Recent News

Finding Peace in Diversity and Collaboration

Today, September 21, is the International Day of Peace. It’s a day set aside to collectively pause and reflect on what we are doing or can do to bring people together, a timely need in today’s fractious world. As the new director of Roshan Learning Center, it offers an opportunity for me to consider how we at Roshan promote peace.

It doesn’t take long to see that Roshan Learning Center is truly a community-based program. First arriving two months ago, I was impressed to see that the refugee community is involved at all levels of the organization as managers, students, teachers, advocates and community liaisons. What is even more impressive is that these individuals are giving their time as volunteers. I was curious to know just how much time they give as volunteers, so I calculated their hours and was surprised to see that individuals from the refugee community give over 400 hours each week to keeping Roshan running. This is a staggering number. And this is just for those who are filling official roles; it doesn’t include those who help as chaperones, translators and substitutes.

Refugee service, however, is only part of how Roshan makes such a strong impact. What makes Roshan truly unique is the refugee community’s collaboration with local and international communities in Jakarta. Roshan has Indonesian staff and volunteers helping as teachers, administrators and community liaisons. Additionally, over 20 volunteers from the international community–Australia, India, the U.S., the Netherlands–help as English teachers, soft skills teachers, administrators and mentors for refugee teachers. This widely diverse staff offer students the chance to learn and grow in a truly diverse, supportive, and global community.

This collaboration was on full display this past week as the parents of our preschool students met with teachers to discuss the progress of their children. I sat in on some of these parent-teacher meetings and was struck by the range of individuals involved, each playing their part to make sure our students are served well. I watched as Arianne, an experienced teacher from Indonesia, shared with a father about what his daughter Zahra has been learning in class and on the playground. Hanifa, a manager from Afghanistan, helped translate and share ideas with the father about how he can help his daughter succeed in school. Aline, a teaching assistant from the Netherlands shared about class learning goals for English. Finally, Zahra’s parent gave some tips on things Zahra loves to do at home, which might engage her further in the classroom as well.

This kind of ongoing, international collaboration provides an extraordinary set of opportunities for the children at Roshan. A given student gets to learn Bahasa Indonesia, the national language in Indonesia. She has multiple adults supporting her to learn English and make progress in her English literacy skills as well, while also learning to write in Farsi, her home language. She has help from a range of supportive adults to decode the mysterious and diverse cultural expectations surrounding her. Moreover, with her parent’s direct involvement, she receives the support she needs at home to grow and learn.

This seems like a remarkable way to promote peace. Working together as international colleagues and respecting a variety of viewpoints, deepening understanding across the cultures, classes and age groups that comprise our student body, and strengthening ties between teachers and families are fundamental starting points for promoting peace.

The future of refugee children is full of unknowns, but with experiences in a welcoming, diverse environment, they’re becoming equipped to thrive regardless of where they may land. As the newest member of the Roshan team, I am thrilled to see this happening already and look forward to contributing my part in this uniquely collaborative community.

 

Roshan Welcomes New Director

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The entire Roshan community is pleased to extend our warmest welcome Brandon Baughn as the new Director of Roshan Learning Center.

Prior to moving with his family to Jakarta in July 2017, he worked in educational development in Northern Pakistan for over 8 years. During his time in Pakistan, he worked as program manager for a nomadic education program, as well as conducting research in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on multilingual education, nomadic education and minority perspectives on education.

Most recently, Brandon worked with the International Rescue Committee (IRC) in Seattle as a program specialist for their New Roots and Youth programs and as a grant writer for IRC’s national office.

He holds a Master of Arts in International Educational Development from Teachers College at Columbia University (New York City, U.S.). He loves to travel and is excited to explore some of the many islands in Indonesia with his wife and three children.

The entire Roshan community is pleased to extend our warmest welcome Brandon Baughn as the new Director of Roshan Learning Center.

Prior to moving with his family to Jakarta in July 2017, he worked in educational development in Northern Pakistan for over 8 years. During his time in Pakistan, he worked as program manager for a nomadic education program, as well as conducting research in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on multilingual education, nomadic education and minority perspectives on education.

Most recently, Brandon worked with the International Rescue Committee (IRC) in Seattle as a program specialist for their New Roots and Youth programs and as a grant writer for IRC’s national office.

He holds a Master of Arts in International Educational Development from Teachers College at Columbia University (New York City, U.S.). He loves to travel and is excited to explore some of the many islands in Indonesia with his wife and three children.

World Refugee Day through the Eyes of a Child

At Roshan Learning Center, we are thrilled to have global attention on refugees on World Refugee Day.  Here, every day is refugee day for staff and students.

For Roshan students such as Efran, whose favorite superhero is Superman, or Zayna who is goal is to be a good big sister, it doesn’t matter if it is June 20 or January 20.  For them, and the more than 11 million children globally who are refugees, what matters is having a safe place to play, engaging activities, especially school, healthy parents and relatives, and reliable meals and shelter.  More than half of refugee children have no school to go to.

