The uncertain future and our contribution (Speech at the Australia Awards: End of Year Celebration 2014)

17 November 2014, National Convention Centre Canberra, by Fitrian Ardiansyah (Recipient of Australian Leadership Award and Allison Sudradjat Award), PhD Candidate at the Australian National University.

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Delivering a speech at the Australia Awards: End of Year Celebration 2014 (photo by Emma Soraya)


The Honourable Dr Peter Hendy MP, distinguished academia (including Prof Richard Baker, glad to see you again), university staff, the Australian government officials and my fellow awardees,

Good afternoon! And congratulations to all my fellow awardees who – I believe – are excited to be able to finish our study, or start their journey to study here in Canberra. I believe we are also curious about our uncertain future when we are coming back homes or starting our study.

Well, let me tell you something, the future will always be uncertain, as the famous Albert Einstein once said “As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain; and as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality.” And by the way, this is also the framework and often stages of my PhD thesis, if you are uncertain with your thesis or study, this means you are in the right direction, because if you are so certain about your thesis or study, there is something wrong with your thesis or yourself. That is why when many of my friends often asked about my thesis, I often answered, well it was there but it was not yet there – with a big grin on my face.

However, I believe we all know that our future will be much exciting than our present or past. For those of you who were brought up by watching Star Trek, 2001 or many sci-fi movies in the 1980s (now you know how old I am), you would not believe yourself that one day you could communicate wirelessly, in real time, for instance. During my childhood, I remember vividly that the easiest way to connect wirelessly with someone else was to throw a scramble piece of paper at his or her head to get his or her attention, or really shouting from the distance like you are crazy or Tarzan like (without having to be naked of course).

I am an optimistic guy and hence I totally agree to what Mr Winston S. Churcill once said “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; [but] an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” I hope we can always overcome challenges in our future pathways and, in fact, change these into opportunities to make us better and to make the world a better place.

Well, one of the reasons why I am quite optimistic is because of my daughter, as you can see that I am taking her with me now (well, another reason to take her now is that I cannot afford anyone to babysit my daughter – the scholarship is running thin now :-). If I cannot change myself, my surroundings, my country and of course the region that I and we live in, the ones that will feel the most impacts, are her and her generations. I have been working and researching on environmental and economic issues and I believe we are connected to one and another and what we do, regardless whether it is small or big, will influence our life, now and in the future.

A good lesson-learnt while I was studying and living in Australia and discussing with scholars and many people alike is that you are the one that control your destiny. You are the one that can change the future of yourself and your country, and whether it is small contribution, it is still big in the realm of our world, especially if we do it together with our colleagues, friends and many like-minded peoples.

“If you think you are too small to be effective, you have never been in bed with a mosquito”. That was a quote from Bette Reese, an American officer and pilot.

With this quote, I will remind myself from now on to be as an effective person as if I am a mosquito, influencing myself and the world, bugging others with good messages, but hopefully not infecting others with malaria or dengue.

And with this as well, I will end by saying huge thanks to the Australian Awards and the Australian Government that provide this rare opportunity to live and study in Canberra, at the ANU, as well as to all ANU academia and staff, friends in Canberra and other states, my peers, that provide enjoyable study and research life that I will cherish for the rest of my life. To my lovely wife and children, I love you so much. Good evening and enjoy your night!

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Delivering a speech at the Australia Awards: End of Year Celebration 2014 (photo by Andro Prasetyo)