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Taking The Opportunity (Programming Contest)

Back in September, I received a Facebook message from Pn. Marini. In that message, she asked whether I am interested to join the team for Programming Contest National Level(ACM-ICPC al-khawarizmi) that will be held in UiTM Shah Alam. Without a moment of hesitation, I agreed and said I truly would like to join the competition. At that time, I feel like it is my chance to prove to myself that I can achieve something, even if it is a bit different from what I imagined.

See, I believe that I am more inclined to Mathematics. So entering a programming competition is a bit out of place for me. At least, that is what I thought in the first place. But Pn. Marini convinced me that my knowledge in Math can definitely be valuable and essential to the team. With that one push from her, I took a step forward and set a new possibility for myself.

Before the first contest, I didn't expect anything much. I didn't know my teammates yet, I didn't know how the contest is going to be and so on. There are a lot of things that I still need to know, so I decided to take this first contest as my first exposure. But I'm not saying I didn't want to win. I really do, but in the same time I need to know first what I didn't know, so it will be easier to prepare the next time around.

The result for my first programming contest ever was very disappointing. We only managed to solve one question, out of total nine questions. It was frustrating that I went straight back home without going to the closing ceremony. I was a bit down, and I was even more sad by the fact that I didn't contribute anything to my team.

After a few weeks, there's a message from Pn. Marini again, asking everyone in the Programming Challenge Club (PCC) on who would like to join the ACM-ICPC Regional in Hat Yai, Thailand. Anyone who would like to join need to answer a few questions, like "Why do you think you should be selected to go to the regional level contest?""What is your past experience/achievements with programming contest?". I didn't answer all of them, but the one that I answered, I wrote it honestly. After a few days, I got a message, saying that I got selected. I was happy, but I was a bit afraid that I couldn't contribute.

So during the mid semester holiday, me and other contestants went to Hat Yai for the contest. To make it short, my team managed to answer 3 out of 10 questions. An improvement, needless to say. But the best experience in this contest is not in the contest itself: it is when Dr. Bill Poucher, the Executive Director of ICPC gave his speech. His speech was truly inspiring. It wasn't like any other speeches I heard before in my whole life. He said, we, the contestants, has the power to change our community. Use this chance that you get from entering this contest to make a change to the people around you. He is truly a visionary man. We, the contestant, only see this contest as a platform to prove that we can achieve something. But he sees this contest as a platform for a change, a bridge that will connect us to a better future for the students and community.

Three balloons for three questions solved
Dr. Bill Poucher, truly a great person.

What he said inspired me to do one thing: to provide the same opportunity for others to achieve the same greatness. So, I opened the chance for my first year friends in PPSM FST to join the programming competition.

The latest contest was held in UiTM Perak, under the name PROMED@CS'12. The programming competition is in the same format as the previous competitions, and this time, we were truly determined to win the first place and the second place. We said it many times in our Facebook group "Let's win the first and second place!" "I know we can do it!". There are a total of 43 teams that were competing in that competition, so we know this will not be easy. Even I was intimidated when I saw all the other participants.

During the competition, it was truly intense. My team, Integral Plus, with Faiz Mokhtar, Jason Ong and myself as the member, had a bit of a rough start. We got a few wrong answers during the start, and even though we didn't admit it, we were indeed a bit demotivated. But once we solved one question, we started to get our pace and confidence.

The result? The two teams from UKM did a great job this time. Our team managed to achieve second place. The other team, Sonic Fusion, got the sixth place. It was an achievement for all of us, and I was truly happy with what I can contribute. We have come a long way, and this is still not the end. We truly want to be better, and achieve to win the world champion next year. Suddenly, it does not seems impossible anymore. This success will make us remember that there is always a chance for those who make an extra effort for achieving greatness. It all starts with believing in ourselves.

I still think it is just an impossible dream.

I learned a lot from all these three contests, and I am truly thankful to Pn. Marini for giving me the chance to enter the programming contest. It was that small step that changed the way I see my own potential. Now I know that I have the ability in programming, and I won't stop anytime soon. I still want to improve myself, so that I can truly contribute to the team. I am also thankful that I have meet people who want to achieve something together. Jason said to me to let's strive for the champion next time. Yeah, let us work hard for it.

Thank you Pn. Marini =)

The first step to make a change and take a chance is very important. I believe I'd found mine, and I hope you, who are reading this, will find yours too one day. Don't stop looking for opportunities, even if we are currently on one.


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