Coming Alive

It’s strange to think that a year ago I was beginning to apply for the Global Social Benefit Fellowship. About 10 months ago I applied and a few weeks later was notified that I was accepted to be a fellow with Nazava Water Filters in Indonesia. I was ecstatic to learn that I would be able to learn about a field that I knew nothing about and be in the field conducting research for a real social entrepreneur. For months we prepared, learning about different theories of development, about social entrepreneurship and different entrepreneurs in the field, and about how this fellowship would may impact the way our lives progress in the future.

And then the fellowship happened and I spent 8 weeks across the world. I came back and dove into an accelerator, where I met a whole group of entrepreneurs trying to better their businesses and maximize their social impacts. Since then, I have incessantly tried to figure out what this fellowship has meant to me and trying to determine the answer to the question that all college seniors get about 10 times a week: “So what do you think you’ll do after graduation?”

When I was first beginning to think about applying for the fellowship, I knew that I wanted to do something involving sustainability or climate change, and this is what drew me to the fellowship in the first place. I saw that there were enterprises that really cared about the environment and I wanted to be a part of that. 10 months later, this hasn’t changed. I worked with Nazava, and their passion to reduce waste and carbon emissions really motivated me. I still strongly desire to do something to impact our planet in whatever way I can. But the methods in my mind to do this have expanded. Through this fellowship, I have seen that business has the capacity to make important changes in the developing world. It has the power to impact lives. By thinking of the enterprises in the developing world, I have also begun to think about the power that business has in the developed world today. There are investors who are making a huge impact by investing in enterprises that are making these changes. There are businesses here that are beginning to see the importance of sustainability within their work environments. There are businesses who are trying to improve their supply chains and integrate social and environmental concerns into their cores. In all honesty, I want to be a part of that. In some way, I want to be involved in the new integration of consciousness into the business world, since I believe this is the place that it is most needed. In what capacity this is, I don’t really know. But I want to be there.

And in all honesty, I know that I can’t do this by working in the field. In the past few years, I have traveled somewhat extensively in the developing world, at least for a college student. I have visited El Salvador, Myanmar, and Cambodia, and spent over a month in Tanzania on top of my time in Indonesia. In all of these experiences, I have seen many beautiful things, including the value of living simply. However, there was another thing that I noticed. I gained insight into how difficult it is to work in the developing world. Not only is it difficult to travel, communicate with people, and cross language barriers, but it is also extremely difficult for me to acclimate to the relaxed pace that is offered in the developing world. As a college student in the U.S., I am extremely used to working in a fast-paced, high-pressure environment. I have the energy to get work done quickly and efficiently  (when senioritis isn’t taking hold). As a person who wants to make change happen, I know that I need to be in a pace where I can be fully utilized. As of right now, a developing country does not really feel like it would be that place. While I really loved traveling and doing research in Indonesia. it’s the place where I really realized this, and I am very thankful for that.

In the last 10 months, I have seen myself in ways that I don’t know if I have before. In my academic career, I am now more confident that the fields I have chosen (Political Science, Environmental Studies, and Economics) will guide me to where I want to be in life and give me the knowledge to make a real impact. I know that I am learning about so many of the issues that our world faces and acquiring real tools in solving them. I know that my knowledge has expanded outside of the classroom as well. I have met so many people who are making real tangible changes to lift people out of poverty, save our planet, and making strides to solve multiple social justice issues. I have been inspired in ways that I could not even begin to imagine. It has been both great and difficult. It has been great to really reflect on what I care about and where I want to take my passions. It has been extremely daunting and difficult to think about the major problems that our planet and its people face. As time goes on, these problems are things that I think about more and more. As I see thinks being done to solve them, I think about how much work is yet to be done and how much dedication it will take for it to happen. It’s not something I enjoy thinking about, but it motivates me. And honestly, I think that’s what people need: some motivation. I know that I will dedicate myself to the planet, and I hope that other people can realize what they are passionate about and called to do. I think I can end this entry, and this fellowship, with a quote that I have seen and heard multiple times. “Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is more people who have come alive.”

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The End and the Beginning

Since I never really finished up posting on my experience in Indonesia, I thought that here I would share a little bit on our last few weeks and reflect a bit on the what I have felt on coming back home.

After leaving Bali, Ilhan and I headed to Papua for our last week of action research. Here, we got to see a much different side of Nazava. In the area we were in, Nazava’s filters are being sold through an NGO based in Manokwari. This NGO, unlike many Nazava resellers (ordinarily), works heavily with last mile customers. Nazava - 230These are the people who without some sort of purification technology, often die from water borne illnesses. The NGO hopes to use Nazava not only as a technology that provides clean water at a very low cost, but also as a way to empower local Papuan people, particularly the Meyah people of West Papua. They do this by helping members of the Meyah community to create kiosks that sell Nazava filters. By doing this, the community members have access to the product and gain a way to have income coming in as well. While there, we worked with Michael, an employee of the NGO, who moved to Papua from the states about six years ago. Working with him and in Papua was a far more eye-opening experience that I could have imagined. Going into Papua, we really had no idea what to expect as most Indonesians have never gone there (and most see no reason to). Once we got there, it was beautiful. The hills and mountains and coastline views were stunning. But this isn’t what made Papua a much different experience for me; it was the people.

