In January 2022, ACICIS was delighted to welcome two students for our second Summer Virtual Journalism Professional Practicum (VJPP) program amidst the pandemic and ongoing international travel restrictions. This third cohort of Virtual JPP participants were from RMIT University and both students completed the virtual program with the $3,000 New Colombo Plan Mobility Grant’s assistance.

Dr IGAK Satrya Wibawa as the first VJPP Academic Program Officer (APO) together with of Fauzan Adinugraha as the co-APO helped design the program. That includes designing the seminar topics, deciding the field trip destinations and also mapping the students to their Host Organisations.  Shortly before the program started, Dr Elly Kent continued the role as the Academic Program Officer for the VJPP program. Together with our in-country assistance, Dr Elly managed the academic and placement component of the VJPP program. This included moderating the seminar and field trips, leading the discussion in the tutorial sessions, meeting with the mentors from each Host Organisations and giving the students academic and industry-related advices.

The virtual program started with an opening ceremony and officially opened by Dr. Yohanes Eko Adi Prasetyanto as the Vice Rector of Research and Cooperation of Atma Jaya Catholic University Jakarta. It was followed by an orientation session by ACICIS covering all aspects of the program for the next five weeks. The orientation day was closed with an APO briefing where the students got to know each other including the APO and ACICIS in-country team better. During this session, Dr Elly Kent gave a brief introduction to the industry and shared her experiences in working in Indonesia. The students get to ask further questions about the industry, working arrangements, and program contents.

Similar to the last Summer VJPP, we applied a combined timetable between seminar series, fieldtrips, language class, and professional placement within the six-week program. Students attend language classes, seminars and fieldtrips throughout the program. Students started their placements within the second week of their program and they undertook their 160 hours across five weeks.

VJPP students attended 40 hours of Indonesian language classes hosted by Pusat Pengajaran Bahasa (PPB) Atma Jaya Catholic University. The Bahasa Indonesia classes were designed to help to immerse students in the Indonesian culture to help them through their professional placement and daily schedule during the program.

For the seminar series, we invited high calibre speakers from various backgrounds, i.e., journalists, academics, researchers and leaders from the media industry and think-tank organisations, as well as lecturers and researchers from universities both in Indonesia and Australia. Some seminars were also shared with other programs, creating a chance for VJPP students to interact with other students from other programs. The students also got to learn about other industries that became a good foundation for their placement.

To complete the academic experience, ACICIS prepared two virtual fieldtrips to two different places. The first field trip was to Desa Wisata Nglanggeran, a community-based sustainable tourism area in the Gunung Kidul Regency. We talked with the sustainable tourism team of Nglanggeran about their efforts in empowering local communities to develop sustainable community-based tourism. The field trip was shared with the Development Studies and Sustainable Tourism students. The second one was a shared field trip with the Law students to the Parliament building in Jakarta. They had a live tour of the premise hosted by a representative from the Parliament where they got to learn more about the facilities and how the Parliament works. At the end, they got to watch part of a live parliament meeting.

In addition to the academic content, the students also had the chance to learn more about the Indonesian culture by joining a cultural activity prepared by ACICIS and our partner universities. Our VJPP students had the opportunity to participate in either a two hour class of Jamu (traditional herbal drink) making or a Batik drawing class by Sanata Dharma University. The students also watched a documentary  titled ‘Jalanan‘ which follows the life of three street musicians in Jakarta. After the screening, the students had the unique opportunity to chat with the director and producer of the film, Daniel Ziv.

As a major component of the course, students participated in professional placements at their assigned host organisations in Jakarta. ACICIS partnered with two host organisations for the VJPP program, including Jakarta Globe and Kota Kita. These are leading organisations in Indonesian media and urban planning. The tasks given to students was varied and included writing articles, desk research, brainstorming for content ideas, and more.

We concluded the program with a closing ceremony and program evaluation, both delivered online. The APO held an interactive session to reflect on the personal bonding built between the students regardless of the geographical and time distances. Finally, we would like to thank all of the VJPP Summer 2022 cohort, host organisations, host universities, and speakers who made the program possible. We wish everyone all the best for the future, and we look forward to seeing all the students in The Big Durian when the world is safer to travel!