Thursday, 27 March 2008

It’s hard to get focused!

I've got a wandering mind, and it would not be a helping tool to get a blog which focused only in some topics, especially when the blog I'm trying to write is a blog of a citizen reporter.

This time I'll just presented all the small pieces that troubled my mind. Sometimes I feel like an artist whose dream is only to have a quiet day to write all that bother my grey cells.

It was long time ago that I kept asking myself why I could not be just like any ordinary Indonesian (full time) housewife. Stay at home, enjoy having my family...Why I should always look for some voluntarily work or activities while I knew that having only one source of financial support should make me more careful with the expenses. Why didn't I work to help financing the family instead of giving away my time for voluntarily work? Actually I was not without filter. I did things that would not consume a lot of time. There were a lot of other interesting voluntarily work I did not take because of my time limitation. Green mapping was something that took my interest, but their meeting were usually at night after office hours (If I'm not mistaken...sometimes memory faded with age...).

Then, why I became a citizen reporter? The question "Why are you a citizen reporter?" was asked by Claire George since June last year in Facebook, but I couldn't answered it. I thought I would like to say something about Indonesia to the world, but I do think it is also a way to express myself. Actually I was asking myself the question in one of my previous post "what am I trying to proof?". A part of me was thinking that I'm doing this because I'd like to present Indonesia to the world. The international media did not always put their objective views on Indonesia. The national media sometimes did not have enough pages to cover interesting stories. There are also some questions hanging over my head, because we do have a lot of clever scholars but why were we stuck in the same problem over and over? (e.g. flooding, traffic jam, etc).

I think my brain is easily provoked by news and reacted! I'm not really well today, but I open this blog to write because I read the news on Hillary Clinton admitted her "mistake" in recalling her visit to the Balkans. How could she made such an error? Being under "sniper fire" were not an ordinary experience. If she was not under that traumatic experience, then, how could she imagining things when interviewed? This is not a small "mistake"! A president has a lot of burden to remember when giving her or his instruction. A lot of problem will raise if we do have a forgetful president or even a politician (which make me unsuitable for being a politician), because they will easily forget the misery felt by the citizen during the previous period.

Actually a lot of subjects are dancing in my mind. But I am now trying so hard to focus on my translation work and my other daily obligations.

I was preparing an article about professionalism, but I do need to concentrate to make a good article. Time is a luxurious need for me right now. There is also another article about the demand to raise the basic salary for the professional journalist to start from 4,1 million rupiahs (around U$ 400), it is talking about press idealism and the basic need for living cost. Actually I was comparing it with my experience helping my husband as an entrepreneur in a construction company. Yet, I do think I need to rewrite the whole article.

Being a citizen reporter can really take all our energy. There were stories about poverty around us. Or my curiousity towards all the issues that were close to my previous working environment. The water and sanitation seminar is really compelling me to come as this year is the International Sanitation Year, but I do need to be wiser in managing my time.

My meeting with the Minister of Research and Technology was also making my brain cells working...I was not really a person who cared about the nuclear electricity, my only concern was because I lived near a center of nuclear research here in Serpong. The chance given to the Kompas daily's readers to meet Mr. Kusmayanto Kadiman, the minister of Research and Techology, made an impact as I saw a French program from TV5 that familiarized the nuclear electricity just a day after that meeting. While agreeing that we do need other source of electricity, and that nuclear are going to be an important source of energy, I could not just accept all the explanation given by the minister. I was thinking that we do have plenty of solar energy, and we do have it throughout the year. Yet, as I'm not an expert I need to be more careful to say things. Today I read in Kompas that PLTN (nuclear energy for electricity power plantation) is the wrong solution. I also knew from Hidup (a Catholic Magazine) that 28 scholars were signing petition against PLTN on February 23, 2008. One of the reason is the safety of the plantation because we are located in an area with a high risk of earthquakes. Sometimes things like this is confusing. As a minister who has a vivid back up of scientists in his department I think he would not just make an important decision without thinking ahead. Yet, even without the risk of earthquakes I always doubted the "human error" that could make that dangerous leaking! This topic would not really "touch" me (except when there was a small explosion here in Serpong) if I weren't a citizen reporter.

So...let me try to focus myself on being a good mother first, the term super Retty always reminding me of the household works that were a bit unattended as I was busy entertaining my grey cells!

Monday, 24 March 2008

The Grass Always Greener on Our Neighbours’ Front Yard.

Sometimes we see things only through our point of view. And we usually see the grass on our neighbours’ front yard is greener than on our front yard. We don’t really know how about the grass on their back yards but yet we envy them.

Traveling outside the country is actually enriching us to see things through another point of view. It is a nice chance to see the fact directly with our own eyes. So does a good reading!

I’m interested in Obama’s speech on race in America (The Jakarta Post, Saturday-March 22, 2008, part I). He said: “I chose to run for the presidency at this moment in history because I believe deeply that we cannot solve the challenges of our time unless we solve them together-unless we perfect our union by understanding that we may have different stories, but we hold common hope; that we may not look the same and we may not have come from the same place, but we all want to move in the same direction-towards a better future for our children and our grandchildren.” I think this part of speech has a very universal meanings, it could also be fitted in Indonesia.

I used to think that the Uncle Tom’s cabin story was the story from the past until I visited Europe. I was astonished to hear a very young boy (Caucasian) told his little girl friend not to seat near that yellow devil (which was me). We were on the boat to have the river cruise (it was somewhere in France…may be Paris?!), they never imagined that I can understand their French conversation. I’ve met a lot of French friends and they were all very nice and helpful. We had fun together and I did not sense any feeling differentiating us being a foreign race. Yet, I knew that this type of conversation from those little children can only be taken from either their family circle or their environment. They are parroting elder members of the family or someone from their close environment.

Then I saw how my cousin (who was studying there) reacted when we were approached in a metro station by some young Arabian men asking (a little bit forcing us to donate) some money. She said she would call the police. They did exchange words which I could not follow because it was spoken very fast… but I think some of it might contain racist remarks (both ways). Actually I was afraid too, but I think we should not generalize people and made racist remark.