I don’t think I could have done anything to adequately prepare for the overwhelming amount of hospitality we were shown by the Meyah people. In Papua, our research consisted of visiting kiosks and surveying customers who have Nazava filters and a few who did not. It was never a big ordeal or anything like that. Yet, every kiosk we went to (we went to six) welcomed us with open arms and gifts. We were met with songs (I can’t be sure what the lyrics were, but I’m assuming they were good) and bags of flowers and snacks, lettNazava - 225ers and even money. I had no idea what to do especially since in my eyes, we weren’t providing any sort of help to these communities. Yet it was so beautiful and really warmed my heart. But in talking with Michael on our drive back one day, I learned more than I really bargained for. We kept asking him what to do with the money that had been given to us, as we in no way deserved it or felt right in keeping it. He said that they truly wanted to give it to us so we should do whatever we wanted with it. He expressed that it was something that the community is proud of and something that they want to do. It’s a privilege. This was such a huge realization for me since I had never thought about it in this way before. I realized that in not accepting a gift from someone, I am taking away someone’s privilege to give, which is such a beautiful and humbling privilege. Just because I believe those who have more limited resources should not need to give me something does not mean that they do not want to. The communities we met with wanted to give us something from their hearts, and who am I to say that they shouldn’t be or cannot do so?

After Papua, Ilhan and I headed to Kuala Lumpur for a day, to Siem Reap for five days, to Kuala Lumpur for another, and then to East Java for a week with our SCU advisor on Indonesia David Pinault, all before heading back to Bandung for the Nazava reseller meeting taking place before we jumped on some planes back to the U.S. Since these two weeks were less a part of our fellowship, I don’t want to spend too much time on them. But let me tell you, these were an educational two weeks as well. From touring temples like Angkor Wat to learning how to cook curry, from seeing the Petronas Towers and having a life affirming cab ride with a Punjab Sikh man in Kuala Lumpur to traveling during Idl Fitri, and from seeing Muslims, Christians, and Hindi people praying in the same place to witnessing a spiritual performance in which spirits enter the bodies of the performers, I could not even really begin to describe all of the things we did, saw and learned in those two weeks.

After these weeks, Ilhan and I had the privilege of presenting our research at the Nazava reseller meeting in Bandung. It was awesome! We got to show what we learned, meet resellers from all over the country, learn a little more about the company, and really round out our experience as fellows in Indonesia.

Now that I’m home, I’ve had a chance to step back and consider everything that I learned, everything we did, and everyone we met during our time. To be very honest, there are so many things that I wish could have been different. I wish I could have been able to understand and communicate more with those who we met. I wish I would have been able to cram in some more real conversations in the short amount of time that we had. I wish that I could have been more of a resource while we were there. But these things would have been incredibly difficult and require so much more time and energy, and thus they did not happen. However, this takes absolutely nothing away from the innumerable enlightening conversations and experiences I did have in Indonesia.

There were many difficult things about serving the people who we met with in Indonesia. From women not being able to purchase the filter since they did not have financial privilege in their households to realizing that I would be going home and not needing a water filter, I knew that the realities that many Indonesians face is not my reality. I, as a young woman in America, have so many opportunities open and available to me. There is no reason I should ever not have my own financial independence. I (unless this drought really persists) do not have an issue obtaining an ample supply of safe drinking water. I have the ability to become what I want to be.

However, much of the world is not the same. Not everyone has a voice to speak up about injustice. Not everyone has a say in the quality of their education. Many don’t have access to health services or even clean water. There are so many problems in our world. This fellowship helped me to see a few of these firsthand. I wouldn’t say that this had made me realize the exact profession I want to have in my future, but it did strengthen my passion to do something to end or alleviate these issues. I think that I’ll end this rather long post with a quote that I’ve heard for a while and has really been a strong influence in my life: “I always wondered why someone didn’t do something about that, then I realized I was someone.” I believe that if I see something wrong and want it to change, it is my job and passion to do so. This fellowship may be coming to an end, but it’s just the beginning of determining where it has brought me and how this experience will influence my future.

Lombok & Bali: Family, Friends, and an Eternal Lack of Sleep

As you may have guessed if you’ve read any of my past posts, we never stay in one place for long, and the past two weeks have been no different. We left the east Bali province of Karangasem, spent a night in Sanur watching the World Cup (again), and hopped on a boat to the island of Lombok, the friendly eastern neighbor of Bali. Here, we encountered more differences than I had expected, in both great and frustrating ways. After that week, we headed back to Bali, and this time stayed in the tourist area of Sanur. That week was different than any other as well, and brought with it some beautiful moments that were beyond our expectations.

To give a little background on Lombok, as the background greatly influenced our work, it is an island with a much different culture than that of Java and Bali. IMG_2171While it has the same village structure as Bali with a village leader called a Kepala Desa, the island is 90% Muslim. Instead of the sounds of the music of village ceremonies in the night, we heard the echoes of recitations of the Qur’an came from every angle as we slept (or didn’t sleep and read on my Kindle for hours). Instead of the villages being sprinkled with temples, there were mosques on every other street corner. And instead of being in Bali in the high season for Hindu ceremonies, we arrived in Lombok in the middle of Ramadan. Because of this, families would wake up around 4:00 am to cook breakfast and eat around 4:30 (before the sun rose), and then would not eat again until the sun went down around 6:30. This created an interesting culture when it came to selling water filters both because the potential customers cannot try the water and because the work day is shortened since people often nap during the day and productivity greatly decreases.

With this being said, our days were filled with promotional activities and meetings with village leaders with Jeroen and his Lombok managers Owan (whose family we stayed with) and Rudi.While the productivity of these meetings may have been lesser than in BaliIMG_1823, the days were exhausting nonetheless. On our first day in Lombok, we visited a village clinic where mothers were receiving vaccinations for their young children and checking their weights and heart rates. Here, we gave a presentation with Jeroen and Owan. The women were very receptive to the possibilities that Nazava could provide, but when we surveyed a few of the women, they said that they would not be buying filters that day as they did not have money with them. Because of this and some other activities we had done previously, we have learned that women are not the financial heads of the households for the most part, so it’s rare that they can make decisions such as buying a water filter on their own, even if their families would greatly benefit from it. We learned about this in class before we left, but it becomes so much more real when you experience it in person. It was great being surrounded by these new mothers and the joy they shared with their children was evident, but it was hard to not dwell on the reality that these women despite being clearly interested did not have the power to make this potentially beneficial decision for their families.

