I haven’t heard about my status for KP NL yet – it’s still the weekend over there, after all. We’ll all know by around this week.

In the workshop I talked about how, if I don’t get in this time, I probably won’t try again for a while. This isn’t necessarily because I’m giving up on the idea of being a KaosPilot. Rather, it’s because I feel that if this attempt doesn’t work, it’s time to let go and have a break.

The process is extremely draining. The application form is highly personal – though often questions are recycled so it can get a bit tedious to be explaining yourself over and over and over. The creative project can also be a challenge – while I’ve found it fun, it can also bve really difficult if the project is something resource-intensive (for instance, the video set by KP Aarhus).

If you get admitted into the workshop, you need to rush to get your transport sorted. This is extremely tricky for someone like me who lives far away and has a troublesome passport that requires visas for everywhere. (While in Dordrecht I heard from a friend in Burundi who had been shortlisted but could not afford to come.) Admission workshops are expensive for a non-European! Even those in North America don’t have it quite as hard, because it’s relatively closer.

Once you sort out the logistics and actually get there, you face two days of emotional turmoil. The workshop process is extremely challenging and testing, and I reckon that trying to go through it more than twice in a year (there are quite a number of people who apply multiple times) would be way too much on your soul. Even with the foreknowledge of what’s coming (the content doesn’t change a lot), you still face challenges to your mind and psyche. There’s a lot of reflection on yourself and the team, including exercises that bring to the fore all sorts of hidden thoughts and concerns. Even now I still start crying remembering parts of it – it’s very very tough.

A lot of the KaosPilot process is luck of the draw – who else is there with you? In the workshop they said that they’re choosing for the best team; just because you didn’t get in this time doesn’t mean you’ll never function as a KaosPilot. It just means you weren’t as effective with this particular mob. While we were all pretty chummy by the first night (before the workshop), after we had been separated into our groups we pretty much spent all our time with our groups. There wasn’t much of a chance to interact with the other applicants who were in other groups. In my last entry, I wrote about how I initially felt out of place in my group; I may have been more accepted in another group, but there’s no real way of knowing for sure.

If I don’t get in to the KaosPilots this time round (third time lucky?), I’ll likely give it a rest for a while. I may revisit it in a few years – the newer schools would have more footing, and there may be more schools in other places (a KaosPilots in Brisbane would be AWESOME). I would also have more financial capacity, and hopefully even a better citizenship/passport. I would also possibly be a lot more grounded and be able to recover from the emotional ruckus better – at this stage, I only have had a few months in between to process everything.

As odd as it may seem, it’s actually logisitically easier for me to be a KaosPilot than my other options. Being a student is relatively straightforward – the school manages the paperwork and there is a set visa. If I wanted to stay in Brisbane after my degree, I would have to try to fit myself under highly restrictive visa rules. As it is, I don’t qualify for General Skilled Migration (I don’t fit any of the needed skillsets) nor the 18-month bridging visa (the minimum salary is about $41,000/year, which is management level and way more than I’ll ever get at this stage unless I work as a porn star). Getting a job-sponsored visa would be tricky as the companies/organizations I’d work best in may not be able to afford sponsoring me. There is the option of continuing study; however, I am already burnt out with academia and it’s hard enough finding more project-based schools like the KaosPilots.

My dream job is to work with Up with People; I may pursue that option if nothing else works out. There isn’t an opening in Road Staff that suits me yet, though other office-based jobs sound interesting. Again, given that this is a US-based organization, visa issues would be tricky. But at this point I’m already used to tricky visa issues.

The Scholar Ship has shut down, so that option’s gone. I might apply for Sauve Scholars but it’s just as competitive and possibly more academic than I’d like.

I could always go back to Malaysia and work there, I suppose. I’d like to be Spidey’s assistant (the woman keeps thinking it would be an insult to ask me to be her PA. Despite me telling her a gazillion times that I’d be more than honoured to work with her. She probably finds it awkward to ask me to work for her.) Jobs in Malaysia for my capacity are limited though – there aren’t that many organized options for youth work and creative community development. I also have my projects that I want to start, but I do need to live off something, and I’d rather not have to depend on my parents.

So what shall I do, if KP NL doesn’t work out? Should I just try again anyway?

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I just read the book version of One Red Paperclip, a quest by Kyle McDonald to trade up a red paperclip for a house. It reminded me of all the crazy things people have set out to do, with varying degrees of success.

Sean Aiken’s One Week Job; the Pursue the Passion tour; the 1 Second Film project where for $1 (goes to the Global Fund for Women) you can be a producer and possibly join Oprah (my producer ID is 9859 btw); selling a million dollars worth of web advertising or different works of personal art; or just making a million dollars in a year.

