By Glenda McCarthy
A group of College of the North Atlantic – Qatar (CNA-Q) students, faculty and staff participated in a Reach Out to Asia volunteer trip to Java, Indonesia during the semester break from April 24-May 2.
The participants (23 students and three staff) provided educational workshops to the students of SMK N 1 Ngawen vocational high school in the Klaten District of Yogyakarta, Central Java, Indonesia. The service-learning workshops took place over five days in the subject areas of English for the Workplace, Entrepreneurship, IT/Social Media, Leadership and Safety in the Workplace.
“We were thrilled to partner yet again with Reach Out to Asia, this time in Indonesia,” says Allison Furlong, coordinator of International Education at CNA-Q. “Service-learning volunteer opportunities like this are essentially gifts that keep on giving; our CNA-Q students gain confidence and leadership skills all while truly making a difference in the lives of others.”
After teaching hours came to an end each day, there were numerous opportunities to connect and engage with the local community. An hour was spent each afternoon at the Titian Foundation, a local non-government organization established after the devastating earthquake hit central Java in 2006. Titian provides long-term, sustainable support in communities which have been struck by disaster or conflict.
However it wasn’t all work and no play. The group also participated in rice and cropplanting for the local community and even had a chance to take in some white-water rafting.
“Each afternoon, pottery, batik, and visits to local artisans really made the visit special – it was as far off the beaten track as possible! We felt that we were really connected to the community and its people. Locals would crowd around us as we were leaving, with our presence really being the talk of this small community. The students spoke of the simplicity of life. Chickens were literally crossing the roads.”
This is the third time CNA-Q has partnered with Reach Out to Asia, after two other efforts in Tunisia and Bangladesh. A memorandum of understanding was signed in 2011 between CNA-Q and Reach Out to Asia, aimed at promoting mutual educational, development and service cooperation and driven by Qatar’s desire to foster volunteerism in the country.
“They were true ambassadors for CNA-Q and Qatar and have already put their contagious enthusiasm and energy to good use yet again with the Reach Out to Qatar house renovation project,” Allison says. “We couldn’t be more proud.”