For the rest of this day and the next, we visited multiple Kepala Desas and friends of Owan and Rudi to conduct promotional activities and survey some customers. July 9th, however,was a special day: it was the national presidential election. Ilhan and I spent the first part of the day playing and touring with some little girls, and spent the second part at an absolutely beautiful beach with Jeroen. It was interesting being in country during this time as there was no clear lead in the election the entire time and there was no consensus even among the people who we spoke with. The candidates are so different, with one being seen as a strong leader and former military man, and the other being seen as a softer leader who is the current governor of Jakarta. The results are to be finalized tomorrow, so we’ll see where the country ends up.

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For the rest of our time in Lombok, we did the same thing we usually did: visit kepala desas, speak with customers, and present to various community groups. I realize as I type that this is probably starting to sound a little old by now, but each visit and presentation is a littleIMG_2666 bit different and we learn and find something new each time.
However even as we do these things time and again, it never gets easier to overcome the language barrier. It’s never something that inhibits our work, but it usually limits our conversations to being solely about our research. We sit and act respectful and take notes, but otherwise wait to move on to new people as conversation flows between the resellers and customers. The people are always so welcoming and want to know why we are there, and we always have the same answers. There are only so many questions that we can ask that would be appropriate in the time that we spend with each person, especially since we never really know how short or long that time will be. But one things that was new was the fact that we stayed with a family. Since they were Muslim, they would wake up and eat early, but the mother would make us breakfast at around 9:00. We would then basically fast the whole day and come back in time for dinner to break the fast. Then every night was filled either with us speaking with the Owan and his wife (along with some other villagers who always seemed to be around. I think this family happened to be very popular), or filled with playing with Fuji, Owan’s young daughter, and her friends. It was so refreshing and nice to be truly welcomed in and spend time with them. Despite language issues, it’s not too hard to play even if you have no idea what’s being said, and I won’t lie, it’s pretty wonderful.

From Lombok, we packed up, said goodbye to Owan and his family who hosted us so lovingly and graciously, and headed back to Bali. For the first day, we met with Jeroen and Mangku again (Lisa, Guido, & Janne were there as well!), and then met with Yufi (the Jakarta reseller) and two of her Bali agents with Lisa. Both meetings helped us to figure out our final presentation materials and final products from the fellowship. After these two days, we got what I think is the most amount of feedback in such a short period of time that we had ever gotten. For two days we worked with Kopernik, an NGO in that works in Bali (as well as all over Indonesia) to provide tech kiosks that sell beneficial technologies to those in poverty. They sell solar lamps, cook stoves, and Nazava Water Filters. They are the last mile of distribution, reaching those in extremely poor and rural areas. With them, we visited a few kiosks and received an incredible amount of feedback on the product, marketing, sales, and materials.  In learning Nazava’s business model, we learned that the reseller focus was the peri-urban areas and those who are not int he lowest income bracket. Kopernik, however, deals with those who have less access to clean water and more difficulty with filtration as well.  So it was fascinating and eye-opning to speak with them and see their operations, as it is something completely different than anything we had seen before and entirely different way in which Nazava’s technology is being shared and implemented.

In addition to our Nazava activities, our last week in Bali filled with something else beautiful: friends. Our good friend Sally, who is doing the GSBF in Manila working for Rags2Riches, decided to come and visit Bali for a few days. Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetThe first was filled with traveling to a tech kiosk with Kopernik, but the next two were filled with relaxation, fun, and love. On top of this, before I left for Indonesia, I knew that my housemate Paty had a huge Southeast Asia trip planned with her friend Amy for after graduation. Alas, our time managed to overlap in Bali for two days! So Thursday and Friday were filled with so much laughter and joy and so little sleep that they went by in a quick blur. Together, Ilhan, Paty, Amy Sally and I spent countless hours relaxing on the beach, shopping, experiencing Bali nightlife (lack of sleep round two), eating, and snorkeling. Ilhan and I had done very minimal tourist experience prior to this, so it was both beautiful and confusing. But the glory of having someone else from the fellowship around is the ability to express this feeling of confusion. Before we hit the town with Paty and Amy, Sally and I had a long conversation about the disparities of work and the things that we did as tourists. We talked about the difficulties in making strong connections with those we meet, the intricacieProcessed with VSCOcam with f2 presets of balancing work and emotion, the different ways in which we can help ourselves in the future to deal with frustrations, and basically our prior expectations of the fellowship and all some of our experiences, both frustrating and beautiful. One thing that we spent a lot of time talking about (and subsequently emailing about) was opening our hearts. Before we left the states for our respective countries, Phil Eukel who had done the fellowship last year with Anudip came and talked to our class. One of his biggest pieces of advice for us was to open our hearts. As we talked, we realized that for us, it was nearly impossible to open my heart to people, as it was so difficult to get to know them. We grappled with this challenge and really hoped that we were not missing out on anything. But in our next few emails, we have realized that for us, opening our hearts is more in terms of opening our hearts to our feelings, our experiences, and the processes we must go through to figure out what this fellowship means to us. It was a great realization to stumble upon, and it was so refreshing sharing similar perspectives, even if we are in completely different places doing completely different things.

