As an undergraduate Psychology student currently studying at Murdoch University in Perth, Western Australia I don’t get much of a chance to go out on work placements and internships until I go into my Masters in 2 years’ time. Having the opportunity to go on a virtual study abroad internship program was an amazing opportunity. The ACICIS Development Studies Professional Practicum Program (DSPP) is a program which provides students with opportunity to gain amazing and useful experiences working in the field of development virtually with Indonesia. The way it works is you start off with three weeks of intensive lessons ranging from language classes to seminars and tutorials about different major topics surrounding Indonesia like environmental factors, politics, and equality. From there each student is allocated a Host Organisation and Mentor. I was lucky enough to be accepted by Harapan Fian with my Mentor Ahmad “Didin” Syaifuddin.

The whole experience for me was life changing, it wasn’t what I expected when I went in before my internship started. Sadly, before I started I did not have much knowledge or experience with Indonesia. When I thought about the country the only thing I really knew was that it was an excellent and popular holiday destination for most young Australians. As I started my whole perspective of the country changed, I learnt about vulnerable groups in major cities and how COVID-19 was affecting thousands if not millions of people in that country.

When I started my first week of interning with Harapan Fian to say I was nervous and overwhelmed was an understatement. Harapan Fian is an organisation that helps vulnerable youth out on the streets of Yogyakarta. This organisation started as a local informal community founded by Ahmad “Didin” Syaifuddin in 2013 but became a formal organisation with more of a chance to help more communities in 2018.

My main tasks while helping my mentor was to write short articles about the local issues surrounding Yogyakarta and vulnerable groups. These articles were posted on the website to gain more knowledge of what was really happening in these vulnerable communities. Going in I had no idea about the prejudice and suffering vulnerable groups dealt with but that isn’t the case any longer. In the time that I spent with Harapan Fian I learnt so many things about the country and culture. The time I spent with Didin learning about the major issues surrounding Indonesia and all the news articles I read has truly changed my perspective and even after this is all finished, I will still strive to learn more about such a wonderful evolving country.

To all the staff at ACICIS and Harapan Fian I deeply thank you for such the wonderful experiences you have given me in such a short amount of time. Thank you for your patience and willingness to help me improve my knowledge of such a wonderful country with such a deep rich culture. Thank you to my mentor Didin for guiding me through this experience and I hope to one day visit Harapan Fian for real. Until next time Selamat jalan, semoga bisa bertemu lain kali!

About the author: Kayla Clemson is currently enrolled at Murdoch University pursuing her degree in Bachelor of Arts, majoring in Psychology. She is highly interested in health, education, mental health, and gender issues. Kayla is currently undertaking the virtual internship program at Harapan Fian (Fian’s Hope) with the ACICIS 2021 Virtual Development Studies Professional Practicum. Kayla received New Colombo Plan mobility grant to support her participation on this program.