Wednesday, February 10, 2016

We Need Equality in Education!

You must have heard this: education is important. I’ve heard it so often, and I certainly agree with the statement; education is important. For us, education is a common thing, we go to school five days in a week, we are getting used with learning in the class and study with colorful textbooks and many more facilities. So, if you ask me to write down something about how education should be done to build better future for all, I won’t talk about our education we have in our school. We’ve got more than enough education since we were four. What I want to discuss is the education for our not-as-lucky-as-us brothers and sisters on another part in this world.

Let me tell you a story from UNICEF’s instagram account, a sad story:

Habsatou is 13 years old and lives in Rounga Hardo Oro in Niger’s Maradi District. She went to school until she was 11 years old, when her mother decided to take her out of school. Habsatou was devastated that she couldn’t go to school anymore. While her friends went to school, she helped her mother with all kinds of chores. One day an older man, middle aged, come to visit her parents. He had a wife and children who were almost to get married themselves. He wanted to marry Habsatou and paid her father money. Habsatou knew that it wouldn’t make any difference to protest against this marriage but she was very sad. #endchildmarriage © UNICEF/UNI203409/van der Velden.”

Sad, isn't it? If you don’t feel the sadness, please think yourself as Habsatou and living a life like hers. How would you feel?

According to UNICEF, more than 400,000 children in Syria are at risk of dropping out of school as a result of conflict there, and globally, about one third of women aged 20 to 24 were forced to be married before  17 years old and can’t continue their school due to the marriage. When we all are complaining about our tasks in school, millions of children are suffering from war, disaster, children marriage, ebola, and they can’t even attend the school—a thing that has been a routine for us. Most of them are girls; it sounds like a common thing to let boys get education because they will have to get some job to feed their family, but girls won’t so education is not really important for them. Many girls are forced to marry because their families think marriage will solve all the problems—their daughters would have someone to take care of her and feed her. This has been a usual thing in conflict countries, third world countries, and sadly, even in some parts in Indonesia.

The fact is, every boys and girls have the rights to get education in school. The statement that says girls better not go to school because boys need education more than them is terribly wrong. Either the statement that says some children are supposed to stay at home or marry or work instead going to school or every condition that makes children can’t get education such as wars, diseases, or disasters are wrong. To get education is every children’s right. Unfortunately, so many people don’t understand this very simple statement.

So how education should be done to build better future for all? I won’t talk about education in SMAN 3, because we’ve got more than enough education. How education should be done to build better future for all is to create equality for everyone to get education. We don’t only need equality in skin color’s difference or in gender equality, we also need equality in education! It’s very simple: just let everyone go to school and get the education they need!

So, if someday you find yourself complaining about school, about all the tasks and the exams, I ask you to think of children in Syria, Gaza, Afghanistan, and even another part of Indonesia like Irian Jaya. They suffered a lot to get some education, how could we are even feeling lazy to go to school?

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

See More, Listen More

What kind of thought you get on your mind when you heard the word ‘television’?

I’m thinking of something rectangular and black, big black box. Maybe you’ll imagine your favorite series or talk show. Maybe you’ll be replaying your recent cartoon’s episode. They are all just some possibilities, but I’m sure about this one thing: you’ve must already known what television is. If you don’t, then you won’t sit here, in front of this monitor, because I’m sure if someone doesn’t even know what television is, how he/she will ever operate a computer?

Television is one of the most common things in our lives; every house, every family, every apartment, and even hotel rooms have at least one television. Large or small, it doesn’t matter: television is television. You can watch many things; from what makes you laugh until your tears running down your cheeks to those programs which will make you scare at midnight and go to sleep with the lamp on. Even babies and children are now used to watch television, using a remote is not a strange thing for them. Television has clearly become a part in our lives, but this one question often disturbs us: Is it good to watch television?

Is it?

For every question, there are always two answers: yes, or no. So is it good to watch television? It can be a yes or a no. Yes, if you watch your television wisely and don’t let the bad things influence you. But, do all television users know how to separate the bad from the good things which appear on their television screen?

Unfortunately, the answer is no. Children now are used to watch television after their school time, and they are all just children. What they see, they will do it without thinking ‘is this a good thing to do?’ So if you ask me is it good to have a free-television day in a week, I’ll say yes. It is, because there are many things to do beside to sit on your couch sticking your eyes to the screen. Watching television may have some advantage, but there are many more activity that certainly have more positive influence to your life.

