By Angus Cormick* (Virtual DSPP 2021)
Deakin University

Selamat Sore and Good Evening everyone.
I’m Angus Cormick and I’m a student in the Development Studies Professional Practicum.

First of all, I wish to say terima kasih banyak or thank you very much to everyone involved in the ACICIS program and the Development Studies Professional Practicum. This is huge program to run, and I’m sure I speak on behalf of all my fellow students when I express my gratitude for the effort of all the staff to make this an extraordinary experience. I’d also like to congratulate my peers on successfully completing what proved to be a challenging, yet immensely rewarding programme.

In the midst of COVID outbreaks in Indonesia and Australia, I was impressed by the determination of the students, staff and guests to ensure that the virtual nature of the program was no obstacle to success. While we may not have been able to meet face to face, I have learnt a great deal about Indonesia and made some lasting connections along the way.

The three-week intensive component of the development studies practicum was jam-packed. The opportunity to hear from and engage with leaders in fields ranging from human rights and the environment to politics and economics provided unparalleled insights into contemporary Indonesian society. I was impressed with the calibre of guest lecturers including leading academics, top government officials and high-profile figures from business and civil-society.

In addition to these lectures and seminars, were two virtual tours transporting us to the streets of Indonesia. For those of us who have visited before, this was a much-needed return to the winding gang or laneways and beautiful pantai or beaches that we so miss. And for those who have yet to visit the archipelago, this was a great introduction into the opportunities that await in future travels.

And for when borders open and these travels are possible, all of us will be armed with some Bahasa Indonesia. Undertaking intensive language classes at Atma Jaya University Jakarta was truly one of the most valuable components of the course. I was blown away by the commitment of the Atma Jaya staff to push our language learning to the next level. And I’d like to mention a special shout out to Ibu Fifi who in the short time of the program easily became one of the best Indonesian teachers I’ve ever had.

Three weeks flew by and suddenly it was time to begin exciting placements with our respective organisations. I interned at the SMERU Research Institute working with the team to prepare to research democracy in local government. Although it was disappointing not to be smack bang in the hustle and bustle of Jakarta with the smell of sate and kretek in the air, we made the most of it. This was the chance to immerse ourselves in the Indonesian workplace and culture. Interning in a foreign language environment was at first a steep learning curve, but with each week, I understood more and more of the conversation. So too, I learnt to integrate subtle yet crucially important customs into my everyday practice. As all of us know, the modern workforce is a crowded one and hard to break into for many young graduates like ourselves. This program is the leg up each of us need to stand out from the pack and kickstart our careers.

Now as we come to the end of course, we have the chance to look back on what we’ve learnt. And better yet, look forward to the opportunities await Australia as one of Indonesia’s closest neighbours. And hopefully, one day, one of Indonesia’s closest friends. In the future, I hope to see many more students from both countries undertake these sorts of programs to build the much-needed bridges between our two nations. In particular, with the assistance of great initiatives like the New Colombo Plan, which has been an important help for many of us, myself included, to undertake this program.

Once more thank you to everyone that made this programme the great success it was.

Until we meet again, or as it is said in Indonesia, sampai ketemu lagi!

*This was delivered as a speech at the Virtual Practicum Program Closing Ceremony in September 2021.