Soap Cycling: Connecting Students Globally

The Soap Cycling Spring 2019 intern team included students from Taiwan, Hong Kong, Korea, the United States, Spain, and Indonesia. Here they join our elderly MEY 美 workers for a corporate volunteer session on Feb 23, 2019.

Jeanny Ang, Jakarta, HKU

Soap Cycling Spring 2019 HR Team

The first time I heard about Soap Cycling was directly from last semester’s interns, several of whom also happen to be good friends of mine. They were both exchange students: Sherlin, an Indonesian like me, but on exchange from the UK, and Michelle, a classic Cali girl. As I listened to their stories and unforgettable experiences as interns for Soap Cycling during a random conversation that we had, my interest was sparked. I have always had a vision of using my skills to help disadvantaged communities, and Soap Cycling provides me with the platform to be entrusted with a role and contribute to the organization. Coming from Indonesia, I have personally seen and listened to many stories of the struggles of people who are living below the poverty line to make ends meet. I also wanted to make new friends and collaborate with people who may come from diverse backgrounds, but who shared my passion to make a social impact. So I thought, “why not give it a try?” I applied, got an interview, and was excited to begin my journey as part of the Soap Cycling HR Team.

Regular social events are a key part of the Soap Cycling intern experience. Here the author (far right) enjoys hot pot with her fellow interns from Hong Kong and Mainland China.

In the beginning of my time with Soap Cycling, I often sought help from my friends who interned before me. My fellow Indonesian, Sherlin, helped me to liaise with potential connections back in our homeland. My manager first assigned me with the task of finding a potential local Indonesian charity partner. With several natural disasters striking my country in 2018, it seemed a natural fit to distribute soap to help the victims avoid deadly communicable diseases. My American friend Michelle also assisted me in preparing for weekly meetings and managing various volunteer recruitment platforms.

Although we were many miles apart and in different time zones, my intern seniors responded to me promptly and always had time to give advice. You could just see their continued passion for Soap Cycling, and that is one of out of the many things that I admire about them. Over time, they were not only there to answer my questions, but they were there to support and encourage me at times when I felt that I was stagnant in my progress or when I made mistakes in coordinating volunteers for the public sessions. Sherlin even helped us gather footage for a crowdfunding campaign the HR Team started to raise funds for shipping soap to the local Indonesian charity partner we found, Odesa Indonesia. The campaign was a huge success and would not have been possible in the first place without her. My manager also connected me with Jeremy, a previous intern from Singapore, who was kind enough to share with me the materials that he had and although we did not work closely, his contribution is invaluable. Regardless of the distance, we were all still able to collaborate in advancing Soap Cycling’s mission.

Throughout the Soap Cycling experience, I also had unique opportunities to meet new people and work closely with my fellow HR teammates. I truly value the friendships made along the way with the other interns and particularly enjoyed our team dynamic. Coming from Indonesia, Hong Kong, China, and the US, we were able to tackle problems together and celebrate over them. We openly offer help to each other with our respective tasks for the week. As this internship comes to an end, I feel a mixture of emotions: sadness that we would not get to see each other every week anymore but also hope, anticipation, and a tinge of excitement for the next batch of interns who would get to experience this opportunity.

Sherlin and Michelle were right about one thing, interning for Soap Cycling is an unforgettable experience. I want to give thanks to Soap Cycling for not only being an unique platform that allows university students to contribute towards a greater cause, but also gives us a chance to form a tight-knit, supportive community. I would definitely recommend the Soap Cycling internship experience for any young person who is passionate about giving back and who truly wants to learn what is necessary to become a successful professional.