Work at the UNESCO office in Jakarta: First impressions

About the author: Yishan Ding, MA candidate in the International education program at GWU. This summer I am working for the UNESCO office in Jakarta for 3 months as a GW-UNESCO fellow.

Who work in the Jakarta office?  Like many other international organizations and companies in Jakarta, the UNESCO office here consists of national staff and expatriates. The expatriates are usually managers nominated by the head office, consultants, volunteers, or interns. While the expatriates, especially the international volunteers and interns, come and go frequently, many of the Indonesian staff have been working in this office for more than 10 years, even 20 years. Another interesting finding is that in this office, most staff, national or international, are women.

I have been to the Southeast Asia for several times. Still each time I am here, I cannot help but feel overwhelmed by the hospitality of local people. Once again, the first day I was here I felt the sincere kindness of people: all the colleagues at the UNESCO office were all incredibly nice to me; they were always smiling and always ready to help, no matter how trivial my problem was.

Where is it? 

Galuh building of Jakarta office

The UNESCO office in Jakarta is located separately from other UN organizations. It is not in the business area, but in a quiet and beautiful living neighborhood, surrounded by plenty of tropical plants. The building of the UNESCO office used to be a personal house, making it very homey. Indonesia is a mid-developed country, with very sharp wealth gap. While as I just said, the UNESCO office is located in a beautiful and classy neighborhood, it is Slumdog just a street away.

Street view in front of the office

Jakarta is a huge and modern metropolis. You can find everything you are supposed to see in a large city, skyscrapers, luxury brands, and especially the unbearable bad traffic. It is common for the local staff in the office to spend 3 to 4 hours on road everyday.

What do people do here? The UNESCO office in Jakarta is a Regional Bureau for Science Regional Bureau for Sciences in Asia and the Pacific and Cluster Office to Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Timor Leste.

My first assignment was to proofread and review a strategic paper. Part of this assignment was to compile two appendix tables. I need to summarize information from a much larger data base, check whether the information was updated and then organize it into a new table. It is not very difficult, but requires more of carefulness.

Yup, above is my first impressions about work here! Do come back to check my as well as 6 other fellows’ updates about our wonderful experience in UNESCO!


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