Last weekend was the third annual Asian Women’s Empowerment Conference. Honestly, I still can’t believe it happened already. Happened: past tense. Jogja, Indonesia as a stage, nearly 60 people gathered to think, act, and achieve. This year’s theme was “Empowerment in Action”. For that, we invited speakers who made their ideas into reality, successfully. From a business man to a stand-up comic, from an economist to a social worker, from a scientist to a life coach, we had a whole wide range of speakers, and it was indescribably AWEsome. Why? Here are the reasons, and why you should come for our next conference.
This year’s AWE was focused on entrepreneurship and money. Money is such a sensitive subject in Asia, and it’s almost tabooed to say “I want money”. We had three amazing speakers, talking about some what similar attitude toward money. Sharmini said “Money is energy”. You need to want it to get it. Money comes where it vibrates. She also said “Treat money like your best friend”. We instantly make a connection with money and greed. Meaning of money is often negative. But having money is nothing to do with being greedy; it’s about choices. Money allows us to make a choice of the lifestyle we want. Andrew awoke my entrepreneurship mindset, and Ligwina taught us the importance of managing money. It’s something new to AWE and I’m proud that it was a part of AWE ’15.
Andrew asked us: “Are you self-employed or are you a business owner?” What am I? His session about entrepreneurship thinking gave so many us an inspiration and ideas. That was the moment that everything clicked inside of my brain: how to restructuring and strengthen AWE. There were plans I wanted to achieve with AWE from the beginning but it was put aside because of obvious reasons: manpower, time, money, etc. Business is about “Who I am, what I know, who I know” he said. I’m living an unconventional lifestyle because I want more freedom in my life. Ironically, sometimes I felt the very same choice was bounding me for doing so. Now it’s time to shift gears.
Most of the speakers talked about different subject, but it all lined up to one thing: success comes from self-love. It’s important to know who I am and keep encouraging myself for trying and achieving. We can be our worst enemy We criticize so much. Before criticizing something we failed, how about saying “I’m worth it, I deserve it, I have earned it”. Happiness comes within, and also success. There’s nobody but ourselves to trust in difficult times. We have the answers. It’s important to invest some time to figure out what we really want, and what we want to achieve in life, not because of someone else’s opinion, but because of truly something from inside.
All the education we’ve given for last few decades can be a life-long dream for some people. School wasn’t for everyone during my mother’s generation, and it is still a reality in other part of the world. Pisey, a Cambodian woman who’s a managing director at Women’s Resource Center, shared her struggle and triumph of the road to education. She raised herself up to learn English while working as a house maid, cleaning crew at a restaurant, and many other jobs. Now she’s fluent in English. With goodness of her heart and goal to help other women in trouble, she and her friends set up Women’s Resource Center in Siem Reap, Cambodia, where she’s from. We don’t think of education like that. We often complained about going to school. It was a great reminder that we shouldn’t take anything for granted, especially education.
This year’s AWE was the best one yet. It was the smallest group, but the soaring energy and positivity was something different that I haven’t seen before. First year, we were all motivated and pleased to meet the right minded people. Second year, we explored many other subjects. But this year, I could feel that our motivation was vibrating. Everyone was ready to do something.
When the book “The Secret” came out, I thought it was the biggest nonsense I’ve ever seen (I’m sorry if you are a fan). I just didn’t believe in all these self-help books. I still don’t read them, but now I can understand what it was talking about a little, thanks to a brilliant man, Dr. Siva Kumaresan.
I realized something new. Energy really matters. Unfortunately, there was a negative vibe through out AWE ’14 in Kota Kinabalu. I refused to talk about it in public because it was nothing to do with any other people than a few. I tried hard not to effect our participants and speakers. I’ve learned that one of the speakers was also not on our side, so to speak. It didn’t affect me personally for the event, but it was obvious that a lot of locals came as cross-armed and with judging eyes. There was just something not quite right about the energy last year, and now I realized why. It was the small ball of negative energy traveling in the room. But I’m happy to say, this year, everything felt quite right. We all clicked. Energy was booming. Sessions were sincerely inspiring. Everyone was grateful for the opportunity. Haters gonna hate hate hate hate and we don’t want them here.
I must admit that I’m not too keen on keeping up with social events. I read news and care about what’s going on in this world, but I’m not the best at acting about it. The determination and dedication of Lyana and Anna are truly awe-inspired. As a scientist, Lyana connected social activism, feminism, and science, so gracefully. She highlighted some of the injustice in the field of science against of women. She’s also leading some of the most prominent social campaign in Malaysia. Anna connected her experience in international volunteerism and now working hard to solve the fundamental issue. It was shocking to hear the reality of orphanage around the world. Look around, and find what can you do to make a better world; that was my takeaway.
This was an update from my good friend and fellow AWE-er Lu Wee Tang. The most important consecutive session at AWE is “Speak Up AWE”. If someone decide to come to this unorthodox conference, I believe they all have stories to share. We invite participants to come on stage and share their stories and feelings. As always, this year’s Speak Up AWE was filled with extraordinary individuals who made us feel wowed, laugh, and cry (I’m looking at you Sharmini). Thanks to our Mission Sheet (I encourage everyone to do something that they wouldn’t normally do), we saw a sign-language performance from Baizurah, heard a story from Nia’s first solo trip ever, Becky’s mandarin teaching expedition, Joann’s determination (she took 5 flights to get to AWE), Edrida’s meaningful journey to Jogja, and many more. We all have stories to tell, and we all are worth listening.
AWE ’15 made us think. Thanks to Stephen, Rice, expats, and travelers, we were all inspired to travel more. We were more awaken to listen to our mind and body. We made one new best friend: money. We made a life-long friends. We made a even bigger and diverse community.
We are a group of people who are looking for ways to make our life more meaningful and empowering each other. My sincere thank you to all the participants, speakers, sponsors, conference benefactors, and honorary members, and special thanks to EDU Hostel Jogja, Kopi Oey Jogja, Makan Diantar, Crushbie, Herbalife, Sovin, StartSomeGood, and BEKA Production.
Now I can’t wait to go forward with AWE. What will future bring to AWE and its community? I’m utterly excited. I’m happy to have such a great people on board with me. Please tune in for more exciting news! Thanks everyone for making AWE happen!
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