Tales from Indonesia

Reflecting on the year that was, Mia Dunphy says she has “grown so much” since she left Australia six months ago to embark on an Indonesian study experience.

Mia Dunphy speaking at an event as part of her New Colombo Plan Scholarship

Mia, who has just finished her Bachelor of Community Development at Victoria University (VU), has been studying at Gajah Mada University (UGM) in Indonesia since July with the support of the Australian Government’s New Colombo Plan (NCP) Scholarship.

During this time she has been invited to exclusive government events including the official opening of the Australian Consulate General in Surabaya, attended by Australian politician Julie Bishop, and has also managed to fit in weekly language training sessions and two internships concurrently.

Professional development

Mia’s just completed internship with the Australia-Indonesia Youth Association as a community development officer primarily involved coordinating with various organisations to hold events, while as a research officer with the Asia Pacific Centre at UGM she played a key role in assisting with the sustainable tourism program.

“It’s been amazing – I’ve grown so much as a person in the sense of what I want to do after university,” Mia, speaking from her residency in Yogyakarta, says.

“I’ve applied to do further study in the area of women’s empowerment and climate change adaption – I always thought I wanted to go into environmental sustainability and human rights but my focus has changed quite a bit since I’ve been here.

“On a personal level, I’ve also become a lot more confident.”

As her NCP Scholarship draws to a close, Mia’s final assignment will see her spend a month in Fiji in the New Year, working with environmental women’s groups.

Living, working and studying overseas

“It’s been an amazing journey but at the same time, it’s had its challenges.

“For one thing, the language barrier has been difficult at times – I came to Indonesia with next to no language skills but now I can speak a little Bahasa.

“There have also been some health challenges and general issues adjusting to Indonesian life and how different it is to Australia, it does take a while to get your head around.”

VU’s 2019 New Colombo Plan scholars

VU students Laurence Fudim and Audrey Dalton-Power were recently announced as recipients of the 2019 scholarship round, and will depart for Japan and Fiji respectively mid next year.

VU's 2019 NCP Scholars Laurence Fudim and Audrey Dalton-Power with VU International Director Bronte Neyland and Vice-President Future Students and International, Steve Berridge

Laurence, who is studying a Bachelor of Laws, is expected to spend his three trimester scholarship at the International Christian University in Tokyo, while Audrey (Bachelor of Community Development) will study one semester at the University of the South Pacific in Suva.

In 2019, the NCP will support 125 undergraduates from 37 universities to live, study and gain work experience in 24 locations across the Indo-Pacific, including the Cook Islands, French Polynesia and Samoa for the first time.