I was, then, realized that racism is everywhere, not only in my beautiful country. Yes, Indonesians prefer the Caucasian look for models and artists. Perhaps it is a shared view globally. White is the key to beauty!

Recently I also read an article in the Jakarta Post’s weekender titled “The China Blonde Threat” by May-lee Chai. I was astonished reading the racism story she had to pass through her childhood. She, who was half Caucasian, something that could gain her a special status in Indonesia, and was born in the USA as an American! She inherited her Chinese blood through her father and had to struggle through racist prejudice because of her parents’ mixed marriage. And she is my age…so it’s not only from the era of Uncle Tom’s Cabin!

We share the same motto: Unity in Diversities. Hopefully it is a real union that we are to find in the long run. I know that we can not blame any race for that “pride and prejudice” feeling, but to ask ourselves to be fair in judging others’ racial background. We are the part of those diversities that could unite the world.

Saturday, 22 March 2008

I'm not a super Retty!

Peter Hinchliffe, a fellow citizen reporter from OhmyNews International called me Super Retty. It makes me feel like one of the contestants for the cartoon star quest "Who wants to be a superhero" that I've seen with my kids on TV. I do not like that idea... Actually it reminds me more of my duty as a homemaker which was not really perfect! I like watching that TV show as it can reveal the inner feeling of a person. There are two characters that I remember: Super Momma and Feed back. My son adored Feed Back. I think Super Momma was also great except that she thinks about eating more than her obligation as a superhero. In some way it came back to me that I also think too much outside my circle of family and I can easily forget my obligation on my family. We don't really know who wins the contest as we did not see the final round (may be I should search in the internet...oups another risky step into another interesting news).

The problem of giving our services to people is that sometime we do not have time for our own family.

I knew my self, I'm a bit perfectionist and I will always deeply involved with things that I like (e.g. work...he..he..he...). That was the reason why I choose to be a full time mother. I've got to match my husband's schedule as an entrepreneur to have a family time for my children. Yet, his business' downfall made me try teaching part time to help our family cash flow. I tried to work as part time architect, but it couldn't work nicely...being an architect need more flexible time to meet clients, to control the site, etc. Being a part time teacher is easier, we have a certain schedule. I only missed my "hang-out" time with friends from the Indonesian Heritage Society.

Writing is something that I really like. After my graduation as an architect I was actually begging my parents to help funding my master degree as I did not get the scholarship. I was actually eager to get a further education in the USA, and to find out what is a job of an architectural critic. But they have three boys to think about, and I can't promise that I will choose a subject that would bring money...

Then I always think that I also need to contribute something for my country. I can't play badminton as Susi Susanti, nor can I swim like Elvira Rosa Nasution. I like environmental problem and was also eager in studying urban planning, but I knew that the struggle in this area can really be stressing.There was also some psychological block of being a Chinese Indonesian. By being a citizen reporter may be I can do my little part of being a voice (only a small voice in the cyber space's forest).

There are a lot of great people whom I can consider super women, but not me! This is not out of lack of self confidence...but it's the fact! There are more women who can manage their time better than me, there are also women who keep trying and did not bother the risk of being stress or being rejected because of their racial back ground. So I do not qualify for that term "super"...

Yesterday when I was in the church I fought really hard in my heart to stay on my seat and keep praying. There was a drama performing the Crucifixion. One part of me told me to go take some pictures for my blog, the other part of me asked me to remember the reason I was in the church. I came to pray...and that would not be the same prayer, or at least not in the same intention if I did take pictures.

I'm still trying really hard to balance my life. Once I've heard an ethical question for a journalist (especially for the photographer) when he or she encountered an accident. Should we help? Or should we make our reports? I think I should help in the first place. May be that would not make me a good citizen reporter, but I think that is the right thing to do. Perhaps that is also why there are citizen reporters and there are professional journalists. There is probably the chance that a citizen reporter can't give a detailed report as they will have other obligation to do, but they can help give the piece of information to help the professional journalist dig more into it. Hot news in term of full reportage will be a difficult task for a citizen reporter who was not trained to present news as a journalist. But features by a citizen reporter can give another hue in the news.

The Jakarta Post contacted me to arrange a meeting, they would like me to answer some questions as a reader. We canceled our planned meeting last week but I am really looking forward to meeting them next week. There are some questions I do have in my mind about the printed and the online media. So, that would be a nice exchange of views.

Balancing my life is a bit difficult as the need to write and the ideas that were popped inside my head can make me crazy. I do need to write that down, but I don't have time and energy to do all of my obligations, nor do to write down all that make me interested in commenting.

Going out (especially to Jakarta, an hour away through the toll road) also cost me some extra expenses (not to say stealing my time away from home). To be able to find news that is not personal I need to go out, and I've got to be careful with the extra cost that I should spend. The internet connection is already some extra cost. But that's also worthed the experience I gained. Yet, as a citizen reporter I can also cut some expenses as there were some seminars invitation came to me for free. I do interested in those seminars, but if I have to spend money on it I doubted I can join them. As a housewife I do not really need to join in that seminar, but as a citizen I do have my curiosity on what's going on out there. We can't always get the reviews from the newspaper or magazine.

Vincent Maher said in an e-mail that a blog is going to be more rewarding in the long run than being a citizen reporter. I asked him why, but he did not answer. I think blog is easier to write than an article for a citizen journalism website. We can select our blog readers, and by focusing in a topic that would be easier to get a real circle of friendship through the internet. Yet, Citizen Journalism Websites (perhaps I should include the bloggers' community in this type of websites) boosted more friendship than just being a blogger. Writing for a community makes me more careful in presenting the objectivity, and it also helps reminding me to keep my integrity.

I was a bit addicted in this new activity (CJ) and sometimes did not put my priorities on other tasks. I am trying to be more realistic and keep my life flowing like the water in the river. I do hope there will be more citizen reporters from Indonesia. I know that this activity is probably not worth in producing cash, but this is a nice communicative way in a world that became flatter than before. It's a way to share and learn from each other.

