Kelas Daring IELTS NTT’s Webinar Series #4: Forestry, For Real: School and Work in the Environmental Sector – With Caroline ‘Dea’ Tasirin, Yale Graduate in Forest Science and Lecturer at Sam Ratulangi University

On last Friday, Kelas Daring IELTS NTT had a privilege to host another inspiring speaker with us. Caroline Tasirin or commonly known as Dea is a forest science graduate from Yale school of Forestry and Environmental Studies (FES) under CIFOR-USAID scholarship. Dea is also an alumnus of YSEALI academic fellowship, studying environmental issues at East-West center in Hawaii. Currently working as a lecturer at Sam Ratulangi university in Manado, Dea is also actively participating in environmental works. Dea’s talk was consisted of two main sections, 1) school where Dea briefly talked about her preparations applying for the scholarship and university as well as some personal experiences navigating her master’s life at Yale 2) work, which Dea discussed about her past and current works for environment as well as career options for forestry/biological science graduates. This two-hour long talk was nicely executed by Dea with the last half an hour for question and answer session. If you missed the live presentation and would like to watch Dea’s presentation, the video can be accessed on our Facebook page via this link: Dea’s Presentation

Dea’s preparations for postgraduate studies and getting the scholarship is like what other scholarship seekers will do, this includes: taking English language proficiency test (IELTS or TOEFL iBT), writing the scholarship application and essay for university application, and if you are applying for university in the United States (US), then you most likely need to undertake GRE or GMAT test as part of the application procedure. But what is unique about Dea’s journey before undertaking her studies at Yale was, she was preparing for the scholarship while under the exchange program with YSEALI in Hawaii and not to mention that she is from Eastern Indonesia, where most people will think that we are less qualified. Dea’s preparation time from applying for the scholarship until commencing her studies at Yale took roughly 10 months in total.  Dea was also being honest when talking about scholarship. People may think that if you get scholarship, you will not need to pay, but the truth is not like that in most cases. For example, you still need to pay for tests like IELTS and GRE exam or medical examinations. But after all, the benefits you will receive from scholarship is far greater than what you need to sacrifice for the preparations. People say, “no pain, no gain” right?

After briefly sharing about her experience applying for scholarship and university, Dea brought the topic on how to bulk up your resume. Dea specifically emphasized on the importance of having community works, especially if they are related to your academic background. However, according to Dea, it is not necessary to be involved in number of organisations works, but what matters the most is your personal contributions to the organisation you are involved in. For Dea’s case, she in involved in a NGO called “Selamatkan YAKI”  and voluntarily worked for Pusat Penyelamatan Satwa Tasikoki.

Now we are reaching what we think may attract most of you, which is Dea’s personal experience on navigating life as an international student at Yale. Aside from classes, Dea’s studies consisted a lot of field works and since she was doing subject in tropical forestry, those field trips were always overseas such as in Panama and Costa Rica. There are some tips as suggested by Dea for your postgraduate studies: 1) Take classes that interest you in a sense that do not prioritize necessity over interest 2) Impostor syndrome is normal 3) Keep track of everything, which means it is your responsibilities from the moment you decide to pursue graduate studies, so no one will remind you for things like assignments and bills you need to pay 4) Embrace extracurriculars by participating in range of student organisations available to you and those that attract your needs. As always, do not forget your social life. According to Dea, breaks are a necessity and not a reward after hard work. Doing this will assist you for making friends and build your network as well as take care of your mental, emotional and spiritual health. Dea also learnt from her studies that you will no be forced to do anything you are not comfortable with, you always have options and it is your consequences alone for whichever option you choose. Dea remembered the time where she was writing her masters thesis. That time, her supervisor did not force her but left most things for her to decide whatever suits her best. Do not be too hard on yourself and it is okay to not know the answer, which means it is okay to ask for help!

Moving on to the work section from Dea’s presentation. Dea started this section by telling what most people’s mindset about environmental science graduate for their career options, which are either as civil servant, lecturer at university, or work in an NGO. Dea did not say they all are wrong, but for Dea, there are a lot of other options where graduates on this field can be involved in (See the picture below).

