New Colombo Plan - Connect to Australia’s future - study in the region.

Public Health Study Tour

Rafia Ahmed is a New Colombo Plan Mobility Grant recipient from The University of Sydney. Rafia undertook the Public Health Study Tour in July 2023. Rafia is studying Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Advanced Studies (Medical Science).

Q:Why did you decide to undertake the ACICIS Public Health Study Tour?

It was the unique, hands-on nature of the PHST that drew me in. This isn’t something you experience in a typical classroom setting. My studies in Medical Science (majoring in Infectious Diseases) provided the foundation, but I knew this tour could give me a first-hand understanding of Public Health issues, especially in Indonesia’s context. Plus, it offered a chance to draw parallels and lessons for Bangladesh, my homeland, which added a personal aspect to my motivation.


Q: Did you receive a New Colombo Plan Mobility Grant? If so, how did this contribute to your experience in Indonesia?

Yes, I was fortunate to receive the NCP grant. It played a substantial role in lightening the financial burden, enabling me to immerse myself in the Indonesian experience fully. Honestly, without the grant, I might not have had this life-changing opportunity.


Q: What did you find to be the most challenging about your experience on the PHST?

Transitioning from part-time study at the University of Sydney to the fast-paced two-week PHST was a challenge. I tackled this head-on by proactively researching and preparing myself, which I would advise future PHST students to do. Preparation is key!


Q: What public health issues in Indonesia have you become more interested in/aware of as a result of this tour?

The ‘Tobacco Children’ issue was discussed at great length during the seminars; however, witnessing the reality on the ground was a sobering and eye-opening experience. I acknowledge the efforts of the Indonesian government, but I think there is a discernible gap between policy and practice, presenting a complex Public Health issue.


Q: What was your favourite field trip? 

Choosing one favorite is tough! If I had to, I’d go with our trip to the Waste Management TPS 3R in Kota Bogor, Jakarta – the maggots were oddly fascinating to watch and touch!


Q: How do you think the Public Health Study Tour will influence your future career or studies?

Firstly, the PHST marked my first real foray into Public Health. This two-week PHST was a turning point for me: before this, I only had a superficial understanding of Public Health, but now I feel inclined to pursue a career in this field. The potential to impact society on a larger scale is an opportunity I am eager to pursue.


Q:What did you most enjoy about the seminar series?

The seminars, led by esteemed UI Professors, were incredibly informative, covering a wide array of Public Health issues. The interactive nature of the seminars and the Q&A sessions enabled me to engage actively, promoting enriching discussions that greatly added to my learning experience.


Q: What was your favourite aspect about visiting Indonesia?

Exploring the less-touristy side of Indonesia was a real treat. I loved wandering the streets, absorbing the culture, and interacting with the locals – their kindness and hospitality were heartwarming! And, of course, my study buddies made superb tour guides, helping me to experience and appreciate the heart of Indonesia!