Q: Why did you decide to undertake the ACICIS program?
Essentially, I wanted to gain practical experience and learn more about Indonesian culture and legal systems.
In doing so I wanted to:
- increase my knowledge of relations between Australia and Indonesia.
- have practical experience working for an organisation and be able to relate information I had learnt in seminars and tutorials to real-life application.
- gain connections and network with fellow Australian students, and create connections with Indonesian ACICIS staff, Atma Jaya staff, host organisation (Perludem) staff and Indonesian students.
- improve my communication skills in English, through needing to communicate with others who had not necessarily been exposed to English.
- learn a new language – Bahasa Indonesian – which I believe is very important, as Indonesia is one of Australia’s key allies.
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.
Yes, I received a New Colombo Plan Mobility Grant and I certainly believe it is an important initiative which allows students to experience critical programs in their academic development. I believe the ACICIS program has helped me in quickly developing into a proficient Australian law student with an avid interest in Indonesian affairs, while financially supporting me, in a means which I likely would not have been able to. I hope to be involved with many programs similar to the ACICIS LPP in the future, as I endeavour to appreciate the complexities of the Asia-Pacific and seek to become a leader in international relations and diplomacy within the region.
Q: How have you found the academic components of this virtual program – i.e. the language classes/seminars?
My language teacher, Arin, was amazing. She was patient, always willing to assist outside of class hours, and always advising that she was reachable via WhatsApp. I have never been to Indonesia nor undertaken language study, so my first exposure to Bahasa Indonesian was on this program. I am now able to introduce myself and have casual conversations with others in Bahasa Indonesian.
Seminars were also great. I loved the structure of having a seminar for two hours, and then having a tutorial. A recommendation I have, would be making the tutorials slightly longer. I feel there was often a lot of information discussed and we could definitely have continued for longer (potentially 90 minutes, instead of 60). I loved having different guest speakers, from a variety of academic backgrounds, which provided a well-rounded approach and holistic understanding of Indonesian affairs.
Additionally, I loved the idea of the field trips. I know I would have really enjoyed engaging with these had the program been done in person. I really admired how the ACICIS staff tried their best constantly to involve us in as many activities as they could, which we would have definitely been involved with had we been in Indonesia, in person.
Q: What organisation did you intern with?
I interned at Perkumpulan untuk Pemilu dan Demokrasi, also known as Perludem, which in English translates to the Association for Election and Democracy. My role while interning at Perludem, entailed attending meetings for Civil Society Organisations (CSO’s), attending Perludem staff meetings and attending seminars regarding election processes and complications within Indonesia. I was given various research assignments which involved analysing the Australian and New Zealand contexts to determine similarities with information presented regarding Indonesia. Topics included voter suppression of Indigenous communities in rural Australia, and lightly in discussion touched on other minority demographics including those who identify as LGBTQIA+, or with a physical or intellectual disability, as well as election district development and exploring the relevant authorities and processes concerned.
Q: How have you found the work culture (albeit online) of your host organisation? How is it different to work experience in Australia?
As mentioned in my reflections, jam karet and at times language and time-zone barriers were the key difficulties I experienced. Jam karet, or rubber time, was the biggest difference when comparing Australian and Indonesian workplaces. Other than this I have found the experience enjoyable and insightful.
Q: What are the main skills you have learnt during your virtual internship?
I was exposed to information surrounding corruption’s influence in Indonesian elections and Perludem assigned me to look at Australia and New Zealand as case studies to explore instances of corruption, voter suppression (amongst Indigenous and other minority demographics) and electoral district development as a means of cross-cultural analysis.
Q: What did you find to be the most rewarding part of this virtual experience?
Being exposed to another culture and appreciating how the legal system has developed/is developing. The necessity for reform, and the social implications of outdated laws. This has inspired me to become more involved with Indonesian affairs. Additionally, being given opportunities to submit my work to various Asia-Pacific journals, and websites was great. I really appreciate being awarded these opportunities to further develop my academic writing and research skills, while distributing my work to a critical academic audience.
Q: Were you able to learn about the Indonesian culture from this virtual program? If yes, how was this achieved?
Yes! I learnt SO much more than I ever anticipated I would about Indonesian culture, with a specific focus on the legal and electoral systems. Additionally, through seminars I was able to understand policy surrounding climate action, COVID-19 and so forth. I really enjoyed learning about domestic migrant workers and the challenges they experience due to a lack of legal protections. This learning about culture was achieved simply through being able to interact with AICICS staff, Indonesian based speakers (of Australian, American and Indonesian heritage) and through connecting with others in the cultural workshops. I really enjoyed the cooking class.
Q: How will the virtual internship benefit or influence your future career?
I believe it will benefit and influence my career trajectory as I have now become more focused on international relations within the Asia-Pacific region, since completing this program, and another internship in December of 2021 based in Fiji. I realise the challenges faced by nations within this region, and the opportunity and potential for development. I have applied to be an Australian delegate for the Y20 conference this year which is being held in Jakarta, Indonesia, and I hope if I am successful, that this will be one of the many steppingstones toward a career in international diplomacy, with a focus on Asia-Pacific.
Q: Would you recommend this virtual program to your friends?
Q: Favourite Indonesian word/phrase:
I love the word perempuan, or ‘woman’/’female’. I really like the way it sounds when it is pronounced. Bahasa Indonesian is a beautiful language!
Q: Describe your experience of the virtual internship program in three words: