Thursday, January 19, 2012

Diamond And Differences

"Both diamond and graphite are made from carbon, but both have different characteristics. Formed by strong atomic bond after undergoing heat, diamond is the strongest and clearest of all carbon's allotropes while graphite is dark and soft. As a human, will you change into diamond or graphite when undergoing difficulties?" -- A university friend* wrote those words on his drafting board when he took the final assignment.

I remembered those words when I recently attended a leadership event for high schoolers. The students were bright and smart, the kind of teenagers teeming with happiness and positive energy. But on the last session about self reflection, each poured out their hearts (and tears) and I found what an amazing battle each of them had gone through.

To protect the innocent, let's go anonymously. A boy, preferred to be called A, said that he had abusive father who always beat him or spit at him. To escape the abuse, he studied really hard and won a scholarship for high school. Now he's working for a scholarship to universities. He loves mathematics and dreams of studying abroad. 

Another student, call her B, said she had a Christian father and Muslim mother, and each had fought to won her belief. When she chose to be Christian, her mother beat her. When she converted to Muslim, her father beat her. She attempted suicide seven times, failing miserably. But the trials and tribulations shape her into a tough girl. Her life sounded like a sinetron (Indonesian soap opera) story, didn't it?

"Now I only have one goal in my head: to have my own place. I study hard, graduate quickly, go to university, get a job, then I can buy a house of my own," B said.

B has strong opinions on everything. When her friend (a girl named C) said that her friend called her gaptek Eng. technophobe), B told C to ignore the verbal bully.

"Don't listen to them. The most important thing is you don't cause them any harm, you don't ask money from them to pay for the school tuition. Just keep studying well, make your parents proud and we'll see who will laugh in the end," B told C.
Hearing such wise words from such young girl makes me feel embarrassed for being an ungrateful person sometimes.

On a lighter note, not every students has diversity issues, some even celebrate the differences.

For example, D, another student from Bali says that her father is a Buddhist and her mother is a Hindu, and she gets all supports for choosing to be a Hindu. According to D, there is a street in Bali where we can see mosque, church, pura and klenteng stand next to the other. She said that during one religious holiday, people of a different faith living on that street would make a communal event.

Moral of this post is...(1) trials and tribulations can change people into that strong diamond shining the light for others, or (2) differences are here to stay, so live with it.

Have a thrilling Thursday, people!

*He got A for the final assignment.

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