December 2007

In all my meticulous calculations, I forgot to include the cost of the tourist visa to Denmark for the Application workshop. Bah.

The budget has been updated, both with the missing visa data, as well as the insurance quote from RHB. While I took the most expensive out of the three, I figured it was a lot more realistic given that I only need it for 8 weeks.

My database is going well – making a list of all the Government bodies now. I should get some time to visit my Dad’s office and borrow their printer and photocopier so I can get the letters out. Government bodies tend to respond to letters better than email!

Rosetta Stone – they have a Level 1 CD program, as well as online programs for 3/6/12 months.

Berlitz – when I was on the flight to Amsterdam, KLM actually had a pretty fun backseat program tha taught languages, and I learnt a little bit of Danish that way. I can’t seem to find a CD version of that anywhere, but there are books.

Institute of Modern Languages, UQ – $260 for 22 hours. Seems OK, and UQ is near where I used to live. They also have custom packages, one of which is at $75/hour (or less if I can get a bigger group).

Siti Salwa Abd Karim – this person lives in my state! Pretty pricey though (RM1500) and I’m not sure if they’d allow individuals instead of groups.

J Andersen – in Brisbane! Good contact when I return.

The annoying thing about some Learn Danish websites is that they never actually show you how to phonetically pronounce the word. This is important in a language where “Hej” does not sound like “hedge”.

ALSO! Am trying to find Danish press but they’re all in, well, Danish. Which would be OK except I can’t seem to figure out who to contact to propose a column. Are there any big English-language media in Denmark?

And look what I found! Scandinavian Society of Malaysia and ScandAsia, a news portal for Scandinavians in SEA. Mwahaha!

I just applied for an ING Direct Term Deposit for 90 days, which means I can save money at 7.35% interest until mid-March. I’ll have to find a copy of my bank statement that’s less than 6 months old (might be tricky because I might have kept that in Australia) and mail it to them so they can open the account. I’m depositing $25 to start with. A friend wants to contribute $5.

At least this way I can sock money away and not worry about it being used for a new book or some random thing that I don’t need quite yet. And it’d grow. I would make the term longer and get more interest, but I want to save up for the admissions workshop first.

It’s one more day to the New Year, and about 2 weeks until the applications are open. I really should start typing those letters up. I already have a 2-page proposal that I did for STA Travel, which I can adjust, and I can put a preliminary insurance cost (which is not the crazy $5000 or whatever it was I was to pay for one year in Denmark!). I just need to make a cover letter, print out my resume (adjusted for length, they don’t need to know EVERYTHING I’ve done), and a KaosPilots in 2 Minutes thing. I know Stockholm had Swedish versions of those letters but I don’t quite know about the one in Aarhus.

OK! So Fundraising Pack (first go!):

  • Cover letter briefly describing my cause and what sort of support I need and can give
  • 2 page proposal (adjusted)
  • Resume
  • Brief about KaosPilots

Also, anyone here great print designers? I want to make a short booklet that can cover as a fundraising pack.

Looking up travel insurance quotes for 8 weeks worth in Denmark:

  • RHB TravelProtector (Region 2) = (RM106 * 31 days) + (RM28 * 4 weeks) = RM3398
  • RHB Preferred Travel (Plan 2) = (RM162 * 31 days) + (RM36 * 4 weeks) = RM5166
  • PanGlobal Health = anywhere from RM238 to RM679 a year. I wonder if I can only use it for a year, because it would be quite affordable even if I get the most expensive option. (I won’t get travel benefits like cancellations or luggage, but I wouldn’t really need those for such a long period.)

I can’t seem to tell if most of the health insurance programs cover you overseas and are available for short-term. I don’t need to be covered till I’m 75; Danish public healthcare will take care of me for a little less than 3 months, and I can always sort long-term care when I return (wherever I return to). I wonder if insurance can be sponsored!!

It’s almost the New Year. I should get writing on my proposal letters ASAP.

