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Alumnus Rennie Roos: ‘I want to work with Indonesia in the present day’

Alumnus Rennie Roos lives and works in Indonesia. What took him there, what does he do there and what inspires him? ‘I want to give other people the opportunities I was given.’

Rennie Roos

Rennie Roos (33) studied Languages and Cultures of Indonesia at Leiden University from 2009 to 2013. He especially remembers his student days here as being ‘very friendly and enjoyable’. ‘We were just a small group of students. I was actually the only one at some of the lectures,’ he says via Teams from Jakarta.

At the moment, he’s in the process of moving from Bali to the capital Jakarta for a new job. Since completing his studies, he’s been working in Indonesia. At first he lived a few months here and a few months there, but now he is permanently based in Indonesia.

A life-changing study programme

He started his studies without a specific career goal in mind. Having gone through an unsuccessful selection procedure for training as an airline pilot, he was advised to apply again after obtaining a bachelor’s degree. He liked the idea of learning a new language, and a friend from high school was also studying Indonesian; he even had a link with the country himself: his grandmother was born there.

After completing his bachelor’s programme and an extra semester at the Gadjah Mada University in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, followed by a master’s in Politics, Society and Economy of Asia at Leiden, it became clear to Roos that his ambitions no longer included becoming a pilot. ‘I met so many great people in Indonesia that I stayed here and started working here.’ While studying, Roos had already set up the Indonesia Nederland Youth Society (INYS): ‘a platform for forward-looking young people from Indonesia and the Netherlands’. On 19 October the society will celebrate its tenth anniversary with an event in Jakarta and The Hague.

Roos had observed that the relationship between the two countries was often about their history and the burden of the past. ‘I wanted to change that and work with Indonesia and the Netherlands in the present day: young people with good ideas. Let’s work on those, instead of constantly going over old ground.’ Roos is still the chair of the INYS Board of Trustees and cordially invites students with an interest in Asia or international relations to share their ideas or to consider joining the Executive Board.

Young Expert Programme

Solving problems

Roos says that he likes working in Indonesia because of the impact his work can have. ‘The challenges are much bigger here than in the Netherlands, partly just because the scale of Indonesia is much larger.’ For the last two years he worked as a consultant and trainer on Bali for MDF Training & Consultancy, which advises companies on inclusion, social impact and sustainability. He was also a member of the Young Expert Programme (YEP) of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which is focused on achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

He is now working for Enviu, an organisation that builds start-ups worldwide. He supports start-ups in Indonesia in the area of reducing plastic waste. ‘When you stand here in Jakarta at Bantar Gebang, the biggest landfill site in Southeast Asia, you can immediately see very clearly how badly we’re treating our planet. My job is to make a small contribution to improving this.’

Investing in others

In the future, Roos would like to set up an organisation himself, enabling him to invest in other people worldwide: ‘I want to make sure that other people are given the same opportunities that I was given. I’d like to inspire others, provide them with a platform or support them in achieving their full potential.’

Examples could include giving people access to education or to funding and the right network for realising a good business idea. ‘Ultimately it’s about supporting one another and making the world a little more beautiful.’

Text: Thessa Lageman
Images: Rennie Roos

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