PRESTASI – A Golden Opportunity A Story from Dian Mangiring Arika

Foto Dian Mangiring Arika
Photo 1. Dian Mangiring Arika during her study in Eastern Michigan University, United States.

I believed life is an opportunity. The opportunity came when a friend informed the open recruitment of USAID PRESTASI Scholarships program. This is the scholarship I've been looking for.

PRESTASI scholarship opens the opportunity to the water and sanitation sectors professional which related to the work I've been doing in my work place in the Ministry of Public Works and Public Housing. Another benefit that PRESTASI assist the selected scholars to have Pre-Academic Training consist of English training, leadership training, and statistic which helped the scholars getting prepared before departing to the U.S.

I made my leap of faith and take the first step by consulting to a friend whom an alumni of USAID PRESTASI Scholarships Program to assist me step by step completing the application form. My direct supervisor in the workplace has helped me a lot regarding the important things to cover for the application process. Thanks to their advice, I managed to pass the selection process and have the opportunity to study for Urban and Regional Planning postgraduate program at the Eastern Michigan State University in the U.S.

I've been dreaming of becoming a student of urban and regional planning program in the U.S.. I believe to study in the U.S. will open greater opportunity to enhance and strengthen my current profession as the civil apparatus in the Ministry of Public Works and Housing.

Going to study overseas is challenging because of the culture differences. I was lucky I can get through the critical moment of adjusting to a new environment by participating the activities in the campus.

I joined the International Student Resources Center community to overcome the culture shock I had. The community is helping international students resolving the language barrier in lectures and overcoming the culture shock. The community peer really helped me during the adjusting process.

Sooner, I am starting to get the rhythm. I got lots of new knowledge during my study for my expertise. . In summary, I studied a lot regarding regulation and policies on spatial planning in the U.S., policies on infrastructures, policies on local economic development, environmental appraising, and geographic information systems. I participated in various seminars and conferences, both as a participant and a speaker.

Foto Dian Mangiring Arika
Photo 2. Together along with her friends after the graduation day of Eastern Michigan University.

The activities I participated are the in Higher Education Solution Network Conference in Boston (October 2016) and in 17th National Planning Conference in New York (May 2017) as the speaker during Graduate Research Conference (March 2017) delivering my article "Building Effective Community Development Models: Meeting the Local Needs of Papua and Java, Indonesia".

The peak of my expertise enhancement in the U.S. was was my internship at the office of United Nations of UN-HABITAT for three months from June to August 2017. The UN-HABITAT handles human residency and protection for the people. As the intern, my responsibilities were the representative of UN-HABITAT in inter-agency and inter-governmental meetings, preparing reports and analysis, uploading social media contents, and the other administrative duties.

The experience I got during my internship in the UN-HABITAT is truly rich. Firstly, I had first-hand experience on effective and efficient working culture. Secondly, I was given the chance to study the use of supporting technologies, such as the e-report, e-course, teleconference, and various other technologies. Thirdly, my professional network had expanded to include contacts from around the world, enabling me to learn cultures of other countries. It also opened my mind and got me used to effective meetings.

Now I am back to Indonesia I focused to participate in the making of better public policies related to infrastructures. My biggest dream is to build a smart and environmentally insightful city that friendly to any gender, children, senior citizens and people with disabilities, and to support a healthy human development. I wish the spatial plan that have been and will be made can provide guidance on regional development in the future.

Last but not least, it is my honour to be one of the recipient of USAID PRESTASI Scholarships program so I can improve my expertise. My message to the young people of Indonesia, always keep on learning and never think it is too late to learn more. Always remember good opportunities come up not only once, but many times. You just have to embrace it and taking the steps to make it happen.