It’s hard to put into words all the ways I grew from my incredible experience with 3M Impact. I’ve never been very adventurous. I’ve never been to a country where I didn’t speak the language. I’m a picky eater. I’ve never been on a plane for more than six hours. This was terrifying to me – which is partially why I knew I had to do it.
After the 36-hour trek to Jakarta, Indonesia, I met my two 3M Impact teammates, who were from the U.S. and India, and our partners at Yayasan Cinta Anak Bangsa – or YCAB Foundation for short. This nonprofit, whose full name translates to “Loving The Nation’s Children Foundation,” empowers underprivileged youth to become self-reliant through programs focused on education, healthy lifestyle and employment/entrepreneurship. Based on recent increased government support for education, YCAB sought to shift its model to provide complementary resources to underdeveloped local schools and enable them to improve their programs. Our project objective was to build a business model and financial model to help YCAB make this shift in an effective and sustainable way.
With the 3M and YCAB teams combined, we were a group of 12 people from seven different countries. We all helped each other with our projects as we acclimated to living and working in Jakarta. At 3M we are used to having lots of data and ready access. This was not the case with our 3M Impact project! Wi-Fi was challenging. Getting data was challenging. Getting financial data was near impossible. I had to turn things around and build templates and tools instead of spreadsheets of data like I had anticipated. Though it was challenging to navigate, our partners at YCAB were very happy with the outcome.
I hadn’t known what to expect when I left Canada for Jakarta. But surprisingly, by week two I felt completely at home. I felt at ease in my environment and got into the groove of the new routine. I discovered that I love Indonesian food (even though a lot of the time I had no idea what I was eating). I learned a few phrases in Bahasa (although I kept confusing good morning with good night). I figured out how to get money out of the ATMs and navigated a few stores and the local neighborhood.
The absolute best part that I didn’t anticipate was how close we became as a group of 12. I made new friendships that I know will last a lifetime – and we still chat almost every day.