“It was January, 1998, and we were so fixed on the quest for culture and local knowledge that we kind of forgot about politics…”

This week’s video from the first Conference of Australian and Indonesian Youth offers a personal take on cultural exchange in the bilateral relationship.

Dr Jacqui Baker argues that “no amount of competence can triumph the simple human awkwardness of relationships” — instead, we should embrace discomfort and risk and reach for common interests and curiosities.

Jacqui Baker is a Visiting Fellow at the Australian National University’s College of Asia and the Pacific. She is currently writing a book on police reform and embarking on a new project on criminal monies in Southeast Asia.

Listen to her documentary Eat Pray Mourn on the Radio National website, or read her observations on producing the program.