A Window to the World
“Good prose is like a windowpane,” George Orwell once wrote. “And looking back through my work, I see that it is invariably where I lacked a political purpose that I wrote lifeless books and was betrayed into purple passages, sentences without meaning, adjectives and humbug generally.”
Orwell was a hugely influential political writer who also wrote with great heart, and I try to follow his example. To me, political purpose is the kindling of fire in my belly when I witness injustice or see truths nobody else seems to notice or acknowledge. The fire burns stronger when I see few people, or no one, do anything about it. I want to DO something. I want to hold up the windowpane so others can clearly see the other side.
My vision is two-fold. First, to write, because that is what I was born to do. When the fire in my gut won’t let me alone, my way of doing something about it is to write.
Two issues in particular burn in my belly, inspiring me to action. As I’ve stated in previous posts, one is the rapid disappearance of the Indonesian rainforest due to world demand for palm oil products and biofuel. Since writing these journal entries for World Pulse, my research has gained momentum as I make more contacts with forest guides in North Sumatra and utilize tools of Web 2.0 such as Scribd, collecting published reports on palm oil plantations.
The second issue, which I have not discussed yet, is that, as both a Western and a Muslim woman I’m deeply concerned about Islamophobia and the misinformation, amplified by hypberbole in the mainstream media, about Islam. My original impulse in coming to Indonesia was not only to volunteer on the Orangutan Health Project but also to find out about Islam for myself, post 9/11. In my heart I knew blaming Islam for the attacks on the World Trade Centre was simplistic and wrong. I bought a Quran and read it, and when I set out on my journey I brought it with me. I’ve since written much about my experiences in Islamic culture, and the people I have grown to love dearly, including my husband, on my blog www.travelpod.com/members/wendyworld.
While my political impulse to write comes from the fire in my belly, teaching flows from the centre of my heart. Among the many beautiful surprises I found in Indonesia is that I fell in love with teaching, which I had never done before. Connecting with young people is so satisfying and fulfilling. Teaching is such an important profession because by doing so, teachers help to shape the lives of their students, who in turn shape the future of their country and even the world. I feel a great sense of responsibility about this as I teach others not just how to use English to navigate the world, but about the importance of their natural environment, and of overcoming racial or religious differences. I’ll never forget the teachers who shaped me (especially Mr. C., who was so enthusiastic about nature), and I hope to be remembered in the same way by my own students as they step out to make their own way in the world.
Writing and teaching work together in perfect harmony. My husband is also a teacher, and we are both passionate about the same issues. We envision one day to have our own school and educational foundation in Indonesia to help kids from underprivileged families learn English, ecotourism and environmental protection skills, and to write about these issues for international media.
With life experience, the fire to write and the heart to teach about issues that concern us all, I’m ready to be a Voices of Our Future Correspondent. Being part of this program would enable me, as an independent journalist and educator, to learn how to fully use the tools available to reach a global audience, and help Indonesian environmentalists overcome the language barrier to do so as well. I would be honored to connect with a network of supportive, knowledgeable women who would enable me to realize this dream.