Personal Statement My Personal Experiences

When looking back upon my personal experiences, I find it very difficult to identify an instance where I confronted either personal or economic hardships. To be perfectly honest, both my familial and economic circumstances were stable. I did, however, confront challenges which bordered on hardships throughout the period of my secondary education. Briefly stated, my father is a self-made man and, in Indonesia, considered a successful entrepreneur. This has made him highly intolerant of anything other than excellence from his children and determined to provide them with an education which would allow them, not just to carry on the family business but, to take it to greater heights. His ambition for his children has often placed me in challenging positions. The most challenging of these was when, following the completion of my secondary education, he decided to transfer me to SMUK-1 BPK Penabur, the most difficult and best high school in Indonesia. I did not want to transfer and quite honestly, did not feel that I was capable of succeeding in such a competitive and tough educational environment where students where, to a large degree, expected to rely on themselves for success or failure. The environment, being so very different from what I was accustomed to, frightened me and for much of my first high school year, I was miserable. It was, within the limits of my experience, a period of tremendous intellectual and psychological hardship. Besides being extremely competitive and difficult, I had no friends at SMUK-1 BPK Penabur. There was, therefore, no one to guide me through this period and, at the same time, my father demanded nothing less than excellence. All I could do, therefore, was accept the situation and apply myself as I had never in my life done. While I recall this as a miserable year, the fact is that I succeeded and achieved the grades demanded of me. More importantly, I discovered that nothing is really ever too difficult.
(2) As Indonesia is a popular tourist destination and since American media has virtually conquered the world, I grew up with an understanding of cultural differences and, more importantly, with an appreciation for them. I was never in any doubt that Western culture differed in fundamental respects from the more traditional and conservative Indonesian culture to which I was born. At the same time, and despite my attachment to my culture, I recognized that there were many aspects of Western culture which, if I assimilated, would constructively contribute to my personal development. Among these, in my opinion, were the freedom to say and be what one thinks and who one really is, instead of trying to subscribe to cultural ideals. It was only following my travel to the United States that I realized that cultural differences ran much deeper than what I had assumed. During the first months of my study in the United States, I realized that the post-September 11th environment had stigmatized me, as it had almost any who were suspected of being Moslem, irrespective of whether or not they really were. This one time, I decided to talk with those who were taunting me with racist remarks, instead of ignoring them and walking away, as I usually did. It was during our conversation which, turned out to be very civil, that I learnt the extent of the cultural differences between East and West. Starting with the most basic of the differences, such as sons and daughters living at home until marriage, to the most fundamental, such as sexual freedom, both sides eventually realized that there was no right or wrong. that our differences, even though they were partly based on different worldviews, did not mean that we could not meet, talk, and strike up cross-cultural friendships. Our ability to do so was, as I realized, dependant on our being non-judgmental and on appreciating, rather than criticizing, differences. In other words, contrary to what I had assumed, I discovered that there were fundamental cultural differences between East and West but that these differences did not mean that we could not meet and understand one another as human beings, appreciative and non-judgmental of differences.
(3) I have had only one leadership experience and cannot claim, as yet, that I have developed what may be termed as leadership skills.’ At college, I joined the Indonesian Fellowship Club, for little other reason than homesickness and a desire to, at least occasionally, be with people from my culture and country. Not long after joining, I was elected to the vice-presidency. Within the context of this leadership position, I discovered that one of the main tasks of a leader is the mediation between different points of views and the gradual influencing of people towards support of a specific stance, or position. Even as I say this, I cannot, however, claim that my leadership skills were put to the test. Indeed, the only times I was called upon to mediate were when a decision made by the club’s president was not supported by the majority of the members. In instances such as this, I often found myself reflecting on both positions, questioning myself regarding the one which I supported, following which I mediated and negotiated between the different parties, gradually influencing them to the position which I believed was right. Nevertheless, I would say that this was a test of my conflict management and negotiation skills more than it was of my leadership ones.
(4) My parents, as with the greater majority of my extended family, are university graduates and, even more importantly, are true believers in education as integral to all of personality, intellectual and [professional development. My father, in particular, is an over-achiever and believes that a solid education is what allows one to achieve what would otherwise have been impossible. Consequently, from my earliest years, the value of education was constantly emphasized and there was never the remotest possibility that I would not enter college. I am, however, the first person in my family to have been educated in the United States and, the first to seek a degree in finance. Both decisions were largely influenced by my father but were entirely supported by me as I understood the logic behind them. Quite simply stated, given the ever-increasing connectivity of the global economy and market, business success is predicated upon networking and on understanding the other.’ The requisite networking and understanding can best be attained by expanding one’s horizons and by learning that which the other’ has to teach and which, to a large degree, was an integral component of the other’s’ success. Secondly, in light of my father’s plans to expand into the financial market and given that he, himself, does not have the requisite know-how, my acquisition of this type of know-how, of an education in finance is perfectly logical. Consequently, my pursuit, not just of a higher education but of a higher education in finance and the United States was a well-thought out decision which my family influenced, supported and actively encouraged.