By Sandiaga S Uno
Overseas has become a trace of destiny that I received. Long before I was born, my father, Razif Halik Uno left the land of Gorontalo born in the city of Bandung. My mother, Mien Uno, after getting married with my father also wandered away from the city of Bandung to the oil-rich interior of Rumbai.
Rumbai is the birthplace for me and my brother, Indra Cahya Uno. Like father and mother, the homeland has never been our land of residence. When I was in elementary school, my father moved to Jakarta. In the capital, my father built fortune and at that time I thought our adventure had reached the city of dreams. I also began to depend on the ideals in the sky of the capital.
It didn’t take long for me to adjust to life in Jakarta. I have no trouble getting new friends, because our house has always been a gathering place for school friends. This is because our house is always close to school. In terms of choosing a school, you have the principle that schools must be close to home. With that, he can still watch over us.
In addition, my passion for basketball also opens the door to association. One throw of the ball seemed to bring me a basket of friends. Until I graduated from high school, I enjoyed the comfort of Jakarta with all the dynamics of adolescence. I began to climb the stairs to achieve simple dreams. I want to study at the Faculty of Economics, University of Indonesia, then with a bachelor’s degree working in a bona fide company with enough salary to live well.
When all that comfort gripped my life, my father offered me an offer that I could not refuse. The offer was in the form of a ticket to go to college in the United States. One Way Ticket, without a ticket to return. The only way to return is to go there, complete the study as best as possible and only work opportunities can bring me back to Jakarta. It’s hard to describe my mixed feelings at that time. But clearly there is no jump in feelings of joy. I accepted the offer and the overseas episode began again.
Without internet and cheap flights, the world in the eighties looked very broad. America in my shadow is a wonderland with all the miracles that appear in news and movies. Coupled with stories from people who have been there about progress that is still a dream in the country. Skyscrapers, megapolitan hustle and millions of people from various races and backgrounds with endless busyness are Americans on the screen.
But when I set foot in a city called Wichita, the shadow faded into alienation. Back in the twenties, Wichita was known as “Air Capital of the World” because in that city several aircraft factories were built, but still far from my previous image of America.
There are no skyscrapers, the night feels much slower than Jakarta and there is no crowd of races, you could say Wichita is only occupied by white people. In addition, I arrived there in the winter just beginning. The perfect combination for Jakarta’s memories that continue to surround the mind.
Slowly I realized, wander the stranger like a wide white canvas to paint life. Alienation provides space for us to start everything from scratch because the new place does not provide the past. Although I had to forget my dream of studying at the Faculty of Economics, University of Indonesia, I remained loyal to the dream of pursuing accounting at Wichita State University (WSU).
WSU is the third largest campus in the state of Kansas. Most of the students come from the surrounding area, not many come from other states, especially abroad. I can’t hope to find many other Indonesian students here.
In that isolation, my instinct to survive was further honed. Studying in the land of people turns out to give me multiple motivation. Not to prove yourself to anyone but more to the need to survive. There are no other options available than stopping a diploma on time with a value that must be satisfactory. It didn’t take long for me to adjust to the rhythm of WSU campus life. Struggling with numbers, from an obligation turns into something fun.
Other routines are visiting the post office located on campus, sending and waiting for a letter from the country to arrive. Connecting by telephone is difficult for students with mediocre bags like me. But I sent a letter with my parents and also with my girlfriend who later became my wife, Nur Asia Uno, making me who used to be foreign with the world of writing to be fluent in telling stories. The return distance provides a bonus for me.
The learning routines that were really occupied made me not have many opportunities to develop wider relationships. In my opinion, it is a reasonable sacrifice for a handful of dreams to work in a large company for an established life. The dream of becoming a businessman wasn’t in my mind at that time. In fact, on the WSU campus it was the first time I seriously knew the word “entrepreneurship”. In 1988, at the beginning of my study there, the first stone was laid for the construction of Devlin Hall.
In 1990, with the end of my study at WSU, the building dedicated to the Center for Entrepreneurship was completed and stood majestically in the middle of the campus. Devlin Hall is one of the first campus buildings in the world for entrepreneurship development.
In addition, in the middle of the campus also stood a simple building that was recently moved from Bluff and Kellog Street in 1986, Pizza Hut Number One. The building was the first Pizza Hut store founded by two WSU students in 1958 which later became a worldwide franchise network. And even later I have the opportunity to have ownership in the franchise network in Indonesia.
Two years have not been felt since my father handed me a one way ticket. Thank God Alhamdulillah, I did not just get a Degree from the W Frank Barton Wichita State University School of Business but also complete with a summa cum laude predicate. Academic achievements in this country made me called back home, invited to join a Finance and Accounting Officer at Bank Summa. The bank, owned by Edward Soeryadjaya, at that time was one of the private banks that was growing rapidly.
Slowly, my dream of the world of work began to materialize. Being a junior at Bank Summa opened a wide opportunity for me to get to know the world of banking and finance. I followed the whole process that had to be experienced by a new worker, training, getting guidance from seniors who already had names in the banking world to work on jobs that seemed small and trivial to many people but important for self-development … (continued )