i m good.. no worries ;)
Just 30 days left in Padang. Its really strange, tomorrow will be May already. I m 26 and still a year away from graduating and that is if everything works out perfect. Still need to finish those papers soon, before I go to Korea and hope they will all be accepted… I m currently thinking too much about that, but oh well. Everything should be fine. Ok, back to more interesting things.
I just read Luke´s blog, yes the whole 3 months…Took me a while..LOL.. For those that don’t know Luke, he is currently on an AIESEC Internship in Tunisia and is originally from Canada. Tunisia is also a muslim country and he is experiencing some of the very things I experience, although I must say in some ways it has hit him way harder than me.
Just to state some facts. There are times when he doesn’t shower for 6-7 days and cant change his clothes during the same time span. He doesn’t have toilet paper..go figure…I just got around that actually, because normally people here don’t either.
He is in bigger cities so he got lost a couple of times and he was “harrassed by a transvestit”
I guess that’s some of the major differences he has been going through which I ve been just getting around.
Ok so I want to tell you some of the things I have to cope with, although some things I have already stated at earlier times, but I want to list them again here :
No warm water
People starring at you like you re an animal and not leaving you alone
People trying to charge you 3-4 times the price of things because you re a foreigner
People begging for money pretty much constantly on markets, in buses, in restaurants or just on the street.
Jokes about my culture, language (pronounciation) – might sound silly, but if you re trying to learn a language that is not very motivating and religion
Constant miscommunication – at least that is what we are told ;P – probably just changing plans
Having a meeting start 100 minutes (yes 1hour and 40 minutes) after it was schedulded and this is not a single occasion, meetings normally start about 30-45 minutes late, so you cant really make a follow up schedulde.
Very little privacy – even in my room, well I guess I m happy to have a room.
Padang is pretty much dead after 930 pm
Corruption everywhere, you have to pay “local taxes” all over the place and sometimes sketchy people collect money at certain places.
Streets are the garbage can, if you know what I mean, people just drop all their garbage walking anywhere. (adam´s help is needed here..i ve tried to explain, but they just mock me for that)
Actually yes this is not bad at all.
I still live in a very developed part of Padang and I m very lucky, sometimes I feel like I live way more luxurious than in Germany. For example I have a maid washing my clothes. We have a security guard, we have someone cooking for us. I have an Airconditioned room and I have my own bathroom with a western toilet. I have my own desk, cupboard and all that. Everything is provided for me. And the AIESECers or other people always help me if I need there help. Fortunately I can pretty much do all by myself, but it was good that I had someone help me with immigration the other day or if someone knows someone you get things a lot cheaper ;P
Also they have taken me to the more remote places, if you can even call them that, because they are still kind of modern.
Sometimes I even wish that I had more of a developing country experience, but I guess I got the message about most things. So you see you don’t have to worry about me, although some people might think I live kind of a risky life, walking across the city at 10pm, once staying at the beach overnight or just walking around the city and going places, although my Indonesian is not fluent and some others have been robbed, but I guess I look kind of intimidating, because I m rather big for Indonesia and not to foreign either, especially at night, people cant figure where I m from. And Padang I think is not that dangerous after all, but maybe that’s just my image, I don’t know, doesn’t seem that dangerous.
Ok enough about that. On other news. I met my current profs (Nothofer for those who know) student, who know is a lecture herself. That was pretty cool. I wonder if he remembers her at all.
Today I was really full for the first time, because I was outside all day and I had Bakso (some kind of meatball soup) and roti bakar (pretty much toast with jam) and when I got home I got Nasi goreng (fried rice) and martabak mesir (some kind of egyptian pancake with meat and vegetables in it. All of that within 4 hours, so then I was really really full.
Speaking of food, Wednesday was the first time that I refused an offer to eat an uncommon food, but at the sight of cow brain I thought no. Actually I thought about trying, but then no one else ate it either, so I didn’t myself.
