Surabaya, Nov 28 – UniKL RCMP was invited to the second international summit for World University Association for Community Development (WUACD) by Universitas Airlangga (UNAIR), Indonesia. It was established in 2018 to improve the quality of community services programs in both Indonesia and abroad along with the other members of WUACD. Universiti Kuala Lumpur was one of the founding member & Assoc. Prof. Dr. Cordelia Mason was the first delegate to represent UniKL in 2018.
A 2 hours plane ride from Kuala Lumpur brought me to Juanda International Airport, where I was greeted by students & graduates of UNAIR who were our liaison officers for the next 3 days. After changing into our national attire, I and several other delegates from Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines, Bangladesh, Taiwan, Turkey, USA and Australia were driven to the Mayor of Surabaya’s residence for an introductory dinner filled with local cuisines and cultural performances. The mayor in her speech highlighted the city’s achievement towards becoming a modern & most livable city in Indonesia. An exchange of gifts and photo sessions with the mayor ended the night in a splendid mode.
After a 5-star breakfast the next morning, we were ushered to UNAIR Campus C to meet with the Rector of the university who officiated the summit. The meeting between the delegates and the director of WUACD gave me a chance to share our community development activities. Being the very few delegates from the faculty of medicine, I proudly presented our activities in Public Health module, RM3, corporate social activities in collaboration with NGOs and our transitional population research niche.
We were then divided into 3 groups to start our engagement sessions with the local community in Surabaya. My team which consisted of a dentist, an educationist, an anthropologist, a nanotechnologist and 2 social scientists were in a high school’s classroom at Sidoarjo to share our experience while motivating the students to excel in their life. It was really a joy interacting with them as they responded to our questions with tons of enthusiasm. Something I missed very much back home.
We then continued our journey to the famous mountain resort of Bromo. Passing by the highlanders’ villages reminded me of how simple & peaceful life can be. After a scrumptious dinner and some chit-chats under the cold mountain breeze and glittering tungsten lights, we retreated into our room to prepare for the next challenge a few hours later.
Boarding a five-seater jeep in the midst of early morning hustle, we joined the queue of hundreds of jeeps climbing to the peak of ‘love hill’ to view the spectacular sunrise of Mount Bromo, an active volcano which erupted just 2 months before our arrival. Certainly worth the jeeps’ diesel fumes which we have been inhaling all the way up.
After changing into our casual whites, we proceeded to community halls around the villages in Probolinggo to engage the local community via discussion and knowledge sharing on health issues. I experienced firsthand their warmth & hospitality despite their modest circumstances. UNAIR has adopted the district for community development and medical students have a chance to stay with the villagers for an entire month during their public health posting.
The hours on my journey back gave me plenty of chance to reflect on how a university can contribute not only to the knowledge world but also to humanity. Kudos to UNAIR.