Albert Christian from AIYA NTT recently visited the Australian National University (ANU) for Asia Pacific Week 2015. Read on to find out about his experiences of Asia Pacific Week and what he learnt from the conference.
I would like to share my story joining Asia Pacific Week 2015 at ANU in Canberra. The theme for this year was “Roads Less Travelled” and it was held from 28 June until 3 July. There were about 100 delegates from Asia Pacific region joining this year’s conference.
There were also 2 other students from Eastern Indonesia joining this conference, Ananias Bees from UKAW in Kupang and Michael Jhon from Uncen in Jayapura. All of us represented our own universities and also our student organisation, Mahasiswa Indonesia Timur Relasi Asing (MITRA). We also went to this conference with our Australian friend, Nick Metherall. He is also one of the founders of MITRA.Arriving in Melbourne on 26 June, we stayed with Nick’s family. We then went to Canberra on 27 June by train the night before the conference began.
We went to ANU in Bruce Hall at 4 pm to register ourselves. We had the welcome dinner at 6 pm and we were gathered at the Dining hall and soon, the head of this year’s committees, Tammy Cho gave a welcoming speech.
The first day of the conference primarily involved discussion on China. The first panelist was talking about Political Dynasties in Central and South East Asia, including Indonesia. The topic was very good and new for me, as I got to learn about the history of political dynasties in Central Asia. The second and last panelists of the day talked about Aid and Development and Theorising Area Studies.
Every day, I had a chance to mingle with other delegates and get more knowledge from them. Most of the delegates were Masters and PhD students. Throughout this conference, we also had chance to promote MITRA and get more people to be involved in MITRA. It was very exciting to introduce MITRA to the delegates…
On the next day, we started with the topic of Migration and Corruption. It was another interesting topic for me, because as you know, Indonesia has a big problem in dealing with corruption.
The most interesting part of that day was The War Games. For the War Games, we were divided into several groups and had to represent diferrent roles such as ASEAN countries and the Chinese Coast Guard. And, my team had to represent the China Coast Guard. Our tasks were to develop our nation while protecting our boundaries from others and to get a win-win solution for the Marshall Island, so we had to make agreements with other ASEAN countries that also wanted to negotiate with us. It was a tough job because most of the countries in South East Asia don’t like China but we did a very good job and it was a very fun and valuable exercise.
Then, we came to the 3rd day, which was all about “The Pitch”. The Pitch was a role-play activity where we had to sell unsellable things. My group had to persuade the audience that Eastern medicine is better than Western medicine. My group came out with some quite unusual ideas, and it was a great way to see how delegates from different countries draw on their cultural and historical knowledge in creative tasks.
During the final dinner, we watched the Great Debate between Academics and Delegates. The topic of the Great Debate was “The Eastern Traditional Cultures have a greater influence than Western Cultures”. My friend, Ananias also became one of the debators, together with some delegates from India. During his speech, Ananias presented a traditional sound from Central Timor called KOA, this sound is used to scare dangerous animal such as snakes and to celebrate harvest. Everybody seemed to really enjoy it. After the debate, we had to vote for the winner, unfortunately, the winner was the academics team.
On that last day of the conference, our friend, Nick was one of the panelists talking about climate change. He presented his 2 months research in Timor in providing clean water for the society in the remote areas and his experiences working with some NGOs in Kupang.
Time flies very fast, and at the Closing Ceremony and Gala Dinner, the committee director, Tammy Cho, gave a closing speech and appreciated our full participation during the conference. And, of course, we had a bunch of photo sessions with the committee, other delegates and Indonesian delegates after the dinner.
From the conference, I gained more knowledge about many things that I don’t know before, got more friends, make new networks and shared each other’s experiences. I encourage others to not be afraid of taking opportunities and to keep on the look-out for applications opening for conferences like this one at ANU, because all of them will help you in the future.