Member Spotlight: Balinese dancer, teacher and arts enthusiast Jane Ahlstrand

AIYA member Jane Ahlstrand has a prolific record of Indonesia engagement. From performing and teaching Balinese dance to appearing on Indonesian television, she has been an avid advocate of cultural engagement and shows no signs of stopping. (She’s even authored a few articles for us at the Blog!) Jane spoke to AIYA about her fascinating experiences in the Australia-Indonesia space.

What brought you to engage with Indonesia? What do you enjoy most about the country?

Jane at the IndOz Festival in Brisbane.

Although my primary school offered me my first exposure to Indonesia through weekly Indonesian classes, only through actual direct contact with Indonesia did I come to recognise its true appeal. That moment of realisation happened when I was 16 back in 1998. My family saved up for our first trip overseas to Bali. It was definitely a big deal for us back then.

When we arrived in Bali and breathed in the balmy, tropical night air, I was just blown away by how different and beautiful Bali was. Coming from a tiny country town meant that I had very limited exposure to other cultures so a trip to Bali really opened my eyes. I also realised that the bits and pieces of Indonesian I had learned in primary school were in fact useful and worth cultivating.

Oh, and I had the chance to see Balinese dance for the first time. I was just riveted by the dancers’ wonderful expressions, movements and costumes. At the time, I only saw myself as a foreign tourist but did have a small hope that I would step out of that box one day and truly get to know Bali.

After that, I was motivated to study Indonesian at university. At uni, I made lots of Indonesian friends, most of whom happened to be Chinese Indonesians at the time because they fled the violence of 1998. For me, it was really interesting but also saddening to hear their stories of life in Indonesia as a minority. I also made a trip back to Indonesia in 2001 and travelled across Java by bus, train, taxi, motorbike, becak and bajaj. I felt so alive! I have a clear memory sitting on the back of a motorbike riding through the electric green rice fields outside of Jogja and being overwhelmed by happiness. By then, my Indonesian was much better and I was able to interact freely with the locals.

After graduating, sadly, work took me in a different direction. I ended up living in Korea and studying Korean for a while. I also worked with the Queensland Government developing the International Student Program and my Korean language skills were put to the test there. After a while, Indonesia called my name. Especially Bali. I investigated some options for returning to Indonesia.

Since 2011, my life has been Indonesia-focused.

How did you come to perform Balinese dance? What’s the best part?

In 2011 I enrolled in the Darmasiswa culture and arts scholarship program offered by the Indonesian Ministry of Education and Culture. I studied Balinese dance at the Indonesian Institute of Arts in Denpasar, Bali. My Indonesian language skills really helped me in making friends and understanding the dance.

Even though my stiff bule body did not want to cooperate much at first. Since then, I was determined to master this ridiculously difficult art form. Learning it as a foreigner and an adult certainly made it a challenge. Most Balinese learn it from when they are very young and their bodies move naturally into the right position. For me, I had to force it until it also became natural.

 

The best part is actually the build up to the performance. All the hard work and practice along with the big expectations for the event. The event itself is always a challenge because I have to do the makeup and costuming, usually not only for myself but for my students. I love teaching and sharing the love of dance but it takes many years to master its various aspects of the dance, including the intricacies of the costume and makeup. I feel a lot of pressure to get things done on time. It takes over an hour to do the costume and makeup for one person. Some nights before a big performance, I can’t sleep because I worry about all the things I have to do the next day.

Tell us about your NAILA experience in 2015?

I was so thrilled to win the Wildcard category for NAILA. I think because I picked Balinese dance as my topic, I just had to do a good job. My speech was almost like a performance and I was very passionate about sharing my knowledge of Balinese dance with the audience. Thankfully, other people appreciated it. I memorised the speech and when I delivered it on the night of the event, it was almost like an out of body experience for me. That night, I was too excited to go to sleep afterwards. What a rush! I am so thankful to the team at NAILA for putting together such a fantastic event and giving us the chance to put our language skills to the test.

How about CAUSINDY 2016?

CAUSINDY was great. It was held in Bali so that was a real bonus! I suppose I was selected because of my identity as a budayawan. Many of the other participants came from professional backgrounds and I must admit, I felt a bit odd and lacked self-confidence. Nevertheless, at the conference we were given the task of developing a potential project that would help strengthen the bilateral relationship and that’s when I felt I could offer something useful.

I was placed in a group of others who also recognised the value of cultural engagement. We came up with the idea of a website that showcases engagement between our two nations through the arts while also giving artists a voice and the recognition they deserve. We all agreed that the arts sometimes gets overlooked and undervalued when in fact it is a fantastic resource for building friendship and communicating ideas.

Jane at CAUSINDY.

What is JembARTan?

So, JembARTan is the name of the blog that was launched following the conference. My friend John Cheong Holdaway (NAILA winner and CAUSINDY delegate) came up with the beautiful name. He is really clever. He also set up a basic WordPress blog. Then I just started writing. I have quite a few friends who are active in the arts, so it wasn’t too hard to find some interesting subjects for the blog. After a while, I had written quite a few posts and then JembARTan sort of just ended up becoming my pet project. I started writing mainly in Indonesian, and the articles were then published by ABC Australia Plus Indonesia as well as several leading Indonesian news media outlets. I was quite satisfied to know that my Indonesian writing skills were good enough to make it into the local Indonesian media.

Then, the team at CAUSINDY showed their interest in developing JembARTan further. We now have funding from telkomtelstra (a joint Indonesian-Australian telecommunications company) to create a spiffy new website and also engage in more interviews with cool artists. I also have a new member, Freya Gaunt, who is helping me to write new articles and expand JembARTan.

Where do you see the Australia-Indonesia relationship heading in the future?

I’m really depressed about the low level of enrolment in Indonesian language subjects at the high school and tertiary level. It’s honestly shocking and worrying. I really wish that universities would do more to encourage student interest in the program rather than just letting it die off. I know that universities are profit-driven but they also have a broader duty as educational institutions to contribute to Australia’s role in the Asia-Pacific region.

What’s your next move?

I have to finish my PhD! I am actually getting really close to my deadline and things are looking very precarious for me at the moment. It was my dream to become an academic, but I feel that I might be more interested in a more exciting life, particularly in the media. I have done a bit of television work with NET.TV Indonesia, and it really gives me a rush to participate in news production. I am also trying to learn to sing so I can pursue a career as a dangdut singer and tour around Indonesia. Hahaha. Just kidding (?).

