THE PADI EXPERIENCE
As a Culture and Politics major within the School of Foreign Service, I have learned that the only way to truly understand another culture and to find depth is in immersion. That being said, having an opportunity to live and work among Indonesians for two months was a true privilege.
I was able to work in Rumah Perubahan's kindergarten school where so many of the community children go to learn and grow. As part of my project, I interviewed families and teachers, working in direct contact with the community and learning about their determination for religious acceptance, equal education, and unity. I could not have asked for a more welcoming, more loving atmosphere to be in.
I can confidently say that those I have met during my time in Indonesia have made a significant impact on my experience and my life.
Living and working halfway across the world is a truly eye-opening adventure and something I would recommend for any college student who craves an unconventional ‘abroad’ experience.
During Summer 2016, I had the opportunity to intern with the Wildlife Conservation Society in Bogor, Indonesia. The internship coordinators were very gracious in connecting me with an NGO that fit my interests and academic pursuits, and I gained a wealth of professional and institutional knowledge during my time in Indonesia.
I was able to draft policy briefs on real issues in endangered species legislation, learn about the legal and parliamentary framework in Indonesia, and develop a database of endangered species’ import and export quotas. I was also able to work with side-by-side with both Indonesians and expats within WCS, and I experienced a taste of what working abroad after college might feel like.
My two months were also culturally-rich as I interned during the holy month of Ramadan; hearing the calls to prayer and working alongside Indonesians who were fasting truly gave me a heightened appreciation for the Islamic faith. Furthermore, I had the opportunity to travel to other Javanese cities like Bandung and Yogyakarta on the weekends as well as an enjoyable extended trip to Bali.
These excursions, as well as the day-to-day activities of living and working in-country, gave me a rich sense of the Indonesian culture and lifestyle. I found almost everyone I met to be generous and friendly and though I did face challenges while abroad, there was always a support network of internship coordinators and coworkers to lift me up.
George Washington University
As a Padi Fellow I worked with Dr. Karina Moegni, who is the founder of Yayasan Hayandra Peduli, in Jakarta, Indonesia. Dr. Karina trained as a plastic surgeon, and founded the Hayandra Organization in order to provide specialty medical services to under resourced populations throughout Indonesia. As an intern with Dr. Karina, I split my time between research in the clinic laboratory, and observation in the operating room. Through first-hand exposure, I had the most incredible opportunity to not only learn about surgery and stem cell research, but about global medicine as well.
I finished my undergraduate studies as a Biomedical Engineer this past spring, and applied to become a Padi Fellow in order to learn more about the world of cross-cultural professional work and gain clinical experience within medicine. I worked with the medical team in Jakarta and rural areas of Java to provide surgical care. In the lab which is also managed by Dr. Moegni, I studied stem cell therapies which helped me to advance my skills. I learned more about my own passions and strengths. I learned about life in a completely new environment, and my perspective of the world matured.
Through daily work experiences and time spent with my host family, I learned an incredible amount about Indonesia and Indonesian culture. My host family and co-workers welcomed me right away. They showed me patience, kindness, and understanding. I could not have asked for a better group of people to spend time with, and enjoyed new challenges and surprises each day. I feel fortunate to have both lived and worked with Indonesian natives, which made me feel like a true member of the community. I saw life from a different point of view, learned to work together with others regardless of cultural or lingual barriers, and gained priceless experience in my field. I made many contacts and friendships that will last a lifetime.
The other Padi fellows and founders served as an additional great community for me in Jakarta. I felt that I always had a strong network supporting me, which was awesome to have, and helped me to have the amazing experience that I did.
Padi organized my internship on climate change adaptation project with the Development Alternatives Inc. (DAI - a development contractor for USAID). The $19 million-dollar project was focused on building capacity in Indonesia’s government and private sector on climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction techniques. This was precisely what I was looking for and it would have been nearly impossible to receive this internship opportunity without Padi’s assistance and vast network,
While departing from Washington D.C., Sofia Blake gave us an orientation and set-up an informal meet-up of 10-12 students. Therefore, even before departure, we knew that we had the right logistical information and support. Additionally, she gifted us a novel on Indonesia written by Elizabeth Pisani, which helped me understand Indonesia and its beautiful complexity throughout my journey.
More importantly, what differentiates Padi apart from other organizations is the semi-formal approach and the support that we received from the team in Indonesia comprising Sara, Kristin and their families. They welcomed us right from the moment we stepped foot in Indonesia and provided support throughout the internship. They were always a Whatsapp message away, and held bi-weekly dinners at Sara’s house with the other interns. Apart from that, we received an orientation upon arrival which provided cultural context, and the learning proved to be useful throughout my 10- week stay. Therefore, I was able to focus on work right from my first day and adjusting to a new country felt really easy.