May 16th, 2018

Melbourne University student shares her volunteering experience

Esther (far left) and her fellow students in Indonesia.

Six fellow students and I began this year by immersing ourselves in new experiences by travelling to Indonesia as part of Melbourne University’s CV Global program in partnership with AVI. Stepping into the city of Yogyakarta, we felt enamoured by the friendly smiles of the staff of Satunama, our host organization. Our goal was to develop community projects that responded to the environmental needs of two villages close to Yogyakarta. This meant that we were split up into two groups. One group was sent to the urban village Gampingan, while another visited the rural village of Keningar - a village right by volcano Merapi.  

The program consisted of us spending four days a week in our respective villages, before rejoining at Satunama for three days in between. In Gampingan, we decided to put together a mini-documentary that showcased the community members' opinions on their local environment, before presenting the final product at a community meeting. This was the first step in engaging community members with the issue at hand. We then invited the local waste collector to conduct a workshop that taught members how to transform rubbish into functional household objects. 

Meanwhile, in Keningar, our fellow classmates visited the local school to discuss the three-bin-system. Using creative games and engaging media, they introduced and implemented rubbish bins for "wet rubbish" "dry rubbish" and recycling materials. 

During this five-week process, we learnt to adapt our working habits to the Indonesian culture, immersing ourselves in an interesting system of new values. This gave rise to revelations about our own Western culture. It's safe to say that the community development program taught us as much about adapting to change as we taught community members about the environment.

Esther Lin
University of Melbourne student