This experience taught me so much that it’s hard to put it into words

Welcome! My name is Kieran and I’m a fourth-year Bachelor of Design (Architecture)/Bachelor of Construction Management (Honours) student at Deakin University, studying at the Deakin Geelong Waterfront Campus.

As I have been making my way through my degree, I have continually managed to refine my outlook on what I want my career to look like. Some people want to work for big companies, or become teachers, but I want to work in the Indo-Pacific region on projects that enable developing countries to grow the correct way.

Studying at Deakin means that I have been able to study overseas multiple times in order to develop the skills I’ll need in future, and this is one example of this.

Last year, while on exchange at Yonsei University in Seoul, South Korea, I attended the MIKTA Young Leaders camp. It was there that I met an Indonesian Diplomat who recommended that I apply for the Australian-Indonesian Youth Exchange Program (AIYEP).

Preparing for our first Cultural Performance

AIYEP has been running for 35 years, backed by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and the Indonesian Ministry of Youth and Sport. As an Australian delegate, it involves three distinct phases: Community Development, Work Placement, and Cultural Performances. There are 18 delegates each from Australia and Indonesia, coming from a variety of socio-economical, religious, cultural and educational backgrounds.

For the duration of the program we were based in South Sulawesi, Indonesia. We spent a month in a regional village for the Community Development Phase, and a month in the provinces capital of Makassar for the Work Placement Phase. During the program, cultural performances were done every Monday at primary and high schools, and were inclusive of both Indonesian and Australian songs and dances.

My host father and I

During the Community Development phase, I was fortunate enough to be appointed as one of four project managers. This meant I was able to tailor the projects to harness both the needs of the community, as well as my personal strengths and areas of expertise.

After identifying rubbish as a major problem in the village, we created rubbish bins out of recycled materials, organized large-scale community clean ups, and set the way for future community forums and a waste transfer station. Dealing with Indonesian politics is extremely challenging to a newcomer, and keeping all 36 AIYEP delegates happy wasn’t easy either – but using the skills that I have learnt from my degree really came into play here, and our projects were a great success.

Rubbish bins handcrafted from recycled materials

For the work placement phase, I was based at PT Bosowa Propertindo; Makassar’s largest property development group. They were impressed with the skills I had already learnt during my studies and gave me the task of developing a proposed Master Plan for a land reclamation project in Makassar Bay.

Once I had finished my proposal, I presented it to the board members. They loved some aspects of my work and questioned other areas which to me were quite obvious. It made me understand how different our two cultures are and the importance of not only communicating an idea – but to be able to sell it to someone who might be hesitant towards change.

Visiting the proposed reclamation site

AIYEP taught me so much that it’s hard to put it into words. Recognising the importance of international relations, meeting politicians, immersing myself in a rural Indonesian community, developing language skills, and an amazing work placement experience are all highlights, but most importantly – it was the relationships that made my experience one above the rest.

For further information about studying at Deakin and to view the many degrees on offer, visit our international student page.

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