Came up with these ideas while waiting in Penang Airport without computer access…

  • Brochures that look like air tickets – the paper ones that are being discontinued. Each page will have succinct info about my goal. The actual red ticket would be a form (with carbon attached to make a copy??) for contact and donation details. The receipt would be a boarding pass.
  • A prospectus that looks like a passport. This could be done rather cheaply if done zine-style – just the look of a passport, not its feel. The Money Exchange page would be the budget and different stamps can signify different things – achievements, goals, etc. People who provide support will get a visa that they can stick in the passport.
  • Custom-designed postcards, perhaps with a theme of “wish I was there!”. Get a BIG pile and send postcards to anyone I have an address for – particularly old host families and far-away friends.

The postcards would be the easiest to accomplish, since there are companies (at least in Australia) that make them. The tickets would have to be specially made. I have to calculate the costs to see if it’s worth the investment – no point spending $200 on promo material and only getting $10 out of it.

I have also just been accepted for the World Youth Congress 2008 in Quebec, Canada in August. I have to work out how to raise CDN 75 + CDN 350 + airfare by May. Hwargh. This KaosPilots thing is already eating up my resources.

I had been wary of informing my parents about my plans for the KaosPilots. They know I’m interested (they did know I went to Stockholm for the workshop there in November!) but so far they’ve been rather skeptical about the program. They would much rather have me finish my degree, stay in Australia for the PR, settle down, get a job. Get back to normal, essentially. Spending 3 years in Denmark while potentially sacrificing my degree seems like craziness.

In the past, when I tried to involve my parents in my international learning plans (Up with People, a UN conference, etc), I would have to face a lot of skepticism and pessimistic comments. “Why do you have to go? What’s the point?” It’s ironic that my dad would more readily buy a guitar the second I conceive of it but needs way more convincing to support my educational goals. They do come from slightly more traditional backgrounds – finish school, work, settle down. My way of life – jumping around from school to school, country to country, learning experientially – is still alien to them. They understand that this is how I learn best, but they still have a hard time comprehending that it’s what I need to thrive in life. To them, it’s like “why can’t she be normal?”. And sometimes I feel that way, but then that means I wouldn’t be myself.

I had not involved my parents in my fundraising so far. I don’t want them to give me a cent for this. They have paid for me in the past (mainly because my fundraising skills were nonexistent – I tried, really) but with that payment comes a certain degree of control, of obligation. “Oh, we always bailed you out, so you can’t ever get upset!” Considering that my parents often drive me and my sister crazy (anyone with the Typical Traditional Asian Parent can understand), this gets rather difficult. Also, my family’s relatively well-off status in Malaysian society (they’re not megarich but they are in the upper end of middle-class) means that I’m often not taken seriously for my efforts – “oh, she’s a rich man’s daughter, she’s privileged, she doesn’t know anything”. Sure, I’m hella privileged, but I went through most of the same things as a typical Malaysian – government school, exams, the lot. I didn’t even have public university as an option because of my citizenship. It’s unfair to dismiss my advocacy work in education simply due to my background, but that’s the reality of it.

Also, I’d rather be independent. I want to earn this. Every cent. I want to know that I got this because I earned my way in, not because I managed to pay for it. While I did earn my Up with People experience through my character and personality, I still have a feeling in the back of my head that one big factor was that I could afford to go without a scholarship (at US$14,500, it was a pinch, but doable). I did eventually earn the respect and friendship of my crew, which money can’t buy. But for this, I’d rather know that I earned it through my effort, my knowledge, my networks, my work. Not because I’m a leech.

So anyway. Somehow word got out to my dad that I was trying to get to Denmark. Perhaps one of my relatives who got an email or Facebook invite told him about it. He asked me what it was about and I told him that it was a business management program for 3 years that I was planning to take when I finished my degree. I told him that I had one year left (he was surprised that time flew so fast!) but that my final semester was all electives so I’m trying to get credit for them somehow. I told him that the KaosPilots were on BusinessWeek’s list of the Top Design Schools alongside Harvard and MIT (That got his attention).