A big thanks to Jane for her time and her support of the Australia-Indonesia cultural canvas. Read all of her submissions for the AIYA Blog here.

Foster your passion for Indonesia with language skills, says career champion Jeffrey Neilson

“When a local Dayak leader started negotiations by laying his sword on the table between us, I decided it was time to leave.”

The Australia Indonesia Awards celebrate the contributions of those who provide inspiration and enhance understanding between Australians and Indonesians. AIYA is chronicling the achievements of these Career Champions in a series of interviews with this year’s finalists. Today we hear from Dr Jeffrey Neilson, researcher and senior lecturer at the University of Sydney.

Tell us a little about your early career. What brought you to connect with Indonesia?

Jeffrey at the Ubud Food Festival in 2016.

I started studying Indonesian at high school in Australia, and first got excited about Indonesia during a field school that my school organised to Bali in 1989. After a few backpacking trips across Sumatra, I then picked up Indonesian language again at university, where I was studying Environmental Science as my main degree.

I participated in semester-long program at Universitas Indonesia in 1994, where we sat in on Indonesian literature classes and did an internship with a World Bank Land Administration project. My first exposure to research was a study on how land administration and titling might affect Dayak communities in the Meratus Mountains of South Kalimantan, who were practicing swidden agriculture.

I decided to stay on in Indonesia after the semester program once I found a job with an environmental consulting firm in Jakarta. It was my language skills that got me this job. I would translate reports and Indonesian laws for the company while developing skills in environmental and social impact assessment. For the next few years, while I completed my degrees in Australia, the company would fly me up to Jakarta to work during university breaks.

Like so many other people I know, I got my first professional job because of my Indonesian language skills.

Tell us about your current occupation.

After graduating, I worked from 1999-2001 on a gold mine in Central Kalimantan. This was a very tense work environment as both the Australian company, who held a Contract of Work with the government, and a community of some 5000 small-scale miners were equally intent to access the ore. It was my role to mediate. When a local Dayak leader started a negotiation meeting by laying his Mandau sword on the table between us, I decided it was time to leave the mine.

I enrolled in a PhD program in geography at the University of Sydney, where I studied livelihoods and the coffee trade in the Toraja region of Sulawesi. This led to an Australian Research Council postdoc and then a lecturing position at the University of Sydney. Again, I believe that my Indonesian experience was a key factor in my employment. I continue to do research on rural development, natural resources and global markets in Indonesia.

In addition to research activities, I also design and develop opportunities for undergraduate students to experience Indonesia through short-term field schools and semester-long learning programs that combine language learning with geography. I am a big believer that language learning should ideally be combined with other disciplinary specific or technical knowledge and skills.

What do you enjoy the most about working in Indonesia?

I love the natural beauty and cultural diversity of Indonesia – in short, the geography of the country. The mountainous regions of Sumatra, Sulawesi and Papua are particularly favourite places. Australia has great beaches (like Indonesia), but we don’t have the same mountainous beauty that Indonesia has, and the mountain peaks are themselves so different from the sweltering coastal plains where most Indonesians live. Fortunately, my work on the Indonesian coffee sector takes me to these same mountainous regions.

What are your thoughts on the future of the Australian-Indonesian relationship in the field of resources?

There are some interesting complementarities between Australia and Indonesia in the food and agricultural sectors. We generally produce food items that the other country doesn’t produce, allowing a robust trade. Indonesia is developing a sophisticated food processing sector, and Australia is benefiting from the supply of raw materials – just think of the Australia wheat used to make Indomie, which is then exported all around the world.

And Australia has one of the most dynamic and innovative specialty coffee sectors in the world. Australian coffee styles are now being adopted in the US, Europe and across Asia (including in Indonesia). Some interesting relationships are now developing between Australian roasters and the many regions of Indonesia that produce high quality Arabica. I’d love to see these complementarities further developed, and to see more Indonesian culinary influence in Australia.

What advice would you offer to youth interested in working in resources?

The only bit of advice I would give is to follow whatever it is you are passionate about. Indonesia offers so many opportunities for young Australians who have language skills, who are willing to learn about the society and culture, and who have a particular passion they would like to follow.

AIYA would like to thank both Jeffrey and the President of the Australia Indonesia Association of NSW, Eric de Haas. You can find Jeffrey on LinkedIn.

Career Champion: language lover Ochie Chandra DeMeulenaere

The Australia Indonesia Awards celebrate the contributions of those who provide inspiration and enhance understanding between Australians and Indonesians. AIYA is chronicling the achievements of these Career Champions in a series of interviews with this year’s finalists and winners. Ochie Chandra DeMeulenaere, a finalist in the tourism/travel category, is this week’s interviewee.

Tell us a little about your career.

I was born and raised in Padang, West Sumatra. I studied English Literature at Andalas University, Padang. At that time, my dream was to work equally to men. My professor, Ibu Diah, taught me lots about feminism and women’s empowerment. I left my hometown after I graduated and started to work in advertising companies in Jakarta.

After a few years of working to deadlines, I applied to become a lecturer at the Bina Nusantara University (BINUS), to teach advertising and English. This was my chance to learn about writing for curriculum, syllabus and teaching plans. I learned about organizing classes and and learned what was effective.

After six years living in Jakarta, I left for Bali and started working at Ubud Writers and Readers Festival in 2010. The next year, my husband Stephen and I founded Cinta Bahasa, an Indonesian language school. Stephen taught me lots about business and my experience working at advertising agencies and university helped a lot in preparing learning materials for the school and organizing almost 200 hundred volunteers for the UWRF.

What brought you to connect with Australia?

We had Australian Studies and Australian events in my university, but that was all. After I moved to Bali, I met more Australians who visited or lived in Bali. They loved Indonesia and they wanted to learn more about Indonesia. They helped me to understand Australia better. Most of our students in the first year Cinta Bahasa was opened were Australians. Some of them started learning from zero and some of them already spoke some Indonesian!

Tell us about your current occupation.

I’m the Co-Founder of Cinta Bahasa Indonesian Language School and from 2010, the Volunteer Coordinator at the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival and the Ubud Food Festival.

How did you find your current job?

I created my current job. When I first moved to Bali, I was expecting a more integrated community of expats and Indonesians like I have seen in Jakarta, Yogyakarta and Bandung. My husband and I realized that expats needed a place where they can learn Indonesian language and to communicate and interact better with the locals. We started with just one teacher in an occasionally-rented room in a local college to test our teaching methodologies and our unusual concept of a formal school starting by teaching informal language, and grew from there.