Anyways, what else did I do, today I spent another day at the beach after hiking to the top of two mountains, at least that’s what they are called. Its more small hills, but because they take the mini bus even if its only a 5 minute walk, some of them were really exhausted after and were constantly asking me if I wasn’t tired..LOL… kind of funny… I had a good time, finally something active after a while..Oh I cant wait to do some stuff in Germany. Baseball or Basketball e.g. .who is up for the challenge ;)
Nothing else going on..some people have noticed, I ve been online a little more, not too much though, but we have dsl at work now…although I m not sure if you can call it dsl…I guess its like a isdn connection, but at least better than dial up and faster than at the internetcafe where it took me 2.5 hours to upload 8 pictures.
So I hope I ll be able to answer your emails fast now, but then again I m almost on the way home. Only 4.5 weeks left…strange.
But for the other 2 dutch trainees it will actually be time to say goodbye in a couple of hours. I m still prewriting emails, so this will be online Monday, while right now it is Sunday morning 4am and yes I m not sleeping, otherwise I couldn’t get up to be at campus 630. yesterday I got up at 6, this is really killing me… I need my nightlife back ;P
Anyways yes they are leaving now and I finished a presentation for them. I ll upload it to youtube once I m back in Germany, so you can see what we did during our time here.
It will be strange without them, because Gijs and Nienke I saw almost every day at the office, but I ll probably see Ivette 2 or 3 times a week to hang out for a bit. And soon my sis is here in less than 3 weeks.
Also the new EB was finally elected and they ll be going to Conference next Saturday. And they want me to create their rolldance, because I did one for our welcoming party. So I hope I can manage to do it, this afternoon. Also need to finally correct the rest of the homework.. Really need to finish that, because I ve been pushing and pushing it for a week now. I corrected some, but some of it really takes a long time and I m just too tired.
Anyways…. I m probably boring you already….but I will attach another file if you would like to read my impressions about the pbox event , if you don’t care about pbox you can jump to the end there is a review about our life in Indonesia.
Hope you enjoy it.
Take care everyone =)
HIV/AIDS Pbox Padang 2007 Review
The following couple of pages will try to explain the situation for the trainees from abroad as well as some difficulties in the organization of the events and seminars. In the end I want to give some suggestions for future exchanges and projects in the structure and organization of the project, as well as some things you have to take in consideration thinking about a multinational project.
First I would like to mention some general things. The OC was definitely too big. If you think about a “small” project like this Pbox, probably an OC of 5-6 would have been more effective and more structured, also if you look at the main idea of an OC, being taking responsibility, then the bigger the OC is the less responsibility everyone is taking on. This OC had 10 + “3 trainees” + the steering team (Megi, Aan) + VP Projects (Tumi, who was almost non existent/ VP Projects-elect (Rusty) + LC EB Involvement (mainly Dina). Counting altogether you almost have an OC of 20 people running this. Let´s not count the 20, but the 10 + 2 Trainees. How often did all of the OC meet together. I mean not having a meeting, but also having all 12 people attend the meeting. It almost never happened, because if you have a big OC like this it is almost impossible. That lead to a mix up in job tasks, because you could only give tasks to people that were also there.
Also the bigger the OC gets the more blurry the job descriptions are and no one feels responsible anymore.
Also the bigger the OC is the harder it will be to find conclusions, because there is too many different opinions. Of course many opinions give you more options, but if that takes forever to decide there are more important things and OC members can still ask for advice from others.
A big OC also leads to some problems, if the people come late, which has more problems, which I will come to later. First of all the whole OC has to wait for a person to arrive, especially if the person is important for the current situation (e.g. programmer). The smaller the OC is the smaller the chance that the person will be late.
Also sometimes meetings started and then people kept coming late and they made comments that had been made before, or they had no clue what the discussion was about, therefore the whole situation had to be explained over and over again. I remember one meeting, where the same topic was explained five times, so the meeting which had started at 5, did not actually get to talk about the topic until 6.
Also some meetings were schedulded at 5 and did not start until 6:30, because some people were late and they were important.
There should be fines for the people that come late. I want to come back to responsibility for a second. If you are responsible for your job than you should be on time and should not hold up the meeting, because every person being late holds up a meeting. Yes this might be a cultural thing, but AIESEC is an International Organization, which stresses development and some of the AIESECers want to go to the developed world doing a traineeship. If you want to do that, this is your time to learn it. It can not be like this forever.
