Project 365

Welcome! This is my own 365 project of creating at least one post per day about the stuff that I learnt, achieved, and found, the stuff that made me happy, or the new thing I did every single day.

The project was started on 21 February 2010. It has stopped for few times but I am determined to continue!

This project is dedicated to myself. I want to feel grateful for every single thing I have. I want to be thankful for my own life. I just want to feel that I have enough.

Tag: learn


There was a very interesting presentation today at the mosque about card fraud, known as “skimming”. Skimming is the type of card fraud which copies magnetic stripe cards to produce duplicates. Honestly, I’ve never known anything regarding this type of scam! I was quite shocked that this could happen. I was even surprised to know that the Netherlands is one of the European countries most targeted by skimmers, mainly from Eastern Europe. There have been over 900 reports of skimming in this country according to this website. It’s indeed scary!

I’ve never paid attention to this honestly. I mean, every time I take money from ATM or buy my train tickets from the ticket machine, I never be suspicious of anything. Now that I know, I should have been more careful!

So, how can we avoid to be the victim of skimming?

  • Always use an ATM inside a bank. Never use stand-alone ATM machines. If you have to do it, then make sure you familiarize yourself with the machine. Does the card slot look different, perhaps?
  • When entering your PIN number on the ATM machine, make sure you cover it with your other hand. That way, no one (camera, stalker, or people behind you) would be able to see the numbers you’re entering.
  • Avoid using debit or credit cards to make transactions in the restaurants. You never know what the waiter would do with your card, right?? (As shown in this video)
  • Don’t take your card off your wallet when waiting in a queue for the ATM machine (lesson learned from the video above)

Hope it’s useful 🙂

What adults can learn from kids

Another interesting talk from TED, this time by Adora Svitak about what adults can learn from kids. The fact that kids are so naive and have much less experience than adults makes them dream with no limits and boundaries. As a kid, I used to do that. I used to dream about traveling abroad during the time when my dad had little money to even support us. But who would have thought that few years later, my dad took the whole family to travel around the Middle East. I also used to dream about studying in an English-spoken country when I knew that it was impossible to even talk about it! But who would have thought that I got the opportunity to set my foot in Australia in 2004? It’s amazing.

Now.. moving on to my dream about setting up a school for lower class to middle class Indonesians in Jakarta. I’m no longer a kid, but I still have this dream. Whether or not I’ll be able to realize this dream is another story. But I just need some support from people around me, especially my own family. Mom supports me, of course, but she has this skepticism (as always) and she thinks that it’s very hard and I shouldn’t be too ambitious about it. Now, I don’t like this kind of attitude. Of course, I’m not expecting it to be easy: building a school with cheap tuition fees but high class teachers… who would think that it’s going to be easy? But positive attitude (including trust) and continuous support is all I need, and that makes me want to dream more, feel motivated, and try harder. I don’t think I mind if I don’t get to reach my dream, but as people say… the experience and the journey to reach such dream is what makes a difference.

If I look back to my life, I realize that high expectations and trust from my parents is the reason how I get into this milestone of my life. I do think my parents place a very high expectation on me, as the oldest child in the family, but if they don’t do that, I’d probably end up doing Bachelor degree in an ordinary university and doing ordinary job. As a person who will end up being a parent later, I’d place a high expectation on my kids too later on. But perhaps I’d take a different approach from my parents. I’d give them freedom to do what they really want and continuously support them without forcing them to be on top of the world every single time. I don’t know how exactly I’m going to approach this, but like I said… I have all these exciting ideas about teaching and educating my kids and I have to read a lot of parenting books… 😀

Schools Kill Creativity

Ken Robinson gave an interesting and funny talk at TED. In his opinion, schools nowadays kill our creativity and the creativity of many children. But, in what way?

As all of us may know, kids are not frightened of being wrong. “If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original,” said Robinson. But the problem is that: how can they remain to be an “artist” as they grow up? Most children have lost their capacity as they grow older; and as a result, they have become so scared of being wrong. Because this is what schools nowadays teach us about. They have been teaching us that mistakes are the worst thing that we can do. That we can’t make mistakes. We are pressured. And therefore, we try so hard to avoid them. The result is that: schools educate us out of our creativity.

Education system around the world has been created and influenced to meet the needs of industrialism. The most useful subjects for work are definitely at the top: science, maths, etc. People are discouraged to take their path to music or arts merely because of the unpromising job that they would get. But the thing is that different people have different ability. They have different talents. Don’t they have to do something that they really like? Why do we have to kill their creativity and talents when those things are probably the only things they have?

