Bennedicta “Vania” Tandiono (YES 2020-2021, Indonesia, virtually placed with AFS in Columbia, MD) has excelled in every aspect of the YES virtual program and has inspired her virtual host family, American peers, fellow YES and FLEX students, and volunteers with her commitment to mutual understanding between cultures. Her virtual host mother, Christina, and three fellow YES students nominated her for the Student Spotlight.
Vania has been an active and engaged participant in almost all the enhancement activities and peer sessions offered by AFS, even some that took place at 2 a.m. Indonesian time. Even in the virtual format, she stands out as a leader. Tiara, a fellow YES student from Indonesia, said she nominated Vania because “she is very active in exchange activities. I think she is a person who deserves the spotlight.”
Vania has enjoyed getting to know her virtual host family from Columbia, MD. They play games online and discuss books and recently made guacamole together, virtually. Vania has also taken them on a virtual tour of her neighborhood in Indonesia. In December, she organized a birthday video greeting for her virtual host mother, Christina. Vania singlehandedly recruited 30 people to participate in the project using social media. Most were former FLEX, YES, and AFS exchange students that Christina had hosted, or served as local coordinator for, in the past. According to Christina, “the countries represented included Indonesia, India, Pakistan, Thailand, Kyrgyzstan, Germany, Switzerland, Brazil, Norway, Russia, and Italy!” This is a gift that Christina says she will remember for a lifetime.
Vania has taken what she has learned about volunteerism while participating in the YES program and has applied it to life. In January 2021, Vania and her friends created a platform on Instagram called @Minesive.id to convey information, opinions, and everything in the world that has to do with youth. Together with the other founders (including two other YES 2020-2021 virtual students), Vania hopes their platform can be useful for other young people around the world. For their first project, they made a podcast about how to be more productive in 2021. They also hold a weekly “sharing” time with inspirational speakers live on Instagram. Vania was the moderator for the first online sharing session with Kevin Irsyad, a law student at Universitas Indonesia.
Great work, Vania!