Paskalis, A Son of Papuan Farmer Achieves their Master's Degree in the United States

Paskalis, A Son of Papuan Farmer Achieves their Master’s Degree in the United States – Born as a farmer’s child in Boven Digoel regency, Papua, since childhood Paskalis was trained to live hard and full of struggles. He lives in a refugee camp far from a city, in poor economic conditions.

His responsibility as the first son of five children increased when his father passed away in 2006, when he was still in grade 3 of junior high school. Together with his younger siblings, he had to work “extraordinarily hard,” helping his mother from morning to night, only for one eating.

Taking on the duties and responsibilities as a substitute for the father, his family then decided that he had to continue his education, but were forced to stop their younger siblings’ education, given of the economic limitations at that time.

“You just go to school. If you can get success later, you can help your parents, to pay attention your younger siblings,” said Paskalis, remembering his family’s message.

Education in his village at that time was also very limited. The primary school in his village depends on only one teacher teaching grades 1-6 once doubling as the headmaster.

“Sometimes we have class from Monday to Wednesday. Thursday and Friday were day off. So we know, if it was certainly informed. We have time, for example, two days for helping our parent full day.”

His unanimity for changing the life of his family’s economic conditions had become an encouragement for Paskalis to persist in striving for the sake of achieving the highest education.

After graduating from junior high school, Paskalis then moved to Minditanah District, to continue his education of senior vocational school for three years. At that time he was living with a foster brother. The Communication with his family was cut off.

“There is no communication anymore with my mother, because they live in a faraway village, at a refugee camp. It is very far, right on the border area, so, communication is so hard,” explained the student born in 1989.

During the first three months, his foster brother helped pay for his school fees. However, after that he had to seek his own way, to be able to remain in paying of the tuition cost.

“We only studied in the class for half a day, from 8 to 1 o’clock. So, I usually took away sand in the afternoon, took away sandstone in one of the rivers, for earning money. I saved it to pay for SPP (Education Development Contribution). For eating, I usually ate every day with my foster brother, with whom I lived in,” he said.

After passing of SMK, Paskalis then worked as an English teacher for grade 3-6 students at Public Elementary School 2, in Boven Digoel district, for one and a half years. He was motivated again to continue his education, to change the condition of his life. “It can’t be the same as parents anymore,” he said.

In 2011, Paskalis decided to migrate to Merauke and study at Musamus University at Merauke, majoring in English education. He chose this department, given that there are not many English teachers in the main region of Boven Digoel, as well as South Papua.

“English is very important and it is included in the National Examination. So, the human resources must be sufficient, to overcome the problem of the lack of English teachers,” explained the man who has a hobby of hunting.

“Praise to God for the blessings,” Paskalis won the Bidikmisi scholarship. This is a scholarship under the Directorate General of Higher Education of the Ministry of Education and Culture of the Republic of Indonesia, which is provided to underprivileged student candidates, but they have good potential in the academic field. Up to now, he is getting success for studying Masters in the US at American University. 

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