Not to mention the so called “academic inflation” which indicates the whole structure of our education system is shifting beyond our ability and capacity. Years ago, having a high school diploma was enough to get a decent job. But this was quickly shifted to having a minimum of bachelor degree. Nowadays, masters degree is important and will become a necessity in few years time (even now!). I can imagine that there will be time when probably PhD is gonna take the lead. 🙁

One interesting thing that Robinson said is this: we start to teach children from the waist up as they grow up. We teach them how to walk. Dance. Draw. Talk. Then we focus on their heads; and eventually to one side of the head. This is so true! Education has become sooooo focused on the brain, not creativity. High marks are important. But producing the most beautiful and creative work of art is less important. How come we don’t value creativity? How can we come up with something original and new when our education itself doesn’t support this? How can we see the future? 🙂


… continuation from the previous post.

Mbak Linda told me about the Republic of the South Moluccas (RMS) which was a self-proclaimed republic in the South Moluccas. After the Indonesian independence day, the Maluku people who were part of KNIL demanded their island to be an independent country which turned to be unsuccessful. So most of them went to the Netherlands (which supposed to be temporarily) and were promised by the Dutch government that they would solve this matter. They set up a government-in-exile. Yet, years went by and the Dutch government hadn’t fulfilled their promise yet. So these Maluku people went rebellious, attacking two Indonesian embassies and hijacking train (this hijacking story didn’t get into Indonesia by the way!) to get the attention of the Dutch government. They were quite fanatic — even to these days, according to mbak Linda, they still celebrated the 25th of April (the day when the RMS was formed), put up their own RMS flag, and regarded themselves as Moluccans rather than Indonesians.

Honestly I had no idea about this until she told me!!! Wow! 😀 It was very interesting indeed!!!

*There was a movie about this hijacking thing. You can see its trailer here.

De Nederlandse Klas & Lekker Eten

I had a decent day today as usual. I went to the Dutch class after skipping so many lessons. I was supposed to go to the centrum (city) with teh Rita to explore some sales, but I was stuck in doing chapters after chapters of my Dutch book. It was fun actually and I felt like I didn’t miss anything huge when I went to class.

My Dutch teacher told me something interesting today. The Dutch language for “I sit in front of the computer” is:

Ik zit achter de computer

… which literally means: I sit behind the computer (achter = behind). She said that Dutch language was the only few languages that used “behind” rather than “in front of” in this case. Cool! 😀

After the Dutch class, I had a three-hour-long meeting at the computer lab. Couldn’t believe time ran so quick! But I was glad we made a progress 🙂

Then in the evening, I was invited to Reyhan’s place to have dinner with mbak Rining and Pak Agus. We had a really interesting conversation — well, actually Pak Agus told us so many things about some failures of our education system in Indonesia and some nasty bureaucracy at one of the best universities in our country. I really wanted to share it here but I’m really tired now. Plus, I’ve got an assignment to finish. Hmm maybe next time!

Welterusten! (good night)

Children & Musical Instruments

Several scientific studies have demonstrated that children who learn to play a musical instrument have increased success in reading and math, improved self-esteem, better ability to work in teams, higher school-attendance rates, and a greater likelihood of graduating from high school and going on to college.

Bill Clinton in Giving: How Each of Us Can Change the World

This is very interesting, indeed!

The truth is that, I can’t play any musical instruments. I regret that I didn’t have the motivation to take any musical classes back when I was still at school. I went to an Indonesian school in Jeddah and there were no extracurricular activities available during my 9 years of studying there. Taking musical lessons in Jeddah was very expensive and I don’t think my parents could afford it. I wasn’t encouraged or pushed by my parents to do it either, so I wasn’t motivated to do it even if I had the chance.

It was in Indonesia that I got this huge chance of taking musical lessons. I went to Madania Boarding School and we were given freedom to take any lessons that we wanted; be it guitar, piano, cello, etc. We could even take two or three classes without having to pay extra (coz it’s already included in the tuition fee). But sadly to say that I didn’t take that golden chance. I took an art class instead of a music class and even then I couldn’t really enjoy it because it wasn’t my “thing”.

