written by Adi Pratama from Indonesia
The first week of my fellowship working with DC Chamber of Commerce was a great fun. Earlier on Friday I had met my supervisor, Mrs. Margaret Singleton for a briefing and agenda of what I would do during my two weeks of fellowship at DC Chamber of Commerce. I was very impressed when I knew that Margaret had prepared a detailed agenda for what I would doing for all days in two weeks. Every day I am prepared to attend an event as well as meet with some people who, according to Margaret and Team DC Chamber of Commerce can be useful for my need to learn about the development of community-based tourism in Indonesia. They even arrange me meeting with Destination DC who responsible in market the tourism industry here in Washington DC. I also introduced to my co-workers at DC Chamber of Commerce and I am very touched with everyone kindness and warm welcome. Especially President and CEO of DC Chamber of Commerce Vincent Orange, he is a very inspiring and humble leader who can mingle with everyone. In addition, I am also here with Valentina Ilina who is a Eurasia program participant from Russia and we placed in the same room.
My Monday started with interesting activities. Valentina and I are given a valuable opportunity to participate in DC Chamber of Commerce Lobbying day with DC Council Member’s to discuss strategic policy proposals for building a good business environment for business people in the District of Columbia area, especially small and medium business. In lobbying day, I have the opportunity to meet with businessmen who are members of DC Chamber of Commerce. I impress how they spare their precious time share their aspirations for greater good of DC Business environment. We met with 7 Council members including Chairman Mendelson who was the leader for the legislative in Washington DC. I am very excited to see the on-going dialogue process. On this occasion I also learned about business policies applied in US and try to compare them with my country. The goal is certainly not to disfavor the less good but be the spirit to make meaningful improvements from what I learnt. I was also fortunate to have the opportunity to take a picture with Council Member Vince gray, who was Mayor of Washington DC for the period of 2011-2015. Another surprise he turned out to be a certified clinical psychologist, which became an inspiration for me.
The next days we are participating in several summit. In Tuesday we were sent to join DC Power Up event organized by DC health link Exchange health insurance company. This event is intended as a forum for networking and learning for small and medium business actors as well as helping them find the resources they need to be able to build a business empire. On Wednesday we helped DC Chamber of Commerce in one of our very own big events, 2018 Small Business & Economic Development Summit. This great event brings together small business actors with big players and also provides workshops that can help small-scale development in DC. For me this is special because I am very happy to be involved as a committee in this event, becoming a part to organize such event in US amaze me with how MICE industry (Meeting, Incentive, Convention, and Exhibition) in this country. At the event there is also an awarding Lucheon for the small businesses and people who contribute to the development of small business in DC and one of them is The Mayor of Washington DC, Mauriel Bowser. Again, I was lucky to be able to take pictures and brief chat with her and had given souvenir Batik from Padang Indonesia. During the event I talked a lot with business people and government agencies who are very passionate towards small business development. The thing that touched me was that although their business background was not tourism, but they very kindly offered to discuss in helping me to realizing a community-based tourism project that I would do in Poso, Indonesia. I learned that business does not always make people selfish as people often stereotype, in my case, these small business actors actually have a big heart and spirit to help each other to achieve success together. Seeing how small businesses contribute greatly to the economy and people’s welfare in Washington DC made me passionately eager to be able share the knowledge and network I made here with my colleagues in Indonesia. Thank you, DC Chamber of Commerce, thank you American Council for this precious experience.