Some people may be saying ‘how about the news? Where would we get informations if it’s not from the television?’ Yeah, you can get some news from the television but I want to remind you that it’s not the only thing to get some news. There are many other ways to get information, such as newspaper or hand phone. How about those educational programs on television? They’re good to watch, but television is not the only thing that provides knowledge and education since there are books, articles, encyclopedias, and many more. And  it is clear that one day without television in a week wouldn’t kill you.

The last thing I want to tell you is that television may make you believe that you see the whole world from your black box, and make you believe that you listen more to many most-updated songs, but what we need is to see more in our surrounding environment. We need to see more, to listen more to our family, our friends, our real lives.

So, how about turn off your television and go outside, see more, listen more?

Sunday, November 29, 2015

It's not a Job, It's a Dream.

So I got a question about what I want to be when I finally become grown-up, and my answer is: I don’t know, I don’t have any specific dream job yet. But it looks like I have to write down an occupation I want to do years later, so here it is.

Before I start explaining my dream job, let me tell you one of my favorite quotes from one of my favorite author, Cassandra Clare: "Only the very weak-minded refuse to be influenced by literature and poetry."

So yeah, all aspect of my life is influenced by books. I love reading books since the day I learned how to read. I’ve read so many books, and one of my favorite books’ topic is children’s life. I read Enid Blyton’s book for the first time in my third grade, and even if Enid Blyton’s books such as Malory Towers or The Famous Five Series (known as Lima Sekawan in Indonesia) were written for kids, I am still re-reading them. I found a book once about three children who lived in a village and how they played in the railway behind their stone-made-house every day. Maybe almost all students in my age wouldn’t get excited by those kind of books, but I just love it; to explore the children’s world, to see the entire world from their eyes.

Then I read Totto-chan: The Little Girl at the Window in my fourth grade and wow, I loved it! I love it. So when the sequel, Totto-chan’s Children: A Goodwill Journey to the Children of the World was released (I’ve told you about Tetsuko Kuroyanagi and this book at the class a few weeks ago), I bought the book and love it more than before, finding the fact that Totto-chan was a real story and she was real and she grew up into a beautiful woman and she helped another children and she wrote her journey and the journey was published as a book and I had had the book and after the first book it turned out that I could read her incredible story again, all of those facts just made me so glad.

So as I grew older and older, that one question began to annoy me: what will I become years later? After I’ll graduate from school, from college? What will I do?

Me, who was younger than 12 years old that time, finally found an answer: I want to help children just like Totto-chan did! One day I want to become the UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador!

But how? I didn’t know how it is to be an UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador. I started to write ‘UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador’ every time people asked me to write down my dreams, but when they asked me how the way to be an UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador was, I couldn’t give them any good answer. So I thought I had to find a dream job that was more specific like doctor, architect, and other jobs like all of my friends’ dream job were. But I am still dreaming about it, I can't explain it but I really want to be in these photos below, holding all those children.

UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador

The next book I read that led me to my dream job was One Child by Torey Hayden. You can read more about this book because I’ve written the review in here. I finished the book, I also read the sequel, The Tiger’s Child. Then the thoughts started dancing through my head; It seemed great to be a psychologist like Torey Hayden, should I became a psychologist too? But how about being an UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador? I could help children by being either UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador or psychologist. What should I choose? After all of these, what was my dream job?

The answer was figured out just a few months ago: I want to learn more about psychology first, especially about clinical child psychology, then I’ll use my skill in psychology to work for UNICEF. Maybe it doesn’t matter if I’ll work for UNICEF or not, I just want to help children whose lives don’t happen as happy as mine, as ours. It’s my dream job: to help children, to dedicate myself in building their beautiful world up.

I know helping children is obviously not a job, but I’ve told you, my dream job is not specific. And maybe it's not a job, but certainly, it's a dream. It's my dream.