So, I'm not a super Retty. I'm just trying to be worthy as a human being. I'm just trying to whip up the spirit inside me...

Saturday, 15 March 2008

The USA's Presidential election

My fellow blogger send me the link to this article. Actually I am watching over the USA's presidential election through the local newspapers and magazines. Indonesian newspapers were already published abundant of Obama's stories, mostly because of his time spent in Indonesia and his mother's relation to an Indonesian spouse. The American presidential election is surely an interesting topic, but I do not have enough capacity to write something on this topic yet.

The American embassy even made up a mock up election booth here in Jakarta, and the Indonesian people were invited to try the American presidential wonder Obama won the votes over there...(Actually I'd really like to cover that story as a citizen reporter...that is something that one's should experience herself to be able to retell the euphoria, the excitement, etc).

Who can miss to spot this presidential election? With the urgency to focus on a better relation between the West and the East, to build a balance tolerance toward the Moslem community, to empower women globally, and to enhance the actions to go green and healthier...who will miss this special occasion with the special candidates like Obama and Hillary?

I read a note about Hillary, how she won more votes after showing more of her feminine side. The writer said that people still value a hard working woman as an ambitious woman seeking to compete over men. This is interesting, as people do not usually judge man as ambitious when a man is trying to climb to the top!

I like Hillary's books "It takes a village". I did not really read that book, I only read the excerpt through a book review. But it is true that it takes a village to be able to raise a child into a good man (or woman).

Obama's story through the International Herald Tribune show me all the big contribution made by people outside his mother.

I think my friend referred me to this article to show how important a mother's position in building her children's character. I knew this one, that was why I deliberately choose my present "occupation" as a housewife. Reading through the IHT's article I am very fascinated on how Obama's mother could handle all the responsibility being a working mother, a caring mother, and also a single parent in some period... I'm sure she could not do all that all alone, there were always some helping hands that help her throughout the process. I think the Javanese did not encourage divorce, a wife obediently follow whatever her spouse's wishes. The Javanese believes in destiny, accepting destiny is something important too. Perhaps our destiny is to be the helping hands in that village who help a mother raise her children. That was done by Obama's grandparents, teachers, and all those close friends who colored his life!

We are free to choose our path of life, we are free to build our own life. Yet, education and love will be very important in strengthening our choice to the success path. Sometimes poverty doesn't give that freedom, and we should all fight against that!

I am not able to pick which candidate impressed me the most as I did not really follow all their debates and speeches, but I do know I'll learn some lessons from both of them!

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

Citizen Journalism Fires the Writer in Me

A first year reflection of a homemaker turned citizen reporter

Published 2008-03-07 11:29 (KST)

In February last year, a friend had uploaded an article about our long term friendship in, a citizen journalism Web site in Indonesia. It was her way to show her affection on Valentine. She urged her friends to read the article. That was my first encounter to a citizen journalism Web site.

My friend works for that citizen journalism Web site, and asked me to write for the Web site. In the beginning I did it only to please her. Yet, readers' comments and our interactive communication made me produced more articles than I've ever written as a freelance writer.

Gathering with some of's contributors in Jakarta.
©2008 Aulia Halimatussadiah

I was always fascinated by journalistic work. I like writing, but I do not think I am the kind of a novelist writer. Since my young days I've written a lot of stories or poems but never feel that they were good enough to be published. I'd rather send reader's letters than sending my own writing.

Being the only daughter in the family gave me a special place. My little brothers accused me being the apple of my father's eye. Yet, I felt like I was not free to chase my own passion. I once read research that the first born is more obedient and more responsible than the other siblings, I think the research is not wrong. I would not let my parents down. I did things that would please them.

My childhood was a burden for my parents because I had health problems which made them protect me even more. My brothers have got more freedom. Two of them were passionate in photography, and they did enter journalism when they were still in High School. I helped them arrange their articles reporting music performances, yet I also envied their luck as I was the one who introduced them to write for that youth magazine.

I did not like Chemistry, I preferred History than Chemistry, but I did enter Science Classes in my Senior High to please my parents. I had to struggle toughly. I had to leave marching band, an activity I was fond of since I was a junior high student to be able to get passing marks for Chemistry.

University gave me more freedom. Although Architecture was a subject chosen by my mother for me, it turned out that I like the environment. It provoked the lateral thinking in me. The free time between classes also gave me more free time to be the part of some organizations. It was my first real encounter with journalism. I was active in producing some students' publication. I also had my basic journalism knowledge through senior journalists who came to teach those involved in the university's journal.

I was actually thinking about working in journalism when I graduated as an architect. But I did not want to throw away my five years training as an architect without trying to be an architect. So I did not take the chance given by a technology magazine to fill in their need for a reporter.

Once I produced an article for an architectural magazine. For that series of pictures and article I had a very small amount compared to those earned by my brother for his picture. I felt used, so I stopped contributing. Working as an architect was more rewarding. Yet, I forgot about passion in our work.

Committing myself as a homemaker had cut almost all of my personal activities. Homework as a homemaker was not an easy task for me. I think working in an office is easier than the 24-hour commitment to my spouse and my children.

In the recent years I've also contribute some writings for the mainstream media, but there were more pieces rejected than published. Sometimes I saw that the mainstream media take up the similar subject later on. I do understand that, people tended to hear opinion from someone connected in some social organization or academic organization than listening to a mere housewife.

Having citizen journalism Web site is like having a place to voice out our concern as a citizen, concern about subjects that were not widely covered by the media, either of their space limitation or by their company's policy. It is also nice for a homemaker like me who like to write. Instead of being rejected, I can have my voice heard and the mainstream media can also gather more information on the subject and present us the better and more enriching articles.

The author (second from left) meeting Mr. Oh Yeon-ho (second from right) and new friends from the global world in Seoul, 2007.

