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.