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Today, I would like to bring all of you to slide down a nostalgic path with me to the days when I was young and filled with hopes and angst about the future.  An gruelling curriculum at MIT, coupled with two part time jobs, New York was the perfect escape from what I considered to be a stressful existence in Boston. 


My favorite activity at New York was not embarking on a shopping tour of Saks Fifth Avenue, but I would rather wait for sunset to board the Q train headed for Brooklyn.  I just loved to watch the train snake its way from the ground to the bridge on its way to its destination.  It was oddly fulfilling as I soaked in the city’s graffiti scene so up-close and I never knew that watching laundry hanging from apartment roof proved to be soothingly cathartic.

I will live here one day, I remember whispering to myself everytime I was on that train platform.  I wanted to make it big in the big Apple as it is fondly referred to as. What makes New York so intriguing is the way anyone from anywhere could come to pursue fame, riches, and romance.  The image of me walking down Sixth Avenue in a Burberry trench coat with a Starbuck tumbler going into my office across from Waldorf Astoria Hotel was deeply ingrained in my mind.  That was my dream: to be a high-powered professional living the American dream in New York.

It would appear that life has a way of ignoring our plans and instead of Fifth Avenue, I am honking down MH Thamrin everyday, fearful that I am driving an odd numbered car on an even numbered date.  While this would appear to be quite a setback for anyone, I choose to be grateful as the story of my life is still in progress.  Besides, I take pride in the fact that I had a dream; a vision which propelled me to always seek a better tomorrow.

To me, personally, dreaming is one of humanity’s greatest gifts.   It champions aspiration, spurs innovation, leads to change and gives us the power to go on when all things go bleak.  Life without dreams is like a world without adventure and meaning.  And for that, I was glad that I was told to dream big and to encourage others to do so when I was young.

In an ever unpredictable world, the power of dreams cannot be understated.  Indeed, the future of our species depends on people who can formulate solutions to problems which we do not fully understand at present.  How do we equip our children of today for the unpredictable future that we can’t imagine?  Teaching them Chinese may help them for a future of shifting power structures in geopolitics, but is it really necessary in a world of Google translate?  Teaching our children to code can be a solution, but with advancement in Artifical Intelligence these days, soon software could be written by software.  Clearly, what we need to teach them is the ability to imagine the unthinkable and to dream beyond the horizon.

There are many children who missed out on something crucial besides love in early childhood; they do not even know they should have had dreams until it was much too late.   There was no one to tell them life who could have talked to them about dreaming about the future and as a result, the inner pains that many of those children felt while they were younger turned to anger which eventually turned to rage.   We see many of such children in Indonesia, born to young, poor parents.  They spend most of their childhood searching from love or crying because they were hungry.  They live each day of their life surviving and when they grow up hopeless, hate-filled, they will continue this vicious cycle.

No child deserves growing up feeling abandoned.  They need to be educated and encouraged to dream as only for those who dare to dream, there is a whole world to win.

It is my pleasure to use the 20th XSML Anniversary as a platform to introduce Yayasan Peduli Anak and all their activities in helping abandoned children in Lombok.  We, at (X)SML, are truly inspired by their works and we hope that we can raise awareness as much as possible through our event on the 31st August, 2017, at 06:30 P.M. @ Plaza Indonesia Function Hall, Level 2




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