I joined OhmyNews on March last year. I did it because a professional journalist wrote in his daily that accepted stories from citizens and their editorial is not as tough as the real newspaper's editorial. At the same time one of my articles was already in a daily's editorial for quite some time without any news. I rewrite the article and send it to OhmyNews. I thought OhmyNews International is credible enough to train me into the real global journalism standard. Now, it's been a year already. I am now struggling to balance my life. The passion I've got from citizen journalism Web sites is greater than my "should be" passion as a homemaker.

My journey to Seoul to attend the OhmyNews International Citizen Reporters' Forum in 2007 has also enriched my friendship in the global world. It has also enhanced my self confidence in being a citizen reporter.

There is no special parking lot for journalists in Indonesia. But if there is a special treatment, I think I will share the same doubt Han Na-young described in her speech for the international Forum titled "My Long Day in Virginia Tech". I share the same feeling felt by Kim Hye Won in introducing myself as a journalist. That is why I prefer using the term citizen reporter than citizen journalist, or most of the time as a citizen who likes to write. Yet, it is nice to have an "institution" to fill in when I need to interview somebody or to attend serious seminars. Being only citizen sometimes is not enough to give us a chance to ask for an explanation or verification on certain matter.

I enjoy being a citizen reporter, actually it fires the writer in me, it helps me dig deeper into me, and also helps me to see more colors of the global world. Another important thing, it also helps me to realize our part of contribution to the world and to act more professional in any steps I make... even if it is being a housewife!

Dokter Bonafid, Seperti Apa Sih?

Mungkin gejala konsumerisme serta sedikit peninggalan feodalisme mengakibatkan masih maraknya orang menilai orang lain dari penampilannya. Hal ini pernah ditampilkan sebuah harian dengan mengangkat isu tentang dokter yang dianggap bonafid karena penampilan dan jenis kendaraan yang digunakannya. Beberapa kontributor wikimu pernah juga berkisah seputar kisah dokter umum. Penampilan dan gelar sepertinya sangat berarti bagi bonafid atau tidaknya seorang dokter.

Penghargaan terkadang tidak bisa melulu dilihat dari penghasilan yang bersifat materi. Saya pernah menemani seorang teman yang harus ujian negara kedokteran di Yogyakarta. Pada saat itu saya berkenalan dengan dokter muda yang sedang PTT di daerah Gunung Kidul. Penghargaan dari rakyat yang diterima oleh dokter muda ini menerima penghormatan yang jauh lebih tinggi bila dibandingkan dengan dokter muda yang sedang PTT di Jakarta. Kota metropolitan menuntut lebih dari sekedar kepandaian dan keahlian!

Pengalaman saya di kota bernama Jakarta ini mengatakan bahwa bonafid tidaknya seorang dokter terkadang juga tergantung dari antrian pasiennya. He...he...he..., saya serius lho! Ada orang yang memilih dokter anak A karena dokter itu yang paling panjang antriannya. Padahal sang anak sampai tertidur-tidur menunggu giliran periksa. Entah nanti di dalam kamar praktek apakah sang anak masih bisa mengenali rasa sakitnya!

Ada lagi gejala ikut-ikutan! Ada kenalan saya yang suami istri keduanya berprofesi sebagai dokter. Herannya kalau sang istri yang praktek, pasien yang antri panjang. Tapi... begitu digantikan oleh sang suami antrian tadi bubar jalan! Heran, saya bertanya pada orang-orang yang pulang, mengapa tidak jadi berobat? Jawabnya: "Kata orang lebih manjur istrinya!" Wah...

Keberadaan mobil dokter seringkali jadi penanda adanya sang dokter, sehingga untuk orang-orang yang alergi dengan dokter pengganti biasanya bertanya dulu pada tukang parkir mengenai kehadiran dokter langganannya bila tidak tampak kehadiran kendaraan dokter (entah motor ataupun mobil). Tapi ada lagi pengalaman lucu dengan dokter bonafid (baca: memiliki mobil bergengsi!), kebetulan dokter ini adalah dokter ahli kandungan. Setiap kali mobil yang diparkir di halaman praktek berganti-ganti dan semuanya bermerek mahal, entah apa pernah juga terlihat motor gede (siapa berani ngatain dokter nggak bonafid kalau motornya Harley yang harganya lebih mahal dari sedan?). Karena takjub maka suami teman saya menghitung berapa kira-kira penghasilan pak dokter dalam satu malam. Tapi saking laris dan panjangnya antrian sang dokter maka setelah melahirkan dan ada terasa ada masalah sangat sulit bagi teman saya mendaftar konsultasi, harus menunggu sebulan seperti pasien baru lainnya. Terlanjur tidak tahan dengan rasa sakitnya dia berpindah dokter, dan suaminya pun ngomel, " Makanya cari dokter jangan yang kejar setoran!"

Sebenarnya sebagai orang sakit sudah jelas yang dicari adalah dokter yang baik, bisa berkomunikasi dengan pasien, dan yang paling penting cocok dan bisa dipercaya! Bisa dipercaya? Ya, ini termasuk kriteria penting untuk jadi dokter bonafid yang sesungguhnya! Seorang teman lain memeriksakan kandungan di sebuah rumah sakit bertaraf internasional lalu di vonis hamil di luar kandungan dan harus dikuret. Walau dokter sudah ingin memastikan jadwal kuret, teman saya masih ingin mendapatkan pandangan lain (second opinion) maka pergilah dia ke dokter lain di rumah sakit bertaraf internasional lainnya. Ajaibnya, menurut dokter kedua kandungan teman saya baik-baik saja tidak di luar kandungan dan tidak perlu dikuret! Bingung karena dua pendapat yang berbeda seratus delapan puluh derajat, maka teman saya memutuskan berserah diri dalam doa dan pindah ke dokter yang mengatakan kandungannya baik-baik saja. Syukur pada Allah bahwa anaknya lahir dengan selamat, tidak kurang suatu apapun! Bayangkan kalau si kecil sudah terlanjur dikuret! Yakin lho dokter yang pertama tadi juga berpenampilan bonafid!

