Herlin’s journeys from Indonesia

October 2005 was the first time I realized I had to get my daughter out of our country, Indonesia. She had spent three months as a first grader in a private school in east of Jakarta, and I saw that there was no improvement in Indonesia’s education system. I was furious.

Sending my daughter to school abroad had been my wildest dream. It seemed impossible. I was a single mother who sometimes had to work two jobs. I worked an executive assistant in a multinational toy manufacturing company and a part time English teacher. Although I had two sources of income, they still weren’t enough to send my daughter to school abroad.

So I prayed. I didn’t ask God when, where or how. I just knew how to pray. I believe in the power of prayer. I believe that any positive thought is more powerful than fear.

Fast forward Fall 2007. An attaché from the U. S. Embassy in Jakarta talked to me about a scholarship from the State department. He learned that I was a Special Olympics volunteer and the scholarship would allow me to work with Special Olympics, Inc. in Washington, D.C. I applied for the scholarship and got the acceptance letter from Eunice Kennedy Shriver Fellowship Program on January 2, 2008.

In March 2008, I left my daughter with my mom for three months. It was heartbreaking. Special Olympics placed me in New York City. They rented an apartment for me in midtown Manhattan and I worked in Special Olympics New York City office. During those three months, I learned how to use the subway and walk so fast like New Yorkers. I also learned about the American culture, best practice sharing from Special Olympics and its team, kindness and determination from Special Olympics athletes.

I also found love. Love that I never thought was real. I had read or watched many love stories. This time, I had the chance to write my own love story. We got married in Bali in August 2010. It was a beautiful day with gorgeous sunset and salty ocean breeze. My daughter was the ring bearer, we were bundled by love, laughter and tears of joy.

At the end of August 2011, my daughter and I bought one-way plane tickets to New York. We were so thrilled to start a new life in American soil. I remembered we were running towards my husband when we saw him at the arrival gate at JFK airport.

One week later, we dropped off our daughter at the elementary school in Brooklyn where she started her fifth grade. Later that afternoon I picked her up from school, and I asked her, “How was your first day at school?” She looked at me and smiled, “I loved it here, mama.” I beamed then took her hand. My prayer has been answered.

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