Barclays CSR Abroad is a 6-week Community Development Programme where participants go on CSR-related internships in one of the “Growth 8” countries. Every intern has to observe CSR best practices and design a CSR plan to be implemented in Hong Kong. The best CSR plans would be presented to Barclays later in spring. My internship was part of a leadership project carried out in Indonesia.
As I arrived Indonesia one day before Christmas, I had the chance to meet with the other interns from around the world and socialize during the Christmas holiday. Two of them came from Brazil, two from Vietnam, one from Columbia, two from Australia, two from India, one from Belgium, one from Lebanon and one from Portugal. The internship gave me the valuable opportunity to meet a big group of people from around the world, making my experience more insightful.
After a day spent discovering the basics of Indonesian culture together, we had a project trip to Bandung (another city in Indonesia). The aim of this project trip was to introduce and welcome us to the internship, inform us about the timeline and enable us to meet our “Intern Buddies”. The organizers also gave a basic Bahasa local language course during our two-day trip and organized an “Incoming Seminar” for us to get to know one another and about the countries we came from. Given that there was no other intern from Hong Kong, I had the pleasure to represent both my country and Hong Kong.
According to the internship organizers, one of the goals of this internship was for us to experience the Indonesian culture. The highlight of my Indonesian cultural experience was living in a series of host families. The first one was in Jakarta, as soon as I landed, for three days; the second one was in Bandung where I spent two days after the project trip and before New Year’s Eve, the third one was in Jakarta (the home of my Indonesian roommate in Hong Kong) and the fourth one was in Cikarang, where we carried out most of the project, for one month. These families were indeed welcoming and warm. They took me on trips where I met their relatives and tried all sorts of local food – a true cultural immersion.
After returning from New Year’s vacation, we received training from one of the sponsors of the project in order to equip ourselves with the appropriate skills to provide leadership trainings to local students. The training was a one-day seminar held by the organization “Indonesian Future Leaders” through which we were exposed to topics like leadership, time management, and globalization. We also had the chance to polish our English public speaking skills, as some of the other interns had never presented in English before.
The following days were marked by extensive teamwork, preparing our training modules to be delivered to High School students. The first High School was a public high school and we were impressed by the students’ enthusiasm. Our project organizers had mentally prepared us to face pupils with very limited English-speaking abilities. However, our training sessions were very interactive and we received positive feedback from the school. The school was willing to renew the partnership in order to receive more training modules from us, to cater for a bigger number of pupils.
After a series of trainings delivered at several high schools, we started planning the “Charity Day” in mid January. We raised funds to hold activities for orphans at a local orphanage house. The entire group of EPs prepared performances, games, gifts and food for the orphans, who lived in deplorable conditions. I was truly shocked by how the orphans lived and most of us were compelled to put in extra efforts to make a genuine impact in their lives. On the Charity Day, the orphans welcomed us with songs and prayers; we had performances, played games and gave gifts to the kids. It took us a full day to implement this part of the project with the funds (4.5 million IDR) we raised earlier.
Immediately after the charity, amidst our training sessions to high schools, we started preparing for our leadership seminar with the theme “Enhancing Genuine Leaders”. We booked the university auditorium, successfully sold all the 100 tickets after approaching random students on campus, and prepared the content of the seminar. I was meant to be the MC and moderator of the open discussion. On that day, we delivered useful information and training on how to become a good leader, how to work in teams, organizational behavior and even job hunting. We were impressed by the students who actively participated in the open discussion. However, it was hard for me to moderate the discussions, since the majority of the students were shy. I had to encourage them to talk by first offering personal insights. The seminar and open discussion ended well and we received great feedback from students, who loved the cultural performances carried out by the interns.
The last event we organized was the global village, held in late January. Global Village is an AIESEC tradition where all the interns set up booths to display items (e.g clothes, souvenir, dance, pictures, performances) from their countries. The aim of this activity is to enhance the cultural awareness among local students. We faced several difficulties throughout the planning and implementation of this event due to the lack of support from the university. Even though we secured support from the first junior high school that volunteered to host our global village, our plans were shattered on the day when floods caused the school to close its doors and cancel our long awaited and meticulously planned event. Finally the global village was held in the dormitory hall and we were glad that despite the bad weather, dozens of people came to see us display our culture.
The project ended with a closing ceremony, where every participant in the project gave a 360 assessment of the entire program. Through this project, I really learnt to face uncertainty. Any activity could get cancelled at any time and no one could be blamed. For example we were supposed to hold a “Leadership Camp” which got cancelled due to lack of support from the university. Also, I learnt how to manage my time efficiently because we had to provide full-day trainings and plan for other big events (like Charity Day, seminar) entirely by ourselves. Each and every one of us learnt how to multi-task, since due to adverse conditions we sometimes had to play the role of the project organizers and the participants/interns at the same time.
As we are currently going through the “reintegration” process within AIESEC, I have already designed and submitted my CSR plan to AIESEC in HKUST. This officially marked the end of the “Barclays CSR Abroad” programme.