I’ve done my version of an Inspiring and Slightly Nutty Web Thing – after being sick of an empty mailbox and watching Ryan Fitzgerald get a zillion calls just by posting his phone number, I got myself a P.O. Box and asked people to send me mail. The P.O. Box is still available, and so is the offer – feel free to send me anything (as long as it’s legal and not food, because AusPost will confiscate it) to:

Tiara Shafiq
P.O. Box 6216
St Lucia, QLD 4067
Australia

I mostly got mail from other Mefites, but it was good fun, and particularly lovely as I went through a really bad patch in life after making that video – so all the letters helped.

This website is one of those Slightly Nutty Web Things too. How many people document their progress at applying for something online – and risk having it all fall apart? The end decision was the one thing I couldn’t control. I was rather hoping that this website will bring some sort of Internet fame…it hasn’t reached Red Paperclip levels (and possibly won’t unless KP NL accepts me), but I did meet a whole bunch of interesting people this way. All the KaosPilots past and present and future, general supporters, social activists like Beth Kanter who promoted me on BlogHer, all sorts of folk.

Even though the project now has taken a sharp turn into a different European country, and has another potential to go really wrong, it still has the potential to go really right. Or at least really interesting. I already have an offer to go to Biel to train with BrainStore for 3 months. If KP NL doesn’t work out, there’s another adventure. If KP NL does work out…well! We have quite a ride on our hands!

Obviously there are quite a few turning points for all those projects. The point where it becomes not just a private fun game, but hits the big time. Where things go “haywire”, as Kyle put it. Something can make the difference.

I’ve been getting a fair bit of attention the past few months because of EducateDeviate. I was actually shortlisted for KLue’s Blue Chilli Awards, but I think I’ve been kicked out because I couldn’t make interviews and photoshoots this week (no fair! there should have been advanced notice!). Second time a magazine has turned me down at the last minute (feh). Interestingly, an article I wrote two years ago, which led to one of the most-commented posts on EducateDeviate until now, has now become an email/blog forward thanks to it being posted on one of the Malaysian homeschooling Yahoogroups. So there’s my Internet notoriety. Heh.

The people I’ve highlighted above didn’t fear the repercussions when they set off on their projects. They made careful choices along the way (such as Kyle’s careful choosing of the trades he made) but were more than willing to make big risks and just do really extraordinary things.

The most extraordinary being that they started.

What is your inspiring but slightly nutty idea? Have you done it already? Why or why not?

The KaosPilots NL are developing some creative financing ventures for potential students. Among them is a corporate-supported fund to cover fees for the first year, and work experience programs. They’re also working on getting Government funding.

They seem to be pretty focused and thorough on the funding ideas; the funding page just went up but there’ll soon be entries from those that have found creative ways of supporting themselves. Another plus point for them!

Also, I got a postcard from them this morning. Aww thank you! It’s purple with “Arabic” writing that says “this card can change your life”. I think they meant to send me something too with it, because there’s a strip of sticky tape in one corner, but it got lost in the post. Sorry guys!

Don’t forget to get your chance at KaosPilot A-Z 2!

On Thursday I was reading City News (a free weekly paper in Brisbane) and there was an article about Virgin Blue’s new headquarters in Brisbane. In the article, when asked about whether Sir Richard Branson was going to come to the opening:

A Virgin spokeswoman said while the entrepreneur would regularly drop by the headquarters, including a visit this weekend to the existing headquarters, his schedule was full for the mid-year opening.

(emphasis mine)

Thursday night it occurred to me that if Branson was going to be in my neighbourhood, it could be possible for me to meet him. I’ve admired the guy since I read Let’s Not Screw It, Let’s Just Do It last year and figured he would be quite an interesting fellow to talk to. (Also: hello EducateDeviate interview and KaosPilot mission.)

I look up Virgin Blue’s contact details and find Colin Lippiatt, who is their Public Affairs Manager. I mull the idea over with Mark, who thinks it’s crazy, but still worth a try.

Friday morning I call up Colin. Told him that I read that Richard Branson was coming over, could I have a meeting? He told me he didn’t have Branson’s schedule, but gave me the number for Danielle Kieghery at Virgin Management – the woman with Branson’s schedule.

Aha!

I ring up the number and get her voicemail, which helpfully provides a mobile phone number. I debate whether to call the mobile. I leave a message, saying I’d like to do a short interview for EducateDeviate, my youth blog. After a few minutes I call up her mobile number, and reach her.

The background is noisy; turns out she’s in the middle of an interview. She tells me that Branson’s schedule is super full so she can’t really slot me anywhere, but I can send her an email over. Before I get her email address though, she has to leave.

I Google her name (and find that I’ve been misspelling it) and find her email address. I shoot off five quick questions and thank her semi-profusely for talking to me and giving me the opportunity.

