This Discova Guide is Leading the Way for Sustainable Educational Travel in Indonesia

March 21, 2024

With thousands of islands, hundreds of languages, and ethnic groups, Indonesia welcomes scores of travellers every year with its mosaic of cultures, fascinating history and some of the most stunning natural scenery in the world. As a global DMC keen on highlighting the many wonders of Indonesia, it’s our pleasure to introduce you to I Putu Sandhi Astra Juniawan (also known by his nickname Sandhi), one of our wonderful guides who is committed to showcasing the best his country has to offer while preserving its authenticity. 

Discova tour guides in Bali

How it All Started 

Sandhi had a tourism and hospitality background when he enrolled for Discova’s Guide Ambassador Programme in 2017 which he says, “made me who I am today”.  This initiative was started to help guides (especially from marginalised backgrounds) hone their skills as master storytellers and gatekeepers of their beautiful countries.  

From there on, Sandhi became an indispensable part of Discova’s on-ground Indonesia team, developing a deep understanding of destinations and their social issues. This expertise has helped him create meaningful connections with visitors, develop learning experiences, and inspire participants to contribute positively to communities.  

He says, “I enjoy creating memorable and personalised experiences for tourists, whether it is exploring cultural sites, enjoying local cuisine, or discovering hidden gems on off the beaten path.” 

Passion for Ethical Tourism 

As a guide, Sandhi brings a responsible and mindful approach to tourism that benefits both visitors and the local community. Especially when it comes to service learning, he believes in empowering individuals through hands-on experiences and facilitating meaningful connections with diverse communities.   

“Service-learning experiences contribute to personal and educational growth by providing students with hands-on opportunities to apply academic knowledge in real-world contexts. These experiences develop a sense of empathy, social responsibility, and a deeper understanding of community needs,” he adds.  

Sandhi is also an expert in tailoring itineraries to suit the specific requirements and interests of different student groups and provide them with a more personalised experience. This can include customising activities, adjusting the academic content, and incorporating interactive elements to ensure that the tour aligns with the age, educational background, and preferences of each group.   

Such meticulous attention-to-detail on the guide’s part often leads to transformative service-learning experiences, as seen in a recent incident when a group of students were profoundly affected after working alongside local seaweed farmers in Indonesia.   

“The students worked with local seaweed farmers to understand their traditional methods and the challenges they faced when it came to sustainable seaweed farming. What deeply impacted the students was the community’s commitment to sustainable practices. Through collaborative efforts, they implemented eco-friendly farming techniques that not only improved seaweed yields but also contributed to environmental conservation.  

“This story underscores how service-learning experiences in unique environments, can inspire students to embrace sustainable practices and advocate for positive change,” recalls Sandhi.

Ambassador of Cultural Exchange 

To showcase Balinese culture to students visiting from all over the world, Sandhi engages community members so that their needs and priorities are also addressed in the process. For example, students participating in a traditional “Banten” or offering-making ceremony learn about the significance of various offerings in Indonesian culture, especially those used in religious ceremonies or daily rituals, directly from the locals who practice them.  

“During such interactions, students craft their own offerings, guided by local artisans who share insights into the symbolism behind each element. The process allows students to appreciate the meticulous details and cultural meanings embedded in these offerings,” he says. 

To facilitate meaningful interactions between students and local community members, Sandhi encourages students to work alongside them actively, promoting a collaborative atmosphere and shared responsibility. As a guide he is present to resolve any language barriers and provide historical and cultural insights to students to make the process of cultural exchange more meaningful. 

Tour Guide on the Road Less Travelled 

Alongside spotlighting the customs and traditions of Indonesia, Sandhi is keen on showing visitors its lesser-known gems that provide immersive learning experiences, allowing students to gain a deeper understanding of Indonesia’s cultural diversity, history, and natural wonders.  

From Tana Toraja, Sulawesi with its traditional villages and distinctive boat-shaped houses to Kawah Ijen, East Java, that has a volcanic crater and is known for its mesmerizing blue flames where students can learn about geology, sulphur mining, and environmental conservation while trekking through the stunning landscape, Sandhi is well-versed with the diverse areas of his country. This helps him foster a comprehensive learning environment that equips students with the values, skills, and perspectives needed to be compassionate and responsible global citizens. 

For educators planning a service-learning trip to Indonesia, Sandhi recommends learning about the cultural, social and environmental aspects of the country before traveling there and being open to collaboration with the local community and working on service projects that have a sustainable and meaningful impact.

He says, “By combining these principles, educators can create a service-learning trip that not only benefits the local community in Indonesia but also provides students with a transformative educational experience.”

An exemplary destination expert, Sandhi looks forward to welcoming you to Indonesia, and would love to receive any feedback to make his guiding and service projects more effective, culturally sensitive, and adapt them to meet the diverse needs of educators, students, and the communities we engage with.   

Let’s talk

Educational Travel

Request a quote, book a meeting, ask a question, or share a dream

Receive news like this directly in your inbox

Subscribe to the dedicated Discova Educational Travel mailing list

Subscribe to Discova's B2B Travel News & Updates

and stay at the forefront of new product offerings, Discova behind-the-scenes, destination news, travel trends and thought leadership articles from our on-the-ground experts.

© 2024 Discova. All rights reserved.

Subscribe to Discova's Monthly B2B Newsletter

and stay at the forefront of new product offerings, Discova behind-the-scenes, destination news, travel trends and thought leadership articles from our on-the-ground experts.