Alumni of the Month, August 2017 - Ricky Gunawan

British Council

My name is Ricky Gunawan, and I studied in University of Essex, majoring in Theory and Practice of Human Rights for my Master’s Degree.

I am currently working as a human rights lawyer and Director of LBH Masyarakat. Since graduation I have worked with Harm Reduction International, an international organization focuses on advocating for an evidence-based drug policy, in London, as a human rights analyst. I have also worked as a South East Asia legal fellow for Reprieve, an international organization based in London advocating for the abolition of the death penalty worldwide.

I think I pretty much loved everything in the UK. The society is multi-cultural and so diverse, so we could meet with many people from different backgrounds. And I loved hearing their stories and the countries they come from. People are nice, friendly and caring to one another. The cultural life was vibrant. Grew up listening to British music and then got the opportunity to live there was an awesome experience because I got to listen and enjoy their music directly. The food was also great. I enjoy eating healthy food, and the UK offers a lot of cool and healthy food.

When I was doing my masters, I had to read many books and journal articles on a weekly basis and then writing many assignments/essays. In class, I also had to come prepared to debate and defend my ideas or arguments while analyzing other arguments. This experience has honed my writing and analytical skills. It pushed me to be able to think coherently. And this is crucial to possess in my work. As a human rights lawyer, I am required to constantly analyze complex legal and human rights issues. The above experiences have helped me to get where I am now.

I have some memorable (and funny) stories while I was studying there. First story was about my first day arriving at campus. As an introduction, I am the kind of person that typically doesn’t follow other people and I don’t prefer to ask people every time I go to some place (even though I never go there).

So here’s the story. I lived in campus accommodation which was 30 minutes by walk or 15 minutes by bus. So I took the bus and stopped at the campus bus stop. There were many people were walking towards the university building. So I followed them. Then there were three paths. I decided to go through the path that no one walked through – I felt confident that I was walking on the right way. As I walked, I went to some kind of basement parking and there were few cars and vans. And as I went deeper I couldn’t see anything else, it was dark with minimum lighting, and I didn’t see anyone. I turned back and then took the other path that everyone else walked and after that I arrived in the campus area. Later I found that the place I was going to was a garbage area (silly me!).

 Other story was when my flat-mates and I had cultural night where we cooked our national dishes. So others cooked foods like sushi, dim sum, pasta, and tom yum. As an Indonesian, of course I cooked instant noodle with eggs and I told them that this is not a traditional or national food but every Indonesians eat this noodle and most of them eat on a daily basis. And of course, because of that super-salty taste, everyone liked it!