MEMBER SPOTLIGHT: entrepreneur and martabak manis lover Fiona Bettesworth

Posted on 14 February, 2018

Welcome back to AIYA Member Spotlight! In this regular series, we talk to a different AIYA Member from either Indonesia or Australia to hear their story. Entrepreneur and AIYA WA member Fiona Bettesworth is our second interviewee for 2018.

Where is your day job?

I’ve just launched my own social-entrepreneurial business: Real Indonesia. We connect conscious, curious travellers to authentic travel experiences in Indonesia beyond the tourist strips of Bali. Our mission is to support local economic development and sustainable tourism while getting Australians to experience the real Indonesia; over 1 million Australians travel to Bali each year but in general Australians and Indonesians don’t really know each other. I think tourism has great power to improve the bilateral relationship at a people-to-people level.

What is your favourite place to visit in Indonesia?

This is a tough one. I, like everyone, love Jogja and I will always have a soft spot for Surabaya as that was the first place I went to beyond Bali. I’ve been to some amazing places in Indonesia, but if I could narrow it down to the top three highlights they would probably be Tangkoko National Park in Manado, Komodo Island and Lake Toba in Sumatra.

What is your favourite meal in Indonesia?

It depends what I feel like, but I love murtabak manis/terang bulan – with chocolate and no cheese! Just don’t look at how much butter/oil it’s made with…

What is your favourite word in Indonesian?

Another tough choice, but one of my favourites would be berapi-api, which translates as “fiery”. it has great imagery and I love using it in the context of when you are fired up and passionate about something.

What is your favourite Indonesian film?

I really like the Raditya Dika films, including Kambing Jantan, Koala Kumal and Single. They’re romcoms usually set in Jakarta, which are very relatable for young people.

How did you first become interested in Indonesia?

I chose to study Indonesian in high school because I had a cool Indonesian teacher and we got to go on a trip to Indonesia during school time. My high school, Tranby College, had a sister school relationship with SMAN 5 in Surabaya through the BRIDGE Program (run by the Asia Education Foundation and the Australian Government). Thanks to this program, I had the opportunity to go on exchange to Surabaya and for my Australian family to host students here in Perth.

This exposed me to the real Indonesia, which I absolutely loved, and gave me the opportunity to make some wonderful friends. That was seven years ago and I’ve been going back to Indonesia frequently ever since.

How did you first get involved with AIYA?

In 2012, I met some great people out of the University of Western Australia (UWA), where I was studying, who were talking about starting an AIYA chapter in WA. In 2013, we launched AIYA WA and I was a member of the founding committee. I’ve since had some time away from the committee but got involved again last year.

Any hopes for the bilateral relationship?

A relationship that has more ballast and goes beyond the superficial. We could work towards this by having increased understanding of history, peoples and culture on both sides. In my opinion, the first step is for Australians and Indonesians to get to know each-other – “Tak kenal, tak maka sayang”. I hope, through Real Indonesia, that Australians will take up the opportunity to explore the real Indonesia and get to know some Indonesians.

What do you like about AIYA?

In WA we have a great team and we have so much fun organising and delivering events – and we get to do some really cool stuff. For example, last year we ran a Malam Trivia and raised over $1,000 for Bamboo Micro Credit, and a few years ago we hosted the pengamen (buskers) from the documentary Jalanan at a screening of the film in Perth, and they played a live gig as part of Fringe Festival!

Sum up your experience as an AIYA member in three words.

Fun, friendly and engaging.

Subscribe to the Real Indonesia mailing list here and visit their Facebook page here.