New Colombo Plan - Connect to Australia’s future - study in the region.

West Java Field Study

Madeleine McGarvey is a New Colombo Plan Scholar from RMIT University. Madeline undertook the West Java Field Study at Parahyangan Catholic University in Semester 2, 2019. She had also done Session 1 of the Indonesian Language Short Course in January 2020.

Q: Why did you decide to undertake the ACICIS’ West Java Field Study Program?

I decided to undertake the ACICIS program for more reasons than I can list here! One of the biggest pushes was having taken part in the ACICIS Public Health Study Tour (PHST) last year. I was absolutely charmed by Indonesia – especially the people of Yogyakarta! After listening to seminars on women’s reproductive rights I was so inspired to learn more. I had dreamed up plans to return to Indonesia with some of my PHST peers and the West Java Field Study (WJFS) program was the best way to make this happen. It afforded me the flexibility to study exactly what I was really interested in and allowed me to do so outside of a classroom setting.

I was also really keen to learn Bahasa Indonesia and knowing that I would have to use it in the ‘field’ really incentivised me to study. I must also say that the support of the ACICIS staff was a massive reason for me doing this program! I was finding it really challenging to find an exchange program that would allow me to receive credits towards my Honours year. ACICIS staff helped me to navigate the administrative complexities that come with studying abroad, making the process so much more enjoyable than if I had of attempted it alone! I am so grateful for the support that ACICIS staff provide. They make you feel very cared for.

Q: Did you receive a New Colombo Plan Mobility Grant? If so, how did this contribute to your experience in Indonesia?

Yes. I would not have been able to experience what I have experienced over the past six months without the generous support of the New Colombo Plan Scholarship. I am so grateful for this incredible initiative.

Q: What classes/units are you currently enrolled in? 

I have been undertaking the West Java Field Study program, undertaking field research into maternal healthcare delivery in Indonesia and integrating my findings into an Honours year thesis at my home university.

Q: Are you involved in any clubs/societies at the university?

During my semester here in Indonesia, I have been able to attend seminars on birth in the era of climate change and to attend conferences on health and disaster management. I have also been able to participate in university hosted Indonesian-Australian film festivals, to attend writers festivals, to learn batik (a traditional form of wax-resistant dying) and to watch traditional music performances… along with many other enriching experiences!

Q: How will the West Java Field Study influence your future career or study?

The things I have seen, and the conversations I have had, will shape my career trajectory for many years to come. Before coming to Indonesia, my understanding of healthcare provision generally, and maternal healthcare specifically, was predominately an intellectual one. Here, I have been given the opportunity to witness healthcare unfolding. I have been able to learn from midwives, traditional birth attendants and OB-GYNs in a medical landscape very different to that of my home country. I have been able to better understand the myriad ways in which healthcare is mediated in culturally diverse settings and how professionals navigate these complex dynamics. I have gained nuance in my understanding of the complexities of the Indonesian health system and have learnt invaluable lessons from the both the people and initiatives here.

Q: What is the topic of your field study, and how are you conducting your field study activities?

I have been investigating understandings of a ‘good birth’ in settings of 21st century medical plurality. In essence, I have been exploring how health professionals navigate maternal healthcare delivery in settings where multiple medical systems coexist.

Q: Are you undertaking an internship while in Indonesia?

For part of my time in Indonesia, I have been undertaking an internship with a maternal health centre. I have been assisting with data collection, pre-natal yoga classes and attending to other needs of the clinic as they so arise. This has been invaluable in allowing me to better understand the daily operations of a maternal healthcare clinic in Indonesia, to gain intercultural intelligence about differences in medical models, to create relationships with the staff and community and to practice my Bahasa Indonesia.

Q: What do you like to do in your spare time in Bandung?

One of my favourite things about the city is its proximity to nature! I really like to take advantage of this. On weekends, friends and I have explored the outer regions of Bandung. A 30-minute motorbike ride can take you to beautiful lookouts and fresh, altitude air. If I decide to stay in the city for the weekend, I usually enjoy spending time in one of the many beautiful cafes or bookstores. There is an abundance.

Q: Favourite Indonesian food/ Favourite place to eat:

Nasi campur or karedok! Serve up anything with a lot of peanut sauce and I am there!

Q: Favourite Indonesian word/phrase:

Terima kasih. This means ‘thank you’ but literally translates as ‘to accept love’. I like this idea. Or ‘lidah buaya’ which is the word for aloe vera, but literally translates as crocodile’s tongue… I can’t think of a better way to describe it.

Q: What places in Indonesia have you visited during your Semester so far?

I have been able to engage in data collection in Bali and I have spent a fair bit of time in Yogyakarta, a really creative, chilled out city in Central Java. I have also had the privilege of travelling to the islands of West Nusa Tenggara and to the Komodo Islands (which are ridiculously spectacular and make you feel like you’re living a dream!!). Indonesia is such a wonderfully diverse country – both geographically and culturally – so there is plenty more I would love to explore! Good thing I’ll be around for a while.