The best part of the CCI program is seeing all that our alumni accomplish after they graduate and return to their home countries. Here we catch up with Isabeau Malan who graduated from Edmonds in June of last year. She describes her new job in South Africa, how her perception of the United States and other countries has changed, and the project she and CCI alumnus Gulo Jaya have partnered to create – providing school bags and supplies to keep Indonesian children in school. It is exciting to see the conversations started on our campuses in the United States turn into actions that change lives around the globe!
Tell us about the School Project you are working on. What do you hope to accomplish? What inspired you to take on this task?
The School Project is a non-profit organization Jaya Gulo and myself started while in the US. In an entrepreneurial class we identified that Indonesia had a great need for a program that provides elementary school children with basic school supplies. Jaya Gulo is the main force behind the project and with individuals like myself who want to create change, our aim is to ensure that children in Sumatra are given the basic school supplies to ensure that they stay in school and complete their foundation phase education, we also wish to involve the community, teach them skills and bring work to that community by sourcing the stationery and school bags locally. We want to be able to let the project grow itself, taking the idea and skills to other schools that also has a need for schoolbags and letting the community teach each other how to source and donate the bags successfully.
The School Project really is a way for us to give back to a community and the youth of today and by us assisting in a small part of a child’s future is inspiration enough for me to continue to work on the project. Youth are our future and without them we have nothing – we need to enrich the minds of the young and ensure that they have a solid education foundation to give them the chance to become what they want to be. This is the reason I do what I do for the project, I know that by giving a child a bag may ultimately change their lives for the better. The child receiving the bag might just become a leader that changes the world.
How are you using what you learned on the CCI program in your work now?
I completed my certificate in Business Management: Project Management at Edmonds Community College, and the certificate has allowed me to move from a junior position to a senior position in the work I am currently doing. I am the Project Manager for a media and entertainment trade show that takes place in Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa every two years. The show allows the Broadcasting/Film/Production/AV integration/Studio/Live Event Technology industry to discuss technology and trends. I am the main contact person who organizes, plans and executes the project from initiation through to completion.
The program has also provided me key social skills that has helped me to be more confident within my work back home and the way I interact with people. Due to the program being very socially inclined I am now able to use the skills I learned from doing cultural presentations and other activities in my work even my confidence has increased greatly not only socially but within my work as well.
Has you perception of the United States changed as a result of your participation on the CCI program? And have your ideas about the other countries CCI participants come from changed?
My perception of the US has changed a lot, growing up we always see the Hollywood version of America and we believe that to an extent that is the whole of America.
I am glad to say that the US is very similar to my home country, the kindness and friendliness of the American people are wonderful, the openness to how they received me coming from a different country and speaking a different language was amazing as well. I believe that as much of a cultural impact the US has made on me, I believe we on the CCI program have done the same. We learned what the similarities were between our respective countries and what the differences were.
As South Africa is the Rainbow Nation and we have a wide variety of cultures, religions and a mixture of people coming from different countries living there and we have a huge Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi and African community residing within South Africa, so I have been exposed to the culture and traditions of these nationalities.
I was lucky enough to be in a CCI group where we could openly talk about our cultural, religious and country differences. We were able to learn a lot about stigmas that follows a certain group of people, religion and language and really see what the country and culture was all about. Ideas and perceptions were changed as we all got to know each other and we were doing cultural presentations, but I believe we all realized that our countries were much more similar than they were really that different.
Having been on the CCI program I can honestly say that I have been enriched with knowledge on a education and cultural level and I have received friends and family within American and the other countries taking part in CCI, that I will have in my life forever.
The NWCCI program is part of the Community College Initiative, an exchange program sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. The opinions expressed in this blog by writers and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions of the Northwest Community College Initiative program, Edmonds Community College, Whatcom Community College, Pierce College, the United States Department of State or any employee thereof. NWCCI and Edmonds Community College are not responsible for the accuracy of the information supplied by the student bloggers.