mer, 19 septembre 2012
Canada World Youth Alumni Partner to Open School in Indonesia
Montreal, September 19, 2012 – When 24 year old Montrealer Samuel Gendron did his Canada World Youth (CWY) exchange program four years ago – three months in Truro, Nova Scotia followed by three months in Indonesia – he never dreamt that he and his Indonesian counterpart, Adi Pramono, 26, would be opening a new language school together this week in Adi’s hometown – Palangka Raya, a city of some 200,000 people situated on the island of Borneo.
“Classes began this week with five teachers and 45 students – mostly girls, which is unusual for Indonesia,” says Gendron. “We’re awed by the enthusiasm Eduprana is generating.” In the past six weeks alone, nearly 1,400 people have joined the school’s Facebook page. Many are following the school on Twitter and have visited the school’s website.
Eduprana – a take on Adi’s last name and “education” – caters to youth and adults who want to widen their horizons by learning the English language. Interestingly, the school’s mission statement cum slogan – “Harmonize cultural and linguistic differences to become a better citizen of the world” – mimics the tone of CWY’s own mission. The school also offers English classes to companies – a local insurance company has already signed on. The school will soon have the international TOEFL accreditation recognized in 130 countries.
Samuel has provided 100% of the start-up costs and manages all financial matters – the partners will eventually share profits. “I would never have considered sending so much money to another country without first having developed such a trusting relationship with my CWY counterpart.” Because the school is Samuel’s third business endeavour, he has been mentoring Adi who takes care of running the school. “We consult each other on everything.”
Samuel and Adi met during a CWY six-month exchange program called Youth Leaders in Action, which encourages its young participants to develop leadership, communication and life skills through volunteering on community-driven projects. They say that their CWY experience changed the course of their lives. “Without my internship, I would not be living the meaningful life I’m living today,” musses Gendron.
Having faced dyslexia and some deafness as a child, school was a challenge for Samuel and left him feeling out of place and unsure of himself. During the first few weeks of his CWY internship, he experienced adjustment issues but was encouraged to give things a chance. His growing relationship with his host family in Nova Scotia, and with Adi – “the brother I never had” – taught him the importance of “living the moment” and seizing opportunities. During the Indonesian portion of their internship, the young men spent a lot of time with their host community and learned how much people from different cultures really have in common.
“Life is ironic”, quips Gendron, as he recalls having been exempted from high school English because of his hearing issue. “Had I not struggled later on to learn English during my travels around the world, Adi and I would never have been able to communicate, let alone found a company together.”
Adi proved to be a key source of inspiration for Samuel. Adi, who grew up in a poor family, had always cherished the dream of earning a degree, becoming an English teacher and opening a language school, but financially, he wondered whether that would ever happen. “When I left Indonesia,” remembers Gendron, “I felt really bad about leaving behind this person who had completely changed my life. Adi and I both felt that when we worked together, we were better, stronger people.” So in 2010, Samuel took a leap of faith and decided to share Adi’s dream. “Complicated international regulations made developing the school project tough going at first,” recalls Samuel, but the young entrepreneurs refused to give up, and in January of this year, they were finally able to incorporate Eduprana.
In December, the partners will be seeing each other again for the first time in four years – needless to say, they are both very excited. Samuel and Adi will meet with their former CWY Indonesian project supervisor – an English professor himself – to explore future joint projects. One of the dreams the partners share is to eventually enable poor Indonesian youth to attend their school by offering scholarships paid for by corporate donations.
This post is also available in EN.
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