A Reflection on My Time (So Far!) at RISE Foundation

I work at an NGO called RISE Foundation (Yayasan Remaja Indonesia), whose core mission is to promote and develop the health, wellness, and advocacy of Indonesian youth. Since beginning my internship at the end of September, I’ve learned so much from my mentors and fellow interns. Everyone at RISE is passionate about their work, and the office has a friendly air of camaraderie that many American work spaces that I’ve experienced lack. One of my favorite traditions is the lunches when someone surprises the rest of the office with food to share. While talking and laughing with my co-workers and friends, I’ve tried delicious noodles, chicken sate (grilled chicken skewers with a flavorful sauce), and pai susu (pie made out of custard and condensed milk that is popular all around Indonesia!). RISE is also adjacent to Shea Creative and Cafe (a coffee shop), so we often order drinks together. No matter how large or small, special days like birthdays and holidays are celebrated, and these are always happy and joyous experiences. These ostensibly small occasions truly bring us together, offer me the opportunity to learn more about the local culture and practice my Bahasa Indonesia (Indonesian language), and create such a welcoming environment. 

Laine and a coworker sitting at a table with their computers in front of them, smiling and giving thumbs up

I’m a research intern at RISE, so my work consists of exploring topics relevant to the well-being of Indonesian youth, specifically young women. I’ve researched, learned, and written about adolescent pregnancy, child marriage, and the way these issues influence the high rates of maternal mortality in developing countries. When I’ve finished my research, a graphic design intern organizes the information into a colorful and eye-catching infographic. These are posted on RISE’s social media in hopes of giving the youth an opportunity to learn more about their own physical health and emotional well-being. RISE also has social media interns, who manage the foundation’s accounts and discuss ways to generate more traction and interaction online. In summation, the principal mission of our work is to raise awareness and provide information about topics relevant to the health and well-being of the general public— even those that are not commonly discussed, or those that are considered taboo— and create a space where open conversations about these topics are normalized. 

To me, everyone can find a place at RISE to pursue their passions and interests. In the past few months, RISE interns have covered an array of topics, from environmental issues to diabetes to contraceptive access. RISE Foundation also attends conferences, panels and discussions all over Indonesia. The office participated in Indonesia’s “Feminist Festival,” with a varied selection of events: discussions about women’s rights and access to reproductive services, musical performances, and art exhibitions (to name just a few)! The Maternal and Child Health project leader at RISE Foundation facilitated a meaningful discussion about womens’ and marginal groups’ access to healthcare. She presented a detailed report that offered the perspectives of people from various backgrounds— community leaders, pregnant women, teenagers, midwives, healthcare workers, and more— and suggestions on how to make healthcare more accessible to all. Listening to speakers passionate about womens’ health, and speaking with individuals working at RISE and other NGOs has helped me gain valuable insights and new perspectives on issues that are greatly compelling to me. 

Rise employees posing around a table, smiling

The leaders at RISE aspire, not only in the office but also outside of the workplace, to create an environment that is conducive to learning about the issues facing Indonesia and Indonesia itself. I believe they achieve this with flying colors! I am working in a completely new space, with a completely new language, all while partaking in the unique opportunity to learn more about global issues, especially those related to womens’ health, in a country with very different cultural norms and traditions than my own. Despite all of this novelty and difference, I’ve found mentors and friends alike that I hope to keep in touch with for years to come. Interning at RISE has been a truly incredible experience, and has instilled within me a greater desire and true aspiration to pursue my interests in global health and policy at Princeton, and beyond.

Laine Massick