Kailtyn Tjahyadi is a New Colombo Plan Mobility Grant recipient from The University of Western Australia. Kaitlyn undertook the Virtual Public Health Study Tour in July 2022.
Q: Why did you decide to undertake this virtual program?
When I first heard about the program from one of my unit coordinators, I was immediately intrigued. As an Indonesian person studying medicine, this program seemed to align with my passions, interests and career goals. It seemed like an amazing opportunity to learn more about my own culture as well as the major public health issues affecting Indonesia from the best of the best. This would allow me to have a deeper insight into topics I am passionate about and be the best health professional I can be. I knew I had to undertake this program and I was not disappointed.
Q: Did you receive a New Colombo Plan Mobility Grant? Why do you think the NCP is an important initiative?
Yes, I did receive the NCP grant. Without it, I would not have been able to undertake the Virtual Public Health Study Tour. I am really grateful that this initiative exists as it allows many University students like myself to study about Asia without having to worry too much about the financial burden. By removing this obstacle, the NCP grant allows so many more students to explore their interest in these countries. I think this is a great initiative by the government as it encourages students to learn more about the Indo-Pacific region.
Q: What did you find to be the most rewarding part of this virtual program?
I think one of the most rewarding parts of this virtual program was meeting many like-minded individuals, albeit virtually. It was such an amazing opportunity to befriend people living in a completely different country and to learn more about their culture and their own personal stories. Even after the tour ended, I still kept in touch with the other students who participated. Furthermore, the plethora of knowledge and information as well as skills gained from this experience was definitely rewarding as well.
Q: What did you find to be the most challenging about your experience on the Virtual PHST?
The most challenging part about my experience on the VPHST was the fact that it was online. There were a few moments throughout the program where the internet was quite unstable, especially during stormy weather. Furthermore, due to the large amount of content taught in such a short amount of time, it was hard to remain focused for the entirety of the tour. However, despite these slight issues, the VPHST was thoroughly an enjoyable experience.
Q: What public health issues in Indonesia have you become more interested in/aware of as a result of this virtual tour?
During this virtual tour I became more aware of many public health issues affecting Indonesia including stunting, malaria, dengue and other neglected tropical diseases. Having spent the majority of my life in Australia, I wasn’t really aware of these issues beforehand, but I have now gained a deeper understanding of these diseases. I am now particularly interested in stunting as this was something that I had never even heard of prior to the start of this program.
Q: What was your favourite virtual fieldtrip?
I think my favourite virtual fieldtrip was the visit to Yakkum Rehabilitation Centre. It was so fascinating to have a look around at all the different facilities of that centre such as the swimming pool, therapy, prosthetics lab etc. However, the most intriguing part of the fieldtrip was learning about all the different services this centre offers. It was amazing to see the numerous initiatives and programs especially the barista training course provided. I think Yakkum has really had a major impact in empowering people with disabilities and decreasing the stigma surrounding them in the local community.
Q: Were you able to learn about the Indonesian culture from this virtual program?
Definitely! It was an amazing opportunity for me to learn more about my own culture. Firstly, each language class introduced me to a new part of Indonesian culture. Furthermore, in each seminar we learnt more and more about Indonesia as the speakers would constantly give us an insight into Indonesian society and culture throughout their presentations and Q&A sessions. We also had two cultural activities throughout the program. In these activities we learnt how to cook an Indonesian staple (wedang ronde) and learnt a traditional Indonesian dance (Las Roha).
Q: Why it is important for Australians to learn more about Indonesia and vice a versa?
As neighbours, Australia and Indonesia have very good relations. I think it is really important for Australians to learn about Indonesia as the two countries often cooperate in many areas such as the economy, trade, development or education. Furthermore, the two countries can also learn from each other and work together to improve the livelihood of the population simultaneously.
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?
I thoroughly enjoyed discussing public health issues with the Indonesian student buddies. As Indonesian citizens, they definitely had a deeper understanding of the social factors and determinants in all these different health issues and they were all more than happy to provide their own personal stories and perspectives of these issues which was extremely helpful and insightful. For my two presentations, the topics I discussed were the importance of water sanitation and behavioural change as well as social inclusion for people with disabilities in Indonesia. Both of these topics were heavily interlinked with Indonesian society and the values, attitudes and beliefs of local Indonesian people so it was really helpful to have the Indonesian students from UI give us their insights on the topic. It was also wonderful talking with the Indonesian students. They were all extremely nice and welcoming and I cannot wait to visit Indonesia so I can meet them all in person!
Q: How do you think the Virtual Public Health Study Tour will influence your future career or studies?
Ever since I undertook the Virtual Public Health Study Tour, I have been more interested in learning about public health issues. Throughout my undergraduate study in university so far, I have only been learning about the scientific aspect of health but this program allowed me to see how health really impacts society and vice versa. After learning about public health, I think I will definitely take a more holistic approach when treating patients in the future and possibly even consider a career in public health. Furthermore, this program has also encouraged me to enrol in an Indonesian language unit and try improve my Bahasa!
Q: Would you recommend this virtual program to your friends?
Yes! This program has honestly been such an amazing experience that I will never forget!
Q: Favourite Indonesian word/phrase?
Q: Describe your experience of the Virtual PHST in three words:
Wonderful. Insightful. Unforgettable.