Following the success of the Summer 2021 Virtual Agriculture Professional Practicum (APP), ACICIS Study Indonesia welcomed five students virtually to the Winter 2021 APP program, held from June to September. The students came from four Australian universities: The University of Adelaide, Australian National University, The University of Western Australia, and The University of Queensland. Two of the students who participated in this program were supported by the New Colombo Plan Mobility Program. The Academic Program Officer, Dr Ari Rakatama, oversaw all academic components of this program.

Throughout the intensive three week and flexible nine weeks of the program, participants have completed a series of academic components and professional placements (internships) hosted by a research institution, private sector, and non-governmental organisations. In between the academic series and professional placement, APP students were also involved in extracurricular and networking events.

The program commenced with orientation and an introduction to Indonesia session. The participants then undertook Indonesian language classes at Pusat Pengajaran Bahasa (PPB) Atma Jaya University and participated in a seminar and tutorial series. The seminars sessions covered a wide range of agriculture topics, such as Indonesia’s agriculture, COVID-19 impacts on the agriculture sector, agribusiness and IA-CEPA, the omnibus law and its implications for agriculture and environment policy, food security and safety, environmental impact, and future career 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.

Inga Mueller, one of the APP students from Australian National University, thought that the seminars series contained a lot of insightful contents. It made her feel as if she was in Indonesia. “I enjoyed the seminar series. I thought we were lucky to have such prominent speakers. It gave me a good background understanding of what kind of research my host organisation can use.” Kyrah-Dean Amos-Harris, a participant from The University of Western Australia, also noted that the Indonesian Language classes were a highlight of the program. “I enjoyed the Indonesian Language Classes, especially learning the culture.”

Alongside the seminars, students also participated in two virtual field trips. Along with the students from Business Professional Practicum (BPP) program, the APP students virtually visited Pendleton & Co to learn about the legal and regulatory environment and challenges doing business in Indonesia, including the transport logistics and meat export across Australia. Students also virtually went on a virtual ecotourism tour to Kepulauan Seribu in North Jakarta with Divers Clean Action. ACICIS also held two Movie Q&A sessions: Asimetris by Watchdoc Documentary and Semesta (Islands of Faith) with the producer, Mandy Marahimin from Tanakhir Films. Before the sessions, 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 a fun networking event while celebrating Indonesian Independence Day with Atma Jaya University students and weekly casual catch-ups every Wednesday afternoon.

In the nine flexible weeks of the program, students completed a 160-hour internship virtually at four host organisations based in Jakarta, Bali, and Yogyakarta. During the internship, most of these organisations worked remotely due to partial COVID-19 lockdowns in Indonesia. The host organisations included Rikolto, Centre of Orangutan Protection, IDEP Foundation, and TaniFund. In their internship, students completed various tasks such as proof-reading documents, doing data entry and data collection, undertaking research and content design, and assisting with delivering online international seminars and exhibitions.

For Frances Garcia, APP participant who conducted the program from her hometown in the Philippines, her experience with TaniFund had its own challenge and impression. “The past weeks, I’ve been able to go to five or six virtual tours to different farms. It’s good that I can see it, and it was the closest way ‘to be there’. The challenge is about time (management). I tried to always standby and communicate with my mentor if I had class. He’s very understanding.” Inga Mueller added that she found ways to combat the challenges she encountered in the virtual internship amidst the pandemic. “The major challenge I had at the beginning was learning to work independently, especially when you feel so far away from what they’re doing on the ground. However, once I started communicating more with my mentor and another team member at my placement, I understood more the purpose of what I was doing, and that felt much more meaningful.”

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 winter APP program and for the continued support and enthusiasm despite COVID-19 pandemic limitations. Hopefully, we will be able meet in person when international travels resume. Sampai jumpa!