On Saturday, we left Bali bright and early at 6am (without sleeping… couldn’t waste a moment with friends!) and spent the next 10 or so hours traveling to Papua which (HUGE spoiler alert here) is far different than any place we have been so far. We have one week of research left before a two week break, which will be followed by a finalization of some of research and a presentation to resellers in Bandung at a reesller convention that Lisa and Guido are hosting. It has been such a once-in-a-lifetime ride with some peaks and valleys (both metaphorically and extremely literally), and I know we have much more to do and learn. Until next time my friends, Selamat Jalan (happy jouney) to all, no matter what journey you may be on.

Bali

Okay so yet again, I’m not so great at this blogging thing. But better late than never, right? I’ve kind of decided to group blog posts by location since, well, it makes sense to group things and process them this way. Since we are pretty much in a place for a week or so, I think this will work. As we work, I have come to realize how much time and energy it takes to put my experiences and feelings into words that will effectively communicate everything, so even when we don’t have a lot of things going on after 7:00pm, i usually find myself deep in a book rather than typing out our days (hence the lateness of this post). For the past few days, we have been on Lombok, but that will come in the post after this one. This one is all about Bali and some of our experiences in our first stint on that beautiful island.

The day after we returned from Yogyakarta, we boarded the plane to Bali, arrived, and hopped in our cab and headed to Sanur where we would stay the night before the reseller in Bali, Jeroen, would pick us up the next day to head to the eastern part of the island. We got to see the beach (where I lost my phone) and stayed up until the 12:00am Netherlands vs. Mexico game began, and watched it in a bar FILLED with orange. Of course Ilhan and I were rooting for Mexico (shoutout to GSBF group Iluméxico), so it got a little awkward at times. After this relaxing night, we were ready to start working on this beautiful island.

Monday morning we headed to Sidemen, the village where we would be staying for the week. To give a little context, there are two main people in east Bali for Nazava. There is Jeroen, a who moved to Bali about a year ago to sell Nazava filters and Mangku, a native of eastern Bali. Jeroen is the main reseller, but the two work very closely to sell in the area. Anyways. In Java, the main religion is Islam, whereas in Bali, the main religion by far is Hinduism (different from Indian Hinduism, called Balinese Hinduism). We were told in advance that when we arrived on Monday, we would be going to Mangku’s village of Kebung for a ceremony that only occurs every hundred years (I forgot the name and need to ask Mangku, but it is something to do with the cleansing of a village or something of the sort). No work was to be done this day as we needed to settle in and the ceremony took up the majority of the people’s day and also blocked many of the roads in the area. Before the ceremony, we went to Mangku’s village where his daughter gave Ilhan and I traditional sarongs to wear, and honestly it made me really excited. We were about to see a traditional Hindu ceremony and community, why wouldn’t I be excited? However, this feeling of excitement changed as soon as we arrived. There were so many people there and I could speak to about 2 of them, and I knew nothing of what was going on or what anything meant. The number of quizzical stares that Ilhan, Jeroen, and I received were beyond innumerable. There were offerings all around us and alters, stages, and platforms constructed solely for this event, all covered in yellow and white cloth. It was something unlike anything I had ever seen or experienced before and I’m going to be honest, I have never felt so out of place in my life. Here were these people involved in the third day of this huge religious ceremony for their village, and here I was just walking in appearing that I was there as though I just came to see the site. It honestly felt wrong to be there. But I couldn’t just leave, we were invited by Mangku and came with part of his family. Since I couldn’t communicate with anyone other than by timidly smiling, I don’t really know if people know why we were there, but I do hope those smiles put some people at ease. Eventually, I slowly began to embrace the fact that we were there to stay and tried to simply take in everything as much as I could. At one point, everyone began sitting down, and we learned that it was time to pray. I had never seen this before and it was such a beautiful ritual. People would (in unison) pray and then put flowers in their hair or ears, and then repeat. Afterward, people came around and those sitting and praying would take some to drink, some to put on the face and scalp, and then take rice from a bowl and stick it to their upper chest and forehead. We were given the water and rice as well and it was strange participating as I am not Hindu and I had no idea what it meant. However, I am glad that the whole experience happened, even if it was one of the most uncomfortable times of my life.

The next day, Ilhan and I hopped on a motorbike to get to Mangku’s house (I drove) and we were taken around a village with the village leader and his wife. The wife was a sort of agent for Nazava, so we followed her around and met a ton of Nazava customers and got a bunch of surveys in. The villages in Bali were unlike anything we had seen in Indonesia thus far. Whereas in Java, people generally lived in homes with their own space, the villages in Bali often consist of groups of homes where many families share one area of land but have many homes in it. These home-groups often have a small Hindu temple in the corner that is only for the families who live there. There are always offerings in the temple, in front of homes and stores, and sometimes just on the sidewalk. It’s incredible how tied into Hinduism each village tends to be. That afternoon, we learned how the sales process in Balinese villages often works. Jeroen and Mangku often go from village to village to the Kantor Desa, the village center (kind of like a City Hall), to meet with the Kepala Desa, the head of the village, in order to see if he would be interested in trying the filter and/or allow Jeroen and Mangku to make a presentation at the monthly village women’s meetings. If he was not in the Kantor Desa, we would ask around and make our way to his home. It’s an interesting strategy that we had never seen before, and it really seems to work. We visited one or two of these leaders who were pretty interested, and then headed back to our little home.