It’s never too late to do it actually. But I feel like I have more important things to be done rather than going to a musical class. I guess, I have to accept the fact that music is not something I’m passionate about 🙂

But I always look up to my friends who can play any musical instruments, especially piano, violin, cello, or any other “rare” instruments. Somehow I feel like these people are not only good at what they do in music, but also in academic fields! They are smart, outspoken, and critical. I don’t know why, somehow they have these similar traits. But after reading the quote I mentioned above, it is indeed true!!!

I feel that it’s okay for me not being able to play any instruments. But I’m going to encourage my children later to take the lessons and not miss that chance! 🙂

Day 6

with Ivan

After having to abandon Couchsurfing for more than half a year due to my busy schedule, I decided to take part in this super awesome community again — helping travelers and meeting new like-minded people. Today, I met with Ivan, a Russian guy who was in Eindhoven for a business trip. I was contacted by him few days before and I was honored to be his first Couchsurfing friend, as he just joined the website not so long time ago. I took him to the Boekencafe, which was my favorite cafe in Eindhoven, for a cup of delicious hot chocolate. We were there for about an hour; talking about Russia and our life in general. One thing that surprised me was that, he didn’t drink alcohol!! (knowing that Russians really looooved their vodka and beer!) We only talked about an hour and it was a pity that we couldn’t talk longer. I think he was a good and charming boy. In the picture, this was me and him in the cafe.

After meeting Ivan, I went straight to teh Rita’s house. As usual, we had a weekly pengajian (Qur’an recitation and study) with our religious leader whom we refer as Pak Haji. Every week I learnt so many things; and for today, I was struck by this verse of the Qur’an (Al Ankabut 64):

And the life of this world is nothing but diversion and play. And indeed, the home of the Hereafter – that is the [eternal] life, if only they knew.

Dan tiadalah kehidupan dunia ini melainkan senda gurau dan main-main. Dan sesungguhnya akhirat itulah yang sebenarnya kehidupan, kalau mereka mengetahui.

This verse is such a good reminder for me. It made me shivered when I read it. Ya Allah, please keep me reminded and guide me to the right path… Amin Ya Rabbal Alamin.

Another verse that we discussed was from surah Ar-Rum: 2-3:

The Romans have been defeated in the nearest land. But they, after their defeat, will overcome.

Telah dikalahkan bangsa Romawi, di negeri yang terdekat dan mereka sesudah dikalahkan itu akan menang.

The Romans (Byzantine Empire) were defeated by the Persians at the time when this verse was sent down. And the Qur’an had predicted that they would win the war from the Persians in few years time (which happened during the years of Abu Bakar As-Siddiq). Subhanallah, this is one of the miracles of the Qur’an.

From this verse, Pak Haji also pointed out that recently Harun Yahya discovered that the words “fi adnaa” in Arabic which is translated by many as “in the nearest land” actually had a literal meaning of “in the lowest land”. What’s the lowest land, you may wonder… Well, the lowest land in the world is the Dead Sea (395 meters below sea level) which was the place where the Romans were defeated by the Persians. During that time, NOBODY knew that the Dead Sea was the lowest region on earth! Yet, the Qur’an had been able to reveal this at that time! Oh, my heart is beating right now. Even as I’m writing this post.

Wallahu A’lam (Allah knows best).

Science of Motivation

This is a very interesting presentation by Daniel Pink about the science of motivation. He talked about how contigent motivators (e.g. if you do this, then you get that) mostly did not work and even brought a lot of harm. This includes providing bonuses for better performance or quality of work or promoting a staff if an important task can be done well or even threatening someone with a sharp stick if he/she doesn’t get the work done. According to him, this sort of works that involves rewards or threats narrow our focus and concentrate the mind; i.e. it restricts our possibility.

So, what would be the solution? Well, there’s a new approach that are built around the desire to do things because they matter, because we like it, because they’re interesting, and because they are part of something important. This is called an intristic motivation.

This type of motivation is done famously by Google. I’ve read it somewhere few years ago. Basically, the engineers at Google can spend 20 percent of their time building anything they like. What’s the result? About half of the new products are birthed during that 20 percent of time; this includes Gmail. Isn’t this awesome?

Now, this led me into thinking. How can I use the similar approach to my kids later on? How can I motivate them? It’s not something I want to think about now. But it’s certainly something I need to start thinking about from now on. I wanna feel like they do something because they enjoy it. Because they like it. Not because of the pocket money they’re going to receive. The gadgets that they can get. Or something like that. I don’t want to make them feel like they are forced. That’s hard, isn’t it?

Hmm… I should perhaps start reading books about parenting 😀