Dad was fine with it.

It was me saying that I’d try to finish my degree early that sold him. As far as he’s concerned, once I’m done with the degree I can do whatever. He did tell me not to stress about it – he’s seen me stress out before and doesn’t want me to get sick! He’s a workaholic too, I inherited that from him. He got intrigued about their inclusion on a list that also has Harvard (he did a management course, might have been an MBA, in Harvard many years ago). He did say that if I could get money for it, if someone would pay me for it, then I can go. Which is basically what I’ve been trying to do anyway.

So great! One big hurdle down. It was less dramatic than expected (though I’m sure the drama would flare out even more as September comes closer, especially with Mum) and basically gave me free license to do my fundraising however I wish. Yay!


Thank you BrainStore for being my first in-kind sponsor! They responded to my IdeaFactory request and gave me 10 ideas for free, at a value of CHF 10 (MYR 30). However, the ideas themselves could be worth a value.

Here they are, with my commentary:

10 ideas that help Tiara become a Kaospilot

Idea 1
Work at BrainStore
Come to BrainStore as a Trainee. The first three months you will be payed CHF 3000. Get used to live of that, so when your salary gets raised up to CHF 4500 a month you will be able to save at least CHF 1500 a month. That sums up to CHF 18’000 a year, raises not included. After 3-4 Years you will not only have enough money to become a KaosPilot, but also massive working experience as a ProjectManager. Use BrainStore as a good reference. BrainStore will connect you with new Contacts.

I’ve actually been offered a 12-month traineeship in Switzerland with Brainstore. This may work if I don’t make it to the KaosPilots in 2008 but need a job after graduation from uni. I’m already accepted as a NetScout (Internet researcher), which is freelance, so at least I can make some cash that way!

Idea 2
Sell your manpower through auctions
On eBay you offer companies your future knowledge (when you will be a perfect project manager) in the form of an auction; the company with the highest bid will get you as an employee for specified time.

EBAY. WHY DIDN’T I THINK OF THAT. This does put an interesting twist on the “employ me for a short time” thing I was thinking of offering as a sponsor deal. One company (or a few) can get higher priority on the list, and I can make my way down the list, offering short-term consultations for the future. I have a feeling GoldenPalace (the casino that buys up unusual eBay auctions for marketing purposes) would end up being the biggest bidder, but hey, it’s still money.

Idea 3
Be a courier
Work as a courier and carry important documents for private persons and companies from Malaysia to Denmark, so you can travel for free because they have to pay your flight.

This could work, at least for the Application Workshop because those are specific confirmed dates so planning would be easier. This also just inspired another idea: take orders for items that can only be found in one country and send it to those that want them back home. For example, kaya and kuih for Malaysians living in Denmark, or caviar in tubes for Danish people in Australia (or Mark), or Vegemite to Australian exchange students. I could charge a small fee + cost of item. Heck, I could even start a small-scale export business – mi goreng (instant noodles), for example, are HUUUUUUGE amongst Australian students and they’re super cheap in Malaysia. Also, kaftans sold in the West are way overpriced – I could put a small markup on locally bought kaftans and still make a profit. Promoting local crafts worldwide!

Idea 4
Chaperone an unaccompanied minor
Work as a chaperone for a child from a rich family and take care of the child during the flight, let the flight be payed as a fee.

Haha, I remember begging my parents to let me fly home alone from London when I was 12 because I wanted the Unaccompanied Minor experience. It was fun! I could perhaps accompany groups of youngsters together, like small school groups or exchange students or something. I know in Australia there are a lot of kids that travel alone between states, presumably because their parents are divorced. Airlines do take care of the kids pretty well but some sort of personal assistance would be good. Hmm…

Idea 5
Earn 50 Dollars a day by doing different jobs
Translate between Bengali and English; teach Bengali to KaosPilots; work as a fundraiser; run a Bangladeshi café.