I think we’re successful because most people learn Indonesian language with the goal that they will need to be able to use it. It wasn’t too hard for us to come up with the name for our school, Cinta Bahasa, because we knew that a method that taught people to love (cinta) speaking Indonesian language first was the right method.

We were afraid that institutions would avoid learning with us because they probably only want to be able to speak formal Indonesian with each other, but we were wrong, they also want to be able to speak to people’s hearts and not just their minds, and so we’ve had clients like the US Army and Marines Indonesian language specialists, Australian Consulate in Bali and many other government, embassy and corporate clients.

What do you enjoy the most about working in relation to Indonesia?

When I visited Australia, I was moved by students and teachers who were learning Indonesian at their school or taking private tuition. Some of them speak some Indonesian and have visited Indonesia at least once. When Cinta Bahasa opened in Ubud, we received many Australian students and some of them have become my good friends. They are kind and generous people, they’ve showed me how important Indonesian culture and language are to them. I really like that Australians, like my Canadian husband, are very practical-minded, down-to-earth and ready to lend a hand and cooperate.

What are your thoughts on the future of the Australian-Indonesian relationship in the field of tourism/travel?

The Indonesian government is trying to attract more and more Australian tourists every year. Many Indonesians are also traveling to Australia just to visit or to study to expand their experience and perception, and improve their skills. There are more and more friendships built between Australians and Indonesian both in here and in Australia. To support this grassroots effort, the Australian Government should make it easier and cheaper for Indonesians to get a visa to enter Australia.

Also, I think Indonesia, or Bali in particular, needs to educate people who work in the tourism sector to make sure that tourists respect the local culture and people, in how they dress in public and their behaviour. Indonesians also need more training on how to deliver a high-quality experience.

What advice would you offer to youth interested in tourism/travel?

For Australians I would recommend they make the effort to learn the language and culture and adjust themselves to living as Indonesians do. Make friends with locals because this is very valuable. Learn to ride a motorcycle in Australia and get licenced before you come to Indonesia. If you ever need to drive or ride on the back of a motorbike, be sure you wear helmet at all times.

For Indonesians I would recommend they also make the effort to learn English and educate and adjust themselves to living as Australians do. I think it’s important to experience living as other people do, rather than to make judgments about it. A lot of Indonesians think that every thing in Australia is expensive, but actually if you pay attention, you will find many ways to reduce the cost of living to the point that it can be affordable for young Indonesians to visit Australia.

What does the future hold?

I’m in this for the long-term, and I will keep trying different things until I’ve found a formula for success. I have visited different parts of Australia and I’m looking for more opportunities to visit the parts I haven’t been to yet, such as Melbourne and Brisbane to meet with students and teachers at schools and universities there. It’s not only about business, I also want to see the area and make friends, so we make time to meet with clubs and catch up with acquaintances and friends.

We would like to thank both Ochie and the President of the Australia Indonesia Association of NSW, Eric de Haas. You can find Ochie (ochie@cintabahasa.com) on Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.

Career Champion: cricket enthusiast Bruce Christie

The Australia Indonesia Awards celebrate the contributions of those who provide inspiration and enhance understanding between Australians and Indonesians. AIYA is chronicling the achievements of these Career Champions in a series of interviews with this year’s finalists. Bruce Christie, a proponent of cricket in Eastern Indonesia, is this week’s interviewee.

Photo: Bruce Christie

Tell us a little about your early career.

I studied Veterinary Science at the University of Queensland, living at International House in St Lucia. I worked in private veterinary practices in Gympie and Caboolture before beginning work with the NSW government in 1982.

I was appointed to the position of Australian Animal Health Advisor with the Eastern Islands Veterinary Services Project, an AusAID/GOI project from 1989 to 1992, and returned as the Project Leader for the second phase from 1995 to 1998. I was based in Kupang, NTT.

I was appointed the NSW Chief Veterinary Officer in 2002 and now hold the position of Deputy Director General Biosecurity and Food Safety within the NSW Department of Primary Industries.

What brought you to connect with Indonesia?

In 1989 I applied for a position with the Eastern Islands Veterinary Services Project (EIVSP). I was successful and moved to Kupang, East Nusa Tenggara, for three years. I then returned frequently to Indonesia on short-term assignments for the same project before returning again as team leader in 1995. Following my return to Australia in 1998 I continued to work in Indonesia through projects with the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR).

It was during our second term in Indonesia that I started to teach young Indonesians to play cricket. Working with the Nusa Tenggara Timur Cricket Club, we picked five of the best players to participate in a cricket tour to Bali to challenge the Bali International Cricket Club. To cut a long story short, we lost but were competitive. The group (consisting of Soni Hawoe, Melvin Ndoen, Yeri Rosongna, Bernadus Bena and Zack Awang) went on to become the founding members of Indonesian cricket. Soni, for example, is now General Manager for Persatuan Cricket Indonesia (PCI) and the others are still employed by PCI and the International Cricket Council (ICC).

Since 2014 we’ve had some great success in reinvigorating cricket in NTT. We’ve taught cricket to many children at primary and secondary schools and at universities as well as other young adults. The NTT men’s team recently came third at the Indonesian national games, PON 2016. This was the first time that cricket had been included in PON and the first time an NTT team has won a medal at PON. So unusual was this that the Governor of NTT gave each of the cricketers a house!

I believe that sport provides many opportunities for cross-cultural exchange and socio-economic development and we have already demonstrated proof of this. Our original group are good examples. They all have jobs and families, and they have been to many different countries as a result of playing in or managing cricket teams. They have also passed their knowledge on to another generation of Indonesians who are now paid to play and participate in the management of cricket, all of whom believe in the importance of Australia and Indonesia being friends.

Read more about our plan for cricket in the region on the NTTCC website.

Tell us about your current occupation.

I am the Deputy Director General Biosecurity and Food Safety with the NSW Department of Primary Industries. Biosecurity is all about protecting our economy, environment and community from pests, diseases and weeds and food safety is about protecting people from food related illnesses, both of which and are extremely important in both Australia and Indonesia.

I was very lucky to live and work in Indonesia, particularly eastern Indonesia, for over 10 years. During that time I made many friends and hope I was able to help some of the people of Indonesia, by working in my professional capacity with Indonesian government officials and farmers to help develop their livestock production systems and in my private capacity to develop cricket.