Bagaimana kriteria dokter bonafid di tempat anda?

Selasa, 11-03-2008 11:07:31 oleh: Retty N. Hakim
Kanal: Opini

Bertemu Menristek, Mengenang Futuroscope dan La Villette.

(There is no translation for this article, only some notes from the meeting in English, see below)

Hari Jumat minggu lalu (29 Februari 2008) saya mengikuti acara kopi darat milis Forum Pembaca Kompas (FPK) bersama Menristek, Bapak Kusmayanto Kadiman, di gedung BPPT. Sebagai ibu rumah tangga yang kurang bersentuhan dengan teknologi mutakhir, saya terkadang merasa sebagai orang yang semakin gaptek di era kemajuan teknologi ini. Terus terang saya kurang PD (percaya diri) untuk ketemu dengan pakar-pakar di bidang Riset dan Teknologi, apalagi pertemuan ini bersama anggota milis FPK yang rata-rata sangat kritis! Bung Agus Hamonangan, sang moderator milis yang baik hati, menyemangati untuk hadir karena menurut pengalamannya diskusi selalu mengalir bebas tanpa beban.

Ternyata acara benar-benar mengalir dengan santai, bahkan bahan pembicaraannya cukup menarik perhatian saya. Menristek ternyata sangat pandai mendelegasikan tugas, dengan cerdik ia menunjuk Mas Koko (Harya Setyaka) untuk menerangkan sedikit banyak masalah transportasi dan kemacetan di Jakarta. Demikian pula untuk urusan menyumbang suara (yang bukan untuk pilkada maupun pemilu) dengan pandai beliau mendelegasikannya kepada peserta acara lain. Pak Menteri sendiri akhirnya ikut buka suara ketika seorang anggota milis FPK menanyakan mengenai demonstrasi yang anti pembangunan pembangkit listrik tenaga nuklir di Jawa Tengah. (Laporan lebih lengkap baca di Kompas.Com)

Artikel "Yuuk, Bermain Sambil Belajar di PP IPTEK!" (lihat oleh Silvi Anhar membuat saya memberanikan diri bertanya pada pak menteri mengenai beberapa peralatan yang menurut Silvi tidak berfungsi. Menurut Pak Kusmayanto, memang peralatan yang ada memiliki usia pakai. Sesuai dengan sifatnya yang berfungsi sebagai benda pamer interaktif maka seringkali usia pakai yang disepakati tidak terlalu panjang. Sayangnya ketika benda tersebut sudah tidak bisa digunakan, penggantinya belum tersedia karena kekurangan dana.

Saya jadi teringat pada kecanggihan dari Futuroscope di Poitiers, Perancis. Ternyata menurut Pak Kusmayanto memang Perancis mungkin adalah negara yang paling canggih dalam mengelola pendidikan publik berbentuk Science Center. Kalau Futuroscope lebih dikenal sebagai Theme Park maka di Paris ada juga Parc de la Villette yang memiliki Cité des Sciences et de L'industrie, yang menurut Wikipedia adalah sebuah museum IPTEK terbesar di Eropa.

Saya mangunjungi kedua tempat ini dipertengahan tahun 1995, sudah sangat lama berlalu, dan melalui internet saya bisa melihat bahwa Futuroscope terus berkembang dari tahun ke tahun. Kalau dahulu ketika saya datang belum bisa berdansa dengan robot maka kini pengunjung bisa berasakan berdansa dengan robot. Di Futuroscope saya ingat ada berbagai macam paviliun yang mendapat dana dari perusahaan atau industri sehingga mereka ikut membantu pendidikan anak-anak sambil lebih memperkenalkan topik dan teknologi yang mereka geluti.

Demikian juga tampaknya dengan La Villette, yang terus berkembang. Yang sangat menarik perhatian saya ketika mengunjungi La Villette adalah betapa tinggi suasana interaktif pengunjung, baik anak-anak maupun dewasa dalam berbagai aspek teknologi mutakhir. Bahkan untuk anak usia dini juga tersedia tempat khusus untuk memperoleh kesenangan dan belajar dalam keriangan itu. Saya belum berhasil menemukan semua slide yang saya miliki, sehingga saat ini hanya bisa membagikan foto (jadul) dari interior La Villette. Terlihat juga betapa penyandang cacat senantiasa mendapat perhatian untuk memperoleh akses yang nyaman.

Dari bincang-bincang santai dengan pak menteri saya mengetahui bahwa saat ini sudah ada juga perusahaan yang memberikan bantuan kepada PP IPTEK, beliau berharap kedepannya lebih banyak lagi perusahaan yang peduli dan ikut mengembangkan PP IPTEK.

Terima kasih lho atas undangan dari Pak Menteri buat anggota milis FPK, dan ternyata bertemu Menristek tidak se"seram" (baca: serius) kesan elit dari riset dan teknologi! Belum lagi saya jadi bernostalgia tentang bangunan yang indah-indah itu, dengan isinya yang menarik dan menambah pengetahuan. Sebelum bisa berkunjung (lagi) kesana, enaknya mengikuti saran Silvi :"Yuuk, Bermain Sambil Belajar di PP IPTEK!"

Jumat, 07-03-2008 00:27:27 oleh: Retty N. Hakim
Kanal: Iptek


Invited by the Minister of Research and Technology through the mailing list of Kompas' Readers Forum (Forum Pembaca Kompas) to the BPPT building made me wandering back to Futuroscope and La Villette. I could not find the pictures of Futuroscope, so I uploaded only the pictures of La Geode and the interior of La Cité.

I linked this article to another article made by a fellow contributor asking about some tools which were not able to function in her last visit to the PP IPTEK. I did encouraged myself to ask the minister about these tools. He explained about the limitation of funds. I remembered that Futuroscope and La Villette mentioned lots of their industrial partners. The industry helps in providing materials and tools to enhance the educational aspects and at the same time they promote their own industry.

