October 25, 2017

Through the Participant's Eyes: Etty from Indonesia


To help promote our mission, CIPUSA developed the Building Bridges Program, a six-week professional development program under the Civil Society Theme: Social Services and NGO Administration.

On August 4, 2017, Etty Rahmawati traveled all the way from Indonesia to CIPUSA's Affiliate Office, Empower International, in Phoenix, Arizona to participant in the inaugural Building Bridges Program. Here is a recount of her experience in her own words: 


I was encouraged to apply to the Building Bridges Program after I read about the program elements and found that the professional exchange program fitted with what I do as a Community Outreach and Conservation Education Coordinator, as well as a Volunteer Coordinator. 

As an educator, I realized that my own continued education is very important. Through this program, I expected to develop myself professionally and personally by learning about new teaching environments and educational approaches from the experts, volunteering, exchanging knowledge and sharing ideas with other fellows, as well as networking for the purpose of improving my conservation education program.

There were lots of things I learned during my participation in the six-week Building Bridges Program. For example, spending time at the Phoenix Zoo, OdySea, Audobon, Wildlife Liberty, and a field trip with undergraduate and graduate students of NAU at San Francisco Peaks taught me a lot about the life of animals and their benefits, plants, etc.--many things I did not know before and are worth sharing with my students. The visit also gave me some ideas of activities I could do back home. Another meaningful experience I had was teaching in schools. It was so good for me to share about my country, the culture, as well as the forest and its wildlife, and I could see how enthusiastic the students were. I really had wonderful time with those sweet, smart kids. And the "Thank You" cards they made for me were the best gift ever.


Additional activities that I participated with the other fellows focused on social work, such as visiting the Multigenerational Center, Hospice, Dream Center, Ability 360, Area Agency on Aging, Lutheran Social Service on Refugees, Arizona Department of Health Service, Native Health, and Maricopa County Department of Public Health. I learned in depth what they do, which was very useful to me and enriched my knowledge on various areas of social work.

Moreover, the opportunity to learn from one of NAU's faculty members and a certified teacher at Desert Botanical Garden was the biggest takeaway during my professional trip in Arizona. Not only did they gave me ideas of how to teach environmental education to children of different ages, they also game me handouts and curriculum/guide books I could bring back home and implement in my environment education project.

Last but not least, the 5-day camping at Kaibab Forest with Forest Service, Grand Canyon Trust, and Hopi Tribe folks was my favorite and most meaningful moment of my trip. I learned a lot about the forest, which is different from the forest we have in Kalimantan, and what they do with the forest, such as preventing forest fires, thinning, restoration projects, etc. Not only did I learn about the forest, I also learned about the life and culture of indigenous people and their youth activity, which is similar to what I do for my teens project back home. In addition, we took a fun trip to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon on the last day of our gathering.



Living with a host family and participating in local cultural and educational activities was also a valuable life experience for me. This experience gave me a broader understanding of diversity among cultures and respecting their differences, which then allowed me to make deeper connections with people of all backgrounds.

After I joined this professional exchange program related to conservation education, I realized that living in a country with abundant natural resources and diversity is a special gift. However, we lack the awareness of how to appreciate and manage our resources wisely. This convinced me that the role of education is very important. With the knowledge and experience I gained during my stay in the U.S., I will be committed to working on environmental education to raise awareness within the community.

The six-week Building Bridges Program has given me a priceless life experience. It taught me not only professionally, but also personally, especially on how important it is to always be thankful and respect each other. Thank you, Council of International Programs USA (CIPUSA) and Empower International!



Posted by Lindsey Walsh on October 25, 2017 at 5:02 PM in Participant Permalink
Desnawaty Deccy H.S says:
January 16, 2018 11:08 PM

I was totally very happy to read from Etty experienced she has during her trip through the Program of Council of International Programs USA (CIPUSA)provided for her. I am also working with the same field work of Environment issue to the students at schools in the district in Kubu Raya. I would love to apply for this program. This is awesome totally Ety, best of luck for your work in the future.
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