Youth Voices

Smile Turns Strangers into a New Family

By Maria Listuhayu Prajna Pratita

Today, I went to Bantul as usual, buying rendeng (peanut leaves) for my rabbits. Unexpectedly, I came across a female security staff from my college. It turned out that she was the daughter-in-law of Mbah Wadji, the rendeng seller. She spotted me from a distance, and greeted me with delight.

She was happy to know that I am her father’s customer; she invited me to come to their house. She was grateful for my good behavior with all the staff personnel back at college as I always say hello to her and the others. According to her, majority of the students consider security staffs as an enemy and of lower rank due to their strict duty on checking students’ parking cards (parking cards is a controversial issue in my campus). Therefore they always remember and appreciate the students who greet them and appreciate their work.

I was introduced to her big family. They come from lower economic background, but they have sincere and humble hearts. They served me with Javanese Bread (boiled cassava) and a glass of hot coffee. Her three children surrounded me. Half an hour later I was invited to have lunch with them, which was simple, but very warm! I felt like I got a new family there.

We had a long chat and had fun together in her small yet beautiful house. She shared that she loves my boyish haircut and wants to get one. To that, I laughed loudly. She told me a lot about the joys and sorrows of working as a security staff on campus, about employee outsourcing system, and so on. I was very glad to hear her talk. She also asked many questions about me and my life.

I really wanted to stay longer, but I had to say goodbye since her children wanted to go watch a horse race. I went home with tears in my eyes. Since I was a child, my parents taught me to highly respect the security staff personnel and the school janitors. This habit still exists today, but I’m just used to it, and have never realized that my greeting and smile had a very special meaning for those people.

Mother Teresa said, “Peace begins with a smile.” Yes, I do believe in it now and I promise to always share my smile with other people because

Sincere smile turns strangers into a new family.

-ema