SPH Alumni Talk Series 1: “Penerus Perjuangan Kemerdekaan”

Commemorating the Republic of Indonesia’s 75th Independence Day

 

To celebrate Indonesia’s 75th Independence Day, Sekolah Pelita Harapan held an Online Alumni Talk under the title: PENERUS PERJUANGAN KEMERDEKAAN. The aim of this Alumni Talk was to share the experiences and journeys of seven SPH Alumni in serving the nation through various fields: politics & government, science education & research, technological start-ups, agricultural enterprises, law, business & venture capital, as well as socio-entrepreneurship during the Covid-19 pandemic. The event was moderated by Giovani Prayitno, SPH Lippo Village 2009, the Associate Director of Grace Alone Ministry.

In this SPH ALUMNI Public Talk, alumni shared about their various experiences in serving our nation wholeheartedly through their work, life stories, journeys, and challenges. The seven SPH Alumni who were the speakers of this Alumni Talk are:

  • Charles Honoris, SPH Lippo Village 2002: Member of 1st Commission & Vice Chairman BKSAP DPR RI (Indonesian Parliamentary)
  • Dr. Eden Steven, SPH Lippo Village 2002: Researcher & Physicist, Director of Applied Science Academy
  • Diera Y. Hartono, SPH Sentul City 2007: VP Merchant Marketing of GOJEK
  • Andrew Darmawan, SPH Lippo Village 2010: Founder of Kisah Tani
  • Andrew Marsha Mulia, SPH Lippo Village 2011: Former Legal Aide of Governor of South Sulawesi
  • Melvin Hade, SPH Sentul City 2013: Forbes Indonesia 30 under 30
  • Nathania B. Zhong, SPH Lippo Village 2019: Co-founder of The Spring and Anak Indonesia Bersatu

The speakers began by sharing a little about their background, how life and SPH helped shape them and encourage them to love and serve in their home country.  They then went on to share some of the challenges they have faced while pursuing their paths to see Indonesia thrive. Even though their experiences and life paths have been very diverse, all of them agreed that building the nation is a form of love for God and others, which they consider to be their life’s calling. They believe all obstacles will be overcome if one holds firmly on to this calling.

As a politician, Charles Honoris faces more challenges than most since he has a double minority background being both Chinese and Christian. However, he has shown his tenacity and hard work in fighting for the right causes and now has been serving in the House of Representatives of Indonesia (DPR) for two periods.

I am very happy to be able to contribute in the political field.  If we can influence government policy then we can influence the lives of many more people. Once again, don’t be allergic to politics and government because whatever we do, as long as we can have a positive impact on others and stick to our core values, this is more than enough. Being able to be of service to others has always been a trigger for me to continue working in this field.”

 

Andrew Mulia who worked as a legal aide for the South Sulawesi Governor also remarked that working in the legal field needs patience and perseverance. This is what he specifically learned from his experience in implementing a legal electronic signature system in the provincial government.

From a legal perspective, I think it is a must to have more people with callings and desires to be able to be patient and continue the process until their vision and mission is attained and achieved in Indonesia. Indonesian law works and functions well, but most people don’t have enough patience to read the law and to go through the process.

Our third speaker, Diera Y. Hartono, is the Vice President for Merchant Marketing in Gojek and a 2007 Alumni from SPH Sentul City. Through her work, Diera has had the opportunity to help and directly impact the Small Micro Medium Enterprises (UMKM) in Indonesia so they can operate efficiently and thus increase their sales and distribution through technological means. This has been especially important in the middle of this pandemic when everyone has had to use technology or be “technology literate” to a certain degree.  She believes that “Collaboration should exist to motivate people to grow and innovate.”

Dr. Eden noted that a challenge he faced when he returned to Indonesia was that developed countries, such as the US, already have a culture of innovation and advanced technology unlike developing countries, such as Indonesia. “That is precisely what made me want to return to Indonesia. I thought, ‘Is there really no room for scientific research in Indonesia?’ However, now that I have returned to Indonesia, what I experience is not frustration but true joy. Here I learned that there is a simple camera technology that can do tasks like grading the bad & good quality of fruit, and it was created by high school kids! Indonesia has extraordinary potential, but one thing I see is quite lacking is that research has not become a culture. Indonesia has a very large population, but we are known as consumers and users, not creators or innovators. Therefore, one of my visions for Indonesia is to be able to help the culture of innovation. We, myself, and several colleagues are trying to establish a startup, collaborating with the Applied Science Academy which aims to increase the space for innovation from childhood learning through university.”

About facing life challenges from a young age and answering to opportunity calls, Melvin Hade shared his life experience, “When I finished 6th grade in SPH, my family faced financial difficulty. At that time, the choice I had was to leave SPH or try to get a scholarship being offered by SPH Sentul. I was lucky enough to get a gold scholarship which allowed me to continue my education in SPH from Grade 7 to passing the IB Program. For this opportunity, I would like to thank SPH, YPPH, and SPH Sentul City for offering me that scholarship. Because without that scholarship, I might not have become who I am now and did not know my life purpose. Life is not always smooth—even for SPH students who are quite privileged with an excellent education—challenges are opportunities for us to grow, to know more about life.”

Nathania shared her struggles as she thought of not staying in Indonesia and had so many reasons to leave, but a crucial moment changed her mind. When Nia was in 8th or 9th grade, her parents were already busy in the government and did not have much time to spend with the family. “Throughout a few years, a lot of things happened—especially the controversial issue that I’m sure everyone knows about—that my Dad [former governor Basuki T. Purnama] was sent to jail. I saw with my own eyes that even though my Dad had a good purpose, and he pursued it really well, it looked like it was all for nothing. I came to a really devastating state.” Nia’s hurt over her parents choosing to spend so much time on their work instead of her as well as the seemingly pointless situation of her dad was all part of what made her want to leave the country.

However, upon her journey home from school one day during that time, Nia saw people on the streets of Kota Tua – “tukang becak,” the silver men, and painting sellers—all of whom were struggling to earn money and willing to do anything to make a living. “I saw them all, and I felt quite emotional by what I was seeing. Even though there was so much conflict going on in my head, it was during that time that I found the answer to the question of what I wanted to do: I wanted to stay and support our country. I’m pretty sure a lot of us here, and obviously, all the alumni speaking, love this country.  There had to be a feeling of strong attachment to this country for me to stay despite having so many reasons to leave and wanting to live a more comfortable life outside. That to me was the sign that this was my calling. It was this part of me pursuing something that I thought might lead me to a more meaningful life.” 

 

It is easy to see the overarching theme that binds the minds of all the alumni speakers: the desire to contribute to and build up Indonesia through what we are called to do. Indonesia needs young people from many different fields who are standing firm on what they believe in, are willing to fight for the right cause, and can be innovative and creative: who can find ways to be a blessing to this country. Challenges or hardships are inevitable; however, if we have the courage to keep moving forward, and if we stick to what God calls us to do, we will see the fruit of our labor in the end. We might not get to see the direct impact of what we are doing, but that is not a reason to stop doing it. The path towards a meaningful life might not be easy, but it will all be worth it.  Let us keep on serving Indonesia wholeheartedly for the glory of God and our nation’s future development!