Another important thing which was raised during the meeting is about the nuclear plant. I refer this subject to the's article. Yet, in the mailing list while thanking the minister for his kind invitation I did mention a film I saw in TV5 (French) about the nuclear plant. They did explain all the "W+H" questions about the function of a nuclear plant for the electricity consumption, then they showed people's demonstration rejecting the plant before showing the precautions that they employ in the plant. Nice educative film (lucky I was at my parents' own house did not have this TV Channel)...and I've got to admit that I stayed in front of the TV until the end of the show because the subject was raised up in the meeting just a day before that show. So being a citizen reporter sometimes can also fire our curiosity beyond our usual subjects of interest.

Mari Bantu Pelajar Tunanetra Menyelami Lautan Ilmu!

Harian Kompas kemarin (Selasa, 4 Maret 2008) mengangkat dalam rubrik Humaniora Terawang artikel mengenai pelajar tunanetra berjudul "Kegigihan Menyelami Lautan Ilmu". Pendidikan bagi anak tunanetra serta ketersediaan sarana belajar seperti buku juga menjadi topik utama yang diangkat oleh Yurnaldi dalam tulisannya ini.

Di sana juga disebutkan kebutuhan mereka akan buku-buku serta alat peraga untuk meningkatkan pendidikan anak-anak. Rasanya bacaan bermutu juga merupakan kebutuhan utama guru-guru mereka. Sebagian besar dari guru-guru ini juga tuna netra.

Kehausan anak-anak ini terhadap bacaan ditampilkan dengan gambar Nono yang memiliki keterbatasan penglihatan sehingga masih mampu membacakan buku bagi teman-temannya tapi dalam jarak baca 2 - 3 cm. Ketika ada yang menyapanya maka pertanyaan Nono membalas sapaan itu adalah: "Ada buku lain, tidak?" Mereka juga rindu buku sastra dan ilmu pengetahuan umum lainnya.

Membuat buku bertulisan Braille ternyata membutuhkan biaya yang jauh lebih tinggi dari biaya produksi buku biasa. Bila buku cetakan biasa dari antologi puisi "Angin pun Berbisik" bisa dibeli publik dengan harga jual Rp. 28.000,- maka untuk versi Braille diperlukan biaya yang jauh lebih besar untuk sekedar biaya pengganti kertasnya.

Dari percakapan e-mail dengan Irwan Dwi Kustanto, salah satu penulis puisi di buku antalogi "Angin pun Berbisik" (baca ) yang juga aktivis Yayasan Mitranetra, saya memperoleh beberapa tambahan pengetahuan. Buku untuk tunanetra bisa dalam tiga bentuk yaitu cetak versi Braille, audio, dan e-book. Dari ketiga bentuk ini versi Braille yang paling tinggi ongkos produksinya, bisa sepuluh kali biaya produksi buku biasa. Buku versi ini sangat cocok untuk jenis bidang studi eksakta yang susah dibayangkan seperti matematika, kimia, dan fisika. Buku Braille ini juga cocok untuk pelajaran bahasa asing. Buku-buku dalam bentuk audio dan cd di Yayasan Mitranetra banyak digunakan untuk buku-buku ilmu sosial. E-books sendiri banyak digunakan untuk buku-buku populer.

Biaya produksi buku versi Braille sekarang bisa ditekan dengan munculnya relawan yang membantu mengetikkan buku ataupun izin menggunakan soft copy dari pengarang dan penerbit untuk menerbitkan buku versi Braille. Saat ini menurut mas Irwan, biaya tersebut bisa ditekan sehingga biaya produksi buku versi Braille kira-kira hanya lima kali lebih mahal dari biaya produksi buku biasa. Biaya ini untuk sementara tidak bisa diturunkan lagi karena cetakan dalam huruf Braille membutuhkan kertas ukuran 10 x 12 inch dengan ketebalan 160 gram, yang harganya sepuluh kali lebih mahal dari kertas HVS 70 gram.

Bagaimana membantu mereka yang juga ingin belajar tapi terhalang kendala fisik seperti tunanetra? Bantulah gerakan "Seribu Buku untuk Tunanetra"!

Buat rekan-rekan yang penulis bisa membantu memberikan soft copy tulisannya kepada Yayasan Mitranetra untuk dibuatkan versi Braillenya. Atau bila rekan-rekan belum sampai menerbitkan buku, bagaimana bila membantu mengetikkan buku menarik yang pernah anda baca? Bisa juga, seperti yang diceritakan di Kompas, membantu mereka dengan menjadi relawan yang memberikan layanan baca bagi orang-orang yang sangat haus akan bacaan dan pengetahuan ini.

Melalui seorang citizen reporter OMNI (OhmyNews International), Peter Hinchliffe, saya mengenal sebuah harian khusus bagi tunanetra di Inggris. Keberadaan KR Talking News, atau disebut juga Kirklees Recorder, adalah surat kabar/majalah dalam bentuk rekaman sepanjang 90 menit ini tidak lepas dari bantuan penerbit harian atau majalah yang mengizinkan mereka menggunakan bahan yang terdapat dalam penerbitan harian atau majalah itu. Tidak jarang wartawan dari harian atau majalah tersebut juga datang menjadi relawan untuk membacakan berita yang akan direkam. Rekaman dalam bentuk kaset ini dibagikan setiap dua hari sekali, dan setelah didengarkan diminta untuk dikirimkan kembali ke redaksi. Keadaan ini akan sangat membantu bagi mereka yang memiliki kemauan besar untuk terus menambah pengetahuan.

Sama dengan kebutuhan buku bagi warga lainnya, kendala kepemilikan komputer maupun perangkat elektronik masih sangat tinggi di Indonesia. Bagaimana mencapai mereka yang jauh dari kemajuan teknologi? Jadilah tangan-tangan penolong, atau suara-suara yang mencerahkan. Bantuan anda akan membantu mereka menyelami lautan ilmu!

