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Development Studies Professional Practicum

Hana Sawal was a participant in the 2023 Development Studies Professional Practicum from The Australian National University. Hana is studying Bachelor of Development Studies / Bachelor of Economics. Hana received a $3000 New Colombo Plan mobility grant to support her participation on this program.

Q: Why did you decide to undertake the ACICIS internship program?

I decided to undertake the DSPP because it combined my interests in studying development and possibly working in the sector with my love of Indonesian culture. I loved how the program involved learning about development from experts in the field and then applying this knowledge in a placement setting while gaining real-life experience in the development sector. I’ve also always had a strong desire to work and study overseas and have always wanted to visit Indonesia, so this program was perfect for me!

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 Professional Practica.

I was very fortunate to receive a $3000 NCP Mobility Grant. It provided me with financial aid that enabled me to undertake the DSPP. I believe that the NCP is an important initiative as provides many Australian undergraduates like myself with the necessary funds to undertake study in Indonesia. The initiative thus gives more people the opportunity to increase their knowledge of the Indo-Pacific, promoting the creation of important bilateral relations between Indonesia and Australia.

Q: Where did you live in Indonesia (Kos, homestay, hotel, rental etc.)? Any tips for prospective students on finding accommodation?

During my academic week in Jakarta, I stayed in a hotel recommended by ACICIS. This accommodation was simple, affordable, and close to the university, allowing us to walk through the friendly neighbourhood when going to and from classes.

During my placement in Yogyakarta, I stayed in a traditional-style guesthouse. This accommodation was relatively more expensive but still very affordable considering the amazing facilities and services.

There are lots of different types of accommodation in Indonesia. The comprehensive guide to accommodation that ACICIS sent me before departure was very helpful in teaching me about the different types of places you can stay in Indonesia based on your preferences. When choosing accommodation, I would suggest considering price, location, and the type of living arrangement you wish to have.

Q: How have you found the academic components of this program – i.e. the language classes/seminars?

I learnt so much from the academic components of the DSPP!

As I had completed previous study of Indonesian language, I was a part of the intermediate level language class. While these classes were quite intensive, I enjoyed them so much! My teacher was amazing and learning together with my classmates was really fun. The language classes definitely helped develop my Bahasa Indonesia skills.

The seminars were so interesting and insightful. Every day we covered a different topic area of development, and this information was presented by experts in their field who were able to share so much of their knowledge and experience. During the tutorials after the seminars, we shared our takeaways and were urged to think critically about development in Indonesia, further helping to consolidate our understanding.

Q: What organisation are you interning with? (Explain your role and responsibilities)

I interned with Project Child Indonesia (PCI), which is a locally run, community-based NGO in Yogyakarta. PCI has many different projects and roles surrounding community development and poverty alleviation. My role during my internship was to develop a mini handbook to promote youth volunteerism and meaningful community participatory practices in Indonesia. The process of making the handbook involved lots of discussion, research, and community engagement. We gathered information from the handbook from various literature and from the results of a survey that we conducted and presented it in a way that appealed to youth audiences.

Q: How have you found the work culture of your host organisation? How is it different to work experience in Australia?

The work culture at PCI was very different from the work experience I’ve had in Australia. My work was mainly independent, self-directed research and my workdays were a lot less structured. I would usually meet up with my mentor at the start of the week to establish goals and tasks for the week and then reconvene at the end of the week to share our progress. I only went into the office once; we would mostly meet up online or at cafes. As my work was researched based, I could do it from any location. This meant that I could check out lots of different cafes in Yogya and do my work there. This was great because the cafes in Yogya are so cool!

Q: What are the main skills you have learnt during your internship?

The main skills that I learnt during my internship at PCI are problem identification and solving, solution implementation, collaboration, data collection and analysis, critical thinking and cross-cultural communication skills.

Q: What did you find to be the most rewarding part of this experience?

The most rewarding part of my experience in terms of the output I produced would have to be the mini volunteer handbook that I helped to make during my internship at PCI. It was so incredible to create something tangible that was a product of four weeks of discussion, research, and data collection. It was such an amazing feeling to see my name at the front of the published handbook which I think will be very impactful among youth in Indonesia.

Another rewarding part of my experience in terms of my personal goals and ambitions was seeing how much my Indonesian had improved as a result of my time in Indonesia. While you can learn a lot of language from textbooks and classes, nothing compares to how much you can absorb through immersion. By hearing and speaking Indonesian every day, I have become so much more confident in my language skills.

Q: Were you able to learn about the Indonesian culture from this program? If yes, how was this achieved?

I have learnt so much about Indonesian culture from the DSPP! I did this by going to museums and culturally historic sites, eating a wide range of Indonesian food, going on guided tours, exploring the different parts of Jakarta and Yogya, walking around my neighbourhood and speaking to Indonesians. I feel like I learnt something new about Indonesian culture every day just through my day-to-day experiences. As long as you are open-minded and have the desire to learn, you can gain so much knowledge about Indonesian culture during the program!

Q: How will the internship benefit or influence your future career?

My internship has definitely sparked my interest in working in the development sector in my future career. As I study development at university, I wanted to gain real-life experience working in the sector to see if it was something that I wanted to pursue as a career. Through my internship, I have been able to gain valuable experience of what it’s like to work in development. I have learnt that development is so diverse and there are so many different roles involved. I am also considering working in the Indonesian development sector in the future as I love the country and the people and feel very connected to its culture. Additionally, the skills, experience and knowledge that I gained from my placement will definitely increase professional opportunities in the future.

Q: Would you recommend this program to your friends?

I would definitely recommend the DSPP and other ACICIS programs to my friends! In fact, I already have! Undertaking the practicum was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. The knowledge and skills that I’ve gained have been invaluable and the experience of studying and working abroad by myself has helped me grow and develop so much as a person.

Q: Favourite Indonesian word/phrase:

Enak sekali! (Very delicious). I said this after pretty much everything I ate in Indonesia!