From July 3-16, 2022, 18 students from seven Australian universities virtually travelled to Indonesia for a two-week Virtual Public Health Study Tout (VPHST). Fifteen of them were able to secure mobility grants through the New Colombo Plan Mobility Program from the Australian Government.

During the program, the students learned about Indonesia’s public health issues, such as the recent COVID-19 pandemic. This was the fifth virtual tour organized by ACICIS. The tour was conducted by Dr Emily Rowe, our tour leader in November-December 2021.

The students started the tour on July 3 with an opening ceremony conducted by the Faculty of Public Health Universitas Indonesia (FPH UI). A representative of the university, Professor Sabarinah Prasetyo, and the Resident Director of ACICIS, Dr Adrian Budiman, welcomed the participants and provided an orientation session for the university’s staff members. During the ice-breaking session, the students got to meet their Indonesian student-buddies.

Throughout the program, students were required to attend a seminar series presented by various speakers. These included experts from the Indonesian Ministry of Health and the FPH UI. They also met individuals with HIV and Leprosy, who were sharing their experiences in fighting the diseases. On top of that, students also had a session with Samsara and Rifka Annisa to learn how NGOs in Indonesia fit-in in combating gender based violence and empowering women.

In addition to these seminars, the students participated in a several online discussions about public health topics. They also visited the Code Riverside Community and the Yakkum Rehabilitation Centre. The students learned more about the various services available to people with mental health and disabilities through these live virtual visits.

Through the World Mosquito Program, the students virtually visited various areas in Indonesia to learn more about the project’s efforts to prevent the spread of dengue fever. They also participated in online discussions with local health officials and staff members during tours to Puskesmas and Posyandu.

Even though they could not physically visit Indonesia, the students were still able to immerse themselves in the country’s culture through various activities including a cooking class and a traditional dance classes taught by Lembaga Bahasa International (LBI) UI.

During the cooking class, the students learned about the origins of Wedang Ronde, a beverage from Central Java. They were also able to prepare the drink in their own kitchens. They were additionally very enthusiastic about learning a North Sumatran traditional dance called Las Roha.

The tour concluded with academic presentations, which were delivered by the students to the tour leaders, lecturers, and staff members of ACICIS. Following the presentations, a virtual closing ceremony was conducted, featuring the performance of Ourel Queen, a former participant in the “Idola Cilik” singing competition. We hope all the students enjoyed the program as much as we did organising it. We hope to meet you all face-to-face one day in Indonesia soon!