The next day was one for the books. Jeroen was ill, so Mangku was to take us around for the day. To start the day, we went up to this great temple at the top of a huge hill/miniature mountain. We drove motorbikes up with Mangku and a French couple who he invited (they didn’t know how to get there) and then climbed about 500 steps. It was absolutely incredible. On the way down I slipped on some moss and completely laid out on my back, but was fine. I should have really taken this as an omen for the day. Afterward, we stopped on our way down the hill to survey two of Mangku’s customers. At this point, it had started to pour down rain so Ilhan and I broke our our rain jackets and climbed on the bike for the ride down. We decided to stop at a little restaurant with a view of the valley below to have lunch. It was and incredibly calming and peaceful place. Afterward, as the rain continued to pour, we continued our journey downward following Mangku. As it was basically a mountain, the road was steep and wound a lot. I was pretty much riding the brakes through the whole way down. As we headed down a stretch, I started to notice something in the road. I processed that it was a fallen tree. I remembered seeing it on the way up and thinking “Man, someone should move this, it’s a hazard!”. And boy, was it. Since we were on the way down, it was now on our side of the road. There were no other cars or motorbikes on the road (did I mention it was POURING RAIN?) so I steered around the tree. I guess I didn’t steer quite far enough around the tree or simply underestimated the reach of the fallen giant, and our bike clipped the tree a little bit and Ilhan and I took a hard little tumble. Lying on the asphalt, I did a mental check of my body and realized “Woah. Hey. You’re okay?”. I had two decent scrapes on my knee where my pants tore, I bruise on my hip which I landed on, and some bruises/scrapes on my ankle, upon which the bike decided to rest; but other than this, I was unharmed. Ilhan was also A-okay as I pretty much broke her fall. We both got up and she walked down the hill to get Mangku who did not notice we fell at first, and I righted the bike which only suffered a small dent and broken mirrors ($20 to fix in total). Mangku rushed up, saw that I was hurt, and drove me straight to our hotel (on the crashed bike), which was about 5 minutes away. I got there and he showed the bike to the girl we borrowed it from, and she was a little shocked. I apologized profusely and Mangku went to go get Ilhan. I sat down on the step since Ilhan had the room key and thought about what happened and started to cry. This was the first time in Indonesia that I was alone. No Ilhan, no resellers, no one to talk to, and the crash hit me. I felt SO BAD for the girl whose bike we borrowed, so mad and embarrassed that the crash even happened, and so worried about what would happen next. Would those at home be mad at me? How much would the bike cost? Did I just make an absolute fool of myself? Will I be allowed to drive again? It was rough. Ilhan and Mangku came back to me crying on the porch and took me to our room where I used my handy-dandy first aid kit to clean and bandage my wounds (shoutout to Spencer and Keith on that First Aid training!). But the crying didn’t stop. For anything. I eventually realized everything would be fine and I wasn’t an idiot for wiping out on a motorbike because, truth be told, shit happens (Ilhan spoke on the phone with Lisa, our CEO, and she told her to tell me “welcome to Indonesia” and that I was a real Indonesian now). The tears from my eyes seemed to disagree. But then I realized I wasn’t crying about the accident anymore. I believe all of my pent-up frustrations from the trip thus far began to pour out in the form of Niagra falls on my face. It was endless. But afterward, it was incredible. I realized that every frustration I have had was just bottled up and needed to be freed, and finally it was. It was a very valuable lesson, and one that I am so happy to have learned. The motorbike mishap was not an ideal situation, but I would be lying if I said I wish it didn’t happen. (Side note/thought: Who does this? Actually though, I have has thought about this a lot. If someone told me two months ago I would be wiping out on a motorbike in the pouring rain in Bali, I would have laughed in their face and given them kudos for their expansive imagination. But here I sit, with my soon-to-be scar on my knee, as that girl who crashed a rented motorbike in Bali cried her eyes out and then rode it again but is totally fine and still having a great time. Who would have thunk?)

The rest of the week, we got a real taste for Nazava in east Bali. We went to countless Kantor Desa locations and met many a Kepala Desa. We went to visit customers wherever they were, which included many homes, shops, a tile factory and a local hotel. We went to a women’s meeting, known as an Ibu PKK and made a presentation there. We went to a beautiful beach for about 20 minutes on one of our drives hom. I got back on the motorbike two days after our crash and rode in the pouring rain on narrow roads and muddy roads riddled with too many potholes to count. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a little scared when we got back on the bike, and I would be lying if I said that I didn’t start out slow. But quoted people always say to do things that scare you and just get back on once you fall off, and these pieces of advice were not lost on me (which is probably why those people are quoted). Our hotel was beautiful and placed along a river and above a pond with an outdoor bathroom and shower. We got to relax after work every day and since we were so isolated from others, I managed to read two and half books, compile findings, write the novel that was my last blog post, reflect a bunch, and get a decent night’s sleep after each exhausting day. While the pace is extremely different than it is in the U.S. and we drove more hours than I care to count, it was a successful week for our project and for Nazava.

It was a great week (besides the fact that it rained the overwhelming majority of the time) and I was sad that it ended, but now we are in Lombok, and (big surprise here), it is yet again very different from both Java and Bali. Ilhan and I did not take a ton of pictures this week, but below are some that I thought were worth sharing. Until next time my friends, Hati Hati! (Take care!)

Sadus Tile Factory

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Me and our ride two days post-fall

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Presentation with Jeroen and Mangku at the Ibu PKK

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Our little bungalow for the week

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The view from our bungalow, where we got tea every morning




Island One: Java

Okay so I was initially super excited about doing this whole blog thing and keeping the world posted frequently about each of our little adventures, but that idea immediately flew out the window once things really got rolling here. It’s been about two weeks now, and every single say has been filled with different activities and places than the day before. We spent our first week and half in Java and are now on Bali, our second island. However, so much happened in that short week and a half that I don’t think I can even begin to touch on Bali without writing a novel-esque blog post that we all know begs not to be read (not that this will be that much shorter). So instead, I think I’d rather just give some insight into our first week and a half, which I think will be plenty. If this gets too long, feel free to read in chunks! Also, sorry if the pictures seem lacking, in the field it just feels odd to take pictures of our surroundings most of the time and since we are in cars a lot it’s really hard to as we travel as well. Anyways, here we go.

