Q: Why did you decide to undertake the ACICIS program?
I decided to undertake the ACICIS virtual internship as I really enjoy learning about new countries and cultures, and I was interested to learn about Indonesia as Australia’s closest neighbour. The program appeared to be a unique experience that combined not only formal learning, but an opportunity to learn a new language, participate in various cultural activities, and gain some international work experience.
Q: Did you receive a New Colombo Plan Mobility Grant? Do you think the NCP is an important initiative? If yes, why? The NCP is a signature initiative of the Australian Government which aims to lift knowledge of the Indo-Pacific in Australia by supporting Australian undergraduates on experiences such as the Virtual Professional Practica.
I received financial support through the NCP mobility grant. The grant is a terrific initiative by the Australian Government to encourage students to form connections with Indonesia and to assist with some of the barriers to entry and financial obstacles that many students face when undertaking internships.
Q: How have you found the academic components of this virtual program – i.e. the language classes/seminars?
The seminars, tutorials and virtual field trips were fantastic. We were lucky to hear from many field experts who spoke on various areas of Indonesian law and policy, including the new Omnibus laws, COVID-19 responses, climate change initiatives, religion, constitutional law, commercial law and public law. All students were encouraged to speak and contribute at each session, and the tutorials provided a safe space with the ACICIS staff to provoke discussion from both Indonesian and Australian perspectives and consolidate knowledge learnt from the seminars. The support network was great, and the classes were very fun and interactive.
The language classes were also a great way to meet students from other Australian university. Our teacher was so fun and happy, and we all were surprised at how much we learnt so quickly!
Q: What organisation did you intern with?
I interned with LBHM, which is a pro-bono community legal centre in Jakarta, specialising in providing free legal assistance to disadvantaged people in Indonesia on various human rights law issues including the death penalty, human trafficking, LGBTQI+ rights and the right to a fair trial.
My role at LBHM was to conduct up-to-date research on various human rights issues to then transpose onto engaging infographics and reels for social media advocacy and awareness. Some topics covered included prison over-crowding trends in Asia since the beginning of the pandemic, intersectionality of Indonesian women charged with drug trafficking crimes and discrimination and access to justice barriers for prisoners facing execution. I was also able to campaign for clemency for an LBHM client on death row and write an opinion article to the Indonesian media on capital punishment, from an abolitionist nation standpoint. It was an incredibly heartbreaking experience, but no less, worthwhile.
Q: How have you found the work culture (albeit online) of your host organisation? How is it different to work experience in Australia?
While I did recognise similarities in work cultures, the Indonesian experience was more fluid and self-paced. There was a lot of independent learning and the culture felt more personal, with colleague relationships based on friendship, mutual respect, and trust, which created a very comfortable learning environment. I felt that I was able to approach my mentor with any concerns or questions that I had.
Q: What are the main skills you have learnt during your virtual internship?
I learnt and developed many skills, including cross-cultural understanding, researching efficiently and concisely in short time frames, communicating directly due to language barriers, building trust over whatsapp and zoom applications due to the geographical and time differences and time-management skills.
I was also able to build up my confidence on various soft skills such as being able to write to a public audience on social media for sensitive issues, public speaking and not being afraid to have a voice or an opinion, and ongoing reflection. Whilst I did find some of these things challenging at first, they became easier, and I have seen marked differences that have now improved my domestic studies.
Q: What did you find to be the most rewarding part of this virtual experience?
My favourite part was getting involved and working on projects that extended beyond Australia. The program pushed me outside of my comfort zone regularly and become more culturally aware of practices in Indonesia. I felt supported and encouraged that I could do material change in my internship. I am now also equipped with a toolkit of phrases in Bahasa Indonesia for when I next travel to Indonesia!
Being able to work with an incredible team of passionate human rights lawyers and advocates in Indonesia, who tirelessly advocate for their clients and their rights was so humbling and deeply moving. I am incredibly grateful to have been able to support them in a small capacity and for the firm providing me the opportunity to do so.
Q: Were you able to learn about the Indonesian culture from this virtual program? If yes, how was this achieved?
The program was invaluable in learning about not only the differences between our cultures, but the similarities that Australia shares with Indonesia. This is important as neighbours in the Indo-Pacific region. We spent significant time in seminars, tutorials and language classes discussing culture, religion, the Indonesian legal system, and daily life for the population. We developed an appreciation of how significant political and historical events have shaped social norms and legal decision-making, and no topic was off-limits, no matter how taboo.
Q: How will the virtual internship benefit or influence your future career?
The virtual internship was so unique and humbling and most certainly has inspired me to continue to pursue a career in international law. The ACICIS program was a fantastic stepping-stone towards this goal and an opportunity to connect with the Indonesian community. It will definitely be talking point with future colleagues and employers, and I hope to be able to maintain Asia-Pacific connections and friendships.
Q: Would you recommend this virtual program to your friends?
I would absolutely recommend the ACICIS virtual program to my friends (and in-country if the pandemic allows!)
Q: Favourite Indonesian word/phrase:
Q: Describe your experience of the virtual internship program in three words:
Enriching, Eye-Opening, Interactive