Change “Bengali” to “Malay” and some of it might work. I could make quite good money teaching English to the KaosPilots – particularly with editing papers and learning the nuances of the language. If I could get a job as a fundraiser then I wouldn’t have such trouble fundraising. 😛 haha.

Idea 6
For free accommodation
Make a deal with a Danish person: swap your flats, so he / she can live in your accommodation in Malaysia, Bangladesh or Australia and in return you can live for free in Denmark.

I live either with my parents in Malaysia or in rented/student accommodation in Australia, and I don’t actually live in Bangladesh, so this would be a mite difficult if taken literally. However, I love host family living, and I’m looking into connecting with some UWP alumni in Denmark to see if I can stay with them for a while. I couch-surfed in Aarhus with a lovely artistic and spiritual woman named Pia – her apartment is a bit small to stay there long-term, but she’s a good example of how Couchsurfing works well! (Ah, someone else I could contact!)

Idea 7
A penny for Tiara
Create a Facebook entry called “A Penny for Tiara” and find persons and companies that pay you at least 1 Dollar to your PayPal account. In return, you will place the company’s logo on your page. Make an interesting documentation about your sponsor search and sell it as art.

Ha! Like the Million Dollar Homepage only a bit different. I already have the Facebook group so this is something I can incorporate – pay me a dollar and I’ll advertise you for a week, or something. The more you pay, the longer you get featured. The documentary idea was suggested before, but it can be extended into a video podcast or something. Though it would get a bit boring if it was just me typing!!

Idea 8
Rent out your knowledge
Change your knowledge against money. Look for interesting companies and they will pay for your education and in return you will give them your KaosPilot knowledge.

This was how I planned to sell my project to potential sponsors, but they phrased it more succinctly. Rent My Knowledge. Rent My Networks. Rent My Experiences. I like that. I can build on that.

Idea 9
Use your cultural background
Sell your knowledge about Southeast Asia to development institutions. Or advise travellers on Southeast Asia. Apply for a column or a blog at «The Economist» or similar newspapers and describe your experiences as a Bangladeshi student in the EU.

As mentioned previously, I am a geek for internationalization and cultural diversity, so this is a good angle for using my knowledge, interests, and what comes naturally. A cultural diversity consultant, if you will. The writing-a-column idea is awesome and yet so “duh” considering I am a young journalist!! It seriously should have been something I thought of ages ago! I did try writing an alternative education column for The Sun but that kinda fizzled after the first one. Maybe I can restart it, and look at magazines too – European ones would be good.

Idea 10
Exchange items with others, so that every next item you get is more valuable then previous one. For example, you exchange a cup for a lamp, then the lamp for a wheel and so on. In the end you will get very valuable items you can sell.

Also known as the One Red Paperclip project. A friend tried to do it with a blue hanger but he didn’t get anywhere. This may be the least feasible idea (only because its main value lies in its novelty, and it’s already been done) but it can be expanded to a jumble sale of some sort, or a barter-exchange system.

Bonus idea
Convince people to work for you for free
Like we work for you almost for free because we find you an interesting person, maybe other people would be willing to do so too.

Awww *blush* 😀 Though isn’t that the whole point of sponsorship, to get people to give you stuff for free?! Hahaha.

Those weren’t the only ideas though. After I sent them a thank-you note, Samuel Muller (the Director of IdeaFactory) suggested I check out Maersk, a big company in Denmark that apparently does a lot of social and community support. Approaching service clubs in Aarhus would be good too.

So! 12+ ideas for the price of 10, which came for free. AWESOME. Thank you BrainStore!

If you need ideas for anything – from a pet name to a new way to develop a product – check out BrainStore and hire their IdeaFactory. Seriously, it’s so much fun and totally worth it.

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