Marsha Santoso and Albert Tjahja are on a mission to inspire youth and create social change

Driven by their vision to create a platform to share ideas and create impact, Marsha Santoso and Albert Tjahja founded the Indonesian Ideas Conference (ICON) while studying at the University of New South Wales (UNSW).

Marsha and Albert are the brains behind ICON. With diverse interests and experiences across non-profit, legal and private sector organisations Marsha and Albert had all the tools needed to make their vision a reality.

Albert Tjahja and Marsha Santoso (above) and at the Indonesian Ideas Conference, May 2017 (below).

We caught up with Marsha and Albert to talk about what they think lies ahead for Indonesia, and the role young people can play in shaping a better world.

Can you tell us how you developed the idea behind ICON?
We think there is great potential within every Indonesian person in Australia, and we wanted to find a way to help individuals to tap into their potential. So we came up with ICON.

ICON hopes to inspire all of its participants to leverage their ideas to make an impact in their lives and the world. We thought that the best way to achieve this would be through a conference-style event where we could invite prominent speakers to share their thoughts and wisdom with Australia’s Indonesian community.

Our inaugural ICON 2017 event was a great success. Students and young professionals heard first-hand what happens when individuals take a risk to disrupt norms, break the status quo, and undertake extraordinary action. We hope they left with the courage to do the same!

What lies ahead for Indonesia? What are your thoughts on Indonesia’s future and how is this reflected at ICON?

Though Indonesia’s economy has developed rapidly in the past years, Indonesia’s political and governance landscape is complex. This is one of the reasons we wanted to bring brave and inspiring Indonesians that want to make a difference in our country together. We believe in the power of ideas and impact that young Indonesians can have. Through ICON we provide a space to start to make these ideas a reality.

As the next generation of Indonesians, we want to contribute to society in every way that we can. One of the cornerstones of what we want to achieve at the University of New South Wales’ Indonesian Student Association of Australia (PPIA) is to equip Indonesian’s with the necessary tools and knowledge so they can to give back to Indonesia when they return home. We want young Indonesians to be ready to make an impact – be it in politics, business or culture.

Indonesian culture is an essential part of our history and our future. Indonesia is well known for its richness in arts and traditions, however, in an era of globalisation, it is easy for us to forget our roots. This is particularly the case for people residing outside of Indonesia. To celebrate our cultures and traditions, PPIA UNSW hosts various events including an Indonesian Night Market. We offer numerous of food stalls selling our traditional foods and both traditional and modern performances.

Where do you see ICON going in the future?
After seeing the success of ICON in 2017, we know that ICON has potential to grow. We will always strive to host an event that meets the needs of participants by exploring exciting topics and emerging trends.

At the core of ICON is the aim to share great ideas. With this goal – there are so many areas we can expand into as we touch on bigger and wider ranges of topics. We want to include new elements and widen the scale of ICON by hosting smaller events and workshops.

With a willingness to adjust and improve, ICON will no doubt continue to fulfil its vision of inspiring Indonesians living in Australia. Their next move is expanding ICON across Australia. Keep your eye on this space.

If you want to know more about ICON or the inspiring young Indonesian’s behind it at PPIA, you can find more information on their website.