Whenever one hears mentions of “studying abroad for Undergraduate studies”, one might automatically think about someone boarding a flight to go and stay in one particular city in one particular region to attend face-to-face lectures and seminars in one university campus ground for around 3-4 years. But that is not the case with Minerva School at KGI! Anggun Citra Berlian is the first Indonesian youth to be enrolled in Minerva, an educational system offering a unique 21st century learning experience. “Unique” is perhaps an understatement, as Anggun will spend the next 4 years with her colleagues traveling to 7 different cities in various regions – studying materials through online platforms whilst immersing in local communities! In this article, she shares her moving story as to why she is deeply motivated to experience Minerva, and what Minerva is like in a nutshell.
“What do you want to be in the future?” When people ask me that, I cannot bring myself to respond in simple one or two sentences. For me, “what I want to be in the future” cannot be summed up in a single profession or job which would be good enough to earn a living and allow me to have things to do. As a person who came from such a humble background and as the first in her family to attend college, my ability to get a decent job might be perceived as a good enough achievement. A good enough opportunity to break the vicious cycle of poverty experienced by me, my brothers, and my parents. Yet, it is precisely because I have come such a long way that I am strongly motivated to live with a bigger purpose.
My name is Anggun Citra Berlian, and I come from a remote and underdeveloped rural area in the eastern part of Java. I am about to experience a major turning point in my life by transferring to Minerva School at KGI—a higher education institution that is known to provide an extraordinary 21st century-style education. In this piece, I would love to share with you one of my major purposes in life and how becoming a Minerva student would help me achieve that.
The way I see it, we are living in an age where problems are meant to be solved together. Technological advancement has made us more connected than ever, and so too our problems have become increasingly interlinked. Knowledge, therefore, should not be compartmentalized into brackets, and each individual should always have the freedom to explore what the vast world has to offer. I often get frustrated with how my family has to struggle so much just to acquire our basic needs, and it has motivated to eradicate poverty and to create a more livable world for all of us by becoming a social entrepreneur. However, I have come to realize that studying about economics and business alone would not instantly transform me into a successful social entrepreneur in the field I am deeply passionate about.
Farming was the only means to earn a living for many generations before me, but it is not so much the case anymore. My father gave up our land to open a small traditional grocery store in our village and my big brother keeps looking for a low paid job in the city with his high school diploma. A younger me would not understand why, but now I learn that it is because at least 18 million smallholder farmers in Indonesia live below the global poverty line. It is unfortunate in at least two ways. First, leaving farming does not necessarily make things any better for my family. Second, it is so ironic how many people who work to provide food for populations at large struggle to feed their own families. Perhaps you may think that the impacts of this particular issue are localized in small villages. Yet, in today’s era of globalization, poverty in villages are worldwide problems which put many of us at risk. Many people escape farming in search of a better pay and leave a large sum of agricultural lands uncultivated. The amount of food produced (supply) becomes reduced, whilst the demands stay the same or even increase overtime. Jumping to the agricultural sector directly would not allow me to induce structural, long-term changes. I need to equip myself with a profound understanding of other related sectors so as to have the ability to tackle the agriculture sector’s many complexities.
The View from the Front of My Father’s House.
Minerva School at KGI would be the perfect place for me to achieve this goal of mine, as it is a non-traditional university that offers a purpose-driven education. Minerva, with its innovative approach to education has attracted a lot of attention, namely from: The New York Times, PBS, The Atlantic, Linkedin, Business Insider, and most recently Harvard Magazine. This university attempts to provide higher education that corresponds to the need of a dynamic global future. Minerva has no physical campus and traditional lecture experiences. Instead, Minerva applies the science of active learning and flipped pedagogic model. Classes are conducted in the form of online seminars on Minerva’s advanced Active Learning Forum platform and are devoted to facilitating students to discuss, debate, and collaborative actively with their peers on many different topics.
Minerva is also the path that emphasizes experiential learning to gain critical skills and a multidisciplinary approach to education that would help me see problems comprehensively. Students are required to live and travel to seven world cities, as Minerva sees cities as campus grounds in which students can immerse, engage, and become involved in the solvency of local problems or projects to lead to the betterment of communities. Within the next four years at Minerva, I will travel and surely live in San Francisco, Seoul, Hyderabad, Berlin, Buenos Aires, London, and also Taipei. It sure is fun and exciting, but I realize that it is also a challenge. Ultimately, I hope to be more analytical, open-minded, and most importantly, emphatic to my surroundings after my Minerva experience.
The Column I Wrote for ZETIZEN Jawa Pos.
Yet, my transfer to Minerva is not yet guaranteed. I am grateful enough that Minerva provides financial aid to help students from economically-disadvantaged circumstances, yet I still have to collect enough money to buy my tickets, visa, and other travel essentials to the USA. It would be such an honor for me to be the first Indonesian student to attend Minerva and to fully immerse in their unique educational experience, but I could really use some help. Through the generosity of kindhearted people, I am halfway to my overall online fundraising goal! If you agree that it is the time for you and I to tackle complex challenges in poverty, agriculture, and food, to improve our future collectively and feed the generations to come, consider donating through www.youcaring.com/anggun or www.kitabisa.com/anggun. I thank you so much and would forever appreciate it!
The Looks of One of My Online Fundraising Platforms.
Photos provided by author.