Indonesia-Australia Grass-Roots Relationship Building

My name is Lili, and I am a student of the University of Nusa Cendana (UNDANA).

Firstly, I would like to thank the director of the UniBRIDGE Project, Chris Hall, for granting me the UniBRIDGE Project scholarship in 2017 and giving me this wonderful opportunity to visit Australia for 15 days.

UniBRIDGE Project is a program that aims to connect students from Australia and Indonesia together in order to facilitate mutual cultural understanding and language exchanges. I first joined the UniBRIDGE Project back in 2014, hoping to learn and greatly improve my English skills, and meet many new friends.

Over the last 3 years, speaking with Australians, via the UniBRIDGE web-conferencing rooms, has greatly helped with my English abilities as well as my knowledge of Australian culture and politics. Some of my friends from Australian even helped me with my biology assignments regarding the environment. I'm proud of myself to be able to be presented with many opportunities to do public speaking during many of these sessions.

In July, I was really excited to be informed that I was awarded the scholarship, along with Rezkhy, knowing that I can finally meet some of the many friends that I have been working with for several years in person, and that I would be travelling to Sydney, Queensland, and Perth. Upon hearing this, I felt that this was the best thing that has ever happened to me.

On the morning of the 17th of October 2017, we arrived in Sydney, Australia. During our stay in Sydney, we met many of our friends that we had been working with for a long time via the UniBRIDGE online platform. We also had the opportunity to join the students studying Indonesian in their class at the University of Sydney, where we got to know each other and discussed topics related to Indonesian culture, modern society, and the traditional and modern ways of preserving and packaging food products. We also had the opportunity to meet with some of UniBRIDGE Project participants, mentors and other members of the team from Sydney during a meet up at the Forest Lodge Hotel, where we shared many stories and laughs. Other than that, I had a lot of fun visiting various places around Sydney, including Somersby Falls, the Sydney Opera House, the Royal Botanic Gardens, Manly Beach, Coogee Beach, and the Sydney Tower Eye. As a biology student, visiting the Royal Botanic Gardens was very special to me, as I got to see many types of plants and in particular, ferns.

Sydney University Quad UniBRIDGE

On 22nd of October, we left Sydney for Sunshine Coast, Queensland. Over there, we visited several universities, including the Queensland University of Technology and the University of Sunshine Coast. At the University of Sunshine Coast, we attended two Indonesian classes of different levels, each lead by Pak Richard Curtis and Ibu Enda respectively. Within these classes, we listened to the lecture on how to make sentences in a mother tongue of Indonesia, learned about Nepalese and Japanese cultures from two of the students in the Indonesian language, and the history of Indonesia before independence was attained. My colleague and I then followed up by giving a presentation about Indonesian culture. We talked about the traditional houses of the Timor Island where the walls are made from Bamboo and the roof made from cogon grass, the traditional foods of Kupang such as jagung bose, the traditional stoneware used for cooking, and traditional musical instrument Sasando and how its made and the materials involved.

In addition, we also visited St. Thomas Moore elementary school, where we had the opportunity to meet approximately 120 children there. Within the classes, Rezkhy talked about the Flores Island, and I talked about Timor Island. Within these presentations, we spoke about our traditional foods, tourist attractions, traditional songs, and traditional houses. We also visited some of the beautiful places within Queensland, including Brisbane, Mount Coolum, Noosa National Park, James M McKane Memorial Lookout, and the Ginger Factory.

On the 25th of October, we attended a UniBRIDGE Project meet-&-greet event with Australia-Indonesia Youth Association (AIYA), held at Augello's, Mooloolaba, where we got to know each other better and further enhance our relationships with one another. I'm glad that we could meet with the members of AIYA, be able to chat, and exchange with each other knowledge and information of both Indonesia and Australia.

On the 28th of October, we left for Perth, Western Australia. During our final 3 days in Australia, we attended Pak Irianto's Indonesian class at Murdoch University. Before we attended the class, Pak Irianto gave us a tour of the learning management system (LMS) used by both students and staff for their day to day activities within the University. Learning about the LMS has been fascinating to me, as this is different from UNDANA where we do not have such facilities. Personally I believe that having such a facility is very beneficial to students as it will enable students to undertake distance education, and that learning will no longer be limited to those who are able to attend classes in person. We also watched Pak Iritanto demonstrate how he prepares lessons in the LMS, including creating lecture recordings and gathering other learning materials such as worksheets. We then visited the library, which is once again quite different from UNDANA, where the library at Murdoch has different sections including social areas, computer labs, and silent reading areas, whereas in UNDANA it is only a silent area with plenty of books. After visiting the library, we met the president of AIYA WA and some of the members for a visit to the atomic laboratory where I got to see many things that are related to my Biology studies, before finishing the day off by sharing a lunch. We also explored the John Forest National Park, King's Park and the market to finish our trip in Australia.

On the 31st of October, we returned to Indonesia.

For those who are learning English, I hope that all of my friends in Indonesia and Nusa Tenggara Timor will have great dreams of going to wherever we can go, as long as they try, and hope they join the great community which can help them to reach their goals. For students of UNDANA, I hope everyone uses this opportunity to join UniBRIDGE Project so that we can all improve our skills. Who knows, perhaps it could be YOU who gets awarded and has the opportunity to visit Australia.

For the people of Nusa Tenggara Timor, the advice for if they want to go to the Australia, the first thing that you have to do is to prepare your travel documentation, and that involves applying for a passport in order to travel and a visa to enter Australia. A big thanks to UniBRIDGE Project and UNDANA for assisting with the preparation for this trip and to the many people who helped me fill out the documentation required for this trip to occur.

Finally, I wish to thank God, my family, and all my friends who have supported me over many years, and a very special thanks to UniBRIDGE Project for giving me the opportunity to visit and study in Australia.

UniBRIDGE Project is supported by the Australian Government through the Australia-Indonesia Institute of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade