By Sabutai Haider* (Virtual APP 2021)
Deakin University

Today is a bittersweet moment for me and probably for a lot of the other students here as well. It has been a wonderful journey over the past 6 weeks where we have had the opportunity to learn much about Indonesia and even Australia. Through the different seminars, lectures, virtual tours, placement and language classes, APP students have had the opportunity to connect with professionals and teachers from across the teaching and work placement spectrum.

I would like to thank the ACICIS team for organising programs that enabled us to gain first-hand knowledge of Indonesia’s agricultural sector. By learning in depth about Indonesia’s agribusiness, food science, resource management, conservation biology, environmental management, animal production and technology and forestry, we were able to understand the complexities of the agricultural industry and gain valuable insights into the relationship between Australia and Indonesia in terms of trade, commerce and business. Many of us now have a much better perspective on many of the challenges that exists within Indonesia, particularly in terms of the environment. I am also thankful for the opportunity to be able to contribute to discussions about some of these challenges with professionals from different fields of study including Consul Generals, professors and teachers and also my fellow students from across Australia.

The past few weeks have also taught me that communication is essential when two different groups of people try and connect. As such, being able to learn Bahasa Indonesia from a proper teacher (and not an app) was a great experience. It allowed us to understand not just how language could be used to bridge gaps between the two countries but also to learn the intricacies relating to modem of decorum. It was a wonderful opportunity to prepare us for eventual work opportunities in Indonesia to further the exchange of education, work capabilities and services expansion between the two neighbouring countries. Learning a new language is always challenging in the beginning but with the patience and guidance from our wonderful language tutors, many of us were able to overcome this learning curve. I was pleasantly surprised with how much I picked up over the course of the placement. Saya bisa berbicara dan menulis dalam bahasa Indonesia sekarang. Sedikit!

I am also thankful for the opportunity to be able to work with Divers Clean Action, a conservation agency close to my own heart. Personally, this was the highlight of my placement as I have always wanted to work with a grassroots organisation that is advocating for environmental change and improvement. I study Environmental Science at my home university, and it was a great opportunity for me to be able to exchange knowledge, ideas, information and opinions with an organisation that shares the same vision for the world as I do. I was also able to understand much of the work they were doing and relate it to many of the practices and challenges we, as Australians, face within our own natural spaces. I was also very happy to know that the knowledge and work experience I shared with DCA will also help align their compass of conservation a little better.

I can also talk about the networking opportunities that were available to us during this placement. However, I won’t go into much detail about this as most of us here know the importance and significance of forming professional networks in our careers. I’ll just say that for someone like me, who has been studying for a very long time and only beginning to test the employment waters, these learning opportunities are very much appreciated. I look forward to furthering these connections to try and connect the world a little better. In this regard, the Virtual Mobility Grant under the New Colombo Plan was heaven sent as I would have likely missed out on these valuable opportunities I have mentioned. Many of us are similar recipients and I hope it has been the same for you all as well.

Last but not the least at all, a massive thank you to all the working staff at ACICIS who made this possible for us. A special mention to Mas Ari and Mbak Winny, who have worked tirelessly throughout the past 6 weeks to make sure that everything went smoothly throughout our placement. I’m sure the time difference did not make it easy for you, particularly when dealing with two countries that are so spread out over geography with different time zones from Lampung, Indonesia to Sydney, Australia. It would not have been possible to keep up with so many things without your help and guidance.

So terima kasih semuanya and looking forward to connecting with you all in the future.

*This was delivered as a speech at the Virtual Practicum Program Closing Ceremony in February 2021.

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