I haven’t received a reply or a call-back, and I’d be quite surprised if I get either. But at least I am now one degree closer to Sir Richard Branson. The weekend’s just started, and if I wasn’t so busy today (Saturday) I would have stalked their Fortitude Valley office (thank you Yellow Pages) and just hung around until Branson and crew showed up. I’ll only need 10 minutes, after all. It did work for Astrid. Perhaps by Monday this story would have a pleasant ending.

I was expecting to be asked a lot more questions and be interrogated over who I was and what I wanted, so I was surprised that I was let through really easily. Tim Ferriss (he of the 4-Hour Work Week, which I just bought yesterday, damn my book addiction) had a challenge to contact some of the most prominent people around, and I think I did a pretty good job. This guy’s got a whole blog dedicated to meeting Richard Branson; I wonder if he’s been successful.

Who else should I contact? I’ve been trying to work out how to talk to Sir Ken Robinson after this brilliant TED talk, but his website’s under construction. And there’s Oprah Winfrey, whom I’ve been emailing for years without success (perhaps it’s because I am not American). If Anita Roddick was still around I’d like to talk to her too.

I’ve been successful with a few others – Dad led me to Jack Sim, who runs the World Toilet Organization (and whose email I really should reply to), and Uffe Elbaek, who formed the KaosPilots, is surprisingly approachable, quick, and very friendly. Then there’s all the fantastic people I meet by accident – I didn’t know how great they were till I met them and got to know them better. (also: hola, spidey! Really my best story of this kind, though now she’s not a celebrity to me but a dear friend and sister. Love you.)

There’s a few other people I’d like to swap ideas with – not just in relation to KaosPilots, but in general about life, education, making the world a better place, and being alive. Some of them aren’t quite as famous as others, but they’re still all inspiring and awesome.

What’s your story? Who did you get to meet under extraordinary circumstances? Also: if you can control Sir Richard Branson’s schedule, can you slot in 10 minutes for me? 😉

I just thought of the most awesome symbol to use for my KaosPilot venture:

Paper planes!
Paper Plane by pCka

Paper Planes!

They obviously go with the “pilot” part of the KaosPilots, and they are still whimsical and fun and full of creativity. They’re easy to make, very versatile, and hella cheap too – just grab any paper you see and fold away. They’re especially nice to watch when launched from up high:

There have been companies that have used paper planes as a promotional medium:

Tea For Bini does a lot of paper plane-related art on Etsy. Here’s more.

I wonder how you’d mail a paper plane. Could you stick a stamp on it and mail it as is? Would you have to provide folding guides?

How about launching a whole bunch of specially-printed paper planes and inviting people to open them up? Have inspirational messages and invite them to this website?

Could you do a big paper plane launch and get people to sponsor planes? Perhaps like the Rubber Duck Races, with whoever’s plane going the further winning? There are already paper plane races, though you’d need to ensure you could get the planes further enough to make it worthwhile. That’d be a fun fundraiser though!

What other ideas could we use with paper planes?

After what seems like a long while (really a couple of months), I’m getting back to writing my fundraising letters and emails.

Among the companies/organizations I’ve contacted: Virgin Atlantic (flights between Sydney and London – big savings for me if I get this), Soroptimist Malaysia, Mensa Malaysia and Australia, Malaysian Young Entrepreneurs Association, Perdana Leadership Foundation, National Association for Women Entrepreneurs Malaysia, Australia Business Arts Foundation, Foundation for Young Australians…there’s possibly more I’m missing in here somewhere.

It’s so hard to find grants that apply. Either they don’t cover education costs, or I don’t have the right residency, or they don’t cover individuals. Feh. The Ian Potter foundations look promising though.

I’ve also sent a proposal by post to Virgin, which is apparently really good for this sort of thing. I also sent a letter to Darren Hayes, whom I adore – chances of getting a reply (let alone help) are pretty slim, but he’s been such a big influence in my life that it doesn’t hurt to ask!!

I got my bike, and will start lessons (with Mark) soon. Going for my second set of Danish lessons tonight. Here’s what I learnt last week (minus the funky characters):

Hej! Jeg hedder Tiara.
Jeg kommer fra Malaysia. (I know there’s a Danish word for this but I can’t spell it.)
Jeg taler du engelsk, og malaysisk, og lidt bengali.
Jeg er ellev. Jeg laeer Creative Industries paa QUT, og lidt dansk paa Mdm Andersen’s.
Hvordan gaar det? Jeg meget fint!

There’s also the numbers, which I can pronounce but not spell. haha.

OK, I was trying to edit this post on Deepest Sender, but instead of saving it, it decided to DELETE the post. Argh. Thankfully there was a version saved in my history, so I’ll use that instead.

