AIYEP 2012-13 was a wonderful experience. I feel that I am much more knowledgeable about Indonesia after participating in AIYEP. I have a greater understanding of Indonesian home and family life after living with two host families, and my language skills improved exponentially. I feel I also have a much better understanding of Islam, its practices and traditions.
Many challenges were presented during this program, and overcoming them was, for me, a significant achievement. Coming to terms with village life at first was difficult, but knowing that everyone else was in the same boat, going through the same thing, really made the experience easy. There are many cultural differences between Indonesia and Australia, and facing these differences was an exciting experience. Furthermore, I feel that I have a better understanding of group dynamics, and the importance of developing an effective, cohesive group.
For me, the greatest benefit from participation was getting to know 35 other like-minded Australians and Indonesians. After living with each other for over 2 months, what developed was beyond a level of friendship, but a true understanding and respect for each other and our different cultures. I have made friends that I hope to keep for many years to come. I believe that I learnt the most from my counterpart, Lukman, and feel that I formed a very close bond with him. I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to live in Indonesia, develop friendships with some amazing people and experience Indonesian life and culture first-hand. I feel that programs like AIYEP are extremely valuable, as I truly feel a closer connection to Indonesia and its people. It is a very worthwhile thing for Australia-Indonesia relations if all the 36 participants of AIYEP feel a closer bond with Indonesia and Australia (as I am certain has occurred).
Thank you very much for giving me this opportunity. I am proud now to be an AIYEP Alumni.