After day one, we really started just getting into the programs and promotions that resellers were engaging in. Screen Shot 2014-07-01 at 10.47.34 PMOver the course of Thursday to the following Saturday, we had one full day off without travel and worked all of the other days all around Java. There were times with and without our CEOs Lisa and Guido, and there were endless hours of driving and taking trains with a little bit of flying in between. We travelled out of Bandung to Sukabumi, Cicarang, Jakarta, Bogor, and Yogyakarta. We spoke with 6 different resellers and conducted over 40 mobile surveys with customers and non-customers, while also collecting pictures and customer testimonies along the way. It was a week and a half that was filled with SO MANY experiences I cannot even begin to lay out. But I think I’ll try to recount a few anyways.

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On the wall outside the mosque

Day two was our first in the field. We traveled to the southern part of Bandung and met with a reseller named Irfan. He took us to a few of his customers who we surveyed and took videos of for testimonies. I was so excited to finally see Nazava filters in use and the happy customers who were using them. It wasn’t the most exciting day (especially once we started working more), but it was great to finally get on the ground and run our surveys and interview a reseller. The next day we got an even better idea of Nazava’s work in the field. We traveled with Guido to Sukabumi, which was about 2 hours from Bandung without traffic (which is a funny thing to say because I have NEVER experienced as much traffic as I have here in Java, so obviously it took more than two hours). Here we met Wan Wan, who had just become a reseller the week or two before. We went with him to visit his community mosque, which is part of the Ahmadiyya community, which I knew nothing about. Basically, I learned that this is one of the more persecuted communities of Islam despite the fact that many aim to spread peaceful messages of love to all. Since it was Friday, all of the community came to the mosque for Friday prayers. Guido and I sat in the community center-esque room next door as the prayers were about to begin  since non-Muslims are not allowed into the mosque. Since I have never been in a majority-Muslim country before, this was a first for me. As I sat in the waiting room with all windows and doors open (spoiler alert: it’s extremely hot here all of the time), I began to hear the call to prayer. Then I started hearing another. DSC_0755And another. Before I knew it, I heard about five or six different voices from all around us echoing the call to prayer. Some sounded calm and some sounded not so calm. Some were yelling profoundly as others spoke in more modest tones. I was overwhelmed, amazed, and interested all at the same time. This was something I had never heard before. It was incredible. Right after the prayer, Wan Wan brought several families from the community to the room where Guido and I waited. Guido gave a presentation everything about the filters: the health aspect, how they save time and money, cost comparisons, and how they worked. The entire community was engaged and asking and answering questions. After the presentation, Wan Wan talked about the filter a little more and addressed the concerns of many. In the end, over 12 families bought filters and Ilhan and I gathered multiple surveys and pictures of the new customers. We got to smile and laugh with many of the new customers as they were excited about their new purchase. It was a prime first promotional activity for us to attend.

The next day (Saturday), Ilhan and I had a lovely day off. We traveled with Lisa and Janne to Tankuban Perahu, a volcano on the edge of BandungScreen Shot 2014-07-01 at 7.17.16 PM. We walked around the edge and then sat down for lunch. We just took in the views of the crater and ate lunch as it began to pour down rain. It was one of those moments you just can’t predict or plan, yet is just so beautiful. We watched as Janne removed her shoes and began to jump around in the rain and play in the miniature river than began to form on the path as Indonesians marveled at this tiny little blonde girl. Afterward, we made the short drive to some natural hot springs. photo 1As the rain continued, we climbed in and damn, was it relaxing. We sat in the hot water as the cool rain continued to pour. Both water and conversation flowed as we enjoyed our peaceful afternoon in the mountains.We then took a walk though a nearby tea plantation that seemingly went on for miles. (Normally I would insert the awesome panorama I took, but my phone decided to take a detour out of Ilhan’s bag on our first day in Bali, so this is not really possible.) Later, we met up with Guido for dinner at a fabulous outdoor restaurant. We sat on the ground of this structure built right over a river, and it was amazing It was the perfect relaxing day right before we began to really travel the island.

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The following few days we moved around a bit by train and car to Cicarang, Jakarta, and Bogor. All three places had very different things in store for us. In Cicarang, we spent the day with Roni, a reseller who has his own store. While there, we witnessed him sell to a couple who walked in and we also sat in on a meeting he had with representatives from a local TV and radio station. It was interesting to see a person-to-person sale happen and the meeting with the radio/TV channel turned into something more than I thought it would. After the meeting, we were asked by the station reps if we wanted to visit the local hospital which was near the studio. We of course said and hopped in the Nazava truck to head over. Major miscommunication. We instead went to the studio itself and got a tour. We sat in on a radio show and met the host and then BOOM. We were on the air? I really don’t know how this happened but before I knew it, I was introducing myself and Guido was raving about Nazava on Indonesian radio. It was awesome! The host asked about our fellowship (which is great), about Nazava (also great), and about our time so far in Indonesia (guess what I’m gonna say… oh, yeah. Again, GREAT).  photo 3Apparently Roni got a message or two after the show from listeners inquiring about the filter, so it was a pretty successful show! That afternoon we headed to Jakarta to get ready to meet with a reseller named Yufi the next day. We walked around the city a bit that night and got a little bit of a feeling for the downtown. When we met Yufi for lunch the next day, she gave us the low down of her operation. Unlike other Nazava resellers, Yufi treats her operation as a business within itself, as she also owns and runs another company. She has more than ten agents for Nazava who each sell in a different sub-area or surrounding area of Jakarta. She aims to give jobs to those who might not have one otherwise, which often includes women with families who do not have other job experience. She told us her constraints for sales and issues she has had, as well as many of the successes of her operation. For me, it was great to speak with a woman with such a strong business mind and hear her workings within Nazava.The next day, we headed to Bogor. From the train we took ojeks (motorbike taxis) to Aziz’s house. Yet again, we somehow got lost and were not able to help as our Indonesian is far from conversational (but we can count to ten and say thank you!). We made it eventually which is all that counts. Here, we met Aziz who is the reseller for this area. He took us to some customers and potential customers and managed to get in quite a few surveys and a testimony or two. All of this traveling was finally beginning to inspire some exhaustion in me, but there really isn’t much time for that, so I guess I just kind of got over it.

