Name: Rick Ferrera
Home Town and University: Minneapolis MN. I studied History and Spanish at Concordia College in Moorhead MN.
Fulbright ETA placement location and year: I was a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant (ETA) in Saparua, Maluku during the 2010-2011 grant term.
Current city and job: I live in Jakarta and work for MediaComm, a locally-owned business advisory and corporate communications consulting firm, as their Director of Research and Business Development, MediaComm.
Life After Fulbright:
When my Fulbright grant ended in May 2011, I moved to Jakarta to work for AMINEF. The idea was to try to help smooth over some of the many obstacles the ETA program faces in Indonesia. I’m thankful to have met a lot of great people – teachers, principals, students and grantees – and I’d like to think together we contributed to making the program even more rewarding for everyone involved. I left AMINEF in September 2013 with a healthy respect for the practical difficulties of managing international projects.
The people with whom I worked at AMINEF helped me learn a lot about how to get things done in Indonesia and how to communicate that to foreign partners. When I left, I wanted to take those skills into the private sector and work on a wider range of projects. Happily, MediaComm wanted the same thing – but I had to spend about a year in the US first waiting for a visa to come through. That was a great opportunity to take an epic road trip with my wife, Andrea, and see a completely new side of my own country by spending six months as a freight train conductor in the oil fields outside her North Dakota hometown (highly, highly, highly recommended experience if you find yourself with a year of spare time!).
I came back to Jakarta in October 2014 to start my new job. The projects are fascinating, especially against the backdrop of President Jokowi’s intensely ambitious new government, and in a way I find myself back where I started: when I decided to apply for the Fulbright grant in Indonesia back in 2010, I remember thinking that it seemed as though every important challenge in the world – democratization, economic development, environmental destruction, urbanization, food security, poverty, sectarian strife, education reform, emerging market growth, resurgent nationalism and more – was taking center stage in Indonesia. It turns out that’s still true and most significant projects here have to grapple with elements of nearly all those issues. I often find that having personally experienced Indonesia’s significant bureaucracy out in a remote Maluku school system has given me a nuanced perspective on the challenges clients face in their Indonesian operations.