Teresa studied abroad in West Sumatra and is now an entrepreneur

Teresa studied abroad in West Sumatra and is now an entrepreneur Solok, West Sumatra by Daniel Wilder

This article was written by Global Graduates, published on 8th March 2012 and has been read 24711 times.

Teresa did a BA in Indonesian and Politics at SOAS and spent 6 months at University in Western Sumatra. She graduated in 1991 and now works with local organisations in Indonesia.
"I went to West Sumatra in Indonesia for 6 months, 3 of which I spent at Universitas Andalas in Padang. This degree does now send students abroad for a full year. More than anything, the experience gave me confidence to live and work in Indonesia. Aside from having an enormous impact on my language fluency (I learnt Indonesian ab initio and had little opportunity to practice in UK, especially listening in an authentic context) inter-cultural aspects were key, mostly learnt the hard way…

The trip enabled me to meet film-makers and TV producers and do some small interviews. It was down to this research that I was appointed as Research Associate at the University of Leiden in 1996. I did an MA straight after the BA, and after graduation I worked for an international environmental NGO based in the UK but with a focus on Indonesia from 1992 to 1994 spurred on by my interest in the country and my language skills, and I then became co-founder of an organisation that brought secure internet communication to environmental and human rights activists in West Sumatra and West Papua.

Spending my ‘year’ abroad in West Sumatra encouraged me to focus on West Sumatran oral traditions in my MA which in turn enabled me to build trust with groups in West Sumatra in particular and understand local issues and their relationship to customary laws and traditions. I don’t think I would have had the confidence and the capacity to live and work in Indonesia if I hadn’t had the opportunity to spend a reasonable chunk of time there, in one place, living with a local family and integrating with students and local community - since leaving Leiden I have spent 8 years living and working in Indonesia, with local organisations."

In partnership with the British Academy and University Council of Modern Languages (UCML) we gathered short reports from graduates on the importance that the year abroad has had for them, in terms of their skill set, their careers and their lives. These reports formed the basis of the Position Statement: Valuing the Year Abroad. Browse the reports below for inspiration, and select a tag within a report to read more on that theme.

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