Sentot had been studying English at university for three years, but he hadn’t been able to speak the language fluently yet. Every time he wanted to utter a full grammatical sentence, he went speechless for no reason. Often he was engulfed in deep frustration, but he knew that he had to do something.
When inspiration was all that Sentot needed, a diverting statement from Pak Darmawan gave him the answer. In a lecture he told his students, “What are you doing here? There are no English native speakers in this place. Go to Jalan Jaksa in Central Jakarta. Thousands of foreigners who want to explore Indonesia have a transit there. So if you want to practice your English, go there.”
This sounded like an excellent idea, but the chubby round eyes Sentot was an introvert. He had to practice a monologue in front of a mirror for three days before he could finally build up his confidence.
The fourth day came when he had the courage to drive his motorcycle to the densely populated Jalan Jaksa area. There he displayed his amicable smile, greeting any foreigners he came across.
“What the hell are you doing, mate?” an Australian responded when Sentot asked him whether he could converse with him for a minute or two.
Sentot didn’t expect his friendly manner would be replied with such a bark, but he was determined. He had another go and asked people more politely.
Sometimes the response was harsh like when a drunk American shouted, “Get out of my way, you idiot!” But sometimes it wasn’t very rude like the following Canadian girl, “No, sorry.”
After having thirty four people refusing him, Sentot was pleased that there were two friendly Norway girls, a lovely South African man, and a devilishly attractive British girl who were kind enough to spare their time with him. Having a good time and making a brief friendship with the tourists, Sentot went home a happy man.
The following week he returned to Jalan Jaksa. He repeated it three more times until he became fully confident with his conversational skill. A year later he graduated with Cum Laude and was employed by the university where he graduated from. It took him two years until he finally won a scholarship to Australia and studied a master’s in Applied Linguistics at the University of Sydney.
Sentot’s fiery passion and hard-work came to fruition a year later when he was appointed English Instructor at the ELICOS program in the university.
When he was listening to Steve Jobs’ famous speech that was delivered at Stanford University, Sentot finally understood what it means to connect the dots.
Initially he just wanted to speak English fluently. But now the typical brown-skinned Madurese was happy that he went further, because teaching English to international students from around the world had been so much fun!