Synnie, UK

I hate numbers. I don’t even like math, and I’ve always been the worst at it, but Data Visualization is interesting because it is not all about numbers, but about making data more human. It seems weird, but I think it’s interesting what we can do by encoding info related to topics like racism or feminism. It can be complicated sometimes, but I want that info to be accessible for people by turning it into visualizations. I’m a graphic designer so it’s related in many ways.

I’m originally from Indonesia but I moved to Berlin five years ago. It was hard back then, but now I’m in London studying for my master. Since the pandemic I’ve been hearing so many terrible stories about racism towards the Asian community. Here in the U.K. there was a student who was beaten up. Although I haven’t experienced it myself. Or maybe I have, and I didn’t pay attention.

I don’t really feel scared about racism. It’s violence what really scares me. A few weeks ago, it happened to a woman. She was attacked. She died. When I first came here, I got harassed in a Taxi. He started to ask so many inappropriate things. I also experienced harassment and racism in Berlin. I think it’s everywhere and we can’t really avoid it, you know, racism. Maybe it’s because of these stereotypes about Asian women being submissive and shy. They think we are just going to accept all that. They think we are weak, I guess. I believe we don’t always know how to react towards racism. Maybe we feel hurt or confused. We don’t even think too much about i.t But I’ve learned it is wrong. We have to fight. I had to fight so much in Berlin. I even used to shout at people when they were being racist towards me, I used to be like “what did you say?”.I don’t want to be part of the stereotype. I think it’s worse to put that above us.

You know, I experienced racism in my own country too. I’m not fully Indonesian. I have Chinese heritage. And there’s this whole history of hate between these two cultures. Sometimes, I’m kind of confused because I don’t feel like I belong to Indonesia either. Maybe we need to find a new definition of home. It’s funny cause one may think in Europe it’s better, you know ‘cause it’s a modern continent and all. But it’s not better.

Anyway, the past year was pretty hard for me. My mom passed away. I used to think that could be the worst thing that could happen. And it happened. I was in this roller coaster of emotions. But I worked on it. Ever since I moved here, I’ve been alone. Totally alone. But it’s really good. I’m proud of myself. I changed and I love myself more. Sometimes I think we don’t always realize we are progressing. I think to be alone is to realize that. You have more time to think.

I think I learned a lot. I learned that I’m strong. I learned I need to stop at least once a week to do something I love, like dancing.  I also learned that every emotion I experienced is valid. I don’t want to be embarrassed about it. I learned to be more human. More real. But what I really learned was to surrender. Sometimes we are just too hard on ourselves. When all of this is over, I just want to feel free again.