Kamis, 06-03-2008 08:57:09 oleh: Retty N. Hakim
Kanal: Peristiwa

Kejutan Tahun Kabisat Dari Speedy

Hari ini, tanggal 29 Februari 2008, tiba-tiba Speedy di komputerku bagai tidak berfungsi. Kebiasaan saya membuka internet memang pertama-tama memeriksa kiriman surat melalui Yahoo! atau Gmail. Kemudian saya mencoba masuk ke portal jurnalisme warga, tidak bisa juga! Saya baru saja hendak menelpon ke Telkom ketika ternyata secara tidak sengaja mengklik Ternyata bisa masuk!

Sejenak saya kebingungan, takut terkena virus ajaib, maklum hari ini tanggal istimewa. Tanggal 29 Februari hanya bisa ditemui pada tahun kabisat, siapa tahu ada lagi virus iseng yang spesial bekerja pada hari ini. Sebagai orang gaptek, virus komputer merupakan musuh besar yang sangat menyebalkan!

Saya coba masuk ke berbagai situs yang biasa saya buka, aneh...sebagian bisa terkoneksi dengan baik, sebagian besar tidak bisa. Akhirnya saya coba telpon ke markas Wikimu, ketemu dengan bung Admin yang baik hati dan tidak tertinggal berita teranyar. Dia langsung menembak:
"Oh, kamu pakai Speedy ya?"
"Lho, memang kenapa pakai speedy? Wikimu bisa diakses tidak?" tanya saya.
"Bisa, tapi tidak lewat Speedy karena mereka (Speedy) ada gangguan ke jalur internasional. Entah kenapa Wikimu oleh Speedy masuk ke dalam jalur internasional.Kalau menggunakan provider lain, tidak ada masalah mengakses wikimu hari ini"

Setelah itu baru saya coba browsing lagi, termasuk balik lagi ke yang ternyata menyiarkan masalah gangguan sambungan internasional pada Speedy ini. Ternyata jaringan serat optik ada yang putus karena pekerjaan jembatan di Sumatera. Untunglah, sedikit lebih lega karena kerusakan bukan pada komputer saya! Kalau dari berita di dikatakan kemungkinan bisa tersambung kembali setelah tiga jam (berdasarkan wawancara pukul tujuh pagi), maka sampai lewat jam satu siang ini saya belum juga bisa mengakses wikimu lewat komputerku.

Kejutan tahun kabisat ini cukup mengejutkan, semoga sakitnya Speedy tidak lama-lama, rasanya susah juga kalau harus puasa internet kelamaan...

Jumat, 29-02-2008 14:39:24 oleh: Retty N. Hakim
Kanal: Suara Konsumen

Komik Yang Menarik...

Tulisan saya tentang Olimpiade Sains Kuark di wikimu ternyata menarik seorang reporter dari Nakita untuk menanyakan pandangan saya tentang komik bagi anak-anak. Rupanya mereka menurunkan berita yang mengulas tentang "Komik, Diminati dan Dimusuhi" dalam edisi no. 465 (1 Maret 2008, tapi sudah beredar di pedagang eceran sejak hari Senin kemarin).

Ulasan Tabloid Nakita tentang komik cukup lengkap dan menarik. Mereka banyak membicarakan komik yang sekarang sedang tren bagi anak-anak dan remaja. Membaca artikel mereka, saya jadi teringat bagaimana komik mengisi lembar-lembar awal kehidupan saya.

Agak sulit untuk mengingat komik apa saja yang pernah mengisi kehidupan saya, apalagi mengingat judul komik pertama yang pernah saya baca.

Seingat saya, pertama kali saya berkenalan dengan cerita bergambar adalah lewat majalah Bobo berbahasa Belanda. Bukan saya yang membacanya, karena saya tidak pernah bisa berbahasa Belanda, tapi oma dan opa saya yang membacakannya untuk saya. Itulah awal saya mengenal keluarga Bobo serta Oki dan Nirmala. Katanya saya begitu senang dengan kisah-kisah Bobo sehingga saya sering meminta ibu saya memberi nama adik saya sesuai dengan nama tokoh kartun di Bobo.

Ketika mencoba membongkar perpustakaan saya maka saya menemukan beberapa komik tua. Diantaranya adalah seri "Cergam Teladan Anak-anak" dan "Riwayat Tokoh-tokoh Sedunia". Dari beberapa buku yang saya temukan ada judul-judul "Tuanku Imam Bonjol" serta "Sunan Gunung Jati dan Putri Cina". Rupanya dari sini kesenangan saya membaca kisah sejarah berawal.

Saya belum sempat membongkar seluruh harta karun saya, lagipula seingat saya, komik-komik adalah spesialisasi adik-adik saya. Kami memiliki koleksi buku masing-masing dan saling meminjamkan buku, kebiasaan dari dahulu yang masing berlangsung sampai sekarang.

Komik lain yang berpengaruh bagi saya adalah Tintin, sang reporter muda yang bertualang ke seluruh dunia. Selain itu juga ada komik Asterix yang berasal dari Perancis. Komik jenis ini juga turut memperkenalkan bahasa asing pada saya. Sebelum sanggup membaca buku dalam bahasa asing yang berkisah panjang lebar, saya memulainya dengan sepenggal demi sepenggal kalimat dari komik ini.

Sayang sekali komik-komik bagus sekarang ini termasuk bacaan mahal juga bagi anak-anak. Dari kisah di Tabloid Nakita saya jadi tahu lebih banyak tentang kehadiran komik legenda dunia dan komik cerita rakyat untuk anak-anak zaman sekarang. Belum lama ini saya juga sempat membaca keberadaan komik sejarah bagi pendidikan anak-anak.

Kegairahan anak-anak terhadap cerita bergambar cukup tinggi. Terkadang murid-murid kecil yang les bahasa Inggris saya berikan tugas untuk membuat komik berbahasa Inggris. Sebagian besar dari mereka dengan giat membuat kisah yang cukup menarik. Cerita menarik seperti ini belum tentu bisa keluar bila saya meminta mereka membuat cerita dalam bentuk narasi.

