By Inga Mueller* (Virtual APP 2021)
The Australian National University
As many of you remember, the course started off under unique circumstances. At the time, both Bali and Java, as well as most major Australian cities, went into lockdown, my suburb in Sydney included. As we commenced our intensive and interesting seminars, language classes, tutorials and virtual field trips, I found myself enjoying my daily ‘journeys to Indonesia’, where we were all in a virtual classroom, learning and exchanging knowledge and making the best of this unique opportunity. Having this solidarity was a huge reminder of the value of looking to and learning from other cultures. Particularly in a time where one’s immediate surroundings almost become one’s entire life, taking part in this space for intercultural learning and discovery provided me with a sense of hope and a positive outlook for the future. I am grateful for the New Colombo Plan mobility grant for supporting me with this.
Some of the topics covered by the Agricultural Professional Practicum group included Indonesia’s history, giving context to political changes and lawmaking today, food safety standards, agricultural logistics and understanding the challenges and opportunities of Indonesia’s food systems today. We were incredibly lucky to be able to interact with a wide variety of notable and knowledgeable experts. Learning more broadly about this incredibly diverse and dynamic sovereign nation, then coupling this with professional work experience really allowed us to see how these challenges impact people’s everyday lives and the running of organisations and businesses.
My placement organisation, IDEP Foundation, particularly showed me how knowledge and guidance to communities fosters resilience and can improve people’s livelihoods through permaculture education and disaster response. I would like to thank IDEP Foundation for welcoming me so warmly and for giving me the opportunity to be part of the team. In my time there, I have come to admire the continuing work they do to improve livelihoods, despite challenges and burdens imposed on communities by natural disasters, increasing impacts of climate change and the additional burden of COVID-19 impacts. The work they do provides so much hope and its amazing to see the positive work that they do.
On behalf of APP and BPP students, I would like to thank ACICIS teaching staff and everyone who has worked behind the scenes to foster these opportunities for us. Through this, we have found a friendly learning community, even if we are spread across the globe, from Australia, Indonesia and even the Philippines. Terima kasih banyak also to our host organisations and mentors, we are so grateful for your guidance and the time you have spent to impart your knowledge on us.
Once international borders open up again, I’m sure Indonesia will be the first stop for many of us. But for now, travelling virtually has been a wonderful and hugely enriching experience.
Terima kasih banyak!
*This was delivered as a speech at the Virtual Practicum Program Closing Ceremony in September 2021.