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

Virtual Agriculture Professional Practicum

Brenton Dwyer was a participant in the 2021 Virtual Agriculture Professional Practicum. Brenton is a Bachelor of Science (Management and Sustainability) student from Deakin University. Brenton received a $3,000 New Colombo Plan Mobility Grant to support his participation in this program.

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

I have always had the desire to study and/or work overseas in the field of environmental management and agriculture. Also, I have always been drawn to the country of Indonesia and its many cultures, having travelled through Indonesia on many occasions. So, when a friend told me about the ACICIS program she was a part of a few years ago I became very interested. Unfortunately, the pandemic ruined any chances of undertaking the placement in Indonesia 2021. However, the opportunity to learn more about the culture, language, people and their agriculture practices was still available in the ACICIS virtual internship program. So I decided it would still be a great opportunity and also a way to network and increase my employability.

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

Yes, I received the NCP grant and I think it is a great initiative to support and strengthen the relationships between Indonesia and Australia. Without it I would have probably struggled financially to complete the program.

Q: How have you found the academic components of this virtual program?

The language classes were great and fantastic way to meet and network with students from the other disciplines involved with the ACICIS program. My language teacher was very engaged with the class which made learning Bahasa Indonesia very enjoyable. At the start of the program, I was concerned it might be quite difficult to learn Bahasa Indonesia in the intense timeframe. However, after the first couple of classes I was quite surprised how easy it was to pick up. The seminars and tutorials for APP were very specific to Indonesia agriculture and agri business, and I found I learnt a lot throughout the program. We also discussed the Covid-19 pandemic and its socio-economic and agriculture impacts on Indonesia.

 Q: Which organisation did you intern with? 

I interned with the IDEP foundation who are based in Bali. The organisation was really excited to have me onboard and it was great to work along with Dewie my mentor. IDEP introduced me to their specific programs like the water protection program in Bali, which tackled water scarcity and saltwater intrusion into underground water bodies. Also, their WASH (Water, Sanitisation and Hygiene) program, which focused on educational tools for school kids. I was primarily engaged in both these programs and I found in very rewarding.

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

As this was an unprecedented year for the host organisation and myself because of the impacts of the pandemic I found we both were flexible with each other on the online internship. Communication was key to the internship and myself and my mentor made sure we were always clear with each other on tasks.

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

One of the main skills I developed was my communication skills with people from different cultures. After picking up some basic Indonesia I found my communication with my tutors, teachers and mentors a lot easier. This skill will be beneficial to working alongside Indonesia people and hopefully developing a career in Indonesia.

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

Becoming part of the ACICIS program felt very accepting. All the staff and students really connected, especially for an online experience. I feel like I have made a lot of new connections in Australia and Indonesia.

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

I had already travelled through Indonesia a few times and learnt a lot about the people and cultures, but in this program, I learnt a lot of things you might not pick up while travelling. This was predominantly in areas such as agriculture, business and social behaviours.

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

The program has influenced my future career by giving me specific knowledge in Agriculture practices in another country besides Australia. It has also introduced me to the relationships that countries have with each other and how these relationships work on a social and economical level. Working with my internship organisation has also been beneficial as I have learnt to work in a professional industrial online setting. I think this is a very important skill that I have developed which will help with my future careers.

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

Yes definitely. The experience gained by travelling to Indonesia and engaging in the program would be priceless, however, the online program was still surprisingly enjoyable and rewarding.

Q. Favourite Indonesian word/phrase:

Sama sama

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

Engaging, insightful and accepting