Possibilities for Sustainable Energy & Engineering in Indonesia
Mr. Stoute speaking to the Harvard College Engineers Without Borders chapter.
A unique event took place this evening in the Lamont Forum Room at Harvard University: the Harvard College Engineers Without Borders (HCEWB) chapter, co-sponsored by the Harvard Asia Center, invited Leonardo Stoute to speak to the group regarding the opportunities and challenges for sustainable energy and development projects in Indonesia. Mr. Stoute, with his background in business and proven record of high respect for Indonesian culture and strong connections with its people, has been traveling extensively to the region for years, embarking on efforts to give back and improve the local communities wherever possible. While tremendous efforts are needed, enormous potential exists for establishing sustainable infrastructure for clean water, sanitation, energy generation, and power distribution efforts.
The needs in Indonesia dovetail with the strengths of the HCEWB. An urgent need for many rural Indonesian communities is access to clean water; for several years, HCEWB has been traveling to the Dominican Republic, to establish and maintain water purification systems for underserved communities in rural areas. Mr. Stoute thanked the EWB for their efforts, and assured them their good intentions do not go unnoticed, even overseas. Traveling has given him a unique perspective on connecting with people of different cultures and backgrounds. From that perspective, he stated that travel is vital to real education and understanding.
Links to Presentation Materials
When asked how he deals with the diversity of cultural backgrounds to be encountered in Indonesia, Mr. Stoute replied simply, “with an open heart, an open mind, and listening.” The importance of adab and adat, the Indonesian equivalent of manners and etiquette, is paramount in Indonesia. Over there, community elders, or datung, play an important role in provincial governments.
Leonardo Stoute and Jordan Feyko, president of HCEWB
Indonesia, one of the world’s largest democracies, is comprised of nearly 18,000 islands, and hundreds of different ethnic and cultural groups. This country is renowned for its rich natural resources, and its economy is one of the fastest growing in the entire world. The people are industrious, and there are many opportunities for entrepreneurship and business development. The decentralization of the government allows localities to play a large role in their own affairs. However, the national infrastructure is inadequate in many places and leads to problems including lack of access to clean drinking water for much of the population. Chronic rolling electrical blackouts are another serious concern, even in areas surrounding the capital, Jakarta. But the resilience and generosity of the Indonesian people only adds to the promise that the country’s abundance of natural resources can provide for a sustainable future. Mr. Stoute has on many occasions found Indonesians to be the type of people who “will share with you even what they don’t have.” He advised the HCEWB students present to strengthen their commitment, even in small ways, to helping those less fortunate, wherever they are.
“You are the youth, the future,” he encouraged them, “giving a possible future to others.”
During his visit to Harvard University, Leonardo Stoute met with Holly Angell, the Associate Director of the Harvard University Asia Center, who had co-sponsored his talk for the Harvard College Engineers Without Borders Chapter, held on October 21. The two connected on a number of levels, most notably their passion for sharing the beauties of Asian cultures with students here in the United States. Mr. Stoute presented Ms. Angell with material from the HCEWB meeting, as well as a current portfolio of cultural events and activities from both universities here in the States as well as those in Indonesia. Ms. Angell was grateful to hear of his successes in bringing the pusaka, or baraka, blessing, of traditional Indonesian arts, music and dance to students at universities like Harvard and Yale. Mr. Stoute thanked her for her support and that of the Harvard Asia Center, and the two discussed possibilities for future events and activities.
Additional documents from the visit: