Collaboration, Culture and Community: An Indonesian Experience

21 Dec 2022

by Claudia McPherson

The past two and a half weeks have held some of the most magical, inspiring, and eye-opening experiences of my life. Along with 21 other scholars, I had the wonderful opportunity to participate in a two week course encapsulating the empowerment of the community towards circular economy through collaboration, facilitated by the Institut Teknologi Bandung School of Business Management (SBM ITB), and the Australian Government’s New Columbo Plan.

The engaging, insightful lectures at ITB, in conjunction with exploring the city, travelling to rural areas and volunteering at the Teras Hijau project, a local community garden, truly gave me insights and experiences that I hope I never forget.

Not only were the teachings at ITB absolutely fascinating, but they were contextualised through opportunities to apply them in the community. We learnt about language, culture and identity, conflict management, diversity, cross-cultural knowledge exchange, social empowerment, sustainable development and circular economies, and all of these topics were vital to engaging constructively with the community.

This new insight was especially useful when we had the ability to work with thesis students on one of four projects that were contributing to the community garden in the Teras Hijau project. From working with students to maintain and market honey through an innovative beehive design, I learnt so much about listening to the consumers, and developing products alongside the intended market.

Our learnings and experiences were collated through a final presentation at ITB. It was fascinating to see how everyone took away different perspectives, highlighted different aspects of the trip, and had such diverse takeaways from the same program.

By far, my greatest takeaway was the people. From the moment we arrived, we were welcomed by our buddies at ITB and the brilliant lecturers and staff. We were taken care of and shown around by the Ibu Ibu, the local women of the garden, and we had the chance to connect with and learn from the local children. Of course, the experience would not have been the same without my fellow scholars, who laughed with me, supported me, took care of me, and helped develop my perspective and enhance my experience.

Of course, words cannot even begin to describe my experiences in Indonesia. I was extremely hesitant to write this summary, as I know I could never do it justice. I have so much love for everyone I got to know on my journey, and hope I’ve developed lifelong friendships.