A Student Team Tackles Indonesia’s Trash Problem

As sunset fell Friday night and the air was still sticky, the rhythmic beats of gamelan drums began to sound. My team and I wove our way through the gathering crowd to observe the parades in honor of Nyepi, the Balinese New Year celebration. Large Ogoh-ogoh statues, each carried by 20 men, rose high into the sky, nearly colliding with power lines. Women in matching T-shirts carried torches behind them. Preparations for the holiday had been evident all week, as traffic grew heavier and our meetings with stakeholders in Indonesia’s waste management system were rearranged. Most obvious were the demonic Ogoh-ogohs—intended to draw out evil spirits in the parades—that each village was putting finishing touches on after a month of crafting. Still, in the context of our project, I couldn’t help but think the real threat looming around us was man-made rather than spiritual.

My team of five students from the Yale School of Management and School of Forestry & Environmental Studies was in Bali, Indonesia, as part of SOM’s Global Social Entrepreneurship (GSE) course. The class requires us to apply business concepts we’ve learned in courses throughout SOM’s core curriculum—like Accounting, Global Virtual Teams, Modeling Managerial Decisions, and Operations Engine—to meaningful social issues. It integrates closely with SOM’s mission to educate leaders for business and society and with my personal goal to use my MBA education to drive transformative social change.