Since my early teenage years, I have been very active in school organizations and volunteering activities. My passion in joining such non-profit organizations is based on my personal belief that young generation plays a vital role in building a greater future of our society. As such, I am really grateful to be given the chance as a part of a regional organization named PERMIAS (Persatuan Mahasiswa Indonesia di Amerika Serikat) where I can represent, to the best of my ability, the rich culture of Indonesia and her commanding influence globally. In this article, I would like to share my experience in PERMIAS, especially in my college, the University of Urbana Champaign in Illinois, and how an organization such as PERMIAS can provide invaluable contributions to our personal growth.
PERMIAS was founded on 24 December 1961 in Washington DC. Its core purpose was, and still is, to foster the sense of brotherhood amongst Indonesian students in the United States and to assist freshmen/new students to adapt during their stay in the country. Throughout its long history, PERMIAS has been known to hold annual events with focus in sports meets and cultural exhibition. With its steadily growing sizes, PERMIAS has been divided into several independent chapters in multiple regional universities. The chapter in University of Urbana-Champaign is managed by ISC (Indonesian Student Club) and it proudly carries the spirit of PERMIAS. I was appointed as the vice president of ISC in my senior year and fortunate enough to be given direct role in administering policies that helps the larger Indonesian community in the US.
My most memorable event for PERMIAS was the Indonesian Cultural Night. Although I knew that event organizer had a huge responsibility, but little did I know the intensity of effort, focus and dedication that had to be put in for so many factors at once. However, driven by the relentless support of my friends and the positive responses from our potential beneficiaries, my team managed to pull off an amazing performance that night. Some of our performances, including recitals of instruments such as Gamelan and Angklung, were so successful that they were requested for another musical event. It was a very inspirational and gratifying moment for me especially knowing that our team had proudly represented Indonesian culture. This also built up our credibility and confidence as one of the pioneer representatives in Midwest area as joint-chapters PERMIAS consortium in Los Angeles.
One important lesson that I took away after being directly involved in student organizations such as PERMIAS was the tangible appreciation for leadership qualities. Although leadership quality can be nurtured, but its importance is often overlooked in a society that places too much priority on academic achievements. Being active in organizations such as PERMIAS reminded me about qualities such as confidence in speaking publicly, having better time management, keener sense of social and organizational responsibility, as well as the ability to managing several projects at once.
Secondly, PERMIAS greatly bolstered my pride in being Indonesian. Getting involved in a lot of cultural events representing Indonesia really opened my eyes about the limitless potential of our great country. It really only take seconds to mesmerize many foreigners with our natural and social diversity. In fact, my role in PERMIAS grounded me to pursue career path as entrepreneur in Indonesia. I strongly encourage every student to be actively involved in an organization that you are passionate about because this is also a medium of self-growth and self-realization. Just as Jason Mraz said ‘To win some or learn some’, being actively involved as a core member in your organization gives you invaluable insight of your own character and real-life situations which may give you an inkling of what career you would want to embark on.
Thirdly, PERMIAS gave me the front seat in networking with successful and influential figures. Given the scope of our projects, I was fortunate to be able to learn important lessons from many inspirational individuals. ISC have held several events when we invited many influential guest speakers from tech companies, ambassadors of South East Asian countries and local government officials to share with the academic community. These events allowed me to interact with them first hand. Due to our shared professional experience that we had, I was able to build my personal network handsomely.
Last but not least, I have been able to build a lasting friendship with some of the most wonderful individuals in my college years. My team and I shared celebratory smiles, supported one another, even shed tears in the process of executing our events. These experiences helped in the formation of our bond and I am grateful to be able to have a fulfilling undergraduate life and to find people whom I can rely on.
Given all these benefits that I acquired in joining PERMIAS, I would really recommend each and every one of you to be an active member in an organization which vision is in line with your passion. Seize these opportunities to enhance your college experience, personal skills and networking circle. I am sure that you will have an enriching college experience by contributing passionately in your respective organizations.
Photo is credited to author.