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I dreamed a dream in time gone by

Indonesia, July 21, 2011

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  <span class="field-credit">
    Mercy Corps Indonesia  </span>
    Here I am (second from right) with the Global Citizen Corps team during a visit to Maluku, Indonesia. Photo: Mercy Corps Indonesia
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  <span class="field-credit">
    Mercy Corps Indonesia  </span>
    Some of Global Citizen Corps' youth leaders and staff in Indonesia. Photo: Mercy Corps Indonesia

When I was young and all the kids in my class wanted to become a doctor or an engineer, I wanted to be a diplomat.

I remember when I was in the middle school, I read a featured story in a local newspaper about a bunch of students from all over the world visiting the UN Headquarters in New York. I memorized the different skin colors on the pictures that came with that story. I envied those kids. I wished I had gotten a chance to go abroad and meet my peer group from around the world.

Twenty years later, I still remember the closing line of that story: "Let the older generation fight with their weapons, we are the peacemakers who believe in diplomacy." And that's how I wanted to become a diplomat.

Years passed, and I never became one —I studied Psychology instead. And I’m glad I didn’t become one, as such. Because as part of growing up I learned not to be that naïve anymore, that you don’t have to enlist in the International Affairs office or work in the United Nations to promote peace. But mostly, I guess I’m glad because the path I took afterwards led me to join Global Citizen Corps (GCC) — which in a way, if I think about it, allows me fight in the same war as a diplomat, only in a much cooler way than working in the embassy.

You see, I've always believe in the power of young people. The course of Indonesian history had proven how powerful young people can be.

I was one of the university students that spent nights at the Parliament House in the fall of Indonesia’s dictatorship regime back in 1998. I can still recall those days like it was yesterday. Millions of young people gathered everywhere across the country, screaming for democracy. We were powerful. We brought down the man who silenced the people of Indonesia for 32 years. But anyway, that’s another story.

What I am trying to say is that I truly believe that any change starts with young people — that young people can change the world. And that is exactly how GCC operates: making young people believe in their own potential to create a different kind of future where all the people in the world are united. GCC is doing it through series of trainings, dialogues and youth-led actions.

What I love so much about GCC is witnessing the extreme transformation of each youth before and after engaging in GCC activities. Coming to their actions and seeing them so confident are priceless. These youth are flourishing. I remember one of my professors in graduate school said to me once: the selfish part of being a teacher is you get to learn from your students more than you can ever teach them. When we graduated GCC leaders last year — after they'd been involved in the program for a year — I ended up feeling very selfish. And proud.

Another amazing thing about GCC is also because it’s a truly global program. Last year’s international gathering in Edinburgh, Scotland, marked my first days with GCC. I came alone back then, because GCC Indonesia had not recruited any youth yet. But coming to that gathering made me aware of the “global” element of GCC since the very beginning, and feeling very lucky to be part of this big thing.

Next week, GCC is about to make another gathering in Doha, Qatar, and this will be the first time in which Indonesian youth come to participate. I can feel their excitement about going to finally meet the people that they have been interacting with through the website. Unlike last year’s gathering — where youth from Iraq and Gaza didn’t manage to come due to visa problems — everyone is coming to this year’s gathering. So technically, this is the first time that all of us are meeting one another.

Today, just a few days before the gathering starts, I remember that story I read as a little girl, about students all over the world got together to talk about peace. I remember my childhood dream to become a peacemaker.

This international gathering in Doha would mean so much more for me than you can imagine. I can’t wait to see these “peacemakers” get together and collaborate with each other. I can’t wait to see them transforming and flourishing. And to make it more exciting, I can’t wait to celebrate my birthday with 20 GCC leaders from 10 countries! This should be one of the best birthday gifts I’ve ever had in my life.