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About water, punctuality and friendship - an alumna story by Lita Istiyanti

Alumni stories



Lita Istiyanti (44) came to the Netherlands from Indonesia in 2012 to study Quality and Solid Waste Management at IHE Delft. After finishing her studies, she returned home and applied a lot of her knowledge in her professional life in Indonesia and therefore, the Netherlands will always hold a special place in her heart.   

 Lita started her career at the local government office in the Water Resource Development department. After working here for a few years and gaining more knowledge in the field, she got the opportunity to apply for a master scholarship from the Ministry of Public Works to study at Brawijaya University, East Java. She was selected and finished the programme Water Resources Engineering in 2009.

After finishing the master, I realised how  many challenges Indonesia faces in the area of water management and development and how much can be done. The local government is the most important actor to tackle this challenge and I wanted to contribute.” After participating and working in the area of water development, Lita decided to apply for another scholarship in the area of environmental issues in order to expand her expertise and learn even more. “I applied for the Netherlands Fellowship Programme and was accepted to come and study in the short programme Water Treatment and Plants at (at the time) UNESCO-IHE (now IHE Delft). “The Dutch have some of the best knowledge in this area and as a local government officer, I don’t just work as an engineer but also as a community developer in the area of Water Management and Environment. I needed more proficiency in the subject area, and the Netherlands was the perfect place for this.”  

While staying in the Netherlands, Lita lived in Delft with other international students in a dorm with her own facilities and kitchen. She did have to adjust to the Dutch culture. “The Dutch are very punctual and pay lots of attention to detail, while the Indonesians are not and do not … So that required some organisation. However, I did adopt these habits after returning to my country, and I encourage my co-workers to do the same. This was the most important lesson I learned, because small details can make such a difference when writing a report, monitoring and evaluating work and map sources. ”My favourite thing about the Dutch? Probably the Dutch humour and food. I found the Dutch workplace to be very relaxed and humorous. I also really liked Dutch food and their general way of life.  

Lita’s experience in the Netherlands has had a profound impact on her life. After returning from IHE Delft for the second time in 2015, having completed the course Solid Waste Management, she started a cooperation named Water Friendship Link. This organisation is a collaboration between the South Lampung government and the Dutch Water Authority (DWA) and is aimed to share knowledge, innovation and experiences regarding Faecal Sludge Management (FSM). It was signed into effect in 2017 by the former Bupati (regent) Zainudin Hasan. “Together with mr. Henk Nijhof from the DWA, we created the name Water Friendship Link, to remind us that this cooperation is purely a friendship between both parties with the goal of sanitation, and I think we succeeded with this name. 

Holland Alumni network

Lita has benefitted greatly from the network and continues to be an active member. “As a local government officer, the Holland Alumni network has helped me connect with many alumni, both in Indonesia and the rest of the world. It is nice to meet many alumni who are in the same field and who can share their knowledge and vice versa. I encourage everyone who has returned to join the network in Indonesia, because it’s very nice to share mutual experiences about the Dutch and the Netherlands.”  

Lita came to the Netherlands for the first time in 2012 to study Water Treatment and Plants at IHE Delft and again in 2015 for a course in Solid Waste Management at the same institution. 

her most important takeaway of these experiences: communication skills and the connection to an international water network, which has helped her as a community developer. 

 And Lita’s advice to other international students: “Step out of your comfort zone. Studying in the Netherlands is not easy, but once you embrace this, you will upgrade as a person in regards of social skills, self confidence independence.” 

Find Lita on Linkedin or the Holland Alumni network

The Orange Knowledge Programme - the successor of the Netherlands Fellowship Programme -  is a € 220 m Dutch global development programme, available in 54 developing countries and managed by Nuffic, a Dutch non-profit organisation for internationalisation in education. Launched mid-2017, it aims to have provided tens of thousands with the possibility to change their future through education and training by mid-2022. The programme is funded by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs.  Information about scholarship opportunities under the Orange Knowledge Programme can be found

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