My Father, My English Teacher, and My Former Director: A Glimpse of My Life

           No man is an island. That is a clichéd but meaningful proverb. People cannot live alone. Peoples’ lives are continuously being influenced and influencing others including me. There are a lot of people who came into my life and made my life different. Among those many people, my father, my English teacher, and my former director are the people who significantly influenced my life in different ways. My father influenced me to be independent, protective, and introverted; my English teacher affected my interest in English and nourished my self-esteem; and my former director inspired me to study abroad and get my degree in the education field.
            As an oldest daughter, I have a stronger relationship with my father. He is the person who influences my character and personality the most. I became what I am now -independent, protective, and introverted- mostly because of him. My father is 59 years old and he was born in Indonesia. His father, who is my grandfather, was born in China and migrated to Indonesia. He left China because there was a war and the economic situation was deteriorating. After he settled in Indonesia, my grandfather helped my grandmother and their three children migrate to Indonesia too. Few years later, my father was born. Even though my father was born in Indonesia and already became Indonesian citizen for many years, he still has a strong and deep feeling for China. He is very proud of China and until now our family is still practicing various Chinese traditions; one of them is celebrating Chinese New Year. I guess the reason of my father’s strong feeling about China is because when he was a child, Indonesian government discriminated Chinese descendants and treated them unfairly. My father told me a story that he had to stop going to school because the government shut down his school. It was a school where all Chinese descendants go and they learn mostly in Chinese language. During 1965, Indonesian government shut down all places related to any Chinese practices including the school. Long story short, my father did not finish his elementary school and had to start working when he was 10 years old. He helped his big sister who owns a bicycle shop and learned how to repair bicycle.  Now he owns his own bicycle shop which he manages together with my mother. He already being independent since he was ten and it encouraged me to be independent as early as I can. Moreover, Chinese people are known as people who prioritize their family and so does my father. He always tells me to take care of my siblings -my three younger sisters and one younger brother. I remember his words which says, “There is ex-husband and ex-wife, but there isn’t any ex-sister, ex-brother, or ex-parents.” which also remind me to one of English proverb that says, “Blood is thicker than water”. Those words that my father constantly says to me shape me on being a protective person especially to my siblings. Since I am the oldest, I feel that I have all responsibilities to protect my sisters and my brother. My protective side also influences my independency because in order to be able to protect my siblings, I have to be independent too. Furthermore, my father also contributes to the introvert side of me. He is a person who doesn’t express his feeling much. He never says “I love you” but he has done many things to show that he loves his family. He just doesn’t express his feeling verbally and express it more through his act. Most of the times, he will cook delicious meals for us and doesn’t mind to go to traditional market because my mother has to take care of my siblings. I always feel loved when my father prepares me the meal. Anyway, because my father does not express his feeling verbally, I grew up being an introvert person; I rarely express my feeling verbally and feel awkward if I have to do so. I prefer to express it non-verbally, by write it down or act it out. My beloved father truly influences me in my personality and character growth.
            Entering the next phase of my life after childhood, my father still impacts my life. Yet, the biggest impact during my early adolescence was made not by him but by my English teacher in my Junior High School. I actually already interested in learning English since I was 10 years old but at that time I did not have much confidence to speak in English especially in front of public. Mostly I learned English passively by watching movies, listening to songs, and reading books. My English teacher, Mr. Alfons, had built my self-confident to speak English in front of public. I will always remember the time when he encouraged and inspired me. One time he gave us an assignment to write our own speech. The topic is about saving the environment and something about recycling. I was an average student at that time and did not get much attention from my teachers. I was just a mediocre one. So I wrote my speech and I thought it was a good speech I did lots of research before I wrote it and it was also my favorite topic. Usually, my other teachers will ask students to present their assignments voluntary. At that time I was a student who obviously would not volunteer to speak in front of many people; I was an introvert student and I preferred to be anonymous. Apparently, Mr. Alfons is different from my other teachers. I did not know what was in his mind at that time; he called me and asked me to present my speech in front of the class. Having no choice, I came forward and nervously read my speech with soft voice. Sweating and having thrill voice, I finally finished reading my speech. After I was done with my speech, I quickly walked back to my chair and sat down there with my head down. I just felt very uncomfortable and nervous. But then, I heard he says “Very good. It is a great speech. You’ve done a good job.” The moment he said that words was the moment when I felt so happy, proud, and excited. All positive feeling was just mixed up. I continuously became more confident and eagerly learned how to do public speaking. Mr. Alfons kept on giving me chances to speak and gave me suggestions to improve my English. He definitely had nourished my self-esteem and influenced my personality.
            In my third phase of life, which was adulthood, I was influenced by many people -my best friends, Susi and Edward, my younger sister, Triana, and my former director, Ms. Anita. Among those people, Ms. Anita is the one who impacts my life the most. Graduated from Senior High School, I entered Petra Christian University in Surabaya, Indonesia and enrolled to a Civil Engineering program. Even though I did not take Literature or English program, my interest for English, which was being nourished by Mr. Alfons, still exists. I am continuously learning English autodidact and keep on seeking any chance to improve my English. During the last year in the university, I had no class to take and only did my thesis. I surely have a lot of spare time. Trying to find something to do, I end up in working as a part-time English teacher for children. The reason is simple, I like children and I like English. Unfortunately, I had to stop teaching because after having my BA on Engineering, I got a full time job in a contractor company. Sadly, I leaved my students. I enjoyed working in that company but two years later I had to resign because of my health condition which not allowed me to work outdoor on the field for a long period of time. So, I was thinking of getting another job and I automatically thought about my experience when I taught children. I decided to go back to the English course where I used to teach part time. I was very excited and grateful because they still need teachers and accept me in pleased. The director of that English course, Ms. Anita, is a very independent woman and quite famous among education practitioner in Indonesia. She got her master and doctoral degree in the education field from Baylor University, Texas. She is a professor in one of prestigious university in Indonesia and teaches mostly students in master programs. Last two years ago, on August 2011, she became a guest lecturer at Berkeley University, California. She also owned two English courses for children; one of it is the place where I used to teach at. She definitely is a person that I admire and my role model. The most impressive experience which influences me is when she told me and my colleagues a story when she was studying in United States. When she told the story, I felt very inspired and had a mental picture of myself studying in America. She told the struggles that she faced, balancing her life among taking care of her husband and daughter, working part time, and doing assignments. I was very inspired by her story and being determined to be able to study in America. Until now, when I finally go to United States and study here, I still keep in touch with her. She often asks about my classes and I also often chat with her. She continuously gives advices to me, not only on my education life but also to my personal life. The relationship that we have surely affects me and makes me survive in America.
            I always believe that everything in this world happens for reasons and God already plans different scenarios for each person. My father, Mr. Alfons, and Ms. Anita are three persons among many people that God has used to worked His plan on me. I will never stop thank on Him for sending me all those people who make me become who I am now. I owe my father for my independent, protective, and introverted personality. I owe Mr. Alfons for my interest in English and self-confident in speaking in front of public. I owe Ms. Anita for my determination to pursue my degree in the education field in United States. Most of all, I am grateful for having them in my life.

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