Last Wednesday, Indonesia held our presidential elections. This is my second time voting and the experience is much different from my first time. When I voted five years ago, I’d been living abroad for four years, have no first-hand experience of what it’s like to live in Jakarta for more than three months a year, and wasn’t very up-to-date with political news at the time. Everything I knew about politics I knew through the people around me; my parents, my relatives, and a few of my friends who cared about politics.
Fast forward five years later, I’ve stayed in Jakarta for the last two years, experienced what it’s like to drive through Jakarta’s traffic, and have formed my own opinion on different issues. This time, I am more aware of what’s going on in the country. I don’t know if it’s because of time; I mean, they say the older you get the wiser you are. But I found myself really paying attention on the political climate. I tried my best to not be bias and really listened to both sides. I do know that watching the world’s current political climate did make me want to be more aware of the country’s politics. After all, ignorance does play a part in the uncertainty that’s happening around the world.
But what surprised me the most is not the changes in me, but the changes in others as well. Two years ago, more than half of my friends could care less about politics. But the past year leading up to the election, I saw my friends being more active and participate in political conversation. The surprise I felt every time I discuss politics with my friends never gets old. I’m glad and relief that people my age are actually interested in politics and recognized that our voices and votes matter.
On Sunday, April 13th, it was Indonesians-abroad’s turn to vote. I watch in amazement – both through videos and my friends’ Instastory how many people went to the embassies all around the world to vote. The enthusiasm to vote this year was insane and I feel relieved. I’ve always watched how young people in the West are very outspoken and they care deeply about their country politics. I thought I would never see that here and I’m glad I was proven wrong. Knowing that people still care, it made me optimistic and hopeful that we’re going to be ok.