By Shireen Thomas, 2012
Brooks High School, TAS

I feel extremely fortunate and privileged to have been part of this exciting learning opportunity provided by ACICIS. The pre-departure organisation and communication was excellent, making for a very confident beginning to the study tour.

Upon arrival in Jakarta, I was overwhelmed to find the wonderful Adit waiting for us, making the comprehensive information about securing a taxi to our hotel that had been sent prior to departure of little use!!! But what a positive beginning! Another positive beginning at Jakarta airport was the wonderful Alan (our colleague from Tasmania) discovering he was a multi millionaire after his first withdrawal from an ATM.

The welcome at our hotel was so positive with the wonderful Professor David and the amazing Dimas waiting for us and providing us with every bit of support we could possibly have asked for regarding itinerary, phone communication, emergency contacts etc. Such comprehensive support was totally unexpected.

What followed for the next two weeks was an extraordinary range of life-changing and once in a lifetime experiences that really built a rich picture of 21st century Indonesia – it’s history and its contemporary challenges. The way in which David was able to provide an encyclopaedic knowledge of this wonderful country at the drop of a hat and synthesise such complex information to suit the learning needs of the group was simply extraordinary. This was complemented by the dynamic, energetic, knowledgeable and simply brilliant Dimas. The input of local Indonesians through our engagement at universities and schools and via field trips such as Prambanan, Borobudur and the village home stay was invaluable. The field trips broadened and deepened our knowledge and understanding of the complex and contrasting nature of Indonesia today.

A highlight for me personally was the opportunity to engage with young Indonesians at UNPAR in Bandung – the generous gifts of wisdom, knowledge and open discussion that these young students gave to us were deeply appreciated. The richness of their dialogue really helped me to understand further, ways in which our two countries can potentially work together.

Another absolute highlight (if I can single any out from them all) was our homestay in the village – a totally privileged and overwhelming experience.

Similarly with our welcome and time at the BRIDGE school in Bali.

I feel guilty defining these, as every single day I would reflect on how absolutely fortunate I was to be part of the Study Tour.

The Batik and Silver workshops were beautifully timed, allowing some “down” time and fun to the final day in Yogya. It was brilliant to have some time to work with Dr. Phil King and to meet his delightful family. A true ACICIS success story!!!

Accommodation was really pleasing at all venues. For the homestay, we may need to ensure participants are well prepared with warm clothing and plenty of insect repellant. I would also recommend that for future tours there is a more explicit overview of the type of clothing required for formal occasions – Batik shirt and trousers/skirt etc. and how little people really need to take in terms of clothing. Also, despite the advice re. some of the first aid back up people should have, some participants were not necessarily well prepared – powerful pain killers, quick eze, rescue remedy etc. ( I appreciate though, how difficult it is for people who have not travelled to Indonesia or Asia before, let alone never left Australia before.)

I just loved every single minute of the tour, even the long bus rides, early morning calls and very full and long days. We had Indonesia served to us on a silver platter. Already, I am able to use my new learnings in conversations with family, friends and community members. On Wednesday, I will share at a whole school assembly, the journey I took with ACICIS. In the long term I will continue to grow my community’s Asia Literacy and hope my school will become a BRIDGE school with another in Indonesia in the next round of AEF allocations.

I am continuing to reflect on how I can possibly give back to ACICIS in thanks for the gifts and opportunities they have given me.

I have made friendships that will last a lifetime and learned so much.