This is the first in a series of posts by recipients of the Career Services Summer Funding Grant. We’ve asked funding recipients to reflect on their summer experiences and talk about the industries in which they’ve been spending their summer. You can read the entire series here.
This entry is by Carol Krol, MLArch ’18
This summer, I had the opportunity to participate in an internship with Kota Kita; a city planning NGO located in Solo, Indonesia. This organization focuses on community engagement and participatory. My role this summer was an intern for the Women on Wheels Project; a three year project that is aimed to empower and promote women of all ages living in developing countries to utilize cycling as an everyday mode of safe transportation. This summer, I was able to participate in the third stage of the project; the implementation stage. Through street surveying, data collecting, events at schools, and meetings with the government and bicycle activist groups, I was able to help design safe cycling infrastructure for Solo. These designs will be presented to the Department of Transportation to be considered in their upcoming budget and infrastructure plans.
As a recent graduate of the City Planning program and a dual degree with the Landscape Architecture program, I was able to directly apply my education to this internship. Specifically, I utilized my urban design and community engagement skill sets learned from PennDesign towards this project. My work at Kota Kita was unique in that I was exposed to an entirely different culture of city planning and transportation planning issues regarding women’s travel patterns and safety. While living in Solo, I had the opportunity to cycle as my mode of transportation. This allowed me to better understand the conditions in which I had to design for.
Transportation planning and transportation issues in Solo were far beyond anything that I had been exposed to in The United States. Luckily, my experience in a bicycle planning studio in Queretaro, Mexico exposed me to issues within transportation in third world countries. The experience from this studio was very useful to apply to a real world project. Solo is unique in that it has an entire dedicated protected lane (The Slow Lane) that was initially designed for cyclists, pedicabs and pedestrians. Unfortunately, design flaws and a lack of maintenance, policy and regulations have lead the Slow Lane to be completely taken over by motorcyclists and street vendors. Little upkeep has allowed for major potholes and cracks to form in the Slow Lane, making cycling very difficult. Resulting, many cyclists have no choice but to cycle among traffic in the major roads. The specific design that I participated in aimed to solve the issue of how cyclists, specifically female cyclists could essentially take back the bicycle lane and have a safe space for transportation. Now that I have worked in bicycle planning, I am grateful to have even more career opportunities in the future, including those within transportation planning and design.
In addition to gaining real world work experience, I am grateful to have been able to live and experience the culture of South East Asia. This allowed me to meet, network and form friendships with coworkers and other interns from around the globe, including having a roommate from Brazil. The staff at Kota Kita was incredibly supportive with helping me to adjust to and experience the culture of Indonesia from the food, to seeing plays and performances, going to markets, attending a traditional Javanese wedding and having several opportunities to travel throughout the country.
The opportunity to intern at Kota Kita and work at a NGO has allowed me to take one more step towards working in social impact design and public interest design fields.