Wednesday, 15 May 2019

Paying it forward with Tanoto Foundation

Tanoto Scholar Duantra Bergas Ari Kuntar feels that his life has been full of blessings and kindness, and it is time to pass on the same generosity to the community.

Ari received a Tanoto Foundation scholarship in 2013, while he was studying at the Faculty of Agricultural Technology at Bogor Agricultural University.

He was an active part of the university’s Tanoto Scholars Association (TSA IPB), and so quickly became used to being involved in social projects.

“At that time, TSA IPB had a Bina Desa project, where we went to Sukadamai Village in Bogor every weekend to guide the children there in improving their learning. We engaged with parents to share how they can motivate their children to study,” recalled Ari.

Tanoto Scholars are supported by Tanoto Foundation to run goodwill social projects and to pay forward the benefits that they have received to the community. The pay it forward concept is largely emphasised by the founders of Tanoto Foundation, Sukanto Tanoto and Tinah Bingei Tanoto, who say that good leaders must have good character.

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When he graduated in 2017, Ari wanted to continue contributing to society. He decided to leave his job at a tech start-up, opting instead to spend a year as a teacher educating the Indonesian rural community via the country’s ‘Mengajar’ program.

“There was a strict selection process required to become a program participant, and I had to compete with more than 6,000 interested parties. “In 2018, only 33 people were selected to become young teachers as part of the program. I was thankfully one of them,” Ari said.

Under the program, Ari is currently placed in Haratai Village in Hulu Sungai Selatan Regency of South Kalimantan province. The village is a two-hour trip from the nearest city via a steep, winding road.

“The incline of the slope here is about 45 degrees,” Ari said, adding that there is no phone signal in the village and he basically does not use his phone here.

Yet, Ari finds the whole experience of going directly to the community to be extremely fulfilling.

“I really enjoy guiding the children and getting parents to care more about their children’s education, and also motivating teachers to be more creative and diligent in the classroom,” he said.

The best part of the experience, however, is being able to paying forward what he has received from Tanoto Foundation to people in need.

Ari said that even though he will head back to the tech industry after his stint at Mengajar ends in May 2019, he hopes to continue being involved in improving the quality of education in Indonesia again in the future.

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