Jessica Chen is a New Colombo Plan Mobility Grant recipient from The University of Western Australia. Jessica undertook the Virtual Public Health Study Tour in July 2022.
Q: Why did you decide to undertake this virtual program?
This study program was promoted by my university unit coordinator and as I was studying a biomedical science course, I was interested to learn more. Upon further research, I discovered that the tour was focused on public health issues in Indonesia as well as solutions they have established to combat them. I took this opportunity to expand my knowledge in this area and see new perspectives in their strategies compared to developed countries such as Australia.
Q: Did you receive a New Colombo Plan Mobility Grant? Why do you think the NCP is an important initiative?
I received the New Colombo Plan Mobility Grant to support me in this study program. The NCP is an important initiative because finances is an important deciding factor in many situations, and beneficial education programs like this one is no exception. By offering the grants for students, they can focus on participating and learning in this Public Health Study Tour.
Q: What did you find to be the most rewarding part of this virtual program?
I believe the most rewarding aspect is the development and connection of everyone involved: the students, survivors, supporters, lecturers, organisation representatives, government authorities etc. Throughout the program, strong relationships were built as we discussed and shared opinions on public health issues.
Q: What did you find to be the most challenging about your experience on the Virtual PHST?
Spending hours every day in front of a screen was a challenge however the program was so well organised with regular breaks and interactive activities that made overcoming this challenge worthwhile.
Q: What public health issues in Indonesia have you become more interested in/aware of as a result of this virtual tour?
I was especially curious when we learnt more about mental illnesses and disabilities in Indonesia. It was lovely to see that they have established hospitals with specialised care and facilities for those with disabilities to help out and be more involved in the community.
Q: What was your favourite virtual fieldtrip?
My favourite fieldtrip would have to be the World Mosquito Program! It was interesting to learn how they eliminate dengue fever in communities by breeding and releasing mosquitos with Wolbachia in these areas.
Q: Were you able to learn about the Indonesian culture from this virtual program?
The Indonesian culture was definitely a big part of this study program. We had cultural activities such as making wedang ronde and participating in a traditional dance class. I also learnt a lot about Indonesian culture through the student buddies
Q: Why it is important for Australians to learn more about Indonesia and vice a versa?
Australia and Indonesia are close in proximity and gaining knowledge and experience in programs such as this one builds strong relationships between these countries, which offers support and opportunities in all areas, especially public health.
Q: Did you enjoy discussing public health issues with the Indonesian students? If yes, can you describe your experience? What topics did you present on in your groups?
The Indonesian students were insightful and contributed significantly to group discussions with their own experiences in the country. I had a wonderful time, working with them in group work and presentations. We presented topics in maternal and child health, and non-communicable diseases in Indonesia.
Q: How do you think the Virtual Public Health Study Tour will influence your future career or studies?
The completion of this study tour inspired me to look more into public health in the community. Being focused on Indonesian health issues, it has given me new perspectives, so I am considering international health support in the future.
Q: Would you recommend this virtual program to your friends?
Absolutely! I have told a few of my friends already! This virtual program was the highlight of my holidays. I really enjoyed learning new public health issues and strategies every day.
Q: Favourite Indonesian word/phrase?
Senang kenalan dengan anda, which means nice to meet you. It was wonderful meeting so many new people and making connections on the tour.
Q: Describe your experience of the Virtual PHST in three words:
Engaging! Exciting! Extraordinary!