Also sometimes people found excuses or they just didn’t do there tasks. This is not part of being responsible.
Sometimes when some of the members did not attend it even escalated to the point where there had to be a next meeting, just because the person wasn’t there.
This also carried over to the program preparation, because everything was always late and to relaxed and in the end everyone stressed out and was not ready. People have to see the long term impact of things.
For example the meetings sometimes werent prepared or structured, so therefore they took up to 3 hours, while the actual things we talked about were only worth talking about 15-30 minutes.
Talking about structure. I would like to talk about the job descriptions. It seemed like no one ever knew what to do and they had to have the meeting to get new tasks, so sometimes there were like 3 meetings per week. How is it taking responsibility if all you do is fill tasks. You should look for things yourself and get them going. You have to be creative and innovative and make proposals instead of waiting for someone to give you orders. That is what a VP position is truly about. Being independent, but also being able to work in a team.
Another problem about preparation and structure was that there was never a fixed schedulde. Meetings were moved from one time to another sometimes 2 or 3 times a day. Even for externals sometimes appointments were moved around all the time and that does not give a good impression.
Punishment is not always bad, sometimes it is needed for improvement, that is how people will learn. The finesystem for example. If people are on time, there is no punishment, if they are late of course they have to pay. Some of the excuses were, they do not have the money to pay. That is not an excuse, because if they are on time, they do not have to pay.
I want to come back to the OC size for a second. Of course at times some of the OC members are really busy, but then on the other hand OC members did not have anything to do, sometimes some people were really busy in the beginning and then did not have anything to do until the end. While others had free time in the beginning and then were busy in the end. You can combine this position. Sometimes I was asking myself, how bad did people really want their position, because in the end they were complaining about having to do another person´s task. But an OC is a team, mabye there should be a bonding at first, a trip together to a beach or something to get to know each other. Maybe this will raise the motivation for people to want to work together for each other, to help out each other.
Also because sometimes people didn’t have anything to do they distracted the actual meeting playing around with their cellphones, listening to music or just talking with each other, giggling around. This is also a reason of a big OC, if you have a small OC, normally everyone has something to do. If you have a big group people will be busy doing other things and distracting the important discussions.
If you are asking me, how is all this supposed to be possible. I have been OCP before and it is possible. We had one meeting per week, which lasted about 1 hour and we still got everything settled. Yes it was a one day event, but just to give you some numbers, we did marketing to University, companies, stores, supermarkets totalling probably 50-60 altogether. We send invitations and then followed up with phone calls about 200 people + newspapers, radio and posters.
We had a buffet there. We had 2 guestspeakers, who were as high as the top person from the state, who needed security. We had a coat check at the door.
So yes this was a one day event, but it doesn’t mean it was less to organize or less tasks and yes all of us were fulltime students including masters students, who were busy and had a job besides university or had other student organizations or clubs they had to work for as well.
Yes it was in Canada, yes it is a different country, yes it is a different culture. But stop finding excuses. All of you want to be succesful and follow the good things. Indonesia wants to be a modernized country and that starts with all of today´s students, because today´s students are the leaders of tomorrow and AIESEC always talks about the Culture of Excellence, stop talking…do it!
I want to leave another general comment here. Lots of AIESEC here I found unfortunately very superficial. A lot is happening on the outside. The election process takes forever with the results being so small. People that are not dedicated to their position are getting the job. I have to ask a lot of the people that are in positions, how bad to you want it. If I hear that filling out a booklet is too much effort. Are you kidding me? And yes I have actually heard that comment. Some of you will take a position for one year. And then everyone starts filling out there booklet within the last 2 days? There are typos in the booklets like AISEC or It is not useful to choose me. And so on. People do not answer questions with a lot of thought.
None of the members can really read the booklets of the candidates, because while the booklets are distributed the candidates are doing their presentation.