I am also very grateful to Indonesia for what I learned while I was there as it has helped me in both my career and life in general. The skills I learned are many and include: learning a new language, learning to see life from different perspectives, to understand what it’s like to be a minority, and to manage projects and to deliver outcomes, sometimes in difficult situations.

Photo: NTTCC website

What do you enjoy the most about working in Indonesia?

My Indonesian friends, the variety of cultures that exist in Indonesia in relative harmony, singing Indonesian love songs at karaoke, Indonesian food, the variety of different environments that exist across Indonesia, the surf, fishing and snorkelling.

What are your thoughts on the future of the Australian-Indonesian relationship in sport?

Sport offers a great way to improve cross cultural awareness between our countries and within each country as well as providing socio-economic benefits to those who participate.

Cricket is an international game, played across the world. This opens up opportunities for players to travel the world and to see how others live. It teaches individuals physical skills that can help to keep both children and adults healthy. It teaches skills that are applicable to life in general, such as living and working within a set of rules that apply to everyone. It teaches respect for the law and the umpire. It teaches teamwork as well as praising individual effort. It teaches respect within a team and between teams. It teaches religious tolerance and it offers the opportunity for raising socio-economic levels within communities.

What advice would you offer to youth interested in working in sport?

If you get the opportunity to travel or live and work in another country, grab it with both hands and make the most of it.

Go with an open mind and heart. Learn what makes us similar but also recognise and learn to understand the differences that exist. Being different isn’t wrong, it’s just different. No one has the answer for everything and there are usually a number of different ways of doing things.

Travel! See as much as you can while you are there and make sure you keep in touch with the friends that you make when you return. Be generous. You are in a very privileged position being able to spend some time in a foreign country. Be respectful of the cultures you visit. Try new things and have fun.

We would like to thank both Bruce and the President of the Australia Indonesia Association of NSW, Eric de Haas. You can email Bruce at vbchristie@gmail.com, and find out more about the Nusa Tenggara Timur Cricket Club at nttcricket.com.

Career Champion: professional footballer Robbie Gaspar

The Australia Indonesia Awards celebrate the contributions of those who provide inspiration and enhance understanding between Australians and Indonesians. AIYA is chronicling the achievements of these Career Champions in a series of interviews with this year’s finalists and winners. This week’s second interview is with professional footballer Robbie Gaspar.

Tell us a little about your career.

I played professional football for about 14 years throughout Australia, Europe and Asia. Most of my time was spent playing in Indonesia for about seven years. I retired from professional football in early 2013 and decided to head back to university, where I am currently completing a Bachelor of Business majoring in accounting and Indonesian. I also work for the Professional Footballers Australia as a Player Development Manager and as an advisor to FIFPro

Photo: Robbie Gaspar

Asia, which is the World Players Union for professional footballers. My work for FIFPro Asia is mostly Indonesia-, Malaysia- and Singapore-focused.

What brought you to connect with Indonesia?

Prior to moving to Indonesia in 2005 to play football, I had never been to Indonesia and never really had much experience with Indonesia. I had a few Indonesian friends but did not know too much about Indonesia in general. Back in 2004 I finished my contract in Malaysia and I was looking for a new club when my coach contacted me and said that a club in Indonesia was keen to sign me. I thought, “Why not? I will give it go,” as I had nothing to lose. I enjoyed my time so much in Indonesia that I left at the end of 2012. I had many offers to leave Indonesia to play elsewhere but I enjoyed my time so much living and playing in Indonesia that I decided to stay put.

Tell us about your current occupation.

I am currently a Player Development Manager with the Professional Footballers Australia (PFA) and also an Advisor to FIFPro Asia. My experiences and relationships built over the seven years have helped me tremendously with my work with both the PFA and FIFPro Asia. An example is that during my time in Indonesia I learnt how to speak Bahasa Indonesia and this is invaluable when I travel to Indonesia and Malaysia for FIFPro Asia.

How did you find your current job?

The opportunity to work with FIFPro came up in 2013 when the former Chairman of the PFA and FIFPro Asia and current UNI World Athletes Executive Director Brendan Schwab asked whether I would like to help with the restart of the Malaysian Players Union, which had been dormant for the past two years. I jumped at the chance, as I am extremely passionate about and advocating for player’s rights. Within six months the union was back up and running and continuing to go from strength to strength. The reasons why I was successful in getting the position was first and foremost because I am extremely passionate about protecting and advocating for rights of players, and secondly because my experiences in Malaysia and Indonesia and relationships with the players there help me to achieve this.

What do you enjoy the most — and least — about working in relation to Indonesia?

What did I enjoy the most about Indonesia? I enjoyed being able to do something I love in front of massive crowds day in, day out. Indonesians live, eat and breathe football and until you experience it you can’t believe it. What I didn’t enjoy and do not miss is the long travel by either planes or buses. Travelling from one end of Indonesia to

Photo: Robbie Gaspar

another and then having to play and then travel again, and back up three days later in the heat and humidity for another game is not easy.

What are your thoughts on the future of the Australian-Indonesian relationship in the field of sport?

Being a former professional sportsman I am a big advocator of sports diplomacy and it is great to see that the Australian Government released a sports diplomacy strategy in 2015. There is so much potential to build on the bilateral relationship through sport. Australians and Indonesians are so similar that we are both so passionate about our sports. I feel through sports, especially football or soccer, we can build those people-to-people links and maintain and strengthen cultural relations which are so important to the relationship.

What advice would you offer to youth interested in sport?

For Australians, do you research first before you head to Indonesia. Importantly, be humble and respectful and make a conscious effort to try learning the language as soon as you can.

Given the opportunity again, what would you do differently?

I loved my time in Indonesia and I am the person I am today due to my experiences there, so I wouldn’t want to change anything.

We would like to thank both Robbie and the President of the Australia Indonesia Association of NSW, Eric de Haas. You can find Robbie on Twitter and LindkedIn.

Career Champion: resources specialist Mark Pillsworth

The Australia Indonesia Awards celebrate the contributions of those who provide inspiration and enhance understanding between Australians and Indonesians. AIYA is chronicling the achievements of these Career Champions in a series of interviews with this year’s finalists and winners. This week’s first interviewee is resources specialist Mark Pillsworth.

Tell us a little about your early career.

I left high school early to pursue a small business career, but was not always successful. After my second major failure as a business owner over an eight year period, I decided that I wasn’t very good at business and returned to night school to attain my adult matriculation to gain access to the University of Queensland. I had always had an ambition to be a zoologist or marine biologist and at 22 this was the time to give it a go.

