Development Studies Immersion Program

Saphron Stapleton is a 2017 New Colombo Plan Mobility Grant recipient from Murdoch University. Saphron Completed ACICIS’ Development Studies Immersion Program at Gadjah Mada University.

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

I have wanted to undertake the ACICIS’ DSIP ever since finding out about it during my first semester of university at the exchange fair. After dreaming of the ACICIS ‘s DSIP for many semesters, the time was finally right for me to undertake the program – in my very last semester! Initially I wanted to undertake the program because I longed to live overseas, study development in a relevant context and learn Bahasa Indonesia. However, I am glad that I waited until my last semester as now I am not only living in Yogyakarta, studying relevant development issues and learning Bahasa, but I am also gaining the practical, personal and professional skills to apply the knowledge that I have learnt throughout my degree in a real development context. The option to undertake an ACICIS program was also made easy as ACICIS arranged for me to receive the New Colombo Plan Mobility Grant to cover the cost of living and were very supportive throughout the process of applying for the DSIP.

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

The DSIP has provided me with opportunities to network and learn about the most pressing development areas and issues in my interest that require further study. Therefore, I know that I can return to Indonesia to undertake Honours or Post Graduate research with a purpose and with local support. The DSIP has also helped me to learn that one of the most significant ways to empower communities and individuals is to provide capacity building in the knowledge and tools required to create their own sustainable and inclusive future, and then assist with creating equitable opportunities. This lesson will shape my perspective through-out my future career.

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

Development in Indonesia has an incredible base to work from, where the community and social networks are strong and influential. The community spirit of Indonesia is something to learn from, as Indonesia is rich in a culture of looking after one’s neighbour, respecting community ties and of course, using street art and community festivals as a means of participation and empowerment in raising awareness about local development issues.

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

In my spare time on weekends, I like to head to Gunung Kidul where I can reconnect with nature and re-energise myself. Gunung Kidul has it all! Waterfalls, caves, forests, amazing scenery and is bordered by beautiful beaches.

Q: Are you undertaking an internship while in Indonesia?

I interned full time with an international NGO called ASB Indonesia and the Philippines where I worked as a project assistant for the Emergency Response Team and the Technical Assistance Training Team.

ASB focus on increasing Disability Inclusive Disaster Risk Reduction (DIDRR) through building the capacity of Disabled Peoples Organisation (DPO) representatives to provide training on inclusion to DRR actors, training persons with an influential role such as school teachers in DRR and safe evacuations, and providing emergency response in partnership with DPOs in disasters. My roles included developing a gender, age and disability sensitive humanitarian assessment tool, putting together ASB’s knowledge on transferring inclusion principles into action to create a handbook for DRR actors, and assisting with the planning and design of a new programme called ‘Capacity Building for DPOs in Humanitarian Action and Communication’. I have learnt so much and gained many new ideas about the development sector that are invaluable for making decisions about my future career.

Q: What is your favourite food/place to eat? 

My favourite Indonesian food is probably Tempeh Bakar and all tropical fruit- especially pink dragon fruit.

If you are a vegan like myself who likes to support ethical initiatives, Yogyakarta is actually the perfect place for you! There are many delicious vegan restaurants and cafes to choose from such as:

  • Loving Hut (there are two restaurants), which is my favourite place to eat. Healthy, lots of variety, so delish and cheap!
  • Fortunate Coffee has amazing breads, coffee, VG cheese-cake, and Indonesian and western food.
  • MILAS Restaurant is located in a sanctuary like garden and serves very healthy vegetarian/ vegan meals, and therapeutic drinks. They also sell organic muesli in refillable containers.
  • MILAS Organic Farmers Markets on Wednesday and Saturday from 10am until 1pm, where locals sell amazing traditional veg dishes, snacks, whole foods, sweets and smoothies!
  • Simple Plant. The food is fresh, full of flavour and some of the profit goes to ‘Animal Friends Jogja’
  • Veganissimo has a great variety of Indonesian dishes.
  • Warung Vegetarian Somayoga is located on the edge of a rice field and the staff are very friendly and sweet.
  • Tasty, a lot of healthy salads and big portions!
  • Via Via also has great vegan options, and the felafels are on point!
  • Loka Loka Bistro serves vegan options and their cold pressed juice is very refreshing.

Otherwise, when eating at local Warungs, you can’t go wrong with lotek, gado gado, tempe/tofu goreng/bakar or pecel!

You will not go hungry or dissatisfied, Indonesian food is enak sekali!

Q: What is your favourite Indonesian word/phrase:

Aku sudah siap! “I am already ready!’

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

Bali to meet family so far. I hope to visit other parts of Java soon! At the moment I am really enjoying what treasures Jogja and its surrounds have to offer.