Have the booklets put online or distributed a week before, otherwise you don’t need the booklet at all, because no one is really able to read all of it and well the candidates only fill it out in 1 hour before the deadline anyways, so who cares.
I have to ask you, how bad do you want this position. Or let me put it this way, how bad do you want the tasks, the opportunities and the chances that come with the position, because it is an opportunity after all. It is your chance to lead a young group of people that can make a difference, a chance you might never get again in your life. And you should be aware of what you can achieve and you should only apply if you really want to do that.
Again for the LC, yes I think the EB is to big again. Just look at Exchange. 3 EB for Exchange? And still how long have you been looking for Trainees to come here for Cemara, ELS and I don’t know what else. I know for Pbox you were unable to match until just before the Pbox, They didn’t even get here until the start of the project. I recently checked for Trainees online to go to Cemara. It took me 5 minutes to propose 3 students from Africa to them, who had background in HIV and were DT Trainees. All of them speak english.
Then again what is the VP Projects good for, if he doesn’t supervise the Pbox, one of the biggest AIESEC projects here in Padang?
If you wonder, why I think a smaller EB is better look up my comments about the OC.
To finish off the Pbox, I want to propose 1 or more or less 2 topics that are very global and you can find in the newspaper or on the news everyday. There are tons of conferences and still it seems like no student in Indonesia really cares about it.
Global warming and Climate change. You think this doesn’t affect you? Think again, what do you think was the cause of the Tsunami, all the earthquakes, the floods? Yes exactly global warming is part of it. You have to watch your environment. This is your life, this is your world and you only have one. If everyone keeps living like they do now, Padang will be gone in 30 years, because the sea level has risen so much that Padang is under the Ocean and yes it affects the developing countries and the poor the most, because the rich countries can protect themselves, while the south doesn’t have the money to built protection.
Maybe some of you still don’t believe me. I have a movie called the inconvenient truth. It was made by the former Vice President of the United States. I have it and Nicky (some of you know here) have a copy, so if you want to see it feel free.
But please spare me your mocking laughs, if I tell you again to not throw garbage on the ground.
So I would suppose Environment or Global Warming, Climate Change is a good topic to educate people about. Yes you can find it in newspapers, but who really reads them? And it is an important topic.
Now I would like to tell you some of the problems that have to do with the trainees in particular.
First of all, this is a project based on exchange. So people that are in the project should be aware of the fact that they will have to speak English and because it is multinational the meetings should be in English or you have to get trainees that can speak Indonesian, that is somehting you can put in your job description and although there are not a lot there are a few students out there that can speak indonesian. This is hard to describe and maybe only possible for those that have been abroad yet. How do you feel if there is conversations going on around you and you don’t understand anything. You sit there for hours and nothing happens.
Or sometimes you do understand something and then you see that people make jokes about you and find it funny that they can do it right in front of you, without you understanding.
Sorry guys, we might not speak indonesian that well, but we re not stupid and sometimes we do understand what you are saying and it is not very polite.
Also I heard the job description was not what it sounded like. I can only speak for my own job description and yes it is very different from what I am actually doing, because actually I am an English teacher and not a member of an NGO, that works in Environment, AIDS, human rights, accountability and so on. So I wish it had been a little different, but its ok.
For the other trainees, the ones that were especially here for the Pbox I always felt kind of sorry, because they were really bored, they didn’t have a lot to do, sometimes they felt their trip here was wasted because they couldn’t do anything, maybe you can figure something out that gets them more involved and less dependant on the other OCs activities, because that is what they did.
Some other things, besides the language. Trainees here feel like animals in a zoo. You might ask yourself what I mean by that, but just think about what happens when you walk around with us. People calling you names. And starring at you. If you take an angkot for 15 minutes they will be looking in your face for 15 minutes as if you were an Alien. Yes we do feel like animals in a zoo sometimes, like a tourist attraction. I have one AIESECer who constantly calls me john and finds it very funny, even after I told him ..my name is not john, he keeps calling me john all the time.. .must be funny… well for him, not for me.
Also it is difficult for people from western countries to adapt to the slow motion activities in Indonesia, because everything is just slower, you can not make a schedulde here, because everyone is late and then you will be late for your next meeting if you have one after.
