing that explores a topic or presents factual information, in the context of most college writing, essay refers to a composition that is carefully structured and contains particular parts that work together to communicate the writer’s main idea” (2002: 23-4)

The above quotation means that an essay has specific idea, impression or point. It also has specific structure and part. Obviously, an essay must be coherent, in a good cohesion, and unity. Moreover, Peters in the Cambridge Guide to English Usage stated that:

“The classic essays of the past were written by philosophers and gentlemen of leisure—from Montaigne and Bacon to Russell and T.S Eliot—exploring ideas and views on a personally chosen subject. Today’s university and college students who write essays and papers are their heirs only in the sense that they use them as a vehicle for a discussion. Their essays/papers are usually written on prescribed topics, and few would risk “flying a kite” in an assessable exercise. Having duly mastered the art of essay writing, students graduate to positions in which they never use that form of communication, and letters, reports and memorandums are the order of the day. The only professional equivalent to the traditional essay is perhaps the signed editorial column produced by celebrated journalists, who do indeed enjoy the essayist’s license to explore ideas and speak their minds.” (2004: 189)

The keyword of the above quotation is that in the past, essays were related to “exploring ideas and views on a personally chosen subject”; meanwhile, essays have been recognized as in the journalists column in which the basis is “explore ideas and speak their minds”. Although these two things are distinctive, the core idea is the same. It is that essays have “exploring ideas” as its vision but the mission is different, where the former essays were written through the chosen subject while the latter essays are written in order to provide what someone think in his or her mind to be written into a thing called as an essay.

Parts of an essay

Essay has been recently considered as a piece of academic writing. However, essay has also been used in many communication media such as in magazine, newspaper, or even in internet. Is any short text considered as an essay? The answer is no. A text can be categorized as an essay when it has parts of an essay. Although Bailey stated “Almost all essays, reports and articles have the same basic pattern of organization” (Bailey, 2003: 6), it does not mean that the other kinds of writing can be easily considered as an essay. As Bailey points out, the same basic pattern of organization is introduction, body, and conclusion.

When someone wants to write an essay, s/he must have prepared an outline. It is a general representation of thesis statement in the introductory paragraphs, topic sentences in body paragraphs, and a concluding sentence for developing the concluding sentence.

Introductory paragraph has thesis statement. “For college writing, the thesis statement generally comes at the end of the introductory paragraph”(Blass, 1968: 34). It is written in order to tell your readers the points that you want to tell more in the remaining of your essay or it is also written when you want to clarify the subject that you want to discuss further.

In addition to the thesis statement, body paragraphs are also important part that the readers will read. It is also called as the development of the thesis statement. It has several items that are called as topic sentences. Everything that someone writes in the body paragraphs are in the form of development, either by giving illustration, facts, or examples. This will depend on what kind of essay that you want to write to the readers.

The last part of an essay is known as conclusion. In every writing, conclusion is the very best part that almost all readers want to read because it is mostly saving the time to read longer essay, especially the one that has more than six to seven paragraphs. However, conclusion does not mean that you repeat all of the topic sentences. It generally describes the whole point or idea that we have written in the introductory and body paragraphs.  

How to write an essay

The six steps of the writing process of an essay, according to Zemach (2009: 3), are as follow:

1.        Pre-writing:

  • Choose a topic
  • Gather ideas
  • Organize

2.        Drafting:

  • Write

3.        Reviewing and Revising:

  • Review structure and content

4.        Rewriting:

  • Revise structure and content
  • Proofread
  • Make final corrections

What we need to do when we are in the stage of Pre-writing is that we have to choose a topic, gather ideas, and organizing them. Topic can be found in anywhere as long as we like reading and discussing current national or international issues. The way that we can do when we want to have a topic is by doing brainstorming. If we like reading, sometimes, you will be amazed when we do brainstorming. After that, we need to gather ideas. In this way, we have to select ideas that are relevant or irrelevant with what we write, especially with the thesis statement. If we find that there is a sentence or phrase that is not necessary, we should leave them out immediately. Otherwise, it will make us difficult in organizing them. After we gather all ideas, then, it is time for us to organize the ideas by selecting what we need or erasing what we do not need to support the thesis statement and topic sentence.

