Virtual Public Health Study Tour

Mark Foo is a recipient from The University of Western Australia. Mark undertook the Virtual Public Health Study Tour in November 2021.

Q: Why did you decide to undertake this virtual program?

My university emailed me information about this virtual program and I thought it would be interesting to gain insights about the health systems in Indonesia to enrich my knowledge in general.

Q: What did you find to be the most rewarding part of this virtual program?

I found the knowledge learnt from this program were really rewarding, knowing the healthcare system structures and how everything is put together and interlinked with many counterparts, learning how to cook some of the traditional dishes and culture were very fascinating and rewarding after attending this program.

Q: What did you find to be the most challenging about your experience on the Virtual PHST?

I think it was the language barrier for some parts of the program, however I was very grateful of the language classes conducted by the program as it made me aware of some of the basic communication phrases and words in the Indonesian language.

Q: What public health issues in Indonesia have you become more interested in/aware of as a result of this virtual tour?

I became more aware of the social stigma in the community regarding many issues such as HIV infections, sex workers, smoking issues and poor infrastructure in certain areas. I was not expecting to have observed the high amount of social stigma regarding those issues and now I am more aware of people’s mindset and what needs to be done from the government and people to improve the health systems for the general public.

Q: What was your favourite virtual fieldtrip?

I enjoyed the fieldtrip visiting the café and props making department as it was really interesting to see how props for the disabilities are being made, the material and the group of people that were catered for it. Also because I am a barista myself, so seeing the coffee making process definitely brought out my interests and it was a shame that I could not make a cup of coffee for everyone physically due to the travel restrictions from COVID-19.

Q: Were you able to learn about the Indonesian culture from this virtual program?

Yes, I learnt about the Indonesian language, to cook some of the traditional dishes under the guidance of wonderful chefs, and traditional dances from the Indonesian culture. I enjoyed the cooking session especially and was lucky enough to have won the recognition from the chef about my accomplished dish, it was a great honour and pleasure during the entire process.

Q: Why it is important for Australians to learn more about Indonesia and vice a versa?

It is important because we can find rooms of improvements in each of our healthcare systems, helping each other to contribute to the community, fostering relationships between the government and always implement necessary changes to improve the lives of many people in both society.

Q: Did you enjoy discussing public health issues with the Indonesian students? 

Yes, my experience was really pleasant having to work with different Indonesian students, everyone was really friendly and had an open mind when discussing especially sensitive issues. The topics we had discusses and presented on in our group were regarding HIV, we divided the work load for each subtopic to everyone, so that each person has a topic to present on, while linking everything up as an entire smooth presentation. We also added interesting contents such as a skit to keep our presentation more informative and interesting for the listeners. It was a really great and enriching experience.

Q: How do you think the Virtual Public Health Study Tour will influence your future career or studies?

I think it gives me more thoughts about the healthcare system, it’s structure and the aspects of improvements, and therefore perhaps interests me more into learning more about how improvements can be implemented in my future career or studies regarding areas in those aspects.

Q: Would you recommend this virtual program to your friends?


Q: Favourite Indonesian word/phrase?


Q: Describe your experience of the Virtual PHST in three words:

Exciting, eventful, memorable.