Zofia Francis was a participant of the Agriculture Professional Practicum (APP), in 2023. Zofia is studying Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) and Bachelor of Environment and Sustainability from The Australian National University.
Q: Why did you decide to undertake the ACICIS internship program?
I have a strong interest in social and environmental justice. For me, as an Engineering and Sustainability student, I think it’s so important I have a personal understanding of the challenges experiences outside of my social bubble and to learn from those with different backgrounds to my own, so I can become a socially responsible and considerate engineer.
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.
Yes, and yes. I believe that especially in a world facing a climate crisis, it is increasingly important that we are all learning and collaborating with one another, especially those who are geographically close to us. Australia culturally predominantly follows western/Eurocentric ideologies, despite having quite a distinctly different set of environmental conditions. While there is great diversity within the social and physical environments of the Indo-Pacific region, I believe that Australia has much to gain from learning from and collaborating with its neighbours. I believe that undergraduate students greatly benefit from the incorporation of any non-western view points in their studies, but particularly those of nations within our own region. The grant enables students to engage in this sort of learning and travel, which is something that is often limited to those who are financially privileged enough to do so. I believe it is important that people of all backgrounds are given the same opportunities for learning and development.
Q: Where did you live in Indonesia (Kos, homestay, hotel, rental etc.)? Any tips for prospective students on finding accommodation?
I stayed in an Apartment, but ended up spending a lot of nights sleeping at my office (the office was in a house with spare rooms). I would recommend thinking about your own habits and personality when selecting accomodation. I found that I really craved having a more social environment, and would probably have done better staying in a Kos or a homestay. Make sure to start looking early, and if possible, take the time to go visit places in person!
Q: How have you found the academic components of this program – i.e. the language classes/seminars?
Really loved it! super intense, but I wish we could have had another week of language classes and seminars.
Q: What organisation are you interning with? (Explain your role and responsibilities)
Divers Clean Action (DCA), which is a NGO focusing on the management and clean up of Marine Debris. I didn’t have a specific role or responsibilities, but was expected to come along to events and activities, and ask questions, join in, and generally shadow the team. I sometimes helped with translation and proof reading grant applications. I had a really excellent time with them, and got to attend a lot of cool events, national conferences, mangrove training events, field work activities and more.
Q: How have you found the work culture of your host organisation? How is it different to work experience in Australia?
I found it super relaxed. Everyone was very casual, dressed casually, was very flexible with time (Jam Karet), and was overwhelmingly kind. It is somewhat similar to NGO’s that I’ve worked with in Australia, in that everyone cared about each others well being and there was a community aspect of it.
Q: What are the main skills you have learnt during your internship?
I have learnt a lot of language skills. I think I have learnt something of how the processes of applying for grants goes, and how the interactions between organisations especially NGO’s works.
Q: What did you find to be the most rewarding part of this experience?
The social conversations, getting to know people, getting to interact with researchers and people who are very knowledgeable in their fields, and interview the casually about their experience.
Q. Were you able to learn about the Indonesian culture from this program? If yes, how was this achieved?
So much! mostly through observation and chatting with people at the office and the ACICIS staff.
Q. How will the internship benefit or influence your future career?
I feel as though this has re-centerd me in what I want to do with my degree and how I want to contribute to the world. It has helped me decide my degree path, and my goals. I also feel as though I have a better understanding of both the privileges I have as an Australian, and also of all the ways in which Australia can improve their practices.
Q. Would you recommend this program to your friends?
Q. Favourite Indonesian word/phrase:
Belum – “not yet”. I love responding with belum, it makes me feel like there is always an opportunity to do the things I have not yet done.