By: Amy U
Third-year Architecture student Simone Delaney pursued an international co-op work term to gain new perspectives on the world. While working in Jakarta, Indonesia, she also gained life-changing experiences through the impactful work she did for Yayasan Peta Bencana, an organization that offers open-source mapping visualization software to help manage climate disasters. While on her work term, Yayasan Peta Bencana received the United Nations Public Service Award for ensuring integrated approaches in public sector institutions and helping to meet some of the UN's Sustainable Development Goals - especially those related to climate change.
By providing free, crowd-sourced information about disaster events to residents, first-responders and other services in real-time, Yayasan Peta Bencana is helping to foster equitable and collaborative resilience to climate change in Indonesia.
Simone was captivated by Jakarta’s density, rich diversity and stimulating environmental challenges. Not only is Jakarta home to over 10 million people, it’s also the fastest sinking city in the world. This is a massive concern knowing that an entire city could potentially be submerged underwater, putting millions at risk of being displaced from their homes.
Simone’s decision to work in a foreign country with so many challenges speaks to her awareness of environmental, infrastructural and social crises in the global context, and her desire to give back. Though she was aware of the realities of our rapidly-evolving world, Simone knew that she would have to step outside her comfort zone to better understand these changes.
“It’s impossible to develop new frameworks for thinking if you don’t challenge familiar notions you’ve held your entire life by leaving the safety of your typical environment.
As an undergraduate student from the other side of the world, I don’t necessarily have the best expertise to offer. But by working alongside people who do, I’d like to develop the necessary skills for solutions of this scale in the future.”
Simone hopes to come out of this work term with new frameworks for assessing and understanding the global community on a larger scale.
She hopes her experiences at Yayasan Peta Bencana will enable her to take another step forward and encourage communities to foster ethically integrated tech-for-good solutions. Simone is extremely passionate about the growth and implementation of digital infrastructure as it plays a critical role in democratizing the management of cities around the world.
When asked to share some advice for students who might want to pursue a work term abroad, Simone concluded that there are two main challenges she experienced: emotional barriers such as fear and logistical barriers such as the lack of funds.
“Emotional barriers such as fear can be addressed by staying connected with family and friends at home, as well as looking for new ways to connect with people from work or local groups who can help you become familiar with a new environment and culture," says Celeste Horne, an international student advisor within Co-operative Education. “Beyond that, every student has a co-op advisor who is only a message away throughout your work term.”
In terms of financial barriers, Waterloo students are eligible for approximately 450 awards ranging in value from $500 to $2,500 to support students interested in pursuing opportunities in new learning environments around the globe.
Instead of hesitating from pursuing a work term abroad, Simone encourages other students to consider the new perspectives they could be missing out on if they chose to not pursue it at all.
Simone shares, “Fear is experienced by everyone, but the ability to harness it is rare. The most successful innovators are people willing to dive into the unknown.”
Simone’s story provides a snippet of the enriching experience of working abroad and sheds light on our co-op students' awe-inspiring talent and desire to give back. To read Simone's full recap of Yayasan Peta Bencana's recent Public Service Award and support of the UN's Sustainable Development Goals, visit this link.