Outbound Project in Indonesia: Jerod Lockhart and Nicky Pratiwi

written by Jerod Lockhart, Training Officer, Chicago Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities

This was my first  time traveling overseas, I can genuinely state that it was a trip that will be embedded in my memory for a lifetime! My YSEALI PFP Outbound Project was hosted by fellow Nicky Pratiwi, the general manager of Thisable Enterprise, a local NGO that specializes in improving the economic empowerment for people with disabilities in Indonesia in urban and rural areas. Thisable Enterprise mission mirrors many of initiatives my office undertakes in the domain of transitioned-aged employment.

Bina NusantaraDuring a workshop at PSBN Tan Miyat Bekasi – School for the Blind, I was able to share the podium with individuals from the blind and disabled community who shared stories of overcoming adversity and strategies to help encourage young students and their parents to achieve their dreams. For example, I had the pleasure of meeting both a law and an architectural student who both vowed to use their education to advance the civil rights of people with disabilities. Furthermore, I also participated in a Q & A session with an advocate, and the parents of the students who attended the school. One of the most interesting questions I received from one of the students was how to get the government to endorse and provide more funding towards improving architectural accessibility, similar to the way we have it in the United States. I assured them that we still a long way to go to achieving full participation and citizenship for PWD; however, to keep pressuring government officials to make accessibility a priority for all.

I had the opportunity to visit Bina Nusantara (Bina University) where I was able to present to faculty and staff tasked with providing accessibility services for disabled students. Many disabled students are given scholarships to attend college; therefore the need to increase equal access was heightened. I gave a similar talk to stakeholders at Daya Dimensi Indonesia, one of the top leadership consulting firms in Indonesia, who were looking to connect employers with qualified candidates with disabilities.

My YSEALI PFP Outbound Project also included time to visit some of the beautiful sites inMasjid Istiqlal Jakarta; including President Barack Obama’s childhood school, U.S. Embassy, Indonesia’s independence monument, The Grand Indonesian Mall, and finally Masjid Istiqlal – the national mosque of the Republic of Indonesia. Nicky’s team (including Pratiwi) made me feel welcomed at every stop on our itinerary. Nicky was extremely hospitable; for example, she offered assistance when I needed an interpreter, transportation to cultural sites and food choices while dining at Padang Merdeka. Additionally, the visit to the U.S. Embassy was very enlightening. The new facility highlighted several Indonesia artists, as well as a history lesson of the U.S. Navy liberation of Indonesia from the Japanese during WWII. The people of Indonesia are some of the friendliest and respectful people I’ve come encountered. I hope I was able to provide as much knowledge regarding disability advocacy as I learned from Nicky and her colleagues, “Terima Kasih,  – Thank You.”

I want to thank the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities, U.S. Department of State, American Councils for International Education, YSEALI PFP Outbound Project, Thisable Enterprise, Jaimie Holmes and Mauli Whitney from the American Councils for International Education for making this project successful. I also would like to thank, Emily, Renny, Gatut, and Putra from the U.S. Embassy’s Public Affairs Section for the tour of the Embassy.

Outbound Project in Singapore: Greg Cooper and Mark Cheng

written by Greg Cooper, Senior Consultant, Deloitte Consulting LLP

I spent a once in a lifetime week on the Outbound segment of the Professional Fellows Program in Singapore.  I was hosted by fellow Mark Cheng, who partnered with the National Youth Achievement Award (NYAA) Council, a semi-governmental organization in Singapore that focuses on professional development of Singaporean youth, on the Outbound project.

Mark and I, in coordination with NYAA, designed and implemented 3 days of workshops, the “YSAELI Youth Social Enterprise Conference,” at Singapore’s Institute of Technical Education in March 2019.  Approximately 100 Singaporean students from all areas of Singaporean society attended the workshops.  We designed a structured social enterprise workshop to help aspiring or current young social entrepreneurs improve their professional development skills and create a network for attendees to learn from and support each other.ysaeli_greg-cooper-and-mark-cheng_0281.jpg

The program featured a variety of professionals who shared their stories of how they became successful to inspire the students to work hard to achieve their goals.  Local successful social entrepreneurs shared their expertise and stories on the positive impact of their social enterprises.  The speakers included a member of parliament, established social entrepreneurs, and professionals from Deloitte Consulting USA and Deloitte Consulting Singapore.  The workshops culminated in a competition where all of the attendees presented their ideas for potential funding by NYAA.  I participated as a judge along with other Deloitte USA professionals.

