The Council of International Students Australia (CISA) is the peak representative body for international students in Australia, and held its annual National Conference across two days earlier this month in Darwin. It was led by the Northern Territory Government through StudyNT, in partnership with Charles Darwin University. As well as international student representatives from across the country, the Conference welcomes education, government and business representatives to collaborate with students to improve international education and the student experience in Australia.

Indonesian students shone at the 2016 CISA Conference, with Enggar Daraindra from Jakarta named Australian Undergraduate International Student of the Year, while Perhimpunan Pelajar Indonesia Australia (PPIA) received the gong for Student Association Event of the Year. We caught up with Enggar and PPIA’s Head of Communications and Media Alicia Azzahra Demitri Deswandy, also from Jakarta, to hear more about their respective wins.

Enggar, what are you studying at Charles Darwin University?

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Enggar being awarded the Australian Undergraduate International Student of the Year. Photo: Enggar Daraindra

I did a Bachelor of Accounting (graduating in 2014), then took further study majoring in secondary education and music (I am currently in my final year). I am the type of person who really loves mathematics, hence why I chose to study accounting after graduating from high school. The main reason I decided to do further study