AN INTERNSHIP STORY OF
KNOWING IS BETTER THAN NOT KNOWING
Before proceeding to the heart of the topic, it is proper that I introduce myself. My name is Yohanes Paulus, a graduate in International Relations from International University Liaison Indonesia (IULI). I was introduced to the field of disaster management in the form of a course taken during my studies back in 2018. Our class had the chance to visit the Indonesian National Disaster Management Authority (BNPB) building in Jalan Pramuka, Jakarta, on a field trip, during which we saw the AHA Centre’s Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) and the BNPB’s museum, and were introduced to the basics of disaster management.
In all, I am honored that I was able to contribute constructively to the AHA Centre and its activities
Three years later and the world has changed so much since that visit. I was concerned that job opportunities would shrink during the COVID-19 pandemic, and initially I did not have any specific expectations about working in disaster management when I applied to the AHA Centre.
I was delighted that my application was accepted, especially since it was not long after I graduated. Starting out as an intern, I wanted to obtain real work experience in an international setting, and to really learn in practice how international organisations work. The work was indeed very challenging but, in return, I achieved what I aimed for and much more.
In my work supporting the Humanitarian Emergency Logistics and Innovation Expo (HELiX) – held virtually in May 2021 – I discovered the complicated procedures and unique challenges in relation to connecting many disparate hosts and participants online. Technological know-how in conjunction with organisational and communication skills with fellow teammates and colleagues were the key. Having been involved in every step of the way, to see the event held successfully, with the constructive conversations and innovations that resulted from it, certainly was an unforgettable and rewarding experience.
More generally, I was also exposed to the workings of the AHA Centre and its DELSA network of warehouses for emergency supplies. I became aware of the scale at which the AHA Centre operates and the important role of its work, especially in these very uncertain times and no doubt well into the future, when humanitarian logistics and disaster responses will become increasingly important, especially in ASEAN. I saw how many of the lessons from HELiX, especially relating to clear and effective communications within organisations and the ability to efficiently manage time and tasks, are implemented on the ground. Most importantly, far from being overly focused and specialised, the experience gained from the internship also challenged me to be able to respond to any unexpected situations and needs, and to remain level-headed and alert at all times.
Complications can and do arise, and I made quite a few mistakes. Feeling intimidated or lacking confidence in one’s ability to handle the sheer scale of tasks is a normal reaction. The critical point here is not to let these difficulties prevent you from learning and adapting. Knowing is better than not knowing, and sometimes the only way to obtain knowledge is simply by doing, however imperfectly.
In all, I am honored that I was able to contribute constructively to the AHA Centre and its activities. I still have much to learn, and the experiences I gained during my time as an intern will certainly be a cherished part of my learning journey. I am extremely grateful for this opportunity, and I wish the best for the future of the AHA Centre, especially in its 10th anniversary year.
Written by : Yohanes Paulus, DELSA Intern January to July 2021 | Photo Credit : AHA Centre