I had the unique opportunity to get to know students from different facets of Singaporean society and learn about their thoughts on Singapore’s educational system and how to address Singapore’s environmental issues.  They shared stories about their background and the ideas they had to improve Singapore.  Common themes were helping students with learning disabilities and providing more educational support to students from all socio-economic backgrounds.  We talked a lot on how they can be proactive about creating their social enterprise organization, including expanding their network, developing their ideas, creating a business plan, and marketing and pitching their ideas to potential investors.  The students pitched their ideas at the end of the workshops, using the information they gained during the workshops. I was impressed with the thought and range of ideas they in the areas of fashion, education, health, and the environment, and was pleased that the students sought my advice on their presentations.  Some of the students requested to be connected on LinkedIn after the workshops ended.  I truly felt like I had made long last connections.

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Singapore wasn’t all work.  I also explored the famous hawker centers and tried new food and drinks such as sugar cane, chili crab, chicken rice, sting ray, fried carrot cake, and dim sum. I ate at a 1-star Michelin restaurant after waiting in a long line, and the wait was worth it.  I am a big coffee drinker and happily discovered Singapore’s delicious Kopi coffee culture.  I also visited many of Singapore’s famous sites.  I learned about Singapore’s history at the National Museum of Singapore, visited the luminous steel trees at Gardens by the Bay at night, and explored Little India and Chinatown.

The support given by NYAA and ITE was integral to the success of the workshops.  ITE, where most of the attendees study, provided an inviting conference space.  Through NYAA, I met Singaporean social entrepreneurs and government representatives who gave inspiring speeches to the attendees on how they came from humble backgrounds and through hard work and perseverance were able to make an impact on Singaporean society.  Mark Cheng and NYAA have formed a long-term partnership that will result in additional workshops to continue training and supporting Singapore’s future social entrepreneurs.  I would be honored to participate in future workshops if the opportunity arises.

I would like to thank the U.S. Department of State, American Councils for International Education, Deloitte Consulting USA, Deloitte Singapore, NYAA, the Institute of Technical Education, and Jaimie Holmes and Mauli Whitney from the American Councils for International Education for making this project successful.

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Outbound Project Reflection: Rosemary Max and Thi Kim Chi Vu in Hanoi

written by Rosemary Max, Executive Director of Global Engagement, Oakland University 

I had the opportunity to go to Vietnam for two weeks on the Outbound segment of the Professional Fellows Program. I was in Hanoi and hosted by my colleague Kim Chi Vu Thi, a lecturer at Banking Academy. During this time I was able to offer three workshops to students on the US higher education system, on the school to work transition and entrepreneurship, and on professional writing.  I was also able to meet and discuss potential partnerships with faculty from Banking Academy and 6 other universities in Hanoi. The visit culminated in a business case competition in which I participated as a judge.  The visit was an amazing opportunity because it gave me a window into the university system, students and life in Vietnam.  Students in Vietnam, much like students in the US, are focused on and preoccupied by getting a foothold in the working world after graduation. We talked a lot about how to be proactive during one’s university career, ie to develop competencies, networks, and experiences in addition to their coursework.  I am sure that my university will develop partnerships with a few Vietnamese universities because of this opportunity.

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I also took the time to visit cultural sites and to learn more about my host country. I visited several museums, Ho Chi Minh’s tomb and museum, saw a performance of water puppetry, and I took a cooking class. One of my favorite things to do in Hanoi was to find a Cong Café and to sit and have a Coconut coffee drink. Probably the best cold coffee drink I have ever had. It is the perfect mix of sweetened condensed milk, coffee with an icy coconut topping and it manages not to be too sweet. Cong Café has a retro revolutionary feel to it. It is a chain of cafes started by a Vietnamese female entrepreneur. I couldn’t think of a better way to spend my money—in support of this successful woman owned business.

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