Tokyo, 13 April 2009


Andi in Tokyo
Andi in Tokyo

Diapun mengangkat kepalanya, menegakkan dagu dan diam sejanak. Matanya menyapu sekitarnya dan akhirnya menemukan percaya diri. Diapun mulai berucap:

H.E. Mr. Sasakawa,
Dr. Bailet,
Professors,
My Fellow Alumni,
Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen:

When I was asked by Dr. Bailet to prepare a short speech, I was a bit uncertain. Not because I have nothing to say but in contrary, there is too much to say about this fellowship program. Honestly, I am a little bit nervous standing here in a respected stage because I am representing great young spirit of the Asia Pacific Region. I hope what I am going to say can, to an extent, address common impression we have.

My fellow alumni,
Today is a special day and a happy one. However, let me take you a while to places where we come from. While we enjoy a comfortable environment in this room, millions of people in Indonesia are struggling for basic living needs. While we are satisfied with the seafood served to us, millions of fishers in the Asia Pacific cannot afford education for their children. And while we for a while can forget our routine back home and enjoy the beauty of Sakura, people back home are dying for natural disasters. Small islands in the Pacific are even sinking due to global warming.

I believe you agree with me that today is not a celebration, neither a party. This is a moment of contemplation. We come together to continue what we have done during the fellowship. We are here to strengthen our commitment to do something, especially those related to ocean affairs and the law of the sea, no matter how small it might be.

I understand that we come for different backgrounds in terms of studies, expertise, areas of works. More importantly, we have different level of access to policy. While some of us secure key position in decision making, some other, like me, are pretty much observers and sometimes victims of a decision. However, it does not mean that we cannot do something. An old saying is true that if we can not yell out loud, at least we can whisper. If we can not play a significant role in deciding a policy, we can contribute in implementing the policy or in building public understanding through opinions. The newsletter that we publish, I hope, can represent our contribution in building public understanding.

To me, being one of the alumni of the United Nations – Nippon Foundation Fellowship is a privilege. I am grateful that the fellowship program has provided us with opportunities that I did not even think about before. Please allow me on behalf of the alumni to express our sincere gratitude to the United Nations Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea and the Nippon Foundation of Japan for the fellowship opportunity. Without the opportunity, we would not have had such a wonderful research and internship experience. The fellowship indeed does a good job in making important contribution to the capacity of developing States. However this fellowship is only the start. Many more ideas and real activities should follow.

The fellowship, then we discovered, is not only about research, reports, presentations, and consultations, but also about friendship. Fellowship is friendship, as I mentioned to Reza when I met him in Heidelberg in August last year. Apart from having good experience of conducting research supervised by world-class researchers and being in a superb research environment with an abundance of resources, making good friends with many of the brightest young people from around the globe is really something. Not only did we learn from each other concerning ocean affairs and the law of the sea, but we also better understand and appreciate differences between us. If it was not because of the fellowship, I would not have known the amazing tale of the tortoise from Cameroon that Christophe told me in New York. I was also entertained with a song of a seagull from Thailand that Sampan forced me to learn.

The fellowship opened our eyes and minds wider: we share the world we live in with many others. A small thing I do on the beach somewhere in Bali might affect my dear fellows somewhere in the Philippines or even in Georgia. This is how our understanding developed with respect to our duty to take care of the ocean. The complete and balanced experience gives us a better understanding that we, as a family, face the critical ocean issues. I believe we have done something during the fellowship but undoubtedly, much more have to be done in the coming future. Therefore, this gathering is not the end of the story but a beginning of a stronger movement toward the future.

In this respect, we are grateful that DOALOS and Nippon Foundation of Japan put their effort to bring us together in Tokyo. This is a positive indication that support provided for us is hopefully sustainable. I think it is our turn, as the alumni, to show our commitment and contribution to build a synergy with the support provided by DOALOS and Nippon Foundation. I personally hope that DOALOS and Nippon Foundation can keep providing support for activities we engage in the future. Likewise, I suggest the alumni maintain our commitment and show DOALOS and Nippon Foundation that we deserve the support.

For my final remark, I understand that my message could not address every single issue we have but I hope it touched our common ideas. Once again, please allow me to express my gratitude for this opportunity. On behalf of the alumni, I would also acknowledge the generosity of the Nippon Foundation and the United Nations for arranging such a great meeting for us.

Thank you very much.

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Author: Andi Arsana

I am a lecturer and a full-time student of the universe

3 thoughts on “Tokyo, 13 April 2009”

  1. The fellowship opened our eyes and minds wider: we share the world we live in with many others. A small thing I do on the beach somewhere in Bali might affect my dear fellows somewhere in the Philippines or even in Georgia.

    I get your point Pak. 🙂

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