This is a voluntary program organized by Aiesec, an international non-profit organization run by young people, together with its local committee in Bandung. Exchange participants from different countries work together with local volunteers to increase awareness of waste management in Bandung among the general public, villagers, and junior high school students. Through this experience, I helped inspire the people in Bandung to do more about waste management and become inspired about my future in the field of environmental work at the same time.
My job was to create an impact on the people of Bandung, Indonesia, about waste management, together with a team of people from different counties. Participants had to organize three campaigns in total, targeting three groups: general public, old village and school, hoping to educate different people in Bandung about waste management.
I had been to academic exchange in Sweden and travelled around Europe before. I saw many good examples and ideas about environmental protection in the developed countries in Europe. With all the good practices I have experienced before, the experience here really surprised me a lot. I was so shocked that the local government does not do much about waste management and the people do not have much knowledge about it. But I was happy to have the chance to talk with the new generation – junior high school students from two schools – to teach them about the importance of waste management and to bring new ideas to them. Overall I have gained more interest in working on international environmental governance for my future career.
One part of this project was visiting a local village and conducting a three-day campaign with the villagers. On the first day to the village, what surprised me was the amount of rubbish in the river and the landfill at their backyards to burn all the rubbish they produced. During the three-day campaign, we talked to the younger villagers and found that they didn’t actually know the impact that burning toxic material had on the soil and water source. I also found out that the government does not really care about this and don’t have any plans to collect the waste from the villagers or to teach them to handle the waste safety. But it might be because Indonesia is still a developing country and the government does not want to attract too much attention to how people treat their waste.
Another campaign was raising awareness about waste management at two junior high schools. The students there liked us a lot and we all had a great time sharing with them our culture and our practice in waste management. Most importantly, we told them the reason for managing waste and I was glad that many students gave us positive feedback and promised to do more about waste management.
Overall, I have become more open-minded to working in new environments internationally, as I had a great time with the local people in Indonesia. I have become more interested in pursuing my future career overseas if possible, especially when tackling global environmental problem like climate change. I believe in the power of every individual, and that when people realize the need for change and policy, they can actually impact the governance to establish more environmental policies.
Waste management campaign in AlunAlun