Reconnecting in Indonesia

A team comprising Caroline, Suyim, Tricia, Foeng and Elaine visited Indonesia from the 2nd to the 7th of December. The agenda was to meet with the JRS Indonesia team, visit several refugee learning centres, catch up with some of our E3 graduates, share about our digital education programme and initiate our Sister School Programme. Here is their report of an activity-filled visit…

The planning had started a few months prior. Much of the logistics and co-ordination work for the visit was done with the help of three JRS interns based in Indonesia. They worked hard to schedule our engagement sessions with the refugee community and with the various school management teams.

Enjoying lunch with JRS Indonesia team.

Our first stop in Jakarta was to the JRS Indonesia office where we were warmly welcomed by Country Director Fr Dam SJ as well as several members of his dynamic team – Melani, Mia and Indra. We were glad for the opportunity to learn more about JRS Indonesia programmes from our gracious hosts who also treated us to a delicious lunch of local Indonesian favourites!

The next day, we met up with some of our E3 graduates as well as the teachers and school management team at HELP learning centre in Jakarta. We were heartened to hear the positive experiences from our graduates. Sarah shared that she enjoyed participating in the class discussions. Tim, a fellow graduate from the programme, found the Photoshop sessions especially instructive. For him, seeing the improvements in his designs motivated him to build a more creative portfolio of work.

The positive feedback was echoed by other graduates when we visited them in Cisarua, a hilly town about 2 hours journey from Jakarta. Jasmine, a bubbly graduate from the programme enjoyed the friendly classroom environment and was impressed by the instructors’ sense of humour, clear presentation and engaging teaching techniques. Besides giving us feedback on our digital programme, many expressed a deep desire for courses which could deepen their knowledge and expand livelihood opportunities.

At Cisarua, we also visited five refugee learning centres – CRLC (Cisarua Refugee Learning Centre), RLN (Refugee Learning Nest), CDC (Care the Displaced Children), HLC (Hope Learning Centre) and RLC (Refugee Learning Centre), where the teachers and management teams shared their school’s programmes. We were impressed by the resourcefulness and tenacity shown by the refugee community in running their own learning centres.

Lunch discussion at HELP Learning Centre in Jakarta.
Foeng having fun with the children at Refugee Learning Nest.

At the learning centres, our team did a presentation about E3 as well as our new ‘Sister School’ initiative – an exciting platform for students and teachers from Singapore schools and refugee schools to interact and engage meaningfully with one another. Several teachers at the refugee learning centres enthusiastically suggested possible inter-school activities such as podcasts, virtual photo exhibitions and debates. We left the learning centres excited at the potential for further collaboration between the schools! Our visit to Bogor ended with a dinner meeting with the JRS Indonesia team where we had the opportunity to share our experiences during the visit, discuss future collaboration and bond over good local food.

San, our JRS intern, felt that the personal contact and open communication had built a strong connection between the Singapore team and refugee community. Sammy, another JRS intern shared that he was happy and excited to meet the team in person, instead of “just seeing each other on zoom”. We heartily echoed those sentiments! Meeting with our refugee brothers and sisters has spurred us to think more deeply how we can curate meaningful programmes which are impactful for both the refugee community and for our fellow Singaporeans.

*E3 – refers to Education for Economic Empowerment – our digital education programme which was launched in 2021.
*For privacy reasons, we do not feature the real names of our refugee students and interns.