This sudden urge for blogging came from a movie. It’s titled “Flipped”. If you haven’t seen it, I suggest you to look it up, either in iTunes, DVD shop or even torrent. The movie is really great, not in a full throttle action movie nor a super hilarious movie either. This movie is beautiful.
I watched this movie on my flight back home from Jakarta to Medan (actually not that important) several weeks ago. I don’t mean to spoil the story, but basically it revolves on a relationship between a boy and a girl which houses located across the street. At first, the girl fell at the first sight with the boy ever since he moved to her neighborhood. But as the girl got to clingy, the boy got embarrassed by the way his friends teasing him, so he decided to ignore her. But as they grew up,the feeling got ‘flipped’. The girl started to hate the boy because the way he always treated her, yet the boy strangely started to see her differently, slowly realizing that she is really unique and appealing. I found this movie really interesting because it pictures the human feelings beautifully.
But my focus of story isn’t about these 2 people relationship. It’s about the other character, the boy’s grandpa. Back when the boy still ignoring the girl, his grandpa was the one questioning why his grandson won’t play with this girl. When the grandpa saw the girl across the street digging holes and mowing her garden, he decided to help her. He talked to her, helped her, telling his old stories, and they both became best friends. This particular grandpa is amazing for me, because so many old people I know are so distance with youngster. My grandma never actually talked to me. While my grandpa died when I was a baby (although I do hear that he loved me so much and always played together with me). So, I always longed for that feeling. Someone far older than you, willing to listen to all your problems (without judging) and you know that he will have your back whatever problem that you face. Luckily, I met these 2 amazing gentlemen that changed me for better.
Rob, the Canadian Professor
It was 3 years ago, during my exchange program in Germany. I came directly, with almost no preparation or experience of living abroad so I was kind of afraid and anxious. As an additional curriculum, the university where I was in made a German class for all exchange students which was mandatory. So on the very first day at school, I went to the language class and there I met people from all around the world. American, Mexican, Chinese, Korean, Indian, South African, and Canadian. While most of them were people from places where I’ve never been before and so attractive, but something weird caught into my attention. One old man was sitting together with us, in the first row of the class and I don’t think that he fit the description of an exchange student.
“My name is Rob. I’m Canadian, and I’m an ‘exchange professor’!” so he said. Exchange professor? Weird. What does an exchange professor do in a language class full of students around 21-25 years old? Let’s say if he’s an expert on one subject and called for teaching in a class, I can’t think of a reason why he will want to come to this class, as it’s full of young people coming to Germany mostly for having fun. (Later I found out that he was the one insisted on joining that class).
As time passed by, Rob also became more interesting and hilarious. Maybe because as people say, the older you are, the harder for you to learn a language. That’s why I found Rob was really slow at learning German. He was the slowest learner on the classroom and had the worst mark in almost every exams. But what’s more interesting, he never gave up. He didn’t care if on grammar class he was left behind, he will slowly learnt by himself until he understood. After class when most of the students would directly go the cafetaria, he will stay in the classroom to discuss problems that he couldn’t understand. Back then, I was a quitter. Whenever I faced problems, usually I will just quit. At that exact moment, something that Rob did unconsciously, taught me something valuable.
After half a year, Rob and I became good friends. While most students prefer to sit next to the beautiful blonde girl or the handsome latin guy, I prefer to sit next to Rob, on the first row. We talked a lot. About his families back in Canada, his job as a professor, about Canada which country I always dream to go, and I talked about mine. Sometimes our discussion went really interesting I skipped my lunch. I asked him once, why won’t he become a businessman, someone with lot of money and success.
“Peter, you are still young. I won’t hope that you understand it now, but in life, thereis something more important than money. Than something that you describe as ‘being successful’ now. I found something in teaching that I won’t hand it over for a lot of money. It excites me when I think how my teaching can change a lot of bright students life. I hope you find it as well, later when you are older. Because success and happiness aren’t about money. You will understand.”
On the last day of our class, before we went back to our home countries, Rob came to the class holding a big paper bag. “These books are my favorite books. I’m giving it to you because I know how you love to read. Thanks for this one year and I hope you find your thing of happiness.” And that’s Rob, the ‘exchange professor’.
That’s the name of my lecturer in SBM ITB, my thesis supervisor, and also the name of the best teacher I’ve ever had. After I returned to Indonesia after I finished my exchange year in Germany, as a last year student, I have to quickly finish my thesis if I want to graduate together with my other friends. So after I arrived, I directly went to Mr. Budi, together with my half-finished thesis I wrote back in Germany. “What’s this?” he said, after he read my thesis for around 5 minutes. “My thesis sir. It’s about tourism and what I want to write is t..” “I didn’t asked you that!” he said before I could even finish my sentences. “Why are you writing this nonsense? What actually do you want to write?”
He saw right through me. I understood what he meant from the very beginning. What I wrote was trash. All I wrote was just nonsense, halfheartedly written just so I can pass with decent mark and graduate with my friends. He knew and he rejected it.
I was really angry and at the same time scared at that time. It was only 2 months before the graduation, and if I want to graduate on time, I have to finish it in 1 month, something seems impossible back then. Yet, he mercilessly rejected my topic and told me to wrote another one, something I really want to research about. After that meeting. I hated him so much and I swore on him so many times in front of my friends.
One month after that meeting wasn’t easy. He pushed me so hard on the new topic and it seemed like he didn’t care whether I could graduate in 2 months or not. That one month was full of swearing and I wrote my thesis almost 18 hours a day… everyday. He was hard headed, strict and temperamental. But if I think about it right now, he was always there for me. I just realized that sometimes I faced difficulties in uncommon times of a day. Sometimes I will call him at 11.00 pm, yet he will still pick up my call and discuss it together with me. I realized later, that even though he was strict, he will be there for his students whenever they needed him.
I finished my thesis on time, and I got an A+. After the thesis examination, I came to his room, wanted to say my gratitude for his supervising. When I entered, he smiled. Something I rarely encounter. And then he said,
“Petrus. Sometimes life isn’t ideal. It won’t always be easy for you, and sometimes, in that un-ideal times, you will be faced with choices. Do something just to pass that problem, or doing your best to achieve something that you will never forget. Something you will be proud of for the rest of your life. I hope this thesis taught you that. Congratulation, you’ve done a great work.”
As a person, I’m so lucky to have met these 2 old men in my life. They taught me so much, they changed me for a better person and I couldn’t stop thanking God for letting me to know these 2 amazing gentlemen.
The reason I wrote this post on my blog isn’t only to share this story with others. But also I want to wrote this thing so that I can read this post when I face difficulties ahead. And I can read it again what they taught me about. Thanks Rob and Pak Budi. Hope you both are doing fine…