Exam invigilations always introduce something new to me, either getting know to new people, new students’ habit, or even new scary incidence. Just to remind myself, that I have spent a special time between my thesis writing to write this post, but I set time to publish this post in next year, 2019. I don’t really want that the unwanted reaction to this post affects my viva or my process to achieve my Ph.D. diploma. Well, there is a possibility that my external examiner was born in a place that will be explained in this post and take it personally. All I want is just to share what I have heard from my new acquaintance during my invigilation time, yesterday (13th of August 2018).
First of all, a crisis in the Palestine and Israel has nothing to do with my professional knowledge as an academician. So, I don’t have any tendency to discuss this thing further or relate this to a political view.
So, the story began when I met David. He is a chief invigilator and he told me that he spent his last summer holiday in Palestine. At first, I didn’t want to get attached to Palestine just because I am a muslim because since the beginning, to my understanding, the conflict was started not because of the religion, but a very old history.
So, on the way back from the invigilation venue to the exam office, I decided to fulfill my curiosity.
“David, I think Palestine is not a common holiday destination, what makes you decide to spend your summer there?”
“Ahemm…”, I think he needs a moment and select better words for not dragging me to a discussion about who attack Palestine, who is wrong, or something like that.
The story goes, he and the other 5 brave Irish men went there via Tel Aviv and spent several days in there only to experience the situation in the middle of a war and full of threats. They all stayed in a Palestine settlement and lived with families there, FYI, they have no Airbnb or a hostel.
He told me that it is a very lucky moment if an aid coming from UN or Indonesia was not shot or attacked. Clean water is very rare. They live with threats like every single day and night. Bombings happen almost like once every two nights. Every time Palestine people tried to build a new settlement, they will demolish in a second. It is like living in a hell. Palestine families where they stayed last summer were so kind sharing their (limited) food to us, so we can still alive and pass this story to others.
I have sooo many questions in my head.
“Then, why you decided to go there in the first place, David? were you expecting that situation before?”
“It is a difficult decision, I have two kids, a 6-year-old daughter, and an 8-year-old son, I might not come back to Ireland to see them again, but I need to find the truth. I do this for them.”
Well, to be honest, I would never have any courage to visit a crisis place like that. Even sometimes, I ignore what the truth is just to make myself safe. What a selfish thought that I have.
He continued his story, in Palestine, there is a granite wall like this (he pointed to an old building on our campus) but not too high so we can see the other side. Then I asked him what he saw on the other side of the war?
“A luxurious hotel, a pool, a jacuzzi, I am so ashamed that they who live in that hotel see these ‘killing’ acts like they view a scenery from their balcony. Even in this era, a holocaust is still happening in front of our eyes and we’re doing nothing.”
“is it at Gaza strip?”
My heart stops beating. It is us who remain silent, watching this news with an ignorance. We worried more about looking for the news source, scrutinize their backgrounds, investigate their motives for publishing that kind of news rather than doing something useful for them. Then, we debated with each other just to cover our eyes to see the truth. I know that this is only a one-sided story, only from one source. But there is a message that is being sent to me, and I cannot stay to keep it myself. Well, I still delay this publish time until I have my ‘comfort’ situation even though I know that David was not lying to me.
He found his ‘truth’, what about me?
What kind of truth that we have discovered so far?
“Where are you from, Retno?”
“Indonesia, have you ever heard about Indonesia before?”
“Me, a couple of times, a catastrophic country, and I saw your flags in a place where I took a holiday in last summer”
“Oh really? you’ve visited Bali last summer?”
I hope I am still alive when this post is published on the 1st of April, 2019.