It’s been almost a month since my last post. In the meantime it’s been a busy time for me. Right now is the exam time. I still have two more exams to go, on 28th July and 2nd August. All are written exams. I’m afraid that they will be notoriously difficult, especially on Advanced Logic, since Dr. Nauber that will make the exam questions and checking our answers.
Besides above, from 1st until 3rd July, I was in Berlin for a DAAD scholarship holders meeting. It’s an annual meeting organized for DAAD’s foreign scholarship holders that in Germany. All scholarship holders whose scholarship period begins at the earliest in the winter semester of last year, are invited for this kind of gathering.
DAAD grants (new) scholarships for about 15000 foreign students a year, thus it’s impossible to hold this meeting in one place for all scholarship holders in the entire Germany. Usually the organizers from DAAD organize several meetings for scholarship holders in the neighboring region. In my case, it is for us who live in Sachsen, Sachsen-Anhalt, Brandenburg, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and of course the city Berlin itself.
I had a nice time for three days in Berlin, though I admittedly missed my wife, seeing some of my friends invited together with their families. But nevertheless, I enjoyed the programs and the change of scenery from the usually not-so-crowded Dresden. As usual, the program consisted not only of sessions with our Sachbearbeiter/in from DAAD, but also some lectures. Well I was a bit disappointed since all the topics were really closely related with Computer science, but at least there was a lecture that was quite interesting, given by Prof. Raymond J. Dolan from Department of Imaging Neuroscience, University College, London. It’s about “Emotion, Feeling and Empathy”.
There are two interesting things that he argued, first that women are more inclined to empathy than men. This is especially towards other person that gives bad/unfair treatment to the subject. The experiment was done by giving some doses of pain to the unfair person, in the presence of a woman/man subject. He argued that although women are unfairly treated, they still show considerable empathy towards the unfair person, i.e., parts of the brain that are active are the area which is closely related to the processing of empathy/sympathy. Meanwhile, men exhibit no activity in that area, but more to the area related to anger. Hehehehe I don’t really want to delve to the meaning of this, I’ll just leave the conclusion to you… :).
The second was the respond to my question to him about the differences between children that are raised by “good” families and “bad” families. What I mean here is that parents are encouraged to give examples of good behavior, including being compassionate to others. And if the parents give this good behavior as examples for their children, it can be expected that the children will have the same tendency after growing up. On answering, he said that still empathetic feelings cannot be trained, e.g. by giving examples to children. What we really do is not training empathy, but instead of sympathy. He pointed out subtle difference between those two. Being sympathy is a cognitive process. This means that we can see its realization in the form of good behavior. Meanwhile, empathy is really a feeling inside. You cannot judge a person’s empathy from his/her behavior. For example, giving a help to others does not necessarily imply there’s empathetical reason behind it.
OK, ok, enough about this psychological things, it turns out that Prof. Dolan’s wife is a Malaysian. After the lecture we chatted about a few things, and when he understood that I am an Indonesian, he just exclaimed, “really? are you from Jakarta? I’d love to go to Jakarta but haven’t got the chance. You know, my wife is from Malaysia. I’ll introduce her to you later”. I thought it’s just for hospitality, but it’s not. Later when I went with city tour session to Einstein exhibition, I met him again in the exhibition and this time he really introduced his wife to me.
By the way, this year is exactly a century after Einstein published his most famous quartet of papers on theoretical physics (which one of them was the special relativity), shattering the very foundation of classical Newtonian physics. No wonder, especially in Berlin, this year is celebrated as The Einstein Year, and I was lucky enough to be able to visit Berlin at the time of the exhibition. I even bought a book… :D. I mean this book:
This is nicely done by Denis Brian. It reveals a quite deep account on some aspect of Einstein’s private life, which has been obscured to public before. I just finished the half of it, but I recommend this to whomever interested in Einstein. Since Einstein’s role in Zionism is not small (this might be a rather sensitive topic for some), you can also see and judge by yourself, how Zionism means to Einstein. Besides that, it also includes one of thing that was previously obscured: Einstein’s pleasure in the company of women and the existence of his illegitimate daughter.
Besides Empathy and Einstein, actually there’s a good news for me. DAAD granted an extension to my scholarship for another year. Yayy, this means, hopefully I will be able to bring my wife here in Dresden. Well it’s indeed hard to live our life a part from each other. We do really miss each other .. :((.