One morning last November, Community College Initiative (CCI) alumna Bunga Yuniasari stood before a classroom of expectant school children, sporting a white hard hat and other safety apparel. Her neon reflective vest contrasted with the slate gray chalkboard behind her, and the pupils peered curiously at the red straps and metal hooks of her safety harness.
After introducing herself, Bunga launched into a presentation about her engineering career, using her gear to excite the youngsters. “They love the PPE (Personal Protective Equipment). When I get their attention, then I explain to the children about my profession, what I do, and what the impact is for our self, the community and country,” Bunga said of her presentations to primary school students.
Her November audience was at a rural elementary school in Central Java. She visited the school through the nonprofit Kelas Inspirasi, which brings speakers to schools across Indonesia to expose children to new professions. Bunga will visit another elementary school in August through the same program. “My goal is to motivate the children that they should never give up reaching their dream, even though (they face) limitations in the village,” she said.
During her own childhood, Bunga spent much of her free time drawing, painting, and sculpting. Because of these design capabilities, adults encouraged her to pursue engineering. Her studies were not as fun as recreational drawing, though. Difficult coursework and even harder exams made for sleepless nights and stressful days. “It was the worst,” she says, laughing.
But in the end, obtaining her associate’s and bachelor’s degrees were worth the challenge. Bunga obtained a job as an engineer and loved having the knowledge and skills to build real structures. She also wanted to keep growing her knowledge and skills. She applied to the CCI Program for an opportunity to spend 10 months studying, volunteering, and interning in the United States. In 2016 Bunga was selected for the program and placed at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College (NWTC), where she studied public safety.
Bunga’s academic coursework at NWTC focused on topics such as safety and security management, safety in the workplace, and investigation practices. “I love safety because it is also part of the basic knowledge you have to know to build something,” she said. “In construction industries, we apply safety during designing stage, during construction, and in maintenance stage.”
While in the United States, Bunga also visited American noted architectural landmarks, such as the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, Liberty Tower in New York, and Hoover Dam in Grand Canyon, paying attention to the engineering principles involved in their designs.
After her return to Indonesia, Bunga secured a job as an architectural and civil engineer with PT Bhimasena Power Indonesia, where she also serves as a safety officer and site inspector for assigned projects. In her position she routinely applies lessons from her NWTC courses to decision-making, such as factoring evacuation route requirements into the design of building entrances.
In addition to her technical training, Bunga brought back other valuable workplace skills from her CCI experience. Interacting with Americans and with CCI participants from around the globe taught her patience, communication, and teamwork.
Those lessons help Bunga communicate more effectively in her current job, where her colleagues hail from Indonesia, Italy, the United States, Japan, India, and the Philippines. “(The) CCI Program is the best program for anyone who want improve themselves and their community,” she said. “(It) definitely will make you a better person with a global knowledge.”