There’s Always a Silver Lining

Written by Michael T. Indra

The silver medal in OSN Chemistry: my accomplishment, my pride, my joy. Around 32000 high school students from all across Indonesia applied for the first stage of the selection, and only 100 made it to the last. But what did it really take to achieve this? What was the journey like? 

It was March and training, which was led by the Chemistry teacher at Springfield, Ms Mariana Li, had just begun in school. Some days, I delayed my own dismissal to learn more about the materials that would be covered in the competition. Naturally, this competition seeks to push our knowledge to greater heights – certainly greater than the AS Level curriculum. The A Level curriculum was my first goal. 

April 6, 2023; the city-wide selection of the OSN, was conducted online. After grasping and understanding an adequate amount of material from the A Level syllabus, I decided I was ready enough to face the real deal; the first stage of the selection process. 50 questions in 100 minutes. A selection of challenging questions designed to promote students to use analytical thinking skills, needed to be filled out, in order to pass. And I did. 

Then came May. My phone greeted me with a letter from the Department of Education for DKI Jakarta, inviting all participants from DKI Jakarta, 51 people, who passed the city-wide selection for a 10 day training program, lasting 7 hours per day, in SMA Unggulan MH Thamrin. Juggling both studying for the AS Level examinations and training for the province-wide selection of the OSN that lasted as long as school – but was exclusively chemistry – was no easy feat. However, I understood the vitality of the vigorous training program as I stepped into the next round.

June 6, 2023; the province-wide selection of the OSN, was held and conducted online. The knowledge gained from experienced professors and OSN Chemistry alumni proved very useful. Nine extended questions formed a barrier in my journey, challenging my understanding of complicated topics, but that did not stop me. I made it through again.

August finally came. There I was again, in a classroom with not 50, but nine other people. Nine people who also passed the province-wide selection to strive for the medals in the final round. I called BPMP Tanjung Barat my home for the next 10 days, as I slept there overnight to attend an intensive chemistry class that lasted 12 hours each day. Overwhelming? Maybe, especially because that meant sacrificing several days of school and missing any new materials discussed. But the university level materials mastered there served me well in the finals. A laboratory in Universitas Pertamina became my classroom for 2 days after that; this was where I sharpened my practical skills in preparation for the practical exam. 

August 29 and 30, 2023; the final fight. The best high school students from every subject from all across Indonesia gathered together in Bogor for the last dance. A theory and a practical test, lasting 4 hours each, were to be faced by everyone who made it up to this point. And just two days later, a gut-wrenching closing ceremony was held, mentioning every medalist. And my name was mentioned. I earned the silver medal.