Mark in the Segara Anakan villages meeting with government and village representatives. Photo: Mark Pillsworth

What brought you to connect with Indonesia?

Indonesia was a largely unknown quantity in the 1970s, and stories of journalists being murdered by militia were included in the big stories at that time in Australia. Some talk of holidaying on Bali was emerging, but there was no talk of working there. Having said that, from a marine science perspective, the species associations of the Indo-West Pacific were well known, and when working with CSIRO in Torres Strait, it was a case of “Indo is over there…” My dive buddy and fellow research scientist at CSIRO then went to Ambon to map marine habitat and I visited him in 1991… my first travel to Indonesia.

Tell us about your current occupation.

I have my own consulting company and am registered as a Specialist – Impact Assessment with the EIANZ. My first post-doctoral position was Environmental Manager for the Port of Brisbane (1990 – 1993) and I then performed the Baseline Studies for the relocation of the port from the river wharves to the Fisherman Islands. These studies for a seaport were a first Australia-wide and gave me knowledge and skills which were readily applicable in major coastal infrastructure development and mitigation of impact on an international scale.

With further input to the Segara Anakan Conservation and Development Project in Java (1998–2005), and then working on land reclamation in Segara Anakan with the NGO YSBS, and marrying a girl from Yogyakarta in 2005, my life is between Indonesia and Australia and I call them both my home.

I currently act as environmental advisor to YSBS chairman Father Charlie Burrows as we transform the waterlogged areas in the Segara Anakan Lagoon to productive agricultural land and given food security and wealth to around 16,000 previously very poor villagers. Previous extensive fisheries studies now underpin fisheries conservation in the wetlands that will remain after the final reclamation configuration has been achieved.

Father Charlie, Mark and his wife Lusi meeting with the dusun kepala of Pelindukan. Photo: Mark Pillsworth

Working with such a dynamic personality as Fr Charlie has been a highlight of my professional career, and his close relationship with all people of Segara Anakan and Cilicap in Central Java has proven what can be achieved when the community takes ownership of a project.

How did you find your current job?

I made my own position in a small but highly specialised consultancy where I contracted my past professors who were nearing retirement. The results of combining my commercial and industrial experience with their specialisations led to some spectacular success.

What do you enjoy the most — and least — about working in relation to Indonesia?

I think that the overwhelming aspect is the cultural difference, which are sometimes a lot of fun, and at other times the cause of frustration. But this is always highly rewarding in a professional sense.

What are your thoughts on the future of the Australian-Indonesian relationship in the field of resources?

At this juncture, it is very much an export of Australian science and management systems in near coastal environments to Indonesia – but that situation is rapidly changing. As I have said, we are part of the Indo-West Pacific bioregion and Australia must be thought of as an integral part of the Indonesian archipelago with specific reference to conservation and fisheries management.

What advice would you offer to youth interested in working in resources?

Take any opportunity that comes your way! Do your own research, don’t take unnecessary risks, and make some key affiliations – including with universities. You will be well rewarded for life.

Given the opportunity again, what would you do differently?

There is a popular song called “Cast Your Fate to the Wind”, and when coupled with hard work and a thirst for knowledge (and some adventure), such advice can most surely can lead to a very satisfying life. I am at the stage where I am becoming retrospective… and I have few regrets of consequence. Life is a journey that starts with the first step. I doubt if I would do anything differently. What would it achieve?

We would like to thank both Mark and the President of the Australia Indonesia Association of NSW, Eric de Haas. If you wish to email Mark, you can do so here: mpillsworth@westnet.com.au.

Career Champion: sports consultant Paul Mead

The Australia Indonesia Awards celebrate the contributions of those who provide inspiration and enhance understanding between Australians and Indonesians. AIYA is chronicling the achievements of these Career Champions in a series of interviews with this year’s finalists and winners. Today we hear from sports enthusiast and consultant Paul Mead.

Source: Twitter

AIYA: Tell us a little about your career.

PAUL: I spent eleven years in the New Zealand Army as an Engineer Officer. I spent a lot of time serving overseas, including in Vanuatu, Lebanon, Afghanistan and Timor-Leste. Through my time overseas I gained a great deal of understanding on working effectively with people from different cultures. I learnt the challenges of trying to achieve a common understanding through language barriers, but also the shared understanding of success.

Upon leaving the Army I became a teacher and then worked in the sport industry. Both career changes have been focused on helping people learn and bringing people together.

What brought you to connect with Indonesia?

My connection with Indonesia was more recent. Living in Darwin since 2010, Indonesia is literally on our back doorstep. Our family has had many trips to Bali and this introduced me to the Indonesian people and language. I know that many Indonesians will say that Bali is not a true reflection of the rest of Indonesia, but I do know that it helped me reconnect with my love of working with different cultures.

In 2015, I was fortunate enough to be selected onto CAUSINDY and in 2016 returned as a mentor to CAUSINDY. It is through this program that I gained a deeper understanding of the relationship between Australia and Indonesia and saw the real opportunities to build stronger relationships, particularly through sport.

How do you use your Indonesian experience in your current occupation?

I work for myself as a sports consultant. Sport is like a universal language. It doesn’t matter where you are in the world, if you drop a soccer ball or a cricket ball and bat for example, then most people know what to do with it. Sport helps to bring people together and connect, despite the challenges of language or cultural differences.

So, I enjoy taking these sport experiences and using them to build connection and people to people relationships, whilst overlaying education or economic benefits over the top. Sport is a powerful motivator to get people together to connect.

How did you find your current job?

The program Diamonds in the Rough was a program I worked on with a good friend, Narelle Gosstray. Narelle is a well-regarded coach and official within the baseball world, and passionate about projects that create change. I had just come off the 2015 CAUSINDY and wanted to explore how to build on what I had learnt and experienced. A DFAT grant was open, so we created the program and were successful in gaining funding now for two years.

The program takes our Australian Emeralds (Baseball Australia’s national women’s team) squad members, over to Indonesia to work with girls over a period of 1 – 2 days. They act as mentors, coaches and role models, not only in teaching the game of baseball, but also in leadership and confidence activities. Baseball is predominately a male sport, with females pushed to play softball. Our program encourages girls to play baseball, showing them that they have choices by using our female national representatives as role models.

Making choices in what sport you play is analogous to making choices in life and what career you want to follow. We hope that through our program and the ongoing connection with our in country partner who continues to run female baseball programs, that we will develop strong Indonesian female leaders, who have a connection with Australia.

What do you enjoy the most — and least — about working in relation to Indonesia?