Next, the step is called as Drafting. In this stage, we only have to write every items that we have organized in the outline. We do not need to focus on the sentences style or grammar. The main important thing that we can do in this way is just to write all the details and develop the topic sentences into a coherent paragraph.

Now, we have finished our draft. It is time for us to do Reviewing and Revising. What we are doing here is reviewing structure and content of the draft. Structure means the way how your ideas are listed point by point and how you support the topic sentences in each paragraph by making the points connected one another. The process is done from introductory, body, and concluding paragraph. Content means that we have to read the ideas expressed in each sentences. Does they support the essay as a whole? If we still find irrelevant sentence, it means that we still have to leave out the sentences and put a new one that best support the paragraph and the whole part of an essay.

The last thing that we have to do is called as Rewriting. What we should do is divided into three. They are revising structure and content, proofreading, and making final corrections. In terms of structure, we have to look at the way we organize the ideas. We need to see whether the ideas have been unified or still in a chaos. Meanwhile, proofreading means we need others to check our essay in terms of grammar and spelling. Sometimes, when we write an essay and finish it, we always consider that ours is the best. In fact, when others read the essay, there have always been so many mistakes found. The last one is making the final corrections. When all stages have been completed, the essay is ready to be published and read by everyone.  

Function of an essay

Blass mentions that:

“The function of an essay is to communicate to a reader an attitude or opinion about an issue and to provide information that supports or defends this information. In an essay, a writer can explain or describe something, state one side of an argument and prove it, show the relationship between two things or a combination of all of these. Whatever the purpose of an essay is, it must be clearly stated to the reader at the beginning of the essay and remain clear throughout the essay.”(1968: 12)   

It is clear in the previous quotation that an essay is written in order to communicate with the readers regarding a particular issue. All that is matter in an essay is that it should be clear in all aspects, that are from introductory, body, and concluding sentence.    

Characteristics of a good essay

An essay is considered as a good one if the essay has the following characteristics. They are in terms of content or ideas, organization, grammar or structure, word choice or word form, and mechanics (Boardman, 2003: 180)

1.        Content/ideas — the score is 0-25

  • Has excellent support
  • Is interesting to read
  • Has unity and completeness
  • Adheres to assignment parameters

2.        Organization — the score is 0-25

  • Has introductory paragraph with clear thesis statement
  • Has body paragraphs with good organization
  • Has concluding paragraph
  • Has coherence and cohesion

3.        Grammar/structure — the score is 0-25

  • Demonstrates control of basic grammar (eq. Tenses, verb form, noun form, preposition, articles)
  • Shows sophistication of sentence structure with complex and compound sentences

4.        Word choice/word form — the score is 15

  • Demonstrates sophisticated choice of vocabulary items
  • Has correct idiomatic use of vocabulary
  • Has correct word form

5.        Mechanics — the score is 10

  • Has good paragraph format
  • Demonstrates good control over use of capital letters, periods, commas, and semicolons
  • Demonstrates control over spelling
  • Doesn’t have fragments, comma splices, or run-on sentences

The score indicates the level of percentage that an essay should be assessed on that particular item. For instance, 0-25 for content. If the content is not clear, the score will be around 10 to 15. The same thing goes to the other items in the essay as well.


An essay has specific definition, parts, process, function, and characteristic. These aspects have made an essay completely different from other kinds and types of writing. A writing is not necessarily an essay but an essay must be a writing. Introduction, body and conclusion have always been the parts of an essay. Meanwhile, the function of an essay is the same with function of other writings. It is to communicate to the readers about a specific idea that is supported with illustration, facts, or examples.   


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