Pre – Departure Orientation (PDO) is an event specifically designed to prepare PRESTASI Scholars prior their departure to the U.S. In this two-days orientation, the USAID – PRESTASI Scholars were provided information on administrative and logistic, USAID Scholarship the rules and regulation and sharing first-hand experiences from PRESTASI Alumni.The PDO was held in Jakarta from November 30 to December 1, 2012. On his opening remarks, Mr. Hanif Saleh as Project Manager of USAID – PRESTASI, reminds the Scholars to involve in the alumni activity, once they have returned to Indonesia after graduation. PRESTASI scholars are expected to be involved in activities, which in line with the development goals of Indonesian government and USAID Mission.As an ice-breaker, the USAID – PRESTASI Scholars were divided in 7 groups which each group must prepare a special performance and the best one would be rewarded. Some groups presented acoustic performances, while some groups performed dramas, such as a twisted version of Malin Kundang, an original Indonesian folklore. But after intensive discussion, the judges’ votes goes to a group which performed Balinese dancing that tells a story of a young Indonesian’s journey to study in the U.S.Day one of PDO was closed by pre-departure check list from IIEF. In this session, the IIEF team explained in details about the do’s and don’ts in order to make their trip to the U.S be as smooth as possible.On the second day, the PDO were more focused on preparing the scholars culturally. The day was opened by a presentation from Chief of Party USAID - PRESTASI, Ms. Mira Sambada. In one of her explanations, Ms. Sambada emphasized that culture shock is a common problem for international students and should not be taken lightly. To solve this problem, the scholars are encouraged to stay active, involve in community activities, and to make friends with both local and international students.In this event, two PRESTASI Alumni were invited to share their experiences to Scholars. The first one to share was Damayanti Rohmaningtyas (Tyas), an alumnus of Florida Atlantic University, majoring in Non-profit Management Program. Identify your biggest fears prior to departure, communicate these fears effectively and prepare both physically and mentally, were the firsts advises Tyas gave to the Scholars. These were shared based on her experience where she had to leave her two little children at home, in order to pursue her Master degree which started on Spring 2010.She remembered that, at first, making friends and joining study group were not easy. That was why she highly suggested the Scholars to actively-participated in class or online discussion to speak up their ideas. “Don’t forget to mention to your Academic Advisor or Professors that you are a scholarship recipient. They appreciate this factor, as they would consider your motivation, values and extra efforts to get there (study in the U.S.)”, Tyas said.Alumni sharing session was continued by Zaenal Arifin (Ari). Ari is the Secretary General of ALPHA-I, the PRESTASI alumni association, and alumnus of University of Pittsburgh majoring in International Political Economy. “It is very important to set your goals and expectations from the beginning, so that you know how to manage your time better”, he suggested. The education system at the U.S. universities makes it possible for graduate student to achieve GPA 4.0. However, spending time fully-focused to accomplish this, is not recommended. To broaden the knowledge and enrich professional experience, Ari encourages the Scholars to do internship and join conferences at least once during their study. “To receive this scholarship and have almost everything paid for you, is a rare opportunity. You have to make the best out of it”, he addressed.
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