The thing I enjoy the most is the food! The thing I like least is Jakarta traffic!

What are your thoughts on the future of the Australian-Indonesian relationship in the field of sport?

Indonesia is fast becoming involved in the hosting of major sporting events. Jakarta is hosting the 2018 Asian Games and this is likely to be an amazing event. There is a lot of expatriate support to develop non-traditional Asian sport capacity, not only in Indonesia, but more broadly across Asia. The development of athletes through a sport pathway is required to start at the grassroots level. Australia has extensive experience in the development of participation pathways, through to gold medal success.

It is through this experience from Australia and the opportunities available in Indonesia to develop sporting pathways that the relationship through sport can be further developed. The proximity between the two countries offers ongoing sport competition options that are cheaper and easier to access for each country, when compared to travelling to Europe or America.

I see a lot more knowledge transfer and competition exchanges occurring between the two countries in regard to sport over coming years.

What advice would you offer to youth interested in sport?

There are plenty of opportunities available, you just have to look. I was lucky enough to experience different cultures and language from an early stage in my career and it has certainly broadened my perspectives.

Those early in their career would benefit highly from a position outside of their comfort zone, whether this was a paid of volunteer nature. The benefits gained far outweigh the financial cost.

Given the opportunity again, what would you do differently?

The one thing that I have never taken up is the learning of a second language. My Bahasa [Indonesia] is almost non-existent and for all the travels I have done around the world I have relied on interpreters or a complex act of miming out what I need or where I am going! If I was to start again, I would learn languages from the outset.

We would like to thank both Paul and the President of the Australia Indonesia Association of NSW, Eric de Haas. You can find Paul on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Q&A with Aditya Wirapradhana Tumakaka, Juris Doctor Candidate

Aditya W Tumakaka is a Juris Doctor (JD) candidate at Melbourne Law School having already completed his undergraduate law degree in Indonesia. Aditya has worked at some of the top law and banking firms in Indonesia and is a young talent with a very bright future in the Indonesia-Australia relationship. AIYA caught up with Aditya to get to know a bit more about his career journey and what advice he has for young Indonesians and Australians looking to pursue a career between the two countries. As a delegate for CAUSINDY 2014, we also took the chance to ask what advice Aditya has for the delegates for this week’s conference in Darwin.

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Aditya is currently studying his Juris Doctor at Melbourne Law School. Photo: Aditya W Tumakaka

Tell us a little about your background — what did you study, and where did you begin your career after you graduated?

I did my undergrad in Sarjana Hukum (LL.B. equivalent), at Catholic University of Atma Jaya in Jakarta, with major studies in international law. After that I decided to have a career as a corporate lawyer in DNC Advocates Law Firm in Jakarta where I mostly dealt with banking and finance, foreign investment, and minor litigation. I worked there for four years and got seconded for one year at DBS Bank Indonesia during the same period. DBS Bank is a Singaporean government owned bank and is one of the biggest banks in Southeast Asia so it gave me more nuance on how the cross-border transactions works from the business and legal point of view.

During this time was the period Prime Minister Julia Gillard issued a White Paper policy for the Australian government, which I think has not been implemented at all. I was really interested in seeing how the Australia and Indonesia relationship would grow and how much potential it had in the future. When I read it I thought it was a terrific idea for Australia-Indonesia relations and I think at that time the Australian government really saw the importance of Australia’s integration to the Asian economy. With the booming economy in Indonesia and the rise of the middle class income it practically gives Indonesia a big market of Australia to have their products exported and with the rise of the economic relations between the two countries there will be many legal issues that may arise at the same time. Both Indonesia and Australia’s legal system is very distinct and sometimes Australian lawyers do not really understand how Indonesian law operates and vice-versa. I think with the ongoing conditions it is very possible for Indonesian investors to invest in Australia or Australian investors to invest in Indonesia.

I chose to take the JD program at Melbourne Law School because Melbourne Law School was and still is the number one law school in Australia, the fifth position in the world (currently at 8th), so it was a no brainer really. Also, the proximity to Australia is so close so it was easy to go back and forth to Indonesia and there is a niche market that I could handle if I practice in both Australia and Indonesia considering the potential we have right now.

Are you really the only lawyer qualified to practice in both Indonesia and Australia?

I am not yet qualified to practice in Australia. But, it is upon completion of my JD and Practical Legal Training that I will be admitted to practice law in Australia and subsequently become dual qualified.

The thing is in order to become qualified to practice Indonesian law and appearing before Indonesian courts, you need to obtain an advocate license in Indonesia. That means you have to pass the Indonesian bar exams, studied law at an Indonesian law school and also have to be an Indonesian national to get that qualification. So, no Australians would be able to obtain qualifications there I suppose unless they have dual citizenship/nationality (Indonesian law does not recognise dual citizenship).

However, I’m not fully aware if there are Indonesians that are qualified to practice in both Indonesia and Australia. It’s just the time and commitment required to assume that stage because you have to undertake four years law school in Indonesia and if you then want to take JD another three years on that. And sometimes, once people join the workforce they don’t really want to spend that much time in the law school anymore. There is no lawyer that I’m aware of that holds both qualifications at this point of time. But, I think it’s definitely possible for other Indonesians to obtain the JD and obtain admission to practice in Australia as well.

What sort of job opportunities has your niche skill set opened up in terms of employment opportunities?

It’s opened up a lot of opportunities actually because Australian businesses are really trying to penetrate the Indonesian market, but it seems they don’t really understand how to penetrate it. I think with my kind of qualifications and understanding of both countries and how people live and understanding what’s the best way to approach the people will allow me to be able to provide the best advice for clients. I’m currently applying for clerkships with international firms that operate in both Indonesia and Australia. I’m trying to find an Australian firm that has a vision to expand their practice in Indonesia.

What advice would you offer to young Indonesians or Australians interested in working in the other country?

Indonesians in Australia:

It’s pretty common to see that Australian companies tend to hire Australians, and they don’t usually hire international students. But, I think Australian companies will be missing out on a big opportunity in expanding their business because I think when you want to penetrate a market you have to hire people who understand the culture, how the business is conducted and people with experience in handling those regions and jurisdictions. In that respect I think it will be important for them to hire a diverse range of future employees from diverse backgrounds in order to penetrate those markets. For example, if they want to penetrate the Indonesian market I think it would be great if they employ Indonesians, especially those who have been in the workforce in Indonesia before and really understand and grasp the idea of how to penetrate the market.