For adults, though, June 20 is an important reminder to support and advocate for students like Efran and Zayna.

These children and their peers count on adults to speak on their behalf to elected and community leaders, to donate funds and supplies to advocacy organizations, to welcome the newly arrived, to offer pro bono professional skills, or find other ways to help immigrant families, such as providing needed rides or school supplies.

Such advocacy is vital, because as any refugee can tell you, the invisibility of refugee life adds to the struggle of finding sanctuary and acceptance.  In a big city like Jakarta, most people —Indonesians and international aid agency workers alike —-have no idea they have refugees as neighbors (more than 5,000 in the Jakarta area alone).  That’s true in many places across the world where asylum seekers sit and wait as governments and organizations determine where they may live, whether they may work or go to school.  The wait and related depression and boredom from idleness can take years, and often in crowded and unhealthy conditions.

In the meantime, children such as Erfan or Zayna don’t have the luxury of putting childhood on hold.  They have eating, growing, playing and learning to do today.

So here’s a tribute to the resilient refugee children in Indonesia and globally.  We encourage you to welcome them, support them, and advocate on their behalf on June 20 and year-round.  After all, their future is our future too.

At Roshan Learning Center,  you can help support a refugee by sponsoring their education costs, which are roughly $50 a month or $600 a year.  The amount may be low but return on the investment is incalculable.

Roshan Students Visit Indonesian Children in Hospital

Since its inception, the life blood of Roshan has been the kindness and generosity of others willing to serve the refugee community in Indonesia. As the center grows and changes, we see the limitless capacity of the refugees to serve one another.

They also serve others, in keeping with the top value promoted at Roshan, “Do good for others.” A few months ago, a small group of students from my English class at Roshan, where I volunteer, served both the American Women’s Association (AWA) and local Indonesian children in Fatmawati Hospital by delivering gifts and good cheer.

The AWA does a monthly delivery of hygiene supplies and small gifts for children in the hospital, but this particular month they had difficulty finding the volunteers needed for delivery. A group of six teenage students from Roshan stepped in and made the most of the opportunity to give back to their host country.

It also felt personal for the students, bringing back memories of loved ones left behind in Afghanistan. “It reminds me of my little brother and sister while I was talking with them,” said Mustafa, who left his parents and younger siblings behind in his journey to Indonesia. The important connection between age groups is universal and healing, I realized.

The teenagers expressed the hesitation and concern you would expect when visiting sick children in a hospital using a language you don’t speak well. But they quickly overcame their hesitation and made the most of the opportunity to make children happy. Student Ali said, “It was so great to meet them and give them a gift and make them happy and [put a] smile on their faces. I hope they will get well soon. Also I hope I become rich and [I will] make hospitals for free.”

The Roshan students were kind, engaging and upbeat as they met over 50 children and their families. They also recognized the privilege of being the one to give instead of receive. “Today was a precious day for me. I really had an awesome feeling when I was giving the presents for kids. I felt proud of myself,” said John.

Being able to give is indeed a joy.

The Roshan students spread a heartfelt joy in the hospital that reminded me that no matter what people’s situation or what they have endured, at the heart of humanity, we find goodness.

Roshan a Winner in Robotics Competition

A robot somewhat in the shape of a bulldozer but not bigger than the size of man’s palm whirred around a circle of plastic balls on a flat white table. The robot scooped and shoved a majority of balls toward one edge of the table and a cheer went up from the three team members, “Yeah!”

This is the second annual robotics challenge organized by the Jakarta Intercultural School (JIS) robotics club, called JIS NXT GEN. Kevin Sisjayawan, David Hartong, Yadan Noerdin, and other students learn under the tutelage of Mr. Detwiler, the Robofest event creator and the club advisor.
The JIS students also teach. Every Monday afternoon for the last few terms, Roshan secondary students have ridden the bus across South Jakarta to take Robotics classes at the JIS Cilandak high school campus. They learn how to think logically, create clear and specific commands, and work as a team.

This week, the Roshan students showed just how much they had learned.

The Robofest competition included 12 groups of three to four members each, including two teams from Roshan. The challenge was to successfully command a robot to move as many balls as possible from the middle of the table to one side. To do this required five to six hours of building and programming.

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The team whose robot successfully moved the greatest number of balls won. Congratulations to JIS sophomores Jingtao, Mengzhen, Kerby and Nick.

Mr. Detwiler said the event provided “more fun than humans should be allowed to have.”

The Roshan students would likely agree. One of the two Roshan teams–Mustafa, Armin A. and John–came in second place, beating their own JIS teachers and Robotics Club Officers David and Bagas. The other Roshan team–Shirafzal, Abdul Ghafur and Armin F.–received the Isaac Asimov Award. Asimov, considered the father of robotic philosophy, would have been proud, and so are we. Well done, Roshan!


Author’s note: Special thanks to Mr. Detwiler, Mr. Varnham, Ms. Devitt, and all the JIS Robotics Club members for inviting Roshan to this fabulous event and for your ongoing teaching and support. Thank you Mr. Naser Aran for your Roshan supervision.