Damian Garozzo-Vaglio is a New Colombo Plan Mobility Grant recipient from The University of New South Wales. Damian undertook the Public Health Study Tour in January 2023. Damian is studying Bachelor of International Public Health.
Q:Why did you decide to undertake the ACICIS Public Health Study Tour?
This program was an opportunity for me to experience everything I’ve learnt in my international public health degree, in real time with experts in the field alongside a diverse, multidisciplinary cohort of students.
Q: Did you receive a New Colombo Plan Mobility Grant? If so, how did this contribute to your experience in Indonesia?
Yes, I’m very grateful to be a recipient of this grant which allowed me, as a full time student, the opportunity to immerse myself in the Indonesian language, culture and public health system.
Q: What did you find to be the most challenging about your experience on the PHST?
The language barrier! However, our language classes at Universitas of Indonesia helped a great deal in better understanding the basics of Bahasa Indonesian, but also some key cultural customs.
Q: What public health issues in Indonesia have you become more interested in/aware of as a result of this tour?
Neglected tropical diseases stood out, given how they’re mostly preventable, yet factors such as poverty and inequitable access to clean water means that countries like Indonesia continue to battle them today.
Q: What was your favourite field trip?
Yayasan Kebaya, which is an LGBT+ shelter run by the incredibly inspiring Mama Vinolia. Listening to her talk was very moving, and many of us students spoke of that experience for days after we visited. Despite the hardships, she continues to advocate for equitable HIV/AIDS treatment for all Indonesians, but especially those cast out of society without any other options for care.
Q: How do you think the Public Health Study Tour will influence your future career or studies?
The PHST has solidified everything I’ve learnt in my degree, and more. It isn’t until you’re confronted with these issues face to face that you can fully understand their complexity, how intertwined they are with culture and religion and even stigma and shame. It has inspired me even more to continue pursuing a career in this field.
Q:What did you most enjoy about the seminar series?
The diverse range of expert speakers with experience working in the Indonesian Ministry of Health, through to grassroots organisations. Having the opportunity to take part in conversations with these public health leaders was a real privilege.
Q: What was your favourite aspect about visiting Indonesia?
The people. Everyone we met were so kind and accommodating. I very much look forward to returning one day!