Sometimes in Indonesia it’s more about the networks you have there and also the level of your understanding on the current situation in Indonesia as well. It’s not something you can learn on campus it goes by experience sometimes. You have to invest, and I think the best investment in this regard is in the people.

I think for Indonesians trying to work in Australia it is important to show what your value is. It’s important that you need to stand out. What I mean by stand out; it’s okay to show that you are Indonesian and how that factor can contribute to the growth of the company and show that you understand the Indonesian market in a way that will assist the company to expand their business to Indonesia or even to Indonesian communities in Australia. I saw many of my friends who have tried to find jobs here tend to forget that their background difference could actually work as a strength. Sometimes the employers do not have a clear vision of how to grow their business. I think when you apply for a job or to be an entrepreneur it’s important to show who you are or whatever background you are from to leverage your position.

Australians in Indonesia:

If the same business expansion argument applied to Australians in Indonesia, it is safe to conclude that Indonesia has big opportunities for Australians that want to study in Indonesia or even work there. There is opportunities in Indonesia especially for those who understand and can speak Bahasa Indonesia. I think it would be a great benefit for Australians who try and learn it as well because I’ve seen a lot of Australians who have come back from studying or working in Indonesia and have succeeded in creating the right networks. These accumulated experiences then become an asset for them and maybe for the companies where they worked. There are a lot of opportunities for Australians to travel to Indonesia, learn a lot of new things, which I think have been done well through the AIYEP program and CAUSINDY. But, the number is still not major enough to create the big impact, but I can see the numbers are growing and it shows really good progress.

Aditya lists Kakadu National Park as one place he would like to travel to in Australia. Photo: travel online.com
Aditya lists Kakadu National Park as a place he would like to travel to in Australia. Photo: travelonline.com

CAUSINDY 2015 is set be held from 19-22 September in Darwin. You took part as delegate for CAUSINDY in 2014, can you tell me a little about those experiences and what the delegates should expect this year?

I had a really good time on CAUSINDY because it provides you with the opportunity to meet a lot of great people from different backgrounds. But, we all have one common thread; we are interested in the Australia-Indonesia relationship. Meeting and discussing with the delegates really gives you a new perspective as to how to help the relationship to grow and how can we contribute to make the relationship better. I met a lot of people from both private and government sectors, which I think is really terrific. I was on the business panel and we think seeing this relationship from a business point of view gives you more incentives to develop this relationship further. It’s not just about the cultural ties and the geographical ties or proximity that we have. I think when we talk about the commercial interests and the idea that we can grow a prosperous relationship will entice more contributions and more public discussions as to how to develop this relationship and bringing people together from diverse backgrounds.

On the other side, seeing people from other backgrounds helps you develop new networks of a lot of people from different areas and sometimes for business it is important to know the right people, in the right areas, at the right time. Some of the CAUSINDY delegates have asked me for advice about Indonesian law, and I think I’ve been really fortunate to be able to help them out and I’m really grateful for that. For the future delegates they should expect more diverse people than what you have read in the profiles.

I think it’s a good idea to put the conference in Darwin this year because Darwin is a good place to remind us of the historical ties between our countries especially between Aboriginals and Indonesians back in earlier times. It’s a good reminder of the original ties and how we could strengthen it, but in terms of experience they will also experience the same terrific things that I had during the conference. These being meeting a lot of people, meet people with different perspectives and developing new networks.

Got any questions for Aditya? You can email him at aditya.tumakaka@gmail.com or check out his LinkedIn.

Q&A With Dr Thushara Dibley, Deputy Director of the Sydney Southeast Asia Centre

Thushara Dibley is Deputy Director of the Sydney Southeast Asia Centre. Her research focuses on the system of international aid and development, its interface with grassroots and transnational activism and their influence on human rights based policy and practice in Southeast Asia. In addition to her academic work, Thushara has undertaken a number of consultancies in Southeast Asia. She has served on the Board of Inside Indonesia since 2007 and was the postgraduate representative for the Asian Studies Association of Australia in 2009-10. Thushara took some time out of her busy schedule to share her thoughts on Indonesia with the AIYA team.

Photo: Thushara Dibley

Tell us a little about your background — what did you study, and where did you begin your career after you graduated?

I studied a Bachelor of Liberal Studies – the degree for people who didn’t know what they wanted to be when they grew up. As part of the degree I had to do a science major, an arts major and a language. For the first three years of the degree most of my time was devoted to the science part of the degree (neuroscience). Once that major was out of the way, I was finally able to commit myself to Indonesian language and Asian Studies, and for the first time, I really LOVED being at university. I went on to do Honours in Indonesian Studies, focussing on the role of Indonesian language in Timor-Leste. It was a very empowering experience. I had grown up in Indonesia, but my time in Timor was the first time I had used my Indonesian language as an adult. Immediately after submitting I started a research assistant job at the University of Newcastle, but my real focus was on how to get over to Timor-Leste, which eventually I managed to do in September 2005 through the Australian Youth Ambassadors for Development program. After about 10 months in Timor-Leste working as an advisor to a local NGO, I returned to Australia to do more research assistant work, and eventually started a PhD in 2008 that looked at NGOs involved in peacebuilding in Timor-Leste and Aceh.

Tell us about your current job — where are you working, and what do you do? Do you use your Indonesian experience in this position?

Currently I am the Deputy Director of the Sydney Southeast Asia Centre at the University of Sydney. It is an extremely diverse role. I am responsible for overseeing the day-to-day running of the centre, liaising with academics around the university and representing the university when we have visitors from or interested in Southeast Asia. On some days I could be pouring over spreadsheets working on financial issues related to running the centre, and on others I could be hob knobbing with high level diplomats from the Laos Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

My Indonesia knowledge and experience plays an important part of my role. Just at the moment, I am working with colleagues from around the university to run a training session for 25 Indonesian women from the NGO sector. Knowing how to speak Indonesian and having an understanding of Indonesian civil society is very important for this particular project. But, having knowledge of Indonesia is important more generally because it helps with aspects of my job like understanding appropriate cultural practices when meeting and greeting guests from Southeast Asia, having networks in Southeast Asia and being able to advise students and academics travelling to Indonesia for the first time on what to expect.

What do you enjoy the most — and least — about living and working in Indonesia?

I lived in Indonesia as a child for about 10 years. Since then, I have visited, but not lived there for extended periods of time. Having spent such a long time there as a kid, Indonesia feels very familiar to me. There are some things that just haven’t changed since I lived there in the 1980s and 90s… like the smell of the Hero supermarket or the sound of a kaki-lima going by, or the call to prayer. For me, going back to Indonesia evokes lots of memories my childhood, which is one thing I really love about it.

