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A note from the Chevening Forum 2010 by Rini Astuti

This forum is a first step to create a long lasting global connection in which ideas is celebrated, innovation is renowned and action is manifested.

Before the big day

Two weeks ago around 100 brilliant Chevening scholars from more than 30 countries gathered in the Innovation Centre at the University of Bath. It was a Chevening 2010 forum which was initiated by Pedro Parraguez Ruiz (Chevening scholar from Chile) and supported by the Foreign Commonwealth Office of The UK (FCO). There were 6 Indonesian Chevening scholars attending the forum including myself.

Weeks before the forum, I was so nervous, never before I felt so anxious in my life. Why? That was because I will be one of the presenters in the Chevening Forum. My presentation will be on climate change and sustainable development. To present such an important and hot topic is a big burden for me, especially when my audiences are young excellent scholars from all over the world. At that time, so many negative imaginations came into my mind: how if I get stuck in the middle of my presentation; how if the audiences do not understand my heavy Indonesian-English accent; how if I look stupid and could not answer the questions and so forth. There were other thousands of “how if” terrorizing my mind and I was so tempted to send email to the organizer to cancel my presentation.

Days passed by with thousands of worries inside my mind and my heart, and there were 2 weeks left to prepare my presentation. At the same time deadline for essays and another course assignments were approaching. Sometimes student’s life is just like hell. Then, just like a drop of water in the middle of Sahara, friends of mine sent a text, he said: “You are what you think, if you think you can then you can”.

After read that message, I opened my laptop and started to create my first presentation slides: the working title of the presentation. I tried hard to figure out how to make a good and communicative presentation on a heavy scientific topic which could be enjoyed by everyone with a diverse academic background. Then I remember about Al Gore, the greatest climate change campaigner and presenter, who always succeed to steal the audiences’ heart. I googled Al Gore speech and presentation, and found a great website: www.ted.com. In this website you can watch online more than 1000 great and inspiring presentations and speech by leaders of the world, scientists, entrepreneurs, and many more. In addition to that, the gorgeous thing from this website is: they provide us with script text from the presentation, so don’t worry about our listening capacity.

I watched riveting presentations on climate change from Al Gore, Yann Arthus Bertrand (the producer of Home the movie), Larry Brilliant (Google director), and many more to learn the way they deliver the presentation. There were three things that I learnt from them about a good presentation: first, you will be able to make a good presentation if you present it with passion. Passion will make you feel confidence because you are doing what you are passionate about. Furthermore, self confidence will make you shine in front of your audiences. Second, simplify the topic into analogues and metaphor which are close to our daily life. Simple analogue and metaphor will help the audiences understand what you are talking about even though it is a very difficult heavy goobledogggy scientific topic. Third, communicate with audiences, look into their eyes, speak to their face, use intonation and make a joke, don’t be too serious.

After a bloody struggling, my presentation slide was ready. Check this link to see what my presentation on low carbon society looks like. http://issuu.com/parraguezr/docs/3riniastuti. I practiced my presentation in front of two friends of mine to see if people understand what I talk about. I got a constructive critiques and supports from all of them and they helped me to improve my presentation.

The Big Day

And the day came. I took a morning train to Bath from London. Despite a windy and chilly day, I felt warmth and enthralled to meet so many brilliant young future leaders from more than 30 countries. That was a very big day full of challenging ideas and genuine initiatives. The topic of the forum is innovation and there were 6 main presentations and 6 focus group discussions/bar-camp. Some of the issues discussed in the forum were: innovation, climate change and the environment, global justice, transparency, media, regional development and education. At that time I was so proud with the active participation from all of my Indonesian colleagues, 2 of the presentation and 3 bar-camp were lead by Indonesian scholar.

From the programme schedule, I knew that I will only have 15 minutes to deliver my presentation and followed by 5 minutes Q&A session. I said to myself that I am going to make this presentation a good and enjoyable one. And there it was, I stood up in front of the audiences, I was frozen for a second realizing that I will only have one chance and therefore I should make it work. I greeted the audiences, smiled at them, and then the words just coming through my mouth. I was totally fine, full of self confidence, and able to made a good joke. I was even enjoy every second of my presentation, feel the audiences’ full attention to me, their laugh and their surprising comment. There was no single of my “how if” imagination happened.

This note will not end beautifully if I just tell you the story behind the presentation. I need to tell you what my presentation was about. My presentation is about the low carbon society and it was divided into three main sections. In the first section I talked about what is climate change, what are the causes and the impacts of the climate change. In this section I gave an illustration of the total green house gas emissions in the world which now reached 30 billion Giga-ton of carbon and this is equal to 6 billion elephants. Could you ever imagine 6 billion elephants hanging in the world sky? In the second section, I talked about the political context of climate change. And in the last section, I talked about low carbon society, why should we go for low carbon society and what are the critical factors which will enable us to develop our path toward low carbon society.

There are at least 3 main factors that will help us build our low carbon society. The first factor is innovation. Radical innovation can save human lives. Some of the examples of radical innovation are the green technology and the invention of the nano technology; this technology could create a cheaper renewable energy for human life. Innovation in the business sector is also needed. There are many big companies in the world rethinking their business strategies; they consider green as the next big thing. And the most important innovation is creativity. Whether you are in education, design, retail, or computer engineering, creativity is the key to invent and create our low carbon society.

The second key factor is changes. To develop our low carbon society, we need to change the way we live and we need to redefine our meaning of wealth. One of the simple ways to do this is by becoming a green consumer. We have choices in everything that we buy and we should always consider the basic question: do we really need to buy? Or could we recycle and reuse what is available. And beyond self changes, we need changes in the way we govern and inhabit this world. It means we need changes in our economic and democratic system. An economy which is driven by the fossil fuels is proved to be a wrong choice, we need a new economic system: low carbon economy, and to make this happens we need a more equal and just world. A world where the polluter pays what they have done to the environment and a world where we all have a common but differentiate responsibility to reduce emissions.

The last important factor is leadership. Each generation has its own challenges. We witnessed the victory of human rights when the slavery ended in 19th century. We witnessed the spirit of equality when women finally have their right to vote. And now, we as a current generation are facing the challenge of climate change. What we need is another heroic generation and to win the battle of our generation, we need to be catalysts of change. We need to teach others about climate change, learn about it, and talk about it. The last, it’s time for us to ask our government for their leadership in tackling climate change. We need their political will to see the problem of climate change with a sense of urgency. We do have the capacity and our current technology is enough, what we need now is a political will from our government to mobilise the resource to tackle the problem of climate change.

I ended my presentation by asking all the audiences in the forum: where does this challenge of climate change lead us? As young generations and Chevening scholars where does it take us?

After the big day

After the forum, all of us went back to our life as a student. I was sure that all of us who attended the forum went back with a fuller energy and ideas in our mind, and of course a longer list and plan to contribute more to make this world a better place to live. This forum is a first step to create a long lasting global connection in which ideas is celebrated, innovation is renowned and action is manifested. I cannot wait for the next Chevening summer forum which will be held in York (I hope).

London, 11th May 2010
Rini Astuti
Education UK Ambassador British Council Indonesia
Chevening Scholar
King’s College London
MSc Carbon Science, Society and Change

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