One more thing. I recently had a discussion about a christian ritual and some people found it very funny that Christians for their communion eat some kind of candy and drink red wine. It is representing Jesus Christ´s body and blood. Then some Indonesians were making fun of it, by saying they are eating Jesus and asking, which part of Jesus is this.
Would you find it funny if I made a joke about Mohammed or about the Islam? Well maybe some of you, but I think most of you get my point. I am not saying you have to believe in it, because that is up to you, but you should respect it.
Same goes for some of the other problems we have encountered. If the trainees were moody are had a certain attitude or didn’t want to do something. If they were tired or felt sick, some of you are fast too judge and talk about the arrogant westerners and make jokes about us. I m not saying you have to understand, just respect it.
I know this might sound strange because I m writing this huge critique just now. And I know you will not change from one second or another. I just want you to get a different perspective on things.
I actually want to come back to the Pbox one last time.
I think it is really important that you get the students interested in the topic and make sure they pay attention, because I saw students do their homework, read comics, talk with each other and things like that. If that happens then the Pbox is worthless and all the effort you put into it is for nothing. I know there will always be people like that, but try to pay attention to it and show them that they can not just leave class if they want to, sit in a group outside the classroom just talking. That s not the idea of the Pbox. Try to get them even more involved.
Maybe have a better selection of students? Although I don’t know how to do that.
Also for the AIESECers, the AIESECers themselves were a distraction a lot of times. Only have those AIESECers in that really want to listen or are helping out with something. Make sure they do not come in and out whenever they want to or talk and laugh, because all of that is distracting.
Maybe you have to let them turn off cell phones. If not at the seminar at least during the meetings they should!
They are not only a distraction, but they also give a bad image to AIESEC about externals, because it is not just the teachers or the head of the school that sees it. It is the doctors, the NGO´s and all other kind of external partner and you also never know, who the students parents are. If they talk bad about AIESEC then maybe the parents wont sponsor next time.
Be aware of what is out there. Also make sure that people know AIESEC is not an English club, because lots of people still think that way and it is just not true. And that is probably the most important part, people need to know what AIESEC is.
One last “negative” thing. You should not make fun of people trying to speak Indonesian, even if they have an accent, after all they are willing to spend their time learning your language, which is part of your culture, so don’t make fun of them for trying. None of us make fun of your English either.
Just to clarify. I am not speaking about everyone here and I know some of you do not agree with those things themselves. I am just saying that we, the trainees have encountered all those things and this is not meant to criticize you, it is more like a feedback, supposed to give you some insight on how others feel and how you might be able to improve upon some things.
Don’t get me wrong. I do not have problems with anyone personally. I like all the AIESECers and I think they are very kind and helpful. And I enjoy Padang and my traineeship a lot. Padang is very nice and the cultural differences are the reason why I am here and I don’t mind it at all. I just hope that sometimes there is more respect to other people.
My traineeship is also fine, it is just different than what I expected.
I am having a good time here and I cherish it and I would always do it again. You have to realize what some people are going through though. For some of the trainees it is the first ever experience in a different country away from their parents and on their own and then it might not be one big thing that bothers them, but it can be a lot of small things that add up to be bigger than they might seem, but if you put everything together then it can bother people.
To finish this report I want to tell you the good things as well though. I think the AIESECers have done an awesome job, providing us housing, airport pick-up and delivery, touring and guiding us around, trying to solve all the problems we have encountered. Helping us to shop and bargain or just accompanying us. All of us really appreciate it and we can never say how much we are thankful for it, but it really means a lot to us. And all of us would be really happy to see some of you visit us in Europe or wherever we might end up in the world one day. It has really been a pleasure staying in Padang, discussing different cultures and attitudes and also sharing experiences. Lots of you have been eager to learn or share and this is what makes life interesting and this is what we are living for.
This is just a short note about the positive things, there is so much more, but then I could write forever ;)
Also for the Pbox, a lot of those problems have been improved throughout the process, but the next OC will be different people, so maybe they