This new series shines the spotlight on 40K Globe alumni who, through a Q&A, are asked to reflect on their time and experiences working on the ground in India as part of our former social enterprise internship program. Although 40K Globe is no longer in operation, the memories and experiences are held closely by many and have helped pave the way to new entrepreneurial ventures, career directions, insights and worldviews. Here, we explore some of these experiences and learn more about what our alumni are up to today.
For our very first profile, we’re giving a warm welcome to 2018 40K Globe alumni, Ruyi Teh, a budding social entrepreneur who is passionate about mental health, youth development, sustainability and climate change.
What is your current location and occupation?
I am currently based in Malaysia. I work full-time in the foodservice industry whilst working part-time as an entrepreneur for a project called The Ripple Effect. It is a project that aims to provide tools and guidance for youth and changemakers to build mental and emotional resilience via empowering them as part of a mindful and sustainable community for change.
In what year/s did you partake in the 40K Globe internship program?
I did my internship with 40K Globe in January 2018.
Why did you choose to participate in the program?
I came across the 40K Globe program at a job fair at the University of Melbourne. I fell into the social enterprise model when I was studying for my undergraduate degree. I was looking for a volunteering opportunity and also a job opportunity with a social enterprise, and was eager to learn through doing and experiencing. The 40K Globe program attracted me immediately as it provided a real experiential learning opportunity. I am also a traveller for culture and local experience. Hence, I liked how the program was designed to understand the real social issues by visiting the countries and the village.
What memories stand out most about your experience as a 40K Glober?
Being the only non-Australian participant in my cohort was definitely the most stand out memory to me. I had difficulties in adjusting and adapting myself to two countries’ cultures, instead of one. I still remember how I struggled to understand my mates’ conversations and their satisfied faces when I understood and used some of the Australian slang they taught me. Everyday in the van towards the village, they would teach me new slang or introduce me to Australian songs. They tried hard to help me adapt to Australian culture and to mingle with the group and other participants. I tried my first vegemite with my teammates in India too. I appreciated my teammates’ efforts in helping me adjust into the cohort and being comfortable depending on them either in work or living in India.
Secondly, I could never forget the heartfelt emotions that I had on the opening day of the centre. Seeing the happy faces of the villagers and the kids made me recall the hard work we put in during those four weeks. Some of the villagers did not welcome us at first. Yet, on the last day, we knew some of the households and visited them for tea. The kids would follow us and accompany us when we were doing our chores around the village. The villagers would stop by the centre while we were busy setting up and ask if we need any props or food to help. I felt connected with them, even if we were there for a short period of time.
How did your experience as a 40K Glober help you in your career?
The experience with 40K Globe led me to the social enterprise sector. I learned more about the model and its challenges. The experience helped in the interviews for my masters entry. The experience as a 40K Glober proves my adventurer spirit and adaptability, which become the merit point for my internships and interviews. Also, the experience with 40K Globe has inspired me to embark on the entrepreneurship path, to bring adventure and “just do it” spirit into my community.
How has it impacted your life and outlook in general?
The program has impacted me in the way that it widened my worldview and perspectives on life. Seeing and experiencing the third world country’s living stimulated and strengthened my empathy. I made a lot of friends in the program, either my Australian mates or the locals. I had an amazing experience during my weekend break in the program. I had a misperception that India is a dangerous place and that people in the rural areas are uneducated and superstitious. However, my encounter with a same-aged three-wheel motor driver, and the student guide in the program, broke my stigma and stereotypes about India. In fact, there are many hopeful and kind youths in India and the people are resilient in their own way. I learned so much from them. Still today, I keep in touch with the young three-wheel motor driver. My whole experience in the program taught me not to judge a book by its cover and to look at the positive sides.
If it weren’t for 40K, I would never have become a braver version of me. Everything I experienced in the program was my first time. It was my first time travelling by myself to a third world country, other than my country. The first time living with a group of people whose culture differs from mine. The first time being practical and learning from a real case study. All these experiences cultivated my courage by forcing me out of my comfort zone.
Keep your eyes on our blog for more alumni interviews. If you’re a former 40K glober and would like to take part in the series, please reach out —we’d love to hear from you!