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Beyond the confines of the classroom

A Journey to Malang, Indonesia

From 17 to 30 March 2014, we embarked on a journey to Malang, Indonesia for our Overseas Social Innovation Project (OSIP) in collaboration with University of Muhamadiah Malang (UMM). We went with 24 other Singapore Polytechnic (SP) students and three lecturers. Each of us were assigned to an Indonesian buddy from UMM to work together for the entire duration of the trip.

(From left) Cindy, Hiro, Jun Jie and Diana before boarding the plane at Changi Airport

The OSIP aims to allow students to immerse in a different culture and instill students with skills to create sustainable solutions for real life problems that would match the needs of the local community using Design Thinking tools. We also had to learn some basic conversational Indonesia language in UMM on the second day of the trip which enabled us to at least introduce ourselves better to the local community.

One of the focal point of this trip would definitely be the homestay program where we stayed over at a villager’s house. Despite our limitations in communication, we really felt a true sense of family life and culture. There was a strong sense of community in the village or better known as “gotong royong” in Indonesian. This can hardly be found in Singapore now. We also had the chance to experience the villager’s daily life by cooking, eating and even engaging ourselves in the fieldworks together with our host. This enabled us to walk in their shoes and know them better which would then help us to identify their problems and create relative solutions for them. This also allowed us to learn how to adapt to the different living conditions.

Using Design Thinking to create sustainable solutions for real life problems

Hiro and students with one homestay family

It was not all work and no play. During this trip, we were introduced to the Indonesian culture, where we were given the opportunity to learn more about the traditional dance with mask and how to make one of the Indonesian foods, Rujak Manis. We also visited the famous Mount Bromo to watch the sun rise. Some of us had enjoyed a horse ride up to the mouth of dormant volcano. One of the most remarkable places we went was the Coban Rondo waterfall.

Through this entire project, making a difference in a large scale was heavily emphasized. The project taught us that social innovation was not simply an individual project as no man is an island. The OSIP trip has allowed us to better understand and appreciate others culture. The strong friendships that we have forged during this trip are unforgettable. This once in a lifetime chance would definitely not be one to miss.

Written by Hirotaka Darmono, Cindy Hoe Xin Yee, Diana Binte Zahri and Wong Jun Jie
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