The Words of the McLackand Family
Jakarta, Indonesia -- UPF-Indonesia celebrated International Youth Day at the UPF Peace Center on August 14. The program on the theme "Change Your World" was entirely planned and executed by the Youth Ambassadors for Peace who had been recently appointed after completing a five-day UPF Youth Leadership Training. However, the young people were greatly encouraged by the presence of senior Ambassador for Peace, Dr. Payaman Simanjuntak, and other elders who joined the entire program.
The Masters of Ceremony, Rifan and Yennie, opened the program with the National Anthem. In her Opening Remarks, Mrs. Premita Fifi, UPF Ambassador for Peace, illustrated the importance of education as the way for young people to achieve their dreams with several moving examples from history. Sarah Maharani then read the UN Secretary-General's message for the day. Representing the youth, newly appointed Assistant Lecturer at UNTAR University, Eric Adiwijaya, talked about the need for young leaders to train themselves from an early age and be ready to overcome adversity if they want to accomplish great things in their life. The audience was inspired to learn from Mrs. Ursula McLackland about the vision for peace and many practical programs undertaken by UPF in Indonesia and abroad. Then the young Ambassadors for Peace entertained everyone with a lively dance performance "See sua sua."
The video about a true story of a six-year old boy in Canada who brought clean drinking water to many people in Uganda touched everyone's heart and made it easy for the participants to write down their own hopes for a better world. A few participants were called upon to read their dreams to all present. The program continued with a variety of games and spontaneous performances by participants until it was time for the Muslim participants to break their Ramadan fast at sunset.
Though it was their event, the Young Ambassadors for Peace did an excellent job and all participants returned home with great satisfaction. Seeing the dynamism and dedication of these young leaders, we can see great hope for the future of Indonesia.
Hi, young and dynamic people, how are you today?
What made Kartini (a 19th-century woman from Java, a pioneer in women's rights for native Indonesians) different from ordinary Javanese aristocratic women? The answer is, Nothing! She lived the way they lived, she wore what they wore, she even let her husband have other wives besides her, even though she had hated the fact that her father was married to several wives for a long time.
The only difference is that Kartini saw education, not wealth nor beauty not even social status, although she had that all, but education, yes, education as the only way out for Javanese women to come forward and speak their mind out to society. Later on, we learned that Kartini's longing for education filled her daily life as we can read in her letters to Mrs. Abendanon, her most loved and loyal correspondence partner in the book we all know as Habis Gelap Terbitlah Terang (Out of Dark Comes Light). We also learned that Kartini was committed to teaching in her own school.
About a month ago, one of my friends gave me a very good book. This book contains a story of a rather young man who came from a very poor family. His father was a driver for public transportation. They lived in a very small and well-used house in the Malang area in East Java. They had almost nothing in material terms, but they had big dreams and they wholeheartedly pursued their dreams. This particular young man ended up having a great career in a big consultant firm in New York City! How did he do that? Through education. He worked very hard to stay at the top of his class since elementary school so that he could always obtain a scholarship from Junior High School up to his master degree. In my opinion, this '9 Summers 10 Autumns' book by Iwan Setiawan is a must read.
Maybe some of you have also read or watched "Laskar Pelangi" (a 2008 movie made adapted from a novel by the same title about ten schoolboys and their two teachers building hope for the future in an island off the coast of Sumatra). Fascinating, isn't it? How a boy from a shredded school can pursue his dream of going to Paris and become one of the most successful writers in Indonesia. How did he do that? Again, through education.
History has also proved to us all how education can change and re-shape a nation. Japan used to be a nation where power equals the ability to win wars. They even tried to expand their ambitions by attacking Pearl Harbor, an act that later brought disaster to Japan. Hiroshima and Nagasaki had to pay for what their country did to others.
We learned how Japan struggled, overcame the miseries of World War II and triumphed as one of the most powerful nations on earth. How did they do that? The key answer is E D U C A T I O N – education. Japan is the country that pays the highest salary to teachers and lecturers in the world! They produced millions of brilliant young people who don't seem to stop innovating and nowadays we just can't avoid using Japanese technology in our daily lives.
How about Indonesia? Well … I leave it to all of you to answer that question! You have the opportunity, brain and strength to do anything you wish.
As you see, our beloved country struggling with many important issues these days, from poverty, violence, crime, political and religious conflicts, massive corruption, lack of education to disintegration in some parts of the country.
These might seem horrifying but you as young people have the ability to surpass them. Soekarno and Hatta (the first President and Vice-President of independent Indonesia) were once young people like you, and they succeeded in leading the entire nation to independence.
As the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr. Ban Ki-moon, said in his speech for the International Youth Day this year, "Young people are gifted with open minds and a keen awareness of emerging trends, and are bringing their energy, ideas and courage to some of the most complex and important challenges facing the human family. They often understand better than older generations that we can transcend our religious and cultural differences in order to reach our shared goals. They are standing up for the rights of oppressed peoples, including those who suffer discrimination based on gender, race and sexual orientation. They are confronting sensitive issues in order to stop the spread of HIV. And they are often the leading proponents of sustainability and green life-style. Young people have the opportunity to change the world, Seize it!"
As I have come to the closing of my speech, I would like to introduce two young men who fill my heart as they capture my love and devotion: these are my two sons, Boutros and Bilal. Right now they are students at the Faculty of Economics of University of Indonesia, and 2nd class in SMU Islam Al Azhar. They also happen to be car racers; both are national racers and champions, and yet each time their grades at school or in university go down, I would gladly "ground" them from racing. It's important to have fun while you are young, but it's more important to prepare yourselves to face the world.
You can make it, if you wish to and work hard at it! I love you all.
"Change Our World" it's not just a phrase that was declared by some leaders such as Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, Gandhi, Gusdur (Abdurrahman Wahid), and Obama. But we as youth can change the world with a vision and way of thinking that must be developed from an early age. Let's take the example of the founder of UPF, Father Sun Myung Moon, who had a vision of world peace since he was 15 years old. In order to accomplish it, he had to struggle with and overcome many problems, even to the point of death. But he never gave up and held onto his commitment to build this organization and promote world peace. You can see the proof in many pictures and videos about him. So, we as youth who are blessed by God with more energy, potential, and talent should not just criticize and complain but always do our best. Together we can change this world to be a better place to live in. So let's start right now. I hope this short speech can inspire you who are youth or youth-like.