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Development Studies Professional Practicum

Vanessa Heggie was a participant in the 2024 Development Studies Professional Practicum from The University of Queensland. Vanessa is studying Bachelor of International Studies. Vanessa received a $4000 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 ACICIS Development Studies Professional Practicum because I wanted to gain a greater understanding of Indonesia’s culture and what working in a development organisation is like.

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 received the NCP mobility grant which allowed me to afford travelling and living overseas while undertaking this program. It is an important initiative to encourage Australians to take an interest in our neighbouring countries and also give people opportunities to understand new cultures.

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

I lived in a kos while staying in Indonesia. This is an affordable and comfortable way to live and can help you integrate with the local community. I personally used mamikos and advice from ACICIS to help me determine the best place to live. One advice I would give is to visit the kos before finalising your accomodation and to relax and go with the process.

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

The classes and seminars are very interesting. My favourite part was the excursions, as we were able to see how development theories were applied to real life situations.

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

I interned with Harapan Fian. This organisation reminded me of a community centre for street people. My main job was to take photos of everyday activities in the organisation and to write a piece they could post on their website. I also assisted with the children, sat in on a few meetings and taught the staff a few English words that were relevant to the organisation.

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

At Harapan Fian I noticed the work culture was more relaxed than I at first anticipated. Tasks were completed in an order that suited the employees. Even though they were more relaxed, they were still quite busy with all the children that would pop in. This is quite different from Australia, which I believe to be more structured in when and how tasks are to be completed.

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

I have learnt how to apply development theory to real life situations and to remember to place the communities needs first. I also learnt a lot about the issues disadvantaged people and street people face within Indonesia. I hope I can apply this knowledge in future jobs.

Q: What did you get up to in your free-time?i.e. in the evenings and on weekends.

In my free time, I met up with friends I had made both during the program and before. Previously, I took FLIP with ACICIS so it was nice catching up with my friends and the ACICIS staff. I also explored the surrounding areas and attended a local church on the weekends.

Q: What surprised you about Indonesia? Any new insights?

I was pleasantly surprised by how friendly and polite everyone is in Indonesia. I also absolutely love and miss the amazing food in Indonesia and their cafe culture.

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

The most rewarding part of my experience in Indonesia was being able to make amazing new friends and see and experience new places and cultures. I grew through my experiences and am very glad I got this chance.

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

I was able to learn about Indonesian culture through my experiences both in Harapan Fian and in my spare time. I learnt things like what they like doing as social activities, their language, and how to make batik and tempe.

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

I believe my internship experience will help display my capabilities of working with different cultures. I also believe this experience gives me a better understanding of issues people face internationally and how they may overcome them differently to Australians would.

Q: Would you recommend this program to your friends?


Q: Favourite Indonesian word/phrase:

Jujurly which is a word that mixes English and Indonesian. It originated in South Jakarta and means
honestly. It never fails to make me laugh.