(Delivered to Editorial of Berkhmawan News)
I was once like you all, one of priest candidates, enjoying six amazing years in a cold and foggy plain, namely Mataloko. Reaching Mataloko in the afternoon of July 19th 1999, the place was unfamiliar for me. The early months staying in Mataloko were the hardest period of time. It was like entering a period and place of uncertainty. Moving from Maumere to Mataloko, from a hot place to a fertile and cold one, made me realize that I had to go with what my decision was. Living far away from my surroundings in a new “sacred” community with Wolosasa at the back was also another reason why I regarded this period of time as the toughest part of my whole six years education experience.
Graduated in 2005, I chose not to join major seminary, nor take a year of rehabilitation. Department of International Relations, University of Pembangunan Nasional “Veteran” Yogyakarta was my next destination, a place of gaining my ideals. After finishing three and a half years of bachelor degree study, I spent almost two years and a half working in Jakarta. Latterly, I was awarded Asian Development Bank-Japan Scholarship Program to pursue master degree in Kobe University, Japan.
I am presenting this article as a life experience, to share to you all the importance of studying English. As you have fully realized, since Gymnasium education system was adopted, Seminarian education can not be separated from the increasing significance of English. English is, in almost all aspects of life, playing important role, both in preparing our future and helping us attain our ideals. Moreover, English is recently regarded as a common language. Everyone should have known how to actively use English. In this era of globalization and modernization, mastering English is one way to conquer the world.
After previously spending one year of English with Pak Stef Sahaba and Tadeus Demu, Romo Nani taught us English in the rest five of our six years. Coming into the class in August 2000, in my second year, Romo Nani brought two teaching materials with him. They were the first and the second five hundred English words. He seemingly started the English lesson from the very beginning, memorizing the vocabularies. Every time he started the class, he said “Good morning students. Sit down please. Take a piece of paper. Write down your name and your class. Number one…” And guess what? There will be ten or twenty English words on the board as our daily exam. Memorizing the words was an absolute daily thing we had to do, considering that our brain worked so fast at our age. Even in Minggu Pesiar or when we were roaming around Mataloko, enjoying Bakso or Nasi Telur in Warung, those English words stayed in our pockets. After having ten to fifteen minutes of vocabulary exams, Romo Nani then continued to some grammatical and tenses explanations.
I, my self, appreciated this way of teaching. At our age and grade, this way could be assumed as the best and most successful way in enabling young students to comprehend English. Having a strong house should be started with a solid foundation. And it really worked.
In addition to words memorization and tenses-grammar comprehension, we were also forced to make weekly English writing to be displayed on English Corner. We used to make writing based on what we learned several hours before. If Romo Nani taught us about Simple Past Tense, then you’ll find all past tense writings on English Corner. If it was Present Continuous Tense in the class room, then there were only Present Continuous Tenses in front of English Room. We also wrote some particular topics, like holiday experience, education, sports, etc. We really enjoyed it. Engaging in English Night was also one of our favorite extracurricular.
Upon SMP completion, it seemed to me that Romo Nani changed and modified his way of teaching English. He focused on how students could use active English. Finished with a successful and solid foundation, he stepped forward into “house of English” construction. Our three years in SMA were full of active English, while we still kept paying attention to and elaborating some basic skills we got in SMP. English writings must be collected weekly. It meant, there should be four writings every month. In addition, scientific book summaries must be provided every month. Series of “All About” in the library were our monthly menu. TOEFL Practice was carried out nearly two to three times a week. To make students capable of proficiently speaking English, we were divided into groups of two persons. Like what Jesus did to His disciples. We occasionally walked around Halaman Tengah, two by two, shared everything in English. We had periodic in-class English games too, while out-class activities increased importantly. Bunga Bonsai and Pohon Cemara were our loyal friends, the things we talked with in English. This “crazy” method made us “addicted” to English. During class hours, English was the only language of instruction. Indeed, we really enjoyed studying English.
In 2003, at our second grade of SMA, some friends and I were selected to participate in English Debate Competition held in Kupang. The announcement was delivered just three days before the competition began. With limited time of preparation, we tried to perform our best. Spending more than 8 hours from Mataloko to Maumere and more than 12 hours on ship to reach Kupang, our preparation was out of expectation. We had little discussion time, taking place both on bus and ship. We practiced delivering the speech and debating along the way from Mataloko to Maumere and from Maumere to Kupang. We just had little time to take a nap. Shortly, the competition finished with good achievement. Informally, we came number one, as majority of participants admired our fluency and logic-systematic method of debating. Unfortunately, “invisible hands” made us come number four in official announcement.
After graduating in 2005, I went into Students Orientation Week (SOW) in UPN “Veteran” Yogyakarta. As International Relations students, mastering English is a common ability. Every student must have been capable of using English. This SOW was the week of my English performance. I showed my best and spoke English fluently. Consequently, everyone came to me, said hello, introduced themselves and wondered where I learned English. I enthusiastically told them about Seminari Mataloko, the place where my English grew. The place where students and teacher actively participated in making English learned easier. My three and a half years of study in university resulted with good English skill, excellent marks, well-done undergraduate thesis and lovely self-performance.
While studying International Relations, I joined French Course provided by Lembaga Indonesia Perancis (Centre Culturel Francais de Jogjakarta) in Jogjakarta for two years (2006-2008). I thoroughly copied Romo Nani’s way and method of teaching English. I memorized French words, focused in grammar, built up weekly writing on my own, read French books, found French friends, etc. Having good basis in English enabled me to learn another foreign language very easily.
One of my unforgettable English experiences was when I was awarded Asian Development Bank-Japan Scholarship Program to pursue master degree in Kobe University Japan, started from this October. Soon after bachelor degree completion in January 2009, I carried out series of efforts to gain scholarship for master degree, including accomplishing an IELTS test with the overall score of 7.0. As studying overseas was one of my dreams, I tried hard to make the dream come true. I began with Australian Development Scholarship in 2009. But, I failed. I then continued sending application to StuNed Scholarship Program, 2011 Australian Development Scholarship Program, Fulbright Scholarship, Chevening Scholarship, Bourse du Gouvernement Francais/BGF (French Government Scholarship) and ADB-JSP. At least, until January 2011, the first five scholarship schemes came out with bad news. I failed again. ADB-JSP was the only available hope at that time of “trial”. In February 2011, three professors of Kobe University visited Indonesia and planned to have an interview with me. I was so delighted, bearing in mind that it could be the best opportunity for me to show my ability. Generally, the interview ran well, as I expected. Two months later, in April 2011, my mobile phone rang. It was a notification of incoming message. “Dear Mr. Susento Eugenius Emanuel. This is the Graduate School of International Cooperation Studies in Kobe University. This is to inform you that ADB committee accepted you as a scholar of ADB-JSP 2011.” That was the message. Mastering English contributed a lot to the success of being awarded this scholarship.
Hence, in addition to English mastery, as well as a smattering of French, I am thinking of taking Japanese language course while studying in Kobe. Overall, if we want to be better than the others, we have to study two times harder than they do. Remember, a long trip begins with a single step.
Eugenius E. Susento
Alumnus of 1999-2005