Luckily the next day (Wednesday) was a work-at-home day. We uploaded and edited some pictures, compiled our survey data, tweaked both of our surveys a bit, a began to compile reseller data and examine strategy preferences and successes. The next day, we boarded a train and took a 7+ hour ride to Yogyakarta. photo-2Here we saw something completely new: tourists! It was so strange. Our entire time up to this, I think I had seen a total of about 10 non-Indonesian people, and most of them were at the volcano or in Jakarta. But here, the street we were staying on was flooded with tourists. It was great as we had some more people to communicate with, but it was also an interesting interaction as we were not there to just see the sites. Since we arrived in the afternoon, we couldn’t really work, so we just headed to our hotel. That night, we watched the USA vs Germany World Cup game in a bar with travelers from around the world. We sat in front of some Germans, next to some Australians and Indonesians. It was so fun to be in such an international environment for an event that is overall meant to bring the world together.The next day, we rode motorbikes with friends of Mr. Wahyu (the Yogyakarta reseller) to an elementary school where an agent of Mr. Wahyu was presenting to some teachers (surveyed them, of course), and then to Mr. Wahyu’s shop where he works in engineering or something of the sort. We interviewed him and his agent and went to a customer’s home and got her testimony of the filter. We also went to a local department store where Mr. Wahyu has rented out space for a Nazava display, which is something completely new for us. The next day, we flew to Bandung and spent the day with Lisa (and me, Lisa too I guess) in downtown Bandung before getting a good night’s rest before flying to Bali.

DSC_0732This work so far has been incredible. It has been slow and frustrating at times with all of the traveling and such, but it has been so interesting to see this country, its people, and Nazava. We have been able to talk with people about the filter and water issues, ask about the upcoming election, visit multiple Ahmadiyya Muslim communities, and live in this beautiful place. It has been extremely frustrating at times to not speak the language, as it makes it very hard to form strong connections with those who we meet, but we have been trying our hardest through translation nonetheless. Even with this issue, we have seen so much of what Java has to offer.

We’ve been in Bali about two days now and it is a complete 180 so far, but I’ll save those stories for next time.

Our First Day

After about 30 hours of airplanes and airports and buses, Ilhan and I finally arrived in Bangung on the island of Java in Indonesia. On the bus to Bandung, I couldn’t believe how active the city was. There were people selling food and clothing on every street. There were too many motorbikes and cars to even begin to count, and the whole city was alive. It isn’t a huge metropolis like Jakarta, but Bandung is a spread out city where something is always happening. When our bus ride ended, we met Guido (one of our CEOs) and his 3 year old daughter Janne, and went straight to our hotel. We skipped dinner, and lights were out at 8:00 pm. This seemed fantastic, as we were both extremely exhausted, however neither of us could sleep past 5:30 am. But in the end, this didn’t even factor into our incredible first day.

photo3The next morning, after we both showered and prepared for the day, Guido came to our hotel and we headed to a little coffee/tea shop for breakfast. As soon as we walked out of our residence, we turned the opposite way that I thought we would.We walked down a small dirt path that was on the edge of this small creek. It was fascinating that this lush area was even here since we were in the middle of a city. At the coffee shop, we ran through our project. We showed Guido our survey on an app called Loop. Through this app, we are going to survey Nazava customers and potential Nazava customers about their use of Nazava water filters. We also spoke about how we would be speaking to resellers about what strategies they believe are working and not working for selling the filters. After this, we quickly ran through the schedule for the next week and a half or so. We learned that we would be going somewhere different almost every day while on Java, including Jakarta and Bogor. We would be interviewing customers and resellers, and creating videos where customers speak about their filters. We were talking in the coffee shop so much that I didn’t even realize we had been there for three hours learning about the company, our project, and each other.

 

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After this, we journeyed to Nazava’s warehouse on a different side of Bandung. We took motorbike taxis, which was extremely exciting, even if my driver did get lost for a few minutes and I couldn’t understand a single word that he was saying (I really need to buff up on my Indonesian). When we made it, I honestly had no idea what to expect. We immediately saw that the warehouse is shared with a small sweatshop-type factory and that the men there work from about 7:00am to 10:00pm and usually sleep there as well. This was a bit of a shock, but from what I saw most of them seemed pretty happy and were taking breaks a lot of the time. In the warehouse, we got to see all of the different parts of the filters, where they came from, and how the whole product was put together. We learned about the shipment process and where many of the filters go. Upstairs in the office, we were given a run down of all of the resellers we would be visiting in our time in Indonesia. We plan to visit about 9 located on 4 different islands of the country: Java, Bali, Lombok, and Papua. We will be interviewing each of them and their customers, as well as potential customers.

We then got lunch from a local vendor, even though Ilhan and I had both been warned about diving into local food immediately. It was delicious! I had never had Indonesian food before, so it was interesting and exciting to try local food as our real first meal. During lunch, we met a man named Albert who had lived in Indonesia his whole life, but had ancestors in the Netherlands and China. He was telling us about the election that was coming up, and how he favored the more militarist style candidate, which was interesting since Ilhan and I had heard that the other candidate, Jokowi, was highly favored. He also showed us his tiger tooth necklace, which “listens” to him when he dangles it and tells it to move. He told us to watch his hand closely and see how it moved when he told it to. He was right that his hand wasn’t moving, but it was clear that it was all in the shoulder.

