The City of Oak Ridge, Tennessee has been a host city for the YSEALI program long before I accepted my position as the City’s Stormwater Program Coordinator. After about a year of employment, I had an opportunity to spend a day with two YSEALI fellows and show off the beauty of our little Appalachian community. With backgrounds in sustainability and extreme business-savvyness, I was impressed by their entrepreneurship, kindness and overall excitement to be chosen for the program. So when the Director of Public Works and the City Manager offered me the opportunity to host a fellow last May, I jumped at the opportunity. The Director of course explained the responsibilities, and expectations if I was to accept. I think she said something like, “You can think about it” to which I immediately replied, “there is nothing to think about, it would be an honor!”. I immediately starting planning and planning and planning to make sure that my fellow would have an unforgettable experience.
I think overall my hosting experience turned out to be very successful. Our fellow, Hadi Yoga Dewanto, seemed genuinely engaged in all of the activities, and he set some lofty goals for himself to improve his community’s challenges. I planned a lot, but one thing I didn’t plan for was what I would professionally gain by being his host. By the time he left I had not only gained a colleague, but he had given me so many new ideas to incorporate into my own program.
So here I am now, writing my predeparture blog before I begin my reciprocal exchange in Indonesia and I am once again feeling honored to continue to be a part of the YSEALI program.