Q: Why did you decide to undertake this virtual program?
The PHST was offered by Charles Darwin University through one of the units I had to complete. I decided to undertake this program as this was a unique opportunity for me to learn about a different health system and health challenges in Indonesia. I am a curious learner and was eager to learn something new and experience a different culture and learn a new language.
Q: Did you receive a New Colombo Plan Mobility Grant? Why do you think the NCP is an important initiative?
I was fortunate to receive the NCP Mobility Grant. I believe it is a great initiative on behalf of the Australian Government to support undergraduates as the virtual PHST is an exceptional and professional program where students gain a wealth of knowledge of the Indonesian health system and public health issues, immerse in a new culture, and learn about the different innovative and distinctive environmental health projects presented. I believe in the importance of learning in a cross-cultural environment as Australia has a diverse population and it is important to understand each other’s culture and backgrounds and these relate to health. The program enables students to increase academic and cultural knowledge, and also interact with highly respected academics from Universitas Indonesia as well as members from different organisations who were invited to present and discuss some of the major public health issues in Indonesia.
Q: What did you find to be the most rewarding part of this virtual program?
The entire program was rewarding as each seminar or virtual tour presented different aspects of public health. It was an enriching experience!
Q: What did you find to be the most challenging about your experience on the Virtual PHST?
I cannot fault the program! The program was virtual due to Covid-19. The only downfall was technology fatigue. However, resting after each session and stretching during coffee and lunch breaks helped to re-energise. Although intensive, everyday I looked forward to the next day, not only to learn but to meet with Indonesian students, hosts, and guest speakers.
Q: What public health issues in Indonesia have you become more interested in/aware of as a result of this virtual tour?
Over the two weeks, I have learned and became aware of many health issues in Indonesia. Two particular issues that I became more interested in were sexual and reproductive health, and neglected health issues, particularly leprosy.
Q: What was your favourite virtual fieldtrip?
I really enjoyed all the virtual field trips. From the Kali Code River tour which demonstrated how the community works together to improve the waste water management to the World Mosquito Program gracefully presented by Mbak Khansa who was very brave to let the mosquitoes feed from her arm.
Q: Were you able to learn about the Indonesian culture from this virtual program?
Definitely! I am bilingual and was very excited to learn a third language, which is Bahasa Indonesia!
The virtual language classes were live, fun and interactive. The virtual and live culinary and dance classes were fun and enriching. Although virtual, I felt welcomed and included in each of the sessions. The ACICIS hosts were there to support us as well as Ibu Ninin during the culinary class and Ibu Kiki during the Indonesian traditional dance class.
Over the two weeks we were introduced to our Indonesian buddies who were there to support us and work collaboratively in our designated group. It enabled me to be part of a cross-cultural group with Indonesian and Australian students alike.
Q: Why it is important for Australians to learn more about Indonesia and vice a versa?
The exchange is important as neighbouring countries. Most importantly Australia is a multicultural country with residents from different corners of the world. As public health professionals it is important to understand and have a sound knowledge of cultures and how it is related to health.
Indonesia and Australia have a good relationship and Indonesia may benefit from Australian support to address public health issues in Indonesia.
Q: Did you enjoy discussing public health issues with the Indonesian students?
Certainly! They were very knowledgeable, friendly and supportive. We discussed public health issues during our daily tutorial activities, and amongst ourselves in our group chats. At the end of each week we presented a public health issue assigned to our group for the week. At the end of week one, we presented on Water and Sanitation in Indonesia and for week two we presented on Non-Communicable diseases in Indonesia, the major one being Cardiovascular disease.
Q: How do you think the Virtual Public Health Study Tour will influence your future career or studies?
The tour was definitely an eye opener to public health issues. The two weeks tour was packed with information and I learned a lot, however I believe there are many more to learn about public health in Indonesia.
As many of the other participants, I would like to visit Indonesia one day to further explore public health and perhaps participate in some of Indonesia’s innovative projects.
Q: Would you recommend this virtual program to your friends?
Definitely! It was an enriching and exceptional experience and I would highly recommend this virtual program to others. I am sure in the future students will be able to travel to Indonesia and complete the program live with the friendly and welcoming ACICIS team and Indonesian students.
Q: Favourite Indonesian word/phrase?
Bagus, Semangat, Terima Kasih, Sama-sama, nama saya…..
Q: Describe your experience of the Virtual PHST in three words:
Enriching, Insightful, Structured