On Wednesday night, about 30 AIYA members and friends attended the very first Basa-Basi Speakers event. We were fortunate enough to welcome the Indonesian Vice Consul for Information, Social and Cultural Affairs, Mr Vitrio Naldi.

Heath Jamieson speaking to Pak Vitrio Naldi. Photo credit: Nabely Shahab.

Heath Jamieson speaking to Pak Vitrio Naldi. Photo credit: Nabely Shahab.

For those who could not make it, we have summarised our conversation, and hope that you can make it to the next event!

After a brief introduction of himself in Indonesian, our enthusiastic host Heath Jamieson got the ball rolling with a few questions about Mr Naldi’s background and establishing his career in the Indonesian Ministry for Foreign Affairs. We heard that Mr Naldi began his career as an intern in Nairobi, before working in the Ministry in Jakarta, and finally being sent to Melbourne to his current position. This conversation provided the audience with an insight into the processes Indonesians go through to forge a career in foreign affairs. It was especially enlightening for the Australian members of the audience who hope to enter foreign affairs to learn about the professional procedures of their Indonesian counterparts.

The audience was curious to know about the role of the Vice Consul in Melbourne. Mr Naldi explained that along with the day-to-day duties of dealing with passports, visas and the like, the consulate is also responsible for promoting Indonesian language and culture, and a better understanding of Indonesia in general. Many in the audience indicated an interest in any internship opportunities that the consulate may provide, an idea that Mr Naldi was open to. He also hoped to work more closely with AIYA in the future in promoting Indonesian in schools and the wider community.

On this topic, it came up that one of the big issues was the teaching of Indonesian language in Australia. It is widely known that the teaching of Indonesian in schools and universities is unfortunately on the decline in Australia. Both the audience and Mr Naldi were concerned about what this meant, and agreed that language is an important tool in understanding one another. Language plays a strong role in business relationships, government relationships and people-to-people relationships, and Mr Naldi acknowledged AIYA’s efforts in promoting the Indonesian language.

An interesting point came out in the discussion, which was the relationship between the state of Victoria and Indonesia. Often the relationships between the states and Indonesia are overshadowed by the Australia-Indonesia relationship. However, our chat with Mr Naldi – who represents Indonesia in Victoria and Tasmania – brought this topic to the attention of the audience and led us to contemplate what we can do in Victoria to further that relationship. Mr Naldi told us that in fact the Victoria-Indonesia relationship is quite strong, with many Victorian businesses ahead of the game in understanding the importance of engaging with Indonesia.

Finally, Mr Naldi encouraged all the audience to continue to engage in the Australia-Indonesia relationship, and for us to all be ambassadors in our everyday lives. Mr Naldi had high praise for the work of AIYA members and friends in promoting the relationship, and welcomed dialogues such as AIYA Basa-Basi.

After the Basa-Basi, there was an opportunity for Mr Naldi and the audience to mingle and converse over tea, coffee and snacks. We enjoyed the chance to catch up with our friends and meet some new people in the relaxed and friendly environment. Most of us stayed for over an hour chatting and hanging out.

Overall, our first AIYA Basa-Basi was a fantastic success. The feedback we heard from everyone was extremely positive, and we were impressed by the great questions and discussions that came up. Our next AIYA Basa-Basi will be in a few weeks, and details will be posted online soon. Be sure not to miss out!