“I have longed to make the acquaintance of a “modern girl,” that proud, independent girl who has all my sympathy! She who, happy and self-reliant, lightly and alertly steps on her way through life, full of enthusiasm and warm feeling; working not only for her own well-being and happiness, but for the greater good of humanity as a whole.” — Kartini, 1899
That was the first mail Kartini sent to Stella more than 100 years ago. This young Javanese Princess already can mention how ‘modern girl’ in her vision, should be: happy, self-reliant, full of enthusiasm and working not only for herself but also for her community. Think about other people well-being as well.
When Director of Education, Service and Industry, and his wife from Batavia, visited her father to seek advice about making school for native girls, Kartini take that opportunity to speak her mind to the ‘mevrouw’. She wanted a vocational school as well for the native girls. The school wasn’t there yet and she already giving input on how it should be done to give more skills for girls.
As a letters lover, I’ve been enjoying reading Kartini’s letters and each time I got different insights from her (Download Qbaca apps and read Kartini letters there for free, also you can download a book by Armijn Pane about Kartini ‘Habis Gelap, Terbitlah Terang’). It’s amazing to me, a 20 years old girl, living in a strict Javanese culture in the year 1900s, to have a critical thinking like that. Excessive reading and the love of writing, I believe has build her mindset.
What I’ve learned from her letters, she knows exactly what she want, she recognize her dreams: freedom for women to have equal education, she plan on what she wants to do when her dream’s come true and she speak to people about her dreams.
Right now in 2013, women no longer have issues in having the same level of education as men, girls can freely answer the question that once Kartini asked to her father, ‘What am I going to be when I grow up?’ -and now everything is up to us: do we want to sabotage ourselves and hold back from unleashing our greatest potential, or do we want to realize our dreams, move forward and live a meaningful life?
For all the things Kartini has fought for, I hope you choose your answer wisely.
Dreams are splendid, but what would become of us if we dreamed for ever?
We must make ourselves nobler, by trying to make our dreams real. -Kartini, 1902