ACICIS Virtual Public Health Study Tour (PHST) – December 2020

An important component of the ACICIS Public Health Study Tour (PHST), both the in-country tour and the virtual tour, are the collaborations between the Australian students and the Indonesian students who take part in the program as student buddies. Through our partnership with Universitas Indonesia (UI), students from across the university join the program as ‘pendamping’ (student buddies). The UI student buddies facilitate a deeper learning experience for our students by discussing the public health topics covered during the tour. The UI student buddies also team up with our Australian students to collaborate on presentations at the end of week one and week two of the tour. Here are some reflections from both our UI student buddies and our Australian students who participated on the Virtual Public Health Study Tour pilot program in December 2020.

Jahin Anwar – VPHST Student

“By doing the virtual PHST, I wanted to learn about the many challenges which Indonesia faces in its health sector. With an increasingly globalised world, this would give me an opportunity to think about some possible solutions to the problems faced by our neighbours overseas, as Australia and Indonesia are likely to have common public health challenges in the future.

It was very enjoyable discussing public health issues with my university buddies. The two topics I discussed in my presentations were about neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) and factors influencing Indonesia’s preparedness to the COVID-19 pandemic. Both presentations ran very well, and making friends with the Indonesian students was a key highlight of the entire tour for me. The personal experience of the Indonesian students with the topics, along with their ability to read Indonesian, greatly helped us in creating logical, evidence-based presentations.

Doing the PHST has given me the intercultural familiarity required to work on such common challenges. Being aware of social diversity is also important for me as a future medical practitioner, both on a global scale and on a local scale, as Australia itself is a country with much diversity amongst its population.”

Nabila Anindya Uka Wardani – UI Student Buddy

“I decided to become a student buddy on the VPHST because I wanted to push myself to connect and make new friends with people outside of Indonesia. Since this program was specifically about the Indonesian public health sector, I also wanted to share bit of my knowledge, my experiences, and my observations on this topic.

I really enjoyed the discussions with the Australian students and the presentations. My group presented on the importance of community participation in the response to COVID-19 in week one and in week two our topic was about the mental health and psychological support services available to the Indonesian population during the pandemic. It’s so nice to see the students so enthusiastic about learning about Indonesia’s public health.

Indonesia and Australia both have multicultural society, therefore maybe Australians can learn from Indonesia about how we handle the multicultural issues that arise, especially in public health.”

Pooja Ramesh – VPHST Student

“I decided to undertake this virtual program because it represented the unique opportunity to learn and immerse myself in a cross-cultural experience that represents the crux of what I am passionate about – optimising medical care and health advocacy by embracing multiculturalism and understanding the key health issues and needs of culturally diverse populations. I loved the idea of collaborating closely with participants from across Australia and Indonesia, and exchanging cultural insight, language, and experiences, for a rich and holistic learning experience.

I thoroughly enjoyed collaborating with our student buddies from Universitas Indonesia! Listening to the discussions, I found myself in awe of the insightful and intricate questions and contributions made by my peers, which facilitated deeper reflection. Such collaboration resulted in complementary knowledge and skill sets, and a warm and welcome space where we could learn from each other. I am grateful for my new friends, who I will always cherish, and who have generously shared their experiences, insights, cultural heritage, and language with me.”

Farhan Aulia Rahman – UI Student Buddy

“One of my current goals right now is to widen my networks and being a buddy was a chance to do exactly that. I also wanted to learn new perspectives on Indonesia’s public health and also public health in general. The chance to discuss and find solutions with people outside of Indonesia is such an interesting idea to me and I know this will help my career in the future.

I was very impressed with the amount of dedication the Australian students had on learning our health system here in Indonesia. One thing that actually surprised me is when one of the Australian students in my group brought up a recent political case that occurred in Indonesia as an example on how politics have an effect on the public health system in Indonesia. The topics that my group presented on week one and two were the factors that strengthen and hinder community level preparedness for Covid-19 and to what extent Covid-19 could worsen stunting in Indonesia.

I believe that it is eye opening for Australian students to learn about socially marginalized people and have a better understanding public health on a global scale.”

Sharon Potula – VPHST Student

“I really enjoyed discussing public health issues with the Indonesian students. They were all very insightful and their discussion was relevant and gave me a more personalised perspective about such issues. I was very impressed by their extensive knowledge and depth on such issues. My understanding of Indonesian public health issues wouldn’t have been so clear without the assistance of the UI buddies.

For my group presentation, my topic for the first week was community participation in the Indonesian response to COVID-19 and then my second topic was sexual and gender-based violence in Indonesia. I found both topics to be very compelling and interesting. I was required to really apply my knowledge learnt from the lectures, readings and discussions with my group members. I really am grateful for my UI buddies both weeks one and two for their help and making my experience enjoyable.

I think it is important for both Australians and Indonesians to learn more about each other due to our geographic proximity. As a result, there is a strong partnership between the two countries, and it is great to embrace each other as there are many opportunities provided due to this. From a perceptive as an Australian, another reason I think it is important for us to learn more about Indonesia is because the Indonesian culture is fascinating, and we can embrace aspects of this culture to employ in our own society and daily life.”

The Public Health Study Tour is supported by the New Colombo Plan Mobility Program. The New Colombo Plan is a signature initiative of the Australian Government which aims to lift knowledge of the Indo Pacific in Australia by supporting Australian undergraduates to study and undertake internships in the region.