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

Virtual Development Studies Professional Practicum

Anya Minko was a participant in the 2021 Virtual Development Studies Professional Practicum. Anya is studying a Bachelor of International Studies at RMIT University. Anya received a $3000 New Colombo Plan mobility grant to support her participation on this program.

Q: Why did you decide to undertake the ACICIS program?

I applied for the DSPP virtual program because I thought it would be the perfect way to spend my mid-semester break while gaining credits towards my International Studies degree. An intensive Indonesian language course, engaging seminars, and the opportunity to gain work experience with an Indonesian organisation were not ones to be missed! I thought it would be an excellent opportunity to learn about our closest neighbour in the Indo-Pacific region.

Q: Did you receive a New Colombo Plan Mobility Grant? Do you think the NCP is an important initiative?

Yes, I did receive a New Colombo Plan Mobility Grant. I wouldn’t have been able to do this program if it weren’t for the Government’s generous NCP funding. I am very grateful! I think the NCP is a significant initiative because not only does it support students like myself to undertake study in the Indo-Pacific, but it also motivates us to get to know our neighbours better. Our region’s stability is dependent on us coming together, communicating with and understanding each other. Australian students with more profound Indo-pacific knowledge and connections will continue to play an increasingly significant role in Australia’s relationship with the region. Having lived in Cambodia for 20 years and being Australian/Thai, I’ve always had a close connection to S.E Asia; however, this opportunity sparked my interest in Indonesia, which wasn’t there before. This proves how significant and influential the NCP initiative is. I cannot wait to visit Indonesia to meet all the people I worked with throughout the DSPP virtual program.

Q: How have you found the academic components of this virtual program – i.e. the language classes/seminars?

The seminars were fantastic! The calibre of seminar speakers was incredible; they were all experts in their field and were kind enough to share their knowledge with us. Each seminar was unique and informative. In a relatively short amount of time, I learnt so much about the Indonesian development sector.

Thinking of my Indonesian language classes makes me smile. Our teacher from Atma Jaya University – Ibu Ima was lovely; she had incredible energy and genuinely cared about her students. I am not new to learning languages; however, this was my first time learning Indonesian. I was rather impressed with how much I had learned in a short time.

“Smile with your heart” – Ibu Ima. I did this during my classes, despite attending at 2 am each morning due to the time difference as I am currently in Germany.

Q: What organisation did you intern with?

I interned with UCP Roda Untuk Kemanusiaan (UCPRUK), a local Indonesian disability organisation that focuses on empowering people with disabilities through mobility aid, specifically wheelchairs. I am passionate about disability-inclusive development, therefore learning about Indonesia’s current progress and seeing UCPRUK in action was incredibly beneficial. I interacted with my mentor, Ibu Damai – regularly via email and WhatsApp. She was very supportive, and I admire the fact that she trusted me, gave me a voice, and encouraged me to contribute any ideas I had. My responsibilities included designing, proposing social media content, reviewing potential grant applications and annual reports.

Q: How have you found the work culture (albeit online) of your host organisation? How is it different to work experience in Australia?

The laid-back and more flexible work culture stood out to me most, and I loved it! Despite being an intern, everyone treated me with respect and believed in my capabilities. I learnt that some degree of lateness was generally accepted, which might take some time getting used to, whereas punctuality is everything in Australia.

Q: What are the key skills you have learnt during your virtual internship?

I learnt a great deal about the Indonesian disability sector and the laws protecting/empowering people with disabilities. Writing a report on this allowed me to understand the vast differences between disability in the so-called Global North and South and how international laws made by and for the Global North may not necessarily work in the Global South.  This experience enhanced my critical thinking skills, allowing me to understand the interdependent issues revolving around disability from various perspectives.

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

The Indonesian staff from ACICIS and my host organisation UCPRUK were incredibly supportive, welcoming and all had a great sense of humour. Despite these connections being virtual, they are real. I look forward to spending time with everyone in Indonesia one day.

Q: Were you able to learn about the Indonesian culture from this virtual program? If yes, how was this achieved?

Despite the program being virtual, it was clear from spending time with UCPRUK and ACICIS staff that Indonesians are warm and friendly people. We were also given excellent reading material to look over before attending each seminar, which came in various formats such as news articles, reports, academic research. I loved the variation.

Q: How will the virtual internship benefit or influence your future career?

I’m very grateful for my deepened understanding of Indonesia’s complex yet exciting development sector. The virtual internship will assist me in my future career because I intend to work in S.E Asia’s development sector and focus on disability, sanitation and education.

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

100%. Especially with the NCP financial assistance available, go for it! I’d highly recommend this program because of its quality. The engaging seminars, tutorials, language classes and internship opportunities were impressive. It’s also perfect for someone wanting a taste of Indonesia before going there in-person. Indonesia is an exciting country with a complex yet unique social and political sphere. There is so much more to Indonesia than Bali!

Q: Favourite Indonesian word/phrase:

Terima Kasih dan hati hati!

Q: Describe your experience of the virtual internship program in three words:

Fun, enriching, informative