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After lunch, we had our first motorbike lesson. The street outside the warehouse was clear the majority of the time, so we were pretty much free to go at whatever speed we needed to and take up the width of the road. Now this was a brand new experience. Never in my life had I ridden one of these before, so the throttle caught me off guard a bit. After a few runs up and down the street though, I got the hang of it. Turns out, I’ll be the driver of our group and Ilhan will be riding with me. While we were learning, Guido had a Skype call to take, so Ilhan and I motorbiked and walked around the neighborhood. We saw a lot of interesting things, including the fact that there would be extremely nice and large houses directly next to smaller and more run-down looking ones, which is not the case in the U.S. In any case, we really enjoyed our time exploring.

Later, after the calls and a little more debriefing and work, it was time to head out for dinner. We took motorbikes from the warehouse to Guido’s house where we picked up his daughter and headed to a Sundanese restaurant. It was a beautiful place where we sat on the ground and enjoyed a great meal together. After this, it was back to the hotel to work on a few things and then hit the hay. It was such an exciting day, and I cannot wait to see where our future days here take us.

 

My Road

Growing up, I had no clue what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. Whenever I would be asked, an unbelievable number of different professions would come to mind. However, there was always a commonality shared in every option that floated into my head. In every position or career that I imagined, I would be doing something that helped others. I had no idea what this actually meant or how it would happen, but I always knew that I needed to be in a field or pursue a career where the betterment of society or empowerment of others was the true bottom line. Through my experiences thus far, I have been able to reflect on my life and what different passions and careers I could possibly pursue to attain this vague, yet ideal vocation.

In grade school and high school, I was always drawn to community service and immersion trips. I took every chance that I could to see different ways of life and how the world works, but honestly, it was never enough. I had told my dad that I wanted to go to Africa with a friend for a service trip when I was a bright-eyed, fourteen year-old high school freshman. He was less than excited about the idea. So I waited until I was a junior and brought up the idea of a service trip once again, but this time to El Salvador. He was still hesitant in allowing me to go, but eventually gave in. In El Salvador, I worked with a group of other high school students to build a school. This was my first exposure in a developing country, and I learned more than I could even fathom at the time. I learned about poverty, living simply, love, and about what service means to me. I learned about people working to better their own lives. I learned about communities coming together to make change. Throughout the whole process, we worked side by side with parents whose children would attend the school. This showed me that I do not need to be doing something for others, necessarily, but I need to work with others to figure out what people around the globe really want and need. Yet, I still lacked a direction in which to take these ideals.

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 That all changed when I was a freshman at Santa Clara University. For winter quarter of that first year, I had enrolled in some classes that would fulfill core requirements and I felt that I had a pretty light load. During the first week, I decided to add a fifth class entitled “Energy and the Environment”, taught by Stephanie Hughes. It was in this class that my passion for the environment was born. In this class, I learned about the pertinence of climate change and different methods for mitigating it. I learned about efficiency, the different energy options and their effects, and environmental justice. It was in this class that I was first truly exposed to mountaintop removal as well. This class was my first glimpse into the problems that our environment faces. This class had a major effect not only on my experience at Santa Clara, but it was the first step in finding and pursuing my passion for the environment.

The next two steps were pretty logical considering the knowledge and passion that this class had instilled in me. Firstly, I applied for and took part in the Appalachia immersion through the Ignatian Center in which I saw firsthand environmental degradation taking place, but also saw and heard from people who are affected and are taking stands. Secondly, I declared Environmental Studies as my major along with Political Science. Through both of these experiences, I have gained insights into environmental issues and the people whom they affect. At the same time that these two choices were made, my love of the outdoors was growing and growing. I fell in love with camping, hiking, and backpacking. I went camping a couple of weekends throughout the year and spent the spring break of my sophomore year backpacking the Grand Canyon. I fell in love with the planet and the people who live on it, which only fueled my drive to do what I could to save both.

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Since then, my parents have given me opportunities that I never could have imagined. This past summer, I traveled to Tanzania for a wildlife research class and I traveled to Myanmar for a Food & Agribusiness Institute immersion trip. In Tanzania, I was exposed to conservation and environmental issues in a developing nation while developing for myself a profound appreciation of the wildlife in that beautiful country. This experience made me realize that while I did love animals, I realized that the earth and its  people were what really mattered to me. In Myanmar, I was exposed to different sides of poverty within one nation. In Yangon, I witnessed urban poverty with many people living in crammed areas and lacking consistent access to things that would fulfill their basic needs. In a rural village, I witnessed rural poverty with many people living in mud homes with dirt floors and no access to reliable electricity. I also learned here about agriculture in developing countries, and how climate change has the potential to completely disrupt global food systems.

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These experiences, along with my education at Santa Clara, have given me insights into the crises that face our planet and its people. I have learned so much about what those living in poverty around the globe need and about the basic necessities that many lack. I have learned of so many problems that our world faces, yet I have not been provided with many concrete solutions.

This is what drew me to the fellowship. In learning about the fellowship, I saw organizations that aspired to and already were making changes to solve some of these problems. While my passion is the environment, I knew that being around any enterprise that has created an innovation for the poor would be an insightful experience. This fellowship will show me how social entrepreneurship can be a powerful tool in the alleviation of poverty and the fixing of detrimental global issues. While I still do not have a concrete answer when asked what I want to do with my life, I am confident that the experiences that have led me to the fellowship and the fellowship itself have led and will lead me to reach my vocational goal.