Online IELTS Webinar - Caroline Dea Tasirin_pages-to-jpg-0016

Image Source: Dea’s presentation for Kelas Daring IELTS NTT

But in the end, whatever job you are doing, it needs to fulfill two things, according to Dea: 1) It must bring goodness for the ecosystem 2) and also to the community.

We had quite some number of questions asked by our viewers. Some of the questions and answers are highlighted below:

Some people say that “if trees were like wifi, then surely people will plant them. Unfortunately, trees only produce oxygen”. What do you think about this word of campaign?

Dea thinks people should not just take oxygen produced by trees for granted, but also need to be responsible for them (trees). However, Dea thought that this kind of message is not super effective, but instead they should come up with something that encourages people to do, and not to guilt them over their actions, because according to Dea, it will make people to be rather defensive.

What can you do to bridge between passive English and active English?

According to Dea, English in test and English in communication are different, they complete each other. English in test is more in formal and scientific way, but when communicating English, there are a lot of emotions involved in your talk. So, for Dea, you need to expose yourself more to informal English if you want to bridge these two aspects.

Mind sharing about some of the difficulties related to academic life you had during your study? and how did you cope with those?

Dea shared about how its past training in Indonesia when undertaking undergraduate degree affecting her adaption towards graduate studies. She found it very difficult in writing essays on her master’s studies since in the past, it was not something people (lecturers) in Indonesian academic system encourage students to do. For Dea, it is more to just answering questions given, instead of expressing ideas. So, Dea coped with this matter by opening herself to feedback from others.

Thanks for the talk. It’s very inspiring. we have got some questions here: 1. How long did you finally decide to choose Yale university instead for your master’s degree? 2. Are there any tips and tricks for GRE?

For Dea it took almost 2 weeks to decide whether to accept the offer from Yale or not. For Dea, it was due to self-doubt she had at the time, self-question like whether she will be good enough when starting her degree or not. For Dea, the math section of Dea was okay to her, but the writing took her a while to practice. What Dea suggested to do is, always treating the practice test like the actual test by means that you need to complete the test under a time limit.

I really enjoyed your talk, Dea. Mind sharing with us how you made your academic and non-academic life balance when studying in USA? I remembered I found myself feeling guilty when I took some days off at the first semester of my grad study.

From Dea’s experience she found the answer from external materials, like some self-reading talking about this stuff. Also, by taking time-offs from academic sometime.

 I am wondering, what options does Yale university have to offer to students dealing with that kind of difficulties (academic difficulties)?

Dea stated that there are range of help centres available in Yale, and you just need to open yourself to talk with them.

Any encouraging words for others (especially from Eastern Indonesia) to apply for a scholarship, their dream university and all the preparations that follow?

Dea acknowledged some difficulties facing people from eastern Indonesian regarding equal access to information, but that should not limit you from applying. For example, most scholarships advice you to have some organizational experience, but if you do not have one that is available to you, then be the one to initiate such thing. Just because you are from disadvantaged area does not mean you are less worthy or capable of anything. If your application gets rejected, it does not mean you are not capable, rejection means there are other people that fit their requirements more, independent from your own capabilities.

That is all the summary from Dea’s sharing session with Kelas Daring IELTS NTT. Please bear in mind that this article only highlights main parts from the talk, so there are some other minor things missing from it. If you would like to know all the details, we recommend you watch Dea’s talk through this link: Dea’s Recorded Presentation. Dea’s presentation file is also available for you to look at and can be found as attachment to this article (Online IELTS Webinar – Caroline Dea Tasirin). Dea is available for you to reach out using these following contacts: 1) Facebook: Caroline “Dea” Tasirin 2) Instagram: @recarolinedea 3) E-mail: caroline.tasirin@gmail.com.

See you all on next article!

Summary Written By: Albert Christian Soewongsono (albertchristian1997@gmail.com)

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