About the author: Yishan Ding is MA candidate in the International education program at GWU. This summer she is working for the UNESCO office in Jakarta for 3 months as a GW-UNESCO fellow.
By far I have been working in the Jakarta office for more than two months. I can’t believe that I will leave the lovely place and people in about 20 days! The whole experience is full of first-times to me, first time working for UNESCO, first time working in the area of science, first time coming to Jakarta, first time experiencing Ramadan… Out of all the wonderful and memorable moments and feelings, three keywords mark my time here.
Challenging: With all my educational and working experience limited in the field of social sciences, working inside a natural science unit is quite academically challenging to me. It was especially so when working on my first assignment of writing a literature review on eco-biotechnologies of water management. I had to take several online courses and read corresponding textbooks in the first week, in order to understand the technical terms and theories. Now that I have been working here for more than 2 months, I find the whole science learning experience was truly useful not only just for the first assignment itself. It also helps me understand what the Jakarta office is doing currently. Besides, the scientific insights I gained largely helps my next and current task, which is about water education. Without the foundation of basic knowledge in scientific stuff, I believe I will still get lost in this task, although it is closely related to my background.
Mind-opening: My interdisciplinary learning quite opens up my mind. It inspires me to jump out of my previous role as an educator, so as to consider stuff from other perspectives such as a scientist and policy maker. Besides, a lot of work done here is in the intergovernmental level and both of my two assignments so far targeted to the whole Asia- Pacific region. Working under such an environment is also quite mind-opening for me. In the past, I was used to think only from the perspectives of either China or the US, where I have been lived and studied for relatively long time. Many times working inside UNESCO requires me to think from a larger continent and global perspectives.
The Jakarta office is so fantastic on its parties and events! I have joined two so far. The theme of the first party is 80s, during which people are dressed in colorful 80s costumes. Another one is the Iftar event to break fast in the middle of the Ramadan month. Each time it was not only a joyful time to relax and talk with each other, but also a feast to enjoy the unique and delicious food in Indonesia!
During last weekend, I visited Yogjakarta, where hosts two UNESCO world cultural heritages: the Borobudur Temple and the Prambanan Temple. Severely damaged by natural disasters and war, both temples were restored in the past a few decades by the cooperated efforts of UNESCO and local government. Speechless by the magnificent buildings, I felt more respectful for what UNESCO has done in the area of cultural protection.