Sheila: The Crazy Girl with IQ Score of 182

 'She looked up. "What I can't figure out is why the good things always end."
"Everything ends."
"Not some things. Not the bad things. They never go away."
"Yes, they do. If you let them, they go away. Not as fast as we'd like sometimes, but they end too. What doesn't end is the way we feel about each other. Even when you're all grown up and somewhere else, you can remember what a good time we had together. Even when you're in the middle of bad things and they never seem to be changing, you can remember me. And I'll remember you.” '
― Torey L. Hayden, One Child

[WARNING: This is a very long post, but please read it entirely]

If you ask me to mention a book I think everybody in this world should read, it is One Child written by Torey Hayden.

I love books, many of them but I don’t like every books. I only have few I could mention as my favorite, and One Child is one of them, of course. If it’s not, I wouldn’t choose this book for this review task. One Child was written based on its author’s true story, and was first published in the United States in 1980. I read this book when I was in elementary school, and I read it again a year ago. And it’s great. This book is great. Its author, Torey Hayden, was a psychologist and a special education teacher – the word special here means mental disability – and she had her own class. There were eight children in Torey’s class at the beginning:

  • Peter, 8, who had seizures and aggressive behavior caused by a neurological condition
  • Tyler, 8, suicidal
  • Max, 6, autistic
  • Freddie, 7, obese and profoundly mentally retarded
  • Sarah, 7, angry, defiant and selectively mute because of physical and sexual abuse by her father
  • Susannah Joy, 6, schizophrenic
  • William, 9, OCD with phobias of water, darkness, cars, vacuum cleaners, and dust
  • Guillermo, 9, blind, but he was in this class because the normal blind classes were unprepared to handle his aggressive behavior

The story began by Hayden reading a news about Sheila, a six-year-old girl who had been causing a commotion due to her extremely bad behavior; young Sheila had tied a three-year-old boy to a tree and cruelly burned him alive, but luckily someone found them so the boy could get rescued. Wow, such a creepy girl she was. Everybody in the town cursed her for being so cruel, she must be crazy. Then things began getting worse, there was no place for Sheila in the psychiatric hospital for kids, so Sheila would be sent to join Torey’s class for the next six months.

The first word Torey thought about Sheila when she was finally meet the girl was stink. She looked so dirty and smelled bad, and with her fierce face and sharp eyes, she looked like a little monster. At first, she refused to participate in the class’ activity and refused to speak to anyone. On her first day of school, at lunch, Sheila took all of the goldfish from the aquarium in the school and stabbed their eyes out with a pencil. It made all the other children begin to cry and the situation become uncontrollable. Torey and Whitney, a 14-year-old girl who assisted the class, chased Sheila into the gymnasium, and Torey eventually calmed the terrified girl down into coming back to class.

After Sheila began participating in the class, there were still a few issues. First, she was focused on revenge. At one point, a teacher scolded her in the lunch room, so she went into the teacher's room and caused $700 worth of damage to the classroom. Also, Sheila refused to do paper work. However, when given other mediums to work with (stacking blocks, for instance), she revealed that she was incredibly smart and talented for someone who only had a few months of first grade; her I.Q. was later tested, and came to a total of 182, which was, according to Torey, around 1 in 10,000 for a six-year-old. Later on, it turned out that Sheila’s so-wonderful-IQ-score became a trouble when it came to befriend with another children. Sheila didn’t have many friend because she felt most people didn’t even understand her and her thoughts.

Days passed, Sheila began building her trust to Torey. She told Torey her childhood trauma. Sheila came from a broken family, the worst broken family’s story I’ve ever read. Sheila’s mother married her husband at her age of fourteen – fourteen! The marriage went worse that Sheila’s mother decided to go away from her husband with her daughter and son, Sheila and Jimmie. On a highway, according to Sheila’s story, Jimmie was being so noisy. Their mother, who was desperate at the time, was getting angry and I don’t know how, but she thought the noise came from Sheila. She opened the car’s door and pushed Sheila out, leaving her behind alone on a side of a highway. Sheila stumbled from the car and got a scar because of it. She often showed Torey the scar and repeatedly told her how she got it. Since that day, Sheila has lived in poverty with her neglectful and abusive father. When she joined Torey's class, Sheila's father did not have enough money to get water to wash themselves or the one set of clothes Sheila owned. Thus, she came to school dirty and smelly every day.