Danish

Jeg læer dansk! Dav! Hvordan går det? Jeg er godt. 🙂
(translation: I’m learning Danish! Hello! How are you? I’m good.)

Weekly lessons at Manly, half-an-hour away by train. Am learning it with a lady who was in Denmark for four years and met her husband there, so my Danish is a little Aussie-accented (though with my weird combination of accents it could be anything, really). It wasn’t too hard, though some words are tricky because native Danish speakers say them really quickly, so words like “hedder” (name) sounds like “er” (is).

Cycling

I’m considering getting a second-hand bicycle to learn cycling on. I never got past training wheels as a child, but in Denmark everyone cycles so I should at least catch up. It helps that I have a cycling nut for a boyfriend (who incidentally also speaks Danish!). There is someone at UQ who’s selling his/her bike for $80, which is really cheap as far as bikes go. Assuming it doesn’t get sold off beforehand, Mark and I will give it a test run on Sunday. woo!

Edgeware

The Edgeware conference went great! I did a short talk on managing to get to Stockholm despite all the possible obstacles, and people were entertained and inspired. Too bad Frank isn’t hiring for speakers in Brisbane – I would have rocked! (If you are a speaker’s agency in Brisbane, please get in touch!) One of the people I brought in for my group discount, Chakae, turns out to be an awesomely talented fundraiser. She organized a please-help-us-pay-the-rent party for a designer friend in 2 weeks, and was pretty successful. She’s such a colourful character (literally and figuratively) and I am SO glad that we met! I’d say she was one of the biggest gifts I got from the Edgeware experience.

Naked Lady Party

Speaking of Chakae and fundraising: Myself, Chakae, and Nikki (hello :D) are co-organizing a Naked Lady clothes swap, partly to raise funds and partly because I need to get rid of a LOT of clothes and accessories. The idea is to have the swap one evening, then sell the rest at a market stall the next day. We were going to get $20 for the stall in return for volunteering at an event tonight, but the event’s already got enough volunteers…oh well. We just got free space for the venue (yay Carla and International House!!) so all that’s left is to organize (pretty simple – get food, get space, get stuff) and advertise. Nikki and I have classes and Chakae’s busy with organizing the Virtual Everest fundraising team for the Royal Children’s Hospital Foundation (sponsor Nikki, Chakae, and the Brisneyland community here!) so we probably won’t work on this fully till a fortnight or so. that’s fine; the hardest part was the venue, and we’ve got that down!

Course credit woes

I went to talk to my course coordinator, Adrian Thomas, this morning about getting my final elective-filled semester credited so that I could go to the KaosPilots while still having my QUT degree (otherwise I’d end up with a perpetually unfinished degree). The only way I could claim credit that way is to put in an application with detailed reference letters about all the work I did, but he’s skeptical that I’d get even one subject credited for that. He suggested that I go to Denmark anyway, and then write back to QUT after a semester with my progress report to get my credit, but visa issues may get in the way.

Honestly, I’ve more than proven my mettle in the subject matter, and I was way ahead of them with the workplace/service learning thing before they decided to implement it officially. Right now it’s a matter of bureaucratic paperwork more than anything else. I’m more than prepared to go to the KaosPilots without an official QUT degree; I’m not going to let a piece of paper stop me (heck, I don’t actually care; I’m not hung up on qualifications). However, it would be nice if I did manage to get that certificate so that my two years here isn’t completely wasted (not that I think it’s a waste; I did get some good things regardless of qualification, but at the same time learning for its own sake isn’t well-regarded in my culture. Feh.). I’ve emailed everyone I could think of whose reference letters aren’t so complete (and Bob, whose reference letter is PERFECT but has old contact details) and I’m getting that application for credit in!

House parties

I just finished Morrie Warshawski‘s book The Fundraising Houseparty, which is basically all about hosting a small party where you make a pitch for your venture and get people to support you. It’s simple, but quite effective if done right. To accomplish this, I need a good Host (someone whose house I can ninja) and I already have someone in mind; however, if anyone in Brisbane would like to host me, feel free to contact me!

Mental Health

I’m getting my mental health taken care of – I’ve sorted a Disability plan with the QUT Disability services that allows me to get extensions on my assignments if they start to pile up and I get anxious and stressed over them. I’m also going back on the Brisbane Mind program, which allows me 6 sessions with a psychologist for low prices. It was really helpful for me last year and this year I want to get preventative care – learning how to cope before the stress eats me. My year was ruined by my inability to get a grip on stress last year – things seriously fell apart. I don’t want that to happen again. I still need to find motivation to do uni work though.

Milestones

Geez, nearly a 1000 words for this update, and this might be post #100 according to WordPress. Yay milestones!