So what is your personal passion? The goal(s) in your life that you want to achieve at some point? Mine, one of them, has something to do with widening opportunity for other people to learn. In particular, those who come from Eastern part of Indonesia, where I come from, that I think has less opportunity compared to those in Western part. This is where AIESEC comes into the picture, because I believe in its values and what it can bring to those youngsters back home.
I knew AIESEC when I was in my third year in university and did an internship through it after graduated. Please do correct me if I’m wrong, but AIESEC now and then is rather different. Now, leadership and internship complete each other as one whole AIESEC experience. Back then though, there was a distinction between members and interns, giving a different sort of experience and privilages for both. Leadership position for example, was limited to members, so all I could do was sharing my internship experience to encourage others to do the same.
Anyway, there was an opportunity for me to re-engage with AIESEC and linked it to my passion of widening opportunity for youth in my hometown, when there was a talk about expanding the organization to Makassar. It makes sense, as it is the biggest city in Eastern Indonesia. People come all over the region to study there, providing a big pool of students, i.e. potential members for AIESEC. So why not introducing AIESEC in Makassar?
Talk is easy, implementation is very, very tough. We planned, recruited, worked to establish network, implemented, evaluated and so on for the past four years. Nothing worked. Most of it, I guess, is my part. I’ve been a very inneffective leader for the expansion team since the initiative started. I repeatedly asked myself why. Am I so underqualified for the role? But I don’t think so, no. (Over confidence, perhaps?). Well, I came to a conclusion, that it is because at the same time, I was (and still is) in Japan, trying to work on my post grad. No wonder my post grad is also facing similar thing with the expansion initiative: stagnation (=nothing worked). I learned the hard way, that you can’t have two commitments as big as that at the same time. It’s just impossible. Then I came to a point where I had to choose, and I chose PhD. I reduced my role in the expansion initiative and left it to the team members to decide and execute.
But funny, I never notice how much this expansion idea stays in my subconsciousness. Not until a few days ago, when I suddenly realize that my PhD topic is very much about expansion. About enlarging the positive impact of an initiative, a best practice. About its process, its success factors, its enabling environment, its challenges. About what is needed and not needed. About what is expected from it in the future. About what happens after that. (Sidenote: my dissertation’s working title is ‘examining community-based approach in waste management: an Indonesian case of scaling up the practice’)
I laughed out loud when I heard the imaginary conversation in my head. What a relief! On one side, in the middle of all the chaos in my PhD life, I found a good reason why I should finish it. On the other side, even if I am not actively involved in the expansion initiative for the time being, yappari* I have to finish what I have started. Just like how pieces of a puzzle fits into each other, things starts to fall into places in my life. I have to finish my degree, to start working on what I’d love to do (the expansion initiative), to be able to say proudly that I’m an AIESEC alumni and I’m working to make a difference, to then be able to say that I’ve achieved something important in my life.
So for those asking me what I am going to do after PhD, there, you have your answer. 😉
Notes: *yappari (Japanese): after all, as expected