The reason she burned the boy in the news was because one day, she saw him playing happily with his parents in front of their house, and that just made her envious and angry, since she had never treated like that by her father and she didn’t even know where her mother was. So when there was nobody watching, Sheila, with her brilliant IQ score and such big desire to take revenge, she brought the boy out of his house and burned him. Later on, Sheila told Torey that she finally understood that her action was very bad and apologize for it.

Sheila remained obsessed with showing people that she was worthwhile, and terrified of abandonment. At one point, Torey went to California for a few days for a conference. The students were given plenty of warning, but Sheila interpreted it as abandonment by the one person who had shown her love, and misbehaved through the whole trip. Torey had to convince Sheila that she had just gone for a few days, not to left her alone forever.

In the middle of the year, Torey was notified that a space had opened up at the state hospital for Sheila. Torey was horrified, seeing that this girl with all her improvement should not be put into an institution. They brought the case to court, with the help of Torey's boyfriend Chad, a lawyer, and won. Afterwards, Torey and Chad took Sheila out for pizza and bought her a dress. That night was so perfect for Sheila; the feeling as if she had parents (Torey as the mother and Chad as the father) who loved her, buying her things, they were made her didn’t want to end the night. “My heart do be so big," she whispered. "It be so big and I do reckon I be about the happiest kid for it.”, is a quote from the book, as Sheila expressed her feeling about that night. For the first time in her lifetime, she could trust someone, she could feel love and being loved by a same person, and it was Torey.

One day, Sheila came to school looking pale and nervous. She used the bathroom twice in the first half-hour. Torey took Sheila on her lap, and then noticed she was bleeding. Sheila eventually confessed that her uncle Jerry had tried to rape her, and because she was too small, he cut her with his knife. Sheila was rushed to the hospital after losing a lot of blood and had to have surgery to repair the damage. In the 1995 sequel, The Tiger's Child, it was revealed that because of this incident, Sheila was infertile. This tragedy made her losing trust to every man, and in the second book Sheila said she didn’t want to get married because she didn’t want anyone to touch her.

However, the semester had its end. A bad news came: Torey’s class wouldn’t be continued to the next semester and the students would be moved to different classes in the school. This meant Torey couldn’t meet Sheila again, that Torey would left her after all the affection she had given. Torey tried to told Sheila the news in the smoothest way, but Sheila still mad at her.

But at the last day of the semester, Sheila finally understood that farewell didn’t mean Torey didn’t want her again or Torey hated her. There was a picnic as the farewell of Torey’s class. Sheila came with her brightest smile, wearing an orange dress – it seemed her father bought her that dress special for that day – everybody could see happiness in her eyes. But the day had to end, and Sheila had to say good bye to Torey, even if she didn’t want to. OH MY GOD WRITING THIS PARAGRAPH MAKES ME WANT TO CRY. I’m sorry, please keep reading this review. Sheila left Torey a poem, a sad poem:

To Torey with much

The rest came
they tried to make me laugh
they played games with me
some games for fun and some
for real and for keeps.
And then they went away
leaving me in the ruin of the games
not knowing which were for fun
and which were for keeps and
leaving me alone with the echo
of laughter which was not mine.

Then you came
with your funny way of being
not quite human
and you made me cry.
And you didn’t seem to mind if i did
you just said that the games are over
and waited
until all my tears turned into

I cried after finishing this book.

Torey didn’t meet Sheila for years, but fortunately she happened to meet her eight (or so) years later, you can read their reunion in the second book, The Tiger’s Child.

So yeah, it’s one of my favorite book. I’m sorry if this post is sooooo long as I didn't realize I've written this much but please understand me, I really love this book. The character was great, the story was more-than-great, and above all, it was a true story. The fact that there are many unlucky people and children like Sheila all around this world, it makes me sad. Reading the story about little Sheila’s life can grow our empathy for other people, for everybody we meet in our lives. The one reason why I think everybody should read One Child is to be grateful for our lives. A lot of people, even children, suffering from serious problems; broken home, stress, poverty, illness, war. If we still have a family to love, a peaceful mind and heart to think, a home to go back, a healthy body to live in, a fresh and free air to breathe, we should thank god for giving us a luxury which not everyone could afford. We also have to be kind, always; who knows a little monster like Sheila who once had burned a boy alive turned out to have a serious trauma, deep inside needed love she couldn’t get from her lost mother, and could write such a beautiful poem?

The Original Poem Torey Received from Sheila