Contributor: Maroof Ahmed | Editor: Supriyono
On May 13, 2023, a group of MA in Education students at the Faculty of Education (FoE) of the Universitas Islam Internasional Indonesia (UIII) embarked on an enriching journey to the nearby Pesantren Cendekia Amanah with the purpose to engage in community service.
The program aimed for the students to actively contribute to the educational development of the local community under the guidance of their esteemed lecturer Dr. Destina Wahyu Winarti. The event paved the way for cultural exchange, educational outreach, and personal growth.
Pesantren Cendekia Amanah is an Islamic Boarding School located 6km away from the UIII campus in Depok City, West Java. The pesantren is unique given its distinctive blend of traditional and modern educational models. It nurtures students by balancing theoretical knowledge and practical skills while fostering a deep-rooted faith and a sense of social responsibility.
Upon arrival, the FoE students were cordially welcomed by the school staff members and students, with both sides keenly introducing themselves, thus setting the stage for a day of mutual learning and cultural exchange. The FoE students initiated their activities by forming groups and facilitating engaging English training sessions with the local students, a vital part of their community service commitment.
Dr. Winarti underscored the significance of such initiatives. Her insights highlighted the broader global context and the far-reaching implications of the students' endeavors.
"In this global era, English is a vital skill that everyone needs to master. Many Indonesian students need support in improving their English proficiency. By facilitating English conversation, our students fulfilled a critical UIII mission, contributing to the development of human resources in the Islamic world," she said.
Dr. Winarti elaborated that during the event, the UIII students led the program with creativity, independence, and effective communication. This opportunity not only allowed them to grow their confidence but also their sense of community involvement.
For the students, this community service presented a unique learning opportunity that was as much about giving as it was about gaining. It was a chance to implement their pedagogical theories in a real-world setting, gain intercultural communication experience, and foster connections with a vibrant local community.
Eka Hermansyah, one of the students, appreciated the value of integrating international students into the program. By bringing together diverse cultures in one setting, it opened up opportunities for global understanding and intercultural communication.
"Engaging in English conversation with international students from UIII illuminated the global significance of the English language and its role as a universal means of communication. The interactions fostered a mutual respect and acceptance for cultural diversity," he explained.
Echoing the statement, Maria Ayaz, an international student from Pakistan, reflected on her efforts in organizing interactive activities to enhance the students' English language skills and expand their cultural understanding.
"We conducted various interactive activities that served to enhance not only their English language skills but also broadened their cultural understanding. For instance, discussions about Pakistan in English gave them a chance to form questions in English, boosting their vocabulary and comprehension abilities," she said.
The service-learning experience also offered profound insights for Iin Afriyanti Umar. She emphasized that the impact of the activities was twofold. It benefitted not only the students at the Pesantren but also the FoE students themselves.
"The students were divided into several groups, and each group was facilitated by two FoE students. The purpose of this training was to give the opportunity to students to practice their English as much as possible and develop their confidence. This community service wasn't just about giving; we also received a lot in return," she said.
The UIII's outreach to Pesantren Cendekia Amanah demonstrates the transformative power of educational exchange and community service, fostering global understanding, intercultural communication, community development, and personal growth. This initiative highlights UIII's role in shaping culturally aware, socially responsible, and globally-minded citizens, marking a significant step towards building a robust educational future grounded in intercultural competence and a sense of shared humanity.