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Puncak Jaya, part 6: the Children of Bali

November 19, 2013 by

You missed part 5? read it here

The very last leg of my Indonesian trip sees me in Bali: while Bali is world-famous for its beaches and zen/meditation/yoga environment, it is also rich of mountainous and more remote areas that don’t get touched much nor exposed to developed tourism. This is where we will be in this post.

Thanks to a collaboration with Summit Stories’ partner BCP (Balinese Children’s project), I am conducting workshops about international culture and entrepreneurship at local schools in rural parts of Bali.

Ubud PenestananThe Bali Children’s Project (BCP) has been working with young people and their families in rural Bali for 20 years and is dedicated to improve life through education. As many communities in Bali are very underdeveloped and don’t benefit from tourism, BCP was founded on the belief that when children are empowered to realize their potential, they will be able to access more opportunities and as a result give back to their villages and their communities. Conscious of Bali’s unique cultural heritage, BCP programs are designed to integrate the demands of economic progress with the island’s traditional values.

Among BCP’s many programs (they currently support more than 200 children, enabling them to stay in school and finish their education), BCP helped create a dozen village pre-schools and kindergartens, administer a micro-investment scheme for impoverished families, and runs health initiatives that include sex education and HIV/AIDS awareness (as HIV/AIDS is becoming a growing threat in Bali). You can read more about BCP here.

Ubud BangliDuring the course of several days, I had the opportunity to spend time with BCP’s staff and meet more than 100 children aged 6-14 while talking about Summit Stories’ journey around the world (mountains have a very important spiritual role in Balinese culture) and entrepreneurship.

The goal was to instill curiosity and inspiration by means of sharing experiences, examples and principles from the outside-of-rural-Bali world. Typically, these children, when they manage to finish their studies or if they don’t marry at teen-age, pursue the obvious career in the hospitality industry, likely in low-paying and low-skilled jobs. Often this is due to lack of ambition and self-confidence or more simply of accessible role-models. ..Ah (before you ask) internet access is far from being a basic right or even a privilege amongst these communities, therefore limiting the access to and diversity of information we are used to.

I presented Summit Stories’ journey and guiding principles (to the amusement of the children who have never seen so much snow or even the snow in fact, – loud “wows” where heard across the room as my photos arose).  And success stories of local small entrepreneurs in various parts Munduk Rindigitof the world (whether a runner-farmer turned businessman from Africa or a former Nepalese porter who leads a successful trekking business).

Passion, motivation, setting goals, preparation are concepts that are to different degrees very familiar to all of us, but hardly framed as attributes for personal and professional development in many other realities and societies.

I feel very privileged to have met these children and their families and, while facing a language and cultural barrier, I believe we successfully brought a very new and fresh perspective to their learning. I am curious to see whether these workshops (both the ones I held and the others that BCP sponsors) trigger a desire to explore additional and different topics and maybe paths in the future. Wouldn’t be amazing if the workshop (or the model spearheaded by TED) could be replicated by motivating travelers when they visit or volunteer for local schools?

I would love to hear any feedback or comment you may have with regards to this model of knowledge sharing through short 1-hour workshops and whether it could be implemented in a scalable way (with all the necessary adjustments as far as content, context and delivery).

Thoughts?

Francesco