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Development Studies Immersion Program

Michle Roche is a student from Murdoch University. Michele is undertaking the Development Studies Immersion Program at Gadjah Mada University from August-December 2018.

Q: Why did you decide to undertake ACICIS’ Development Studies Immersion Program?

I decided to undertake this opportunity to broaden my experience in South East Asia and apply some of the knowledge that I have gained through my studies while living and experiencing Indonesia at the same time. I choose my internship with Mitra Wacana Women’s Resource Centre (WRC) because I wanted to increase my knowledge of gender issues. Their Human Trafficking Prevention project was an area I was really excited to get involved with.

Q: Are you involved in any clubs/societies at the university? 

I haven’t had a lot of time to participate in clubs or societies, but there are options for pretty much any interest you might have. I went running at UGM a few times in the evenings and weekends – it’s a big thing – but I didn’t join the running club.

Q: How will the Development Studies Immersion Program influence your future career or study?

I’m doing a double major in International Aid and Development and Sustainability at Murdoch University. I was lucky enough to work with Mitra Wacana that had an ongoing Human Trafficking Prevention Program. This opportunity gave me insights into some of the challenges that are faced with implementing gender projects in Indonesia. It has opened my eyes to other possibilities to consider as part of my future career.

Q: How does development in Indonesia differ to what you’ve seen before?

In general, development in Indonesia is not very different from what I had seen working and living in Laos. One area that does take a different approach is the facilitation approach. Mitra Wacana’s approach is to act as a member of the community and facilitate discussions. As Mas Sugeng (my supervisor) says “we don’t try and to be the teacher, we just assist the communities with finding the answers”.

Q: What do you like to do in your spare time in Yogyakarta?

I love getting out of the hustle and bustle of the city and into the country… the country in Yogyakarta is beautiful and quiet. They love their selfie spots which reminds you that you are in Indonesia. Mainly I love getting out and enjoying the local Indonesian culture. There are plenty of gyms in Yogyakarta – I joined Celebrity Fitness and got a Personal Trainer. It kept me active and feeling good about myself while I was eating all the fried and sugar-filled food!

Q: Are you undertaking an internship/student community service – KKN – while in Indonesia?

I undertook my internship at Mitra Wacana, a Non-Government Organisation in Bantul, Yogyakarta. The team at Mitra Wacana are amazing and I really enjoyed working with them.

Mitra Wacana is focussed on women’s issues – they act as a bridge between the ideas of gender equality and egalitarianism, based on community environments that still suffer from gender bias and the remnants of patriarchal culture.

The internship has allowed me to explore some of the challenges with gender projects in Indonesia.

Q: What is your favourite Indonesian food? Where is your favourite place to eat?

My favourite Indonesia food is Garang Asem Ayam – GoJek it!

My Favourite place to eat and hang on the weekend is Epic Coffee – it’s worth the trip and somewhere you can chill for a few hours.

Q: Favourite Indonesian word/phrase?

My favourite phrase is ‘Jam Karet’ meaning rubber time… I think it defines a key component of the Indonesian culture and always gets a laugh.

Q: What places in Indonesia have you visited during your semester so far?

So many…

  • KulonProgo my work project site, great countryside, waterfalls and selfie spots.
  • Kebumen is a 2-hour train trip away on the coast in the South of Central Java, plenty of beaches and seafood.
  • Sunrise at Borobudur was great – I recommend making your own way as opposed to doing a tour. Do it during the week.
  • Ballet at Prambanan is worth the trip  it’s a great evening and paying extra for ‘Khasus’ seats is worth it.
  • Last but not least, if you want a true Indonesian experience head to Umbul Ponggok for underwater selfies!