Rupanya komik sedang naik daun. Dalam iklan acara Kompas Gramedia Fair hari ini (29 Februari 2008) di harian Kompas terlihat agenda acara dari Jumat, 29 Februari 2008 sampai Minggu, 9 Maret 2008 selalu menghadirkan acara Laboratorium Komik maupun belajar menggambar manga. Sayang sekali acara menarik ini disalenggarakan di gedung baru Gramedia yang megah di Surabaya, yaitu Gedung Gramedia Expo Surabaya rancangan arsitek Indonesia Ridwan Kamil. Keinginan saya untuk melihat acara ini terpaksa tertunda. Tapi tentunya ini kabar baik bagi rekan-rekan yang tinggal di daerah Jawa Timur, semoga saja bisa juga dilangsungkan ke daerah-daerah di luar Jawa.

Bukan hanya anak muda yang senang komik, tampaknya orang-orang tua juga banyak yang tidak bisa lepas dari komik. Komik memang menarik hati tua dan muda. Saya yakin minat yang terpupuk dari kecil akan tumbuh bila dipupuk dan disirami dengan baik, semoga semakin banyak anak Indonesia yang gemar membaca. Dari membaca ke komikus, atau dari komik ke sastra...semoga!

Jumat, 29-02-2008 11:05:44 oleh: Retty N. Hakim
Kanal: Opini

The Enchanting Comics...

Tuesday, 4 March 2008

It’s a Small World

Sometimes it’s amazing to see how small the world is. The internet is also flattened the world. Recently I read the autobiography of Kris Biantoro, an Indonesian famous entertainer. He mentioned an Australian name, Dr. Ron Witton, as his friend and his student for Javanese language. It surprised me because I knew this scholar through a mailing list in the internet. I was interested in his study about the Afrikaans language and the influence it got from the Malay language. I’ve got the verification that he is indeed the same person mentioned in Kris Biantoro’s book.

Another interesting story I’ve found in Kris Biantoro’s biography was the nationalism seed implanted on him by his teacher in Java. The name of the teacher is Pak Wignjo. My parents believe that this teacher should be the same person who was very close to our family, Wignjosoemarsono. I need to meet Kris Biantoro to verify this one, but if it is true that would be the proof of great nationalism in this very humble teacher. I think Pak Wignjo also contributed the building of nationalism in me. My parents addressed him as a stepfather to my family. A humble teacher who moved into politic (but remain humble as I remember), his picture can be seen in one of the shelves in my parents’ living room.

My husband bought the book “Dari Penjaja Tekstil Sampai Superwoman” (a biography of eight Chinese Peranakan Writers written by Myra Sidharta) quite a long time ago. Perhaps it was intended for me, as he is not the bookaholic type, but forgot about it in his desk. He brings it down today. It is a surprise as I was just write about the Chinese Peranakan in my blog.

I’ve read this book somewhere, and intended to buy it with the other books about the Chinese Malay Literature. But I was surely not reading it carefully and thoroughly. Today I was astonished to see a familiar name in this book. In page 106, Myra Sidharta mentioned a writer’s name: Soh Lian Tjie. She was my grandmother. Actually she was the big sister of my father’s mother. She stayed single and lived alone in Jakarta. When we were still in Makassar we used to come to Jakarta and went out with her. After moving permanently to Jakarta, she was the grandmother for me and my brothers. Our own grandmother (her younger sister) lived in Makassar and came only occasionally.

She changed her name into Indonesian name Nora Suryanti. She lived in a small house in Menteng. It used to be the Waringin street, so we did call her Oma Waringin. She was also a contributor to the Indonesian Observer. I knew from whom I inherited this interest towards arts and cultures. Yet, I was not her favourite grandchildren. She preferred boys than girl, but I became closer with her when she was weak and having her last moment in Jakarta. Her little sister moved her back to Makassar, away from her friends and books… a sad story. My family objected, but we could not do anything. I don’t know where all her books gone. I remember that her last wishes were to be cremated, and the ashes should be thrown to the sea so she could travel the world through the sea. Her little sister didn’t grant it. She was buried in Makassar, none of her close friends attending. While her wishes weren’t bothered by her little sister, ironically this little sister asked to be cremated in Jakarta (while all her friends were in Makassar). I’ve got to fought anger in my heart while attending her little sister’s requiem here. I knew I should forgive her…hopefully their spirits are rest in peace now!

I’m mostly attracted to Oma Waringin because of her collection of books and her various trips to foreign countries. She worked as a tour guide after resuming her work as a civil servant. When I graduated from my Senior High School I remember asking my father to enter the school of tourism. He objected as he thought his auntie was a special case, yet he thought that the image of a woman tour guide was still bad. Perhaps this interest made me ventured into being a volunteer guide for the National Museum here.

Citizen Journalism has fired the writing spirit back into me. It is also made me came back to my old activities (I need to get a more balance life though!). But the most important thing is that it helps me digging into me…the world may be small, but humans are always deeper than that!

Sunday, 2 March 2008

News will be news!

I think the most important thing to remember as a reader is that news will always be news as long as we did not hear or read about it before...

I've just read that the South Gate or Namdaemun Gate was destroyed by fire through an article in Ohmynews posted on February 13, 2008. That gate gave me a lot of inspiration during my short time visit to Seoul. Namdaemun was the nearest ancient object near the hotel which I can adore at night after the events for the International Citizen Reporters' Forum, and the activity in the morning was also very interesting. The article is still a breaking news for me, although it is now passed more than two weeks on the internet!

That gate and its changing guards tradition had inspired me on how the traditional and modern culture can work together! I used its picture with the guards for the article presented in Tabloid Rumah, I also use another picture with the gate as the back ground for my presentation introducing the international media for citizen reporters to wikimuers. Sometimes we can not really imagined what will happened in the future, yet there were also people who deliberately destroyed history or historical sites for their own political gain. I hope Indonesia can value and keep its historical building and preserve it as bridges of culture within a nation's history.