The u-turn

Last week I read an obituary for Christopher Koch the author of The Year of Living Dangerously. Koch’s novel was one of my favorite and frequently used reference books when I was teaching Indonesian history in high schools in Australia. Koch also wrote the first draft screenplay for the award-winning movie with the same title and which featured Mel Gibson, Sigourney Weaver and Linda Hunt in the lead roles

The hero of that story was apparently loosely based on the life and the career of Murray Clapham who became one of Australia’s most famous and respected diplomats posted in Indonesia.

Clapham’s daughter Grace is now making her own mark and creating her own legacy in the same country. Grace is one of those unique individuals doing a ‘u-turn’ – she has returned to the place of her upbringing to help make a difference. As a daughter of mixed marriage couple Grace has not only inherited a love for her dual cultures but also like her parents, the burning desire to make a difference and dedicate her own skills to help others.

After finishing her high school and starting her university studies in Australia, Grace worked in London and Paris before returning to finish her degree in Melbourne. She moved back to Asia in 2009 basing herself in Singapore and Jakarta and she’s now indeed making her mark and making a difference.

In an interview published in “The Jakarta Globe” yesterday (September 29, 2013) Grace explained that she’s currently focused on 2 main projects in Indonesia – Change Ventur.es and Secret {W} Business.

Change Ventur.es brings together individuals from different backgrounds and interests to join us for one month in Bali to make awesome things happen with a focus on social innovation and social ventures. Our pilot program is happening in Bali in September and we’re working with the communities around us to create more connections between individuals working on social ventures and those in the area. We are all about learning by doing, sharing between peers and having time to make things happen. Within Change Ventur.es we also launched the Change Scholarship whereby we provide one to three Indonesians or residents of Indonesia the opportunity to be a Change Scholar, so costs are subsidized by us and other applicants.

During the four weeks, individuals connect and learn skills and insights from peers, industry experts, thought leaders and inspirational speakers from a range of sectors. Surround yourself with like-minded individuals and discover how to be at your mental and physical best. Everything you need to help you drive your startup, social business or creative project forward happens at Change Ventur.es. Next year we will be launching some shorter getaways and theme specific getaways. We’re always on the lookout for collaborations and partnerships.

Secret {W} Business is our network and community for women entrepreneurs, change-makers and innovators across Asia Pacific. We provide monthly events, talks, workshops and dinners for our members along with our online platform for the members to share resources, knowledge and information. Our aim is to make entrepreneurship and innovation accessible to every woman whilst connecting them across the region for potential collaborations and growth. We launched in Singapore in June 2013 and have now opened chapters in Bali, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur and will soon be opening in Nepal, Jakarta, Australia, Hong Kong, Seoul and Manila.

Grace claims that the biggest challenge facing women entrepreneurs in Indonesia is accessibility, especially accessibility to education, skills and money or capital. Her aim therefore is to help women to become empowered and to build communities that share and connect on a regular basis.

She acknowledges that being a ‘tck’ has helped her to bridge communities and projects in both a practical as well as theoretical sense, “I feel the because of my background I’m able to bridge the East and the West divide through various ventures.”

And she has some very clear advice for how we might unleash our own creative potential.

“Always be curious and observant, as you never know where inspiration will come from. Take in your surroundings. look at other sectors than what you’re interested in. Write and make plans. get motivated by inspirational books and videos, and through conferences such as TED and websites such as Brain Pickings.

Don’t just surround yourselves with like-minded individuals. Surround yourself with people who will push your creative boundaries, and those with different backgrounds and perceptions as they will open you up top other ideas.” (p. 12, “Jakarta Expat”, July 31-August 22, 2013).

 

 

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