Indonesia

Mara Light

Organization:  Center for International Forestry Research
Dates:  2/1/2015 - 4/1/2015

In Mara's own words

How I contributed:  While at CIFOR, I was specifically working with the REDD+(reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) team.  I worked closely with a Principal Scientist to develop an organizational coding system to categorize thousands of survey reponses that resulted from more than two years of research for the REDD+project.  I also analyzed qualitative survey data regarding the impact and success of the project and translated survey responses from Spanish to English from the Peru study.  I also continued similar work remotely after I returned to the United States.

What I felt most challenged by:  I think that one of the biggest challenges was the language barrier.  Most of the people I worked with spoke English fluently, but almost no one spoke English outside of the office setting.  This was challenging, but also forced me to learn as much Bahasa as I could. 

What I enjoyed most:  I have been fortunate to travel to a number of countries around the world.  Indonesia has such a beautiful and unique culture and I loved learning more about it.  Indonesians are very warm and friendly and I felt welcome wherever I went.  I also got a chance to travel to several other islands while I was there, which was great.

Would I recommend this experience:  I would definitely recommmend this experience to students.  I think that working at a large international organization was a very valuable experience.  I love working with and learning from people who were more experienced than me.  Although I decided I would not want to pursue this line of work as a career, it was a great experience and I did really enjoy working at a larger organization.

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Joanna Barrett

Organization: Summit Institute of Development
Dates: 6/30/2015 - 8/22/2015

In Joanna's own words

How I contributed:  Assisting with surveys on maternal nutrition and infant cognition, and building links betwee SID and the Wildlife Conservation Society in environmental monitoring.

What I felt most challenged by: Cultural and language barriers.

What I enjoyed most: Lombok is a beautiful island with a lot of fabulous culture, cheap food, and incredible beaches.

Would I recommend this experience: Working with SID, yes absolutely.  Working in Mataram comes with it's challenges, there are a lot of issues of contention creating tension in the city.  But elsewhere on the island is absolutely wonderful.

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Kevin Sim

Organization: The Consortium for the Teaching of Indonesian (COTI)
Dates: 14-Jun-13 - 22-Aug-13

In Kevin's own words

How I contributed: As my summer experience dealt a lot with cultural immersion and language training, I feel like I contributed to the mission of the program by simply keeping an open-mind and living in the culture as both an observer and participant. There were a lot of cultural exchanges between the program participants and the local people who worked with the program, as well as those outside of the program through a myriad of learning opportunities both in-class and out-of-class. I feel that exposure and allowing yourself to become integrated with the surroundings was key in drawing a full experience. Do as the locals do, and walk in their shoes. Eventually, everyone became a teacher in their own right. Specifically, I ended up assisting a few Indonesian instructors at the local International School on their English speaking, comprehension, and grammar skills.

What I felt most challenged by: One of the most challenging aspects of the program was probably dealing with some of the quirks that come with Indonesian (Javanese) culture. Specifically, dealing with the "call to prayer" on loudspeakers everyday at four in the morning, having to wake up in a pool of sweat and being covered in mosquito bites, dealing with the concept of "rubberband time" where nothing ever occurs on time, having to deal with ambiguity in everyday conversation as is custom in Indonesian manner of speech, having little privacy or freedom when dealing with families, getting the occasional stomach ache from unclean (but delicious) food, and the list goes on and on. But all of these challenges/inconveniences, quickly became the little quirks that make Indonesia so special and memorable!

What I enjoyed most: Interacting with the locals, learning about their culture and way of life, and having personal connections with them were the most rewarding and enjoyable part of my experience. During my stay there I truly felt like an Indonesian that belonged there. With all of the connections I've made, all of the "locals" (friends) truly made me feel like I was home away from home. Other exciting and enjoyable activities include: riding on the backs of motorcycles, trying to ride a motorcycle, visiting rice paddies, rubber tree forests, and local natural areas, eating a wide assortment of delicious street food, celebrating ramadan (eid-al-fitr) in the villages, visiting local informal learning institutions, national parks, NGOs, and learning about what they do... etc. The list goes on forever.

Would I recommend this experience: Yes, absolutely. The freedom that the program gives allows you to learn the culture in an informal setting -- the right setting for complete immersion. Through this program, you can truly let yourself learn as much as you want to about the language and culture because you are free to interact with whomever, whenever. The learning does not stop if you do not want it to. You are always supported by an amazing staff of teachers, and "language training friends" that help you whenever you need it. In addition to learning the language in class, I was able to directly utilize that knowledge in every day applications in real contexts with the locals. It is perhaps a bit cliche to say this is a life-changing experience, but it certainly has affected my life in a positive way.

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Enrico Bonatti

Organization: PT Bloom Agro, Indonesia
Dates: 6/15/2012 to 08/15/2012

In Enrico's own words:
 

How I contributed: As one of only 2 interns in the organization I was involved in a wide range of different activities in helping to expand the reach of the organization internationally as well as improve its internal processes. Among other things, I worked in research projects focused on potential marketing and expansion strategies for the company. Was in charge of contacting new and potential clients interested in distributing the company’s products. Sat at meetings with government officials from the Ministry of Agriculture to discuss industry matters.

What I felt most challenged by: The level of responsibility was very high as I was part of a handful of people helping to expand the operations of the organization. Of course things such as language and cultural differences were a challenge but a very enjoyable and opening one.

What I enjoyed most: Being for the first time not only in a new country but in several countries of a completely new area of the world were amazing experiences that allowed me to open my mind culturally and intellectually. Working with a small organization that helped improve the lives of rural farmers in sustainable ways was a great achievement by itself.

Would I recommend this experience? I would definitely recommend any kind of international experience to other students. Especially a working experience with local people. This kind of opportunity allows you not only to gain technical skills but also offers a unique insight into a completely new culture.

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