What I like least is the pollution, and (like everyone else) the traffic and seeing the effects of poorly managed over development on the country.

If you had four weeks to travel in Indonesia, where would you go?

My next research project is looking at the disability movement in Indonesia. I have planned to visit disability activists in six different cities across the country: Jakarta, Yogya, Makassar, Kupang, Banda Aceh and Padang. So… my next four week trip to Indonesia will hopefully involve visits to all of these places.

What kind of opportunities do you see in your field of work for young Australians with an interest in Indonesia — and vice versa?

From where I sit within the university, there appear to be more and more opportunities for students to travel to Indonesia. Our centre has been successful in winning funding through the government’s New Colombo Plan. We have sent over 30 students in the last twelve months to Indonesia, including many who have never been to or thought about traveling to Indonesia before. We have programs planned that involve sending at least that many, and possibly more, to Indonesia over the next twelve months. There also seems to be a growing recognition from the government’s perspective that this sort of exposure to Indonesia, and other countries in the region, is valuable.

That said, knowledge of Indonesia is pretty niche, which means that opportunities for employment where that knowledge can be directly applied are few and far between. The people in my networks who have an interest in Indonesia and who have been able to gain employment that draw on this interest have had to be creative entrepreneurial. For some, they have pursued this interest by undertaking a PhD. But with the shrinking of Indonesian Studies around the country, they have had to choose topics with an Indonesia focus, but also with a disciplinary focus that allows them to be employed in more than just an Indonesian studies department. Others have taken their passion for Indonesia into the government and private sectors, but have really had to be strategic and campaign hard to make sure that their job within those sectors allows them to continue to engage with Indonesia. Others have taken a gamble with private consultancies, their own small businesses, or pursued their interest voluntarily. For those who are truly passionate about Indonesia, they manage to create ways in their life to keep up their passion.

How useful have your Indonesian skills been for finding work in your industry?

I have been lucky in that every major career move I have made, my Indonesian skills have played a major role in being selected for the role. I was selected as a volunteer for the AYAD position in Timor-Leste, even though I had no experience at that stage in the development sector, because I could speak Indonesian. My roles as research assistant have often been because I have an Indonesian Studies background. And in my current role, knowledge and experience of a Southeast Asian country were one of the essential job criteria.

Follow Thushara on Twitter @thushdibley

Q&A with Fitrian Ardiansyah, Climate and Sustainability Specialist

Fitrian Ardiansyah is a climate and sustainability specialist, with over sixteen years’ experience in the fields of natural resource management, climate change, energy and sustainability. He is currently finalising his doctoral research at the Crawford School of Public Policy at the Australian National University in Canberra, and is also the Program Development Director for Pelangi Indonesia and Fellow at the International League of Conservation Writers.

Fitrian speaking at CAUSINDY last year.

We spoke to him about his research background and experience studying in Australia.

Tell us a little about your background — what did you study, and where did you begin your career after you graduated?

Well, my interest in and passion for the environment go back to my high school time. I was born and brought up in Jakarta, a megapolitan and capital city in Indonesia. I was fortunate to study at a well-respected public senior high school in Jakarta (SMA Negeri 8). This school was, however, situated in a flood plain area. Hence, whenever a rainy season came, we experienced annual flooding. The frequent occurrence of flooding made me realised that even living in a big city like Jakarta we have been reminded all the time about critical environmental challenges we were facing as a society. With an increase in my level of understanding on urban environmental challenges, I then began to try to grasp a bigger issue – as a developing country accelerates its economic growth, unwanted consequences such as environmental degradation have become prevalent and, therefore, something needs to be done to find balanced solutions, i.e. developing a country’s economy without jeopardising its nature.

I continued my education and obtained my bachelor degree in environmental engineering at Bandung Institute of Technology and my Masters degree in environmental management and development from the Australian National University (ANU). After attaining my Masters degree, I went back to Indonesia working mostly for an NGO – to some extent in collaboration with the government, the private sector and communities – realising better and healthier ecosystems of Indonesia. Also, I had a chance to contribute at a global level, including as part of the Indonesian negotiating delegates at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, executive board member of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil and advisory board member of the Asian Young Leaders Climate Forum.

After a decade or more years of working in Indonesia and in the Southeast Asian region, I went back to the uni – the ANU. I am currently finishing my doctoral degree at the ANU. This education process and my work experience, including working and advising NGOs and the government, I believe, have enriched my knowledge and strengthened my love towards the environment and natural resource management.

Tell us more about your current job — where are you working, and what do you do? Do you use your Indonesian experience in this position?

I am a full time PhD scholar at the Australian National University. While I am at the ANU, I have been conducting research and policy work on climate change mitigation and adaptation (e.g. on land use change, climate change adaptation, forest-climate, energy and relevant economic aspects) as well as contributing to the academic life as a course tutor and guest lecturer at the Crawford School of Public Policy and the Fenner School of Environment and Society.

I have been also intermittently working as an independent consultant on issues related to climate change, sustainability, forest-climate and energy.

How did you find your current job? Why do you think you were successful in getting the position?

There was a notification about scholarship for PhD in Australia provided by the Australian government. I thought it was a good time for me to come back to the uni and enhance my capacity further.

I would say, my previous experience has helped in getting this scholarship and acknowledgement.

What do you enjoy the most — and least — about living and working in Indonesia?

I was born and brought up in Indonesia. I would say, Indonesia has given me a tremendous challenge as well as opportunity (and optimism) with regard to natural resource and environmental management. Indonesia, as a country, is still young and developing but the population mostly have good desire to change for the better.

If you had four weeks to travel in Indonesia, where would you go?

I would love to see again some of the remote areas where you can still see endangered and endemic species of the islands. Once I went to the Bird Head of Papua and I was lucky to see the gigantic leatherback turtles and birds of paradise in the very same spot. That kind of experience has convinced me that we need to take care of our environment, not for other people, but for Indonesians, the current and future generations.

Share your thoughts on Indonesia’s future — in terms of politics, the economy, culture, etc.

As I said, I am quite cautiously optimistic about Indonesia’s future. As long as we, together with other Indonesians, are working tirelessly to reform the current government, economic and social systems, the future is going to be brighter. Ups and downs are of course parts of the journey of a nation.

Follow Fitrian on Twitter at @EcoFitrian.