Following the success of the Winter 2021 Virtual Agriculture Professional Practicum (APP) program, ACICIS Study Indonesia welcomed 16 students to the Summer 2022 Virtual APP program, held between January – February 2022. The students came from various universities in Australia; Deakin University, Murdoch University, RMIT University, Australian National University, The University of Melbourne, The University of Western Australia, and Western Sydney University. All APP students were supported by the New Colombo Plan Mobility Grant. The program run in supervision of Dr Ari Rakatama, the Academic Program Officer who oversees all aspects of the program, including the academic content and assessment.

Throughout the intensive six-week-program, participants completed a series of intensive academic sessions and professional placements hosted by research institutions, private sectors, and non-government organisations in the field of agriculture, food security and environment. In between the academic series and professional placement, APP students were also involved in cultural activities and networking events.

The program commenced with orientation and introduction to Indonesia sessions. The participants then undertook Indonesian language classes at Pusat Pengajaran Bahasa (PPB) Atma Jaya University for five weeks and participated in virtual seminars, tutorial series and field trips. The seminar sessions covered a wide range of agricultural topics, such as Indonesia’s Agriculture, Sustainable Agriculture, National Food Safety and Food Security, Equitable Development, Livestock Production, Export and Investment in Indonesia, and IA-CEPA. Not to mention in this pandemic period, the students had a seminar with the topic COVID-19 Socio-Economic Impacts and the Road to Recovery in the Agricultural Sector. These various seminars were delivered by speakers ranging from industry experts, practitioners, government officials to academics based in Australia and Indonesia.

Adam Glanville, one of the APP students from Australian National University, thought that the intensive academic series unexpectedly insightful. “I’ve learnt many languages before with many teachers, and I thought the language classes in this program were exceptional. I learnt a lot in a short time, and rarely felt like I was out of my depth. The seminars were also good. I certainly have a broad and fairly deep knowledge of Indonesian agriculture and Indonesian society, economics and culture more broadly as a result. The speakers were usually very high-class Indonesian academics, and their names frequently appeared in journal articles, reports, and books.” Molly Smith, a participant from The University of Melbourne, added “All the academic components were executed tremendously well. The language classes were the standout for me, personally. The teacher we had, managed to engage every student on a virtual platform with ease and went above and beyond to ensure we were getting the most out of the course. The seminars and tutorials were interesting, thought-provoking, and covered a great selection of different subjects, some of which I wouldn’t have learned or known about otherwise!”

Aside from the seminars, students participated in two insightful virtual field trips. In the first virtual field trip, APP students had an opportunity to understand sustainable farming with the leads of the team from Kebun Kumara. Along with the students from Development Studies Professional Practicum (DSPP) and Sustainable Tourism Professional Practicum (STPP) program, the APP students attended the second virtual tour organised by Divers Clean Action, where participants were invited to observe a community development program in coastal area of Bone Bolango, Gorontalo named Rumah SiSa (Singgah Sampah), a marine debris and waste collection centre.

ACICIS also held a Movie Q&A session: Kinipan by Watchdoc Documentary with one of the producers of the movie, Indra Jati. Before the session, the students were required to watch the movies in their own time, and were able to discuss these films from agriculture, climate change, environment impact, and local culture perspectives. Furthermore, the students had a chance to attend pleasant cultural activities, which included cooking Indonesian food (Tumpeng), making Jamu, drawing Batik patterns and making Wayang, and a weekly afternoon tea, that helped APP students to interact with other students across the different Professional Practicum Programs, ACICIS staff and local student counterparts from Atma Jaya University. Those two activities were designed to let the ACICIS students connect with Indonesian culture and social life.

One of the APP students, Alice Bertram, added “The virtual field trips were very eye-opening and gave us a glimpse of what the program would have been like in a world not impacted by COVID. We got to see new practices and visualise them easily through the tours. The hosts were always great during the field trips and very excited about what they had to share.”

Students completed a 160-hour virtual internship at various host organisations based in Indonesia. The online mode was fitting as most of these organisations worked remotely due to COVID-19 regulations in Indonesia. There were eleven host organisations in total and included ECOTON, Institute for Development of Economics and Finance (INDEF), NIRAS Indonesia, KEHATI-SPOSI, Greeneration, Divers Clean Action (DCA), Environment Institute, Yayasan Inobu, Koalisi Rakyat untuk Kedaulatan Pangan (KRKP) and IDEP Foundation. In their internship, students completed various tasks such as proof-reading documents, undertaking research and content design, and assisting with delivering online webinar.

For Molly Smith, APP participant, who had never been to Indonesia before, this overall program gave her remarkable impression. “Over the 5-week internship, I was able to develop skills that will be transferable to any career path I decide to take. It opened my eyes to all the possibilities my agriculture degree can give not just in Australia but overseas as well. Working with my internship organisation was beneficial to me in so many aspects, but particularly, gave me great professional experience and taught me how to conduct myself in an international setting.” She also added, “Given that the last few years everything had been online, I didn’t find that there weren’t many differences in the work culture. However, one key difference was the friendliness of all the staff.”

ACICIS would like to extend our warmest congratulations to APP students on successfully concluding the program, and we wish all students the best in their future endeavours. Last but not least, we would like to thank all parties, including host organisations involved in the success of the Summer 2022 APP program and for the continued support and enthusiasm despite COVID-19 pandemic limitations. Hopefully, once the border opens up, we will be able meet in person. Sampai jumpa!