Have you ever thought about how to help youngsters in Indonesia while you are studying abroad?
Motivated by concerns on education among Indonesian youth, particularly pursuing education abroad, Siti Mahdaria established Coach Potato Indonesia (CPI), a social enterprise for youth empowerment by providing capacity building program through coaching, mentoring, and workshops. Coming from a rural area in South Sumatra, Siti always had always dreamt of having international education experience. She also has a burning desire to inspire Indonesian youth to dream big, be a better version of themselves, and have global experience. She wants to connect the youth and create a space for them to inspire each other despite their location.
Interestingly, none of CPI’s founder and co-founders came from big cities. However, they successfully overcame many obstacles to achieve Australia Awards Scholarships and reach their dreams for international education. This experience generated an idea of helping the Indonesian youth who might hold the same dreams but lack information and support. Gathering at a meeting room in the Baillieu Library of University of Melbourne, they created the OSC programme.
Setting up a new programme is always challenging. The first challenge was deciding who would the mentors be. CPI had many candidates who had international education experience with scholarships. However, mentoring to other people is a different story. CPI needed to outsource candidates who did not only have international academic experience, but most importantly those with pedagogical understanding.
This is important because mentors bear the responsibility to encourage and motivate mentees through, sometimes, tough process of applying scholarships. Mentors are required to guide as well as befriend the mentees. Selecting the right individuals was tricky, but CPI believed there will be many empowered youths out there share the same values with CPI’s mission and vision.
The second challenge was the fact that mentees were spread across the archipelago, not to mention the fact that some regions where they live do not have adequate communication infrastructures. Thus, CPI needed to develop flexible programmes where mentees and mentors have the freedom to organise their classes regarding any communication barriers due to internet connection. This flexible curriculum for their mentoring classes is essential having our mentors and mentees who need to meticulously manage their time. CPI believed that flexible online mentoring classes can help them to cope with their busy schedule while maintaining their dreams for studying abroad.
The third challenge is related to the programme itself. CPI conducted a project testing by providing weeks of scholarship mentoring program to 12 mentees who were chosen out of 54 applicants of the recruitment program. Through the project testing evaluation, CPI found out that more personalised mentoring classes is preferable for the mentees. Most of the mentees found personalised mentoring class, which means smaller number of mentees in a class, more helpful in learning materials related to scholarship.
Even though not all the participants got the scholarship yet, but the coaching programme has changed the way they perceive themselves. Some of the mentees said that they are more confident and optimistic about their life. Some others were inspired by their fellow mentees and realised that they were not alone in this path. What was even more wonderful was that through their involvement in the programme, mentees knew and help each other. This kind of “knowledge and experience sharing” is what CPI was looking for, an environment where learners encourage and empower each other.
This year CPI organised its fourth OSC programme. Some of the mentees had successfully achieved their dreams in form of scholarships to reputable university around the world with the fully funded program from Erasmus+, LPDP, PMDSU, YSEALI, and Chevening Scholarship.
One of the mentees, who is a primary school teacher in rural area di South Sumatra, is finishing his Master in Education in the United Kingdom through Chevening Scholarship scheme. Some others have passed the interview stage and waiting for the final announcement. Some mentees prefer to continue their study in Indonesia due to the work they cannot abandon. Even in this situation, the experience they got from joining OSC programme has taught them the importance of discussion, open-mindedness, perseverance, and relation in their professional career.
CPI is hoping to help more young Indonesians to reach their dreams, international education experience. While there was room for improvement, CPI believed that it is on the right path towards the mission of youth empowerment. With new approaches to its mentoring programs, CPI believed that what it is not only about scholarships, but education for young Indonesians. As Siti Mahdaria always say, “We do this because we believe that empowered people empower others!”
Teks dan foto: Titus Angga Restuaji