Archive for the ‘Always There Is a Way Out’ Category

Jakarta, 27 January 2016

“Look at the bright side! The beauty of having to revise your PhD thesis is that you have both the experience of writing and submitting, as well as rewriting and resubmitting the thesis.  No, you don’t fail if you respond well. So don’t give up!” (Ikong, my husband, 2 September 2014).

I submitted my PhD thesis on 7 January 2014, and two years later, I finally received my PhD degree on 17 December 2015.

When I was notified that I needed to do quite a major revision on September 2, 2014, I was not certain how to react.  I was given one year, up to 2 September 2015, to revise and resubmit; and needed to advise the Examination Office of ANU about my plan.  The reactions from my husband and my supervisors, Dr Royston Gustavson and Dr Andrew Bradly, were very encouraging, more positive than my own.  They were so sure that I could actually get this done, and they were willing to support me all the way.

Indeed, this PhD journey was one of the most challenging endeavors that I have ever done in my life.  It took me almost six years altogether to get it done: four years full time at ANU to submit, 8 months to wait for the Examiners’ comments, 10 months to revise and resubmit. It was a truly spiritual journey.

Here, I would like to share my responses to one of the Examiners.  Maybe it can be of use to those who are interested in getting a PhD; or who need to revise their thesis.  Don’t give up!  We’ll get there somehow. (more…)

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Jakarta, June 1, 2014

I have returned to Jakarta for four months now. I am so happy to be home during a very interesting period of parliamentary and presidential elections. Now we only have two pairs of candidates running for the positions of President and Vice President: Jokowi-JK and Prabowo-Hatta. The vision and mission of the two pairs are more or less the same, but I see there are big differences on the way in which the vision and mission to be implemented by the two candidates. It is the competition between the leaders who are willing to make innovation and breakthrough in doing things; and the leaders who will continue the practice of the old regime. I do hope that the leaders who are honest and have empathy for people will win.

The condition of political situation in Indonesia and my personal life are almost similar. Both are in transition. After returning to Jakarta on 31 January 2014, I have been in the process of moving towards the new chapter of my life, from being a PhD student and a mum for four years in Canberra, into my new routine as a wife and a contributing member of society. (more…)

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Canberra, 15 November 2012

“Keep your thoughts positive because your thoughts become your words. Keep your words positive because your words become your behavior. Keep your behavior positive because your behavior becomes your habits. Keep your habits positive because your habits become your values. Keep your values positive because your values become your destiny.”Mahatma Gandhi

I have just submitted my presentation to Australia New Zealand Academy of Management (ANZAM) conference which I will attend on 3 and 4 December 2012.  This will be my first PhD conference where I can get feedbacks on my work-in-progress, thus enable me to improve the quality of dissertation.  I am looking forward to it.

Well, to complete my PhD journey in December 2013, I have to have a marathon runner’s stamina.  It is my passion to sustainable development and my love to Indonesia that keeps me going, as I say in my ANZAM presentation, “ …  developing countries such as Indonesia, a home of 240 million people, offers abundant opportunities but also challenges for business, such as poverty, weak regulatory system, skilled labour scarcity, and poor infrastructure. (more…)

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Canberra, 7 May 2012

I wonder, there were many PhDs in the past, long before analytical software was invented.  If they were able to get their PhDs without such software, why can’t I?

I use qualitative research methods to analyse my case study, and some of the main issues with qualitative method are managing and analysing a large amount of narrative.  There are tools available in the market to help me with this, but to be able to operate such tools, I have to train myself.  By this time, I have spent over three months to help myself understand which software I can use, until I finally decide to go back to the basic tools, which are Excel and Word.

At the first time, I decided to try software A because an introductory training for such software is given at my Faculty.  But then, despite the potential benefits that I will gain from software A, the learning process is very long, and there is no support I can get, except to learn it from the manual.  Then I was advised to try software B, which is supposed to be able to help me to recognize the content and to draw themes.  But apparently, the software can only recognize words, so I have to struggle to “teach the software” to understand the themes.  Then I was advised to learn about software C, which could help me to analyse the events and processes.  I spent more than two weeks to understand software C but still could not figure out how to export and import the data as suggested by its manual.  Eventually, I was so devastated and frustrated! (more…)

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Canberra, 6 April 2012

Selama menjadi Direktur Eksekutif Yayasan Danamon Peduli tahun 2007 sd 2009, program kompos sampah pasar ‘Danamon Go Green’ yang saya kembangkan bersama kepala daerah di berbagai wilayah Indonesia menjadi juara kedua BBC World Challenge 2009.  Berikut ini adalah petikan lengkap wawancara saya dengan Didik Purwanto yang dimuat di Seputar Indonesia 3 Januari 2010 tentang cita-cita saya menjadikan Indonesia bebas sampah, diantaranya dengan menangani sampah organik pasar tradisional dan menjadikannya komoditas pupuk yang bermanfaat untuk merevitalisasi tanah pertanian dan lahan kritis di Indonesia.  Selain itu Didik juga menulis sedikit profil tentang prinsip hidup sederhana yang saya terapkan dalam keluarga: http://didikpurwanto.blogspot.com.au/2010/08/ingin-indonesia-bebas-sampah.html

Semoga bermanfaat!

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Canberra, 5 April 2012


“Hey Risa, I see from your FB that you almost finish your PhD.  Congratulations!” said my friend who met me on campus.  “Oh, that one, that was only the beginning of my data analysis when I translated over 1,100 pages of interview transcript.  I still have 14 months to go to submit my final draft to the editor.  Then I need another 6 months to finalize my thesis, to present on the conferences, to write journal article.  Besides, I still need to do the second phase of my scholarship from AusAID (Alisson Sudradjat Award) to learn about the best practices on the role of the budget committee of the parliament (Badan Anggaran DPR) in passing the country’s budget within presidential system.  I will conduct desk research at the Parliament House in Canberra, and compare the best practices with what has been done in Indonesia and Brazil. Fingers crossed, I will do my best to finish everything and submit my PhD by December 2013 and return to Indonesia thereafter. I may join the graduation ceremony in July 2014”  “Oh, that long?” “Yes, a loooong way to go!”

 20 months seem to be a long time, but actually, time is running really fast.  Here is my plan, and you will know why 🙂  (more…)

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Canberra, 19 March 2012

So relieved!  Today at 4.30pm I have finished translating the last page, page 1223 of my fieldwork interview transcripts, from Indonesian into English.  I invested almost 8 weeks of days and nights on my computer, racing against my own daily targets to translate at least 25 pages a day.  Whew! What a feeling!  Tomorrow I can start working on the next step of my data analysis.

I have done all translations at my home office, which I love so much.  My housemate, Victor, has helped me setting up a PC, so I have quite an ergonomic work station. I only come to my office at ANU if I have to attend seminars, to meet my supervisor, or to catch up with my friends.  Canberra weather has been very funny lately; it has been cold, windy and rainy.  I really appreciate not having to come to my office in such an unpredictable weather.  So I can be very productive. (more…)

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