It is hard to believe that I am heading towards the last of my 3-month placement in Indonesia. For the duration of my time here, I figured two important rules quickly. One, everyone is always late and nothing takes place on time. Two, when crossing the street, do not show fear, the drivers will sense it and they won’t stop. I figured everyone should keep these rules in-mind if they want to visit Indonesia (and they should, Indonesia is a great place).
I have been completing my internship with EQWIP HUBs in Semarang, Indonesia since the beginning of June as an Environmental Sustainability Advisor. EQWIP HUBs is a five-year project supported by Global Affairs Canada in six countries; the project is aimed to propel youth forward and help them develop soft skills that give them the edge in the job market. Indonesia is one of six countries across the world where the HUBs are set and they are located in two cities – Surabaya and Semarang. My time here has been great from a social perspective since I got to meet many amazing new people and develop lasting relations; however, it has been a little challenging from a professional viewpoint. Coming into the internship, I expected my supervisor would have a set plan of what they expected me to do and what I should be focusing on; however, that was not exactly the case. In Indonesia particularly, the project has been slow to kick off so it is safe to say that environmental sustainability has not been a priority for the team during the project; thus, not much was expected of me and there were no guidelines as to what I should be doing.
After the first few weeks, I realized (as the cliché goes) that the key is self-motivation because as one of my friends here told me: “you can sit in the office all day and watch Netflix or you can work, either way, no one will tell you anything”. So after a slow paced first month (and a long orientation), I met with the rest of the team and decided to create a climate change workshop that serves as an introduction to the environmental issues we face on a global and local context. I figured it would be important to educate the youth about their impacts on our earth and how unsustainable their lifestyle is. Thus, for the duration of July, I was able to conduct three workshops and also got the chance to meet with our main partner to work towards developing an environmental strategy that they would hopefully implement into their project. In my last month here, I hope to pick up the pace and conduct more workshops prior to leaving. I am also looking to create an environmental strategy for my HUB that they would be able to follow after my departure.
Finally, since I am in Indonesia for a short period of time, I am taking this opportunity to travel around the country and see as much of it as I can. I was also fortunate that many of my friends here love to travel as much as I do. After I settled in Semarang, my first trip was to Yogyakarta where I visited Prambanan – the tallest Hindu Temple – and Borobudur – largest Buddhist Temple. I also had the chance to visit Bali for a few days before hiking Ijen Crater and seeing the blue fire and the acid lake. Additionally, just two weeks ago, we visited Palangkaraya to see the Orangutans in their natural habitat following their re-introduction into the wild by a conservation NGO. Apart from the leisurely trips, I had the chance to hike Mount Ungaran, something I will definitely not do again anytime soon. Ultimately, the internship and the overall experience has been one of the best I have experienced so far.
Rowaida Arafeh is a Masters of Development Practice student. Her research interest are Environmental issues, mainly water sanitation and security, climate change, ecology and biodiversity loss, sustainability, peacebuilding, social and racial justice.