As a kid raised up by indigent parents, I always believed that only schooling could help me out of darkness and brighten my life up in the future. From secondary education till my third year at university, I always repeated these daily routines – going to school to get education, trying my best to get high marks in class, assisting my parents to do household chores, and that was all. Besides those daily routines, nothing else I did was to challenge myself to reach my full potential and bring changes to my community where many issues existed every single day.

This perspective, nonetheless, has changed since I started my first career as an ASEAN secretariat for ASEAN Youth Volunteer Programme in 2015. The opportunity not only helped me get rid of being a nerd preferably surrounded by four walls of the room every spare time just to finish each page inside the book but also let me meet new people from different countries who willingly shared the same vision toward community development and committed to work diligently days and nights to achieve the set goals.

Prior to the program, I was fortunately trained by professionals regarding my duties as an ASEAN Secretariat, and I even got a chance to visit Krakor floating village where our project would be hosted. Within that time, I even helped deal with the language barrier between the organizers and local people, in particular the head of the commune, by interpreting their conversations and also keep their contact numbers in order that we could seek for help from them when our community project began.

On the first day of the program, anyway, it was kind of chaos with our accommodations since the hotel did not have enough rooms for the large majority of us. Hence, I ought to help the organizers prepare the rooms for all the delegates involving in the programme from the early morning till mid-afternoon. And in the evening, I traveled to the airport to welcome them and bring them to the hotel for dinner and our preliminary meeting about the tentative agenda of the programme on the next day.

When the morning came, I started to play a role as an MC during the opening ceremony. I confidently stood on the podium, even if hundreds of eyes stared at me, to deliver my speech prior to every lecture. Meanwhile, I ought to make sure that all activities in the ceremony followed what had been listed in the agenda and attempted to facilitate the flow of the event to go smoothly from the beginning till the end. In case delegates were found to feel sleepy due to the lunch or exhausted by long lectures, I also led energizers to make them awake.

Within the first week, all the delegates were daily trained by experts from various backgrounds and fields, while I an ASEAN Secretariat needed to help coordinate the progress of each training to go well. And in the late evening before our withdrawal to Krakor floating village to do our community work, I and other organizers were quite busy with preparing plenty of stuffs, such as raincoats, lunchboxes, backpacks, bottles, etc., for the delegates and even distributing all the materials to them.

When the dawn came, we all got up, carefully placed our luggage inside the bottom part of the buses, traveled to Krakor village and spent 2 weeks there. After arriving the guesthouse, we had lunch together and then rested a bit. Then we went to visit the floating site. During that time, we encountered the disastrous thing. The heavy rain came and some of us got completely wet, while the others were not due to the raincoats put on them. We could do nothing though, besides waiting until the rain stopped. When we got back to the guesthouse, two delegates, owing to the rain, fell ill. And I urgently called for help from a local doctor nearby and even took care of them till their situation became better.

Since they all still received training from site coordinators in week 2, I even had to arrange the venue for them and moderate the training progress to go as what had been planned. When week 3 arrived, our mission started to take place. All the eco-leaders traveled to each household floating on the river to do community activities, such as bringing awareness of local people toward the cons of unclean water usage, distributing hygiene kits to them, chitchatting with them about their living situations, etc., while I had to assist them to do all of these every single minute.

This photo was taken when I was working as an ASEAN Secretariat for ASEAN Youth Volunteer Programme in 2015

After the mission was completed, we really felt grateful. Yet all the delegates did not forget to train themselves hard for their performances at the floating hall of Krakor village on the last day though. As their facilitator, I always tried to give them a hand as much as I could. Numerous memories, anyway, were created on the performance day and they actually still stay deep inside our hearts till these days. Delegates from different countries had divergent performances to show and entertain local people who had never seen something thrilling once in a lifetime.

For the week 4, it was the busiest week among all for the delegates as they had to attend training from the morning till evening every day, and at night they additionally ought to produce own blogs regarding knowledge plus experience acquired from the programme. They even had to work with their team from the same country for cultural performances in the closing ceremony. For me, I did not have much work to do at all, but I was still busy with souvenir preparation and postcard writing for them all.

Even if it was such a short period of time to have experienced something exhilarating like this, I did notice the development of my capacity, either personally or professionally, from it. Besides being trained by experts in relevant fields, I also gained new lessons learnt from any eco-leaders from diverse sections of the world who helped me know how to create opportunities for myself and inspired me to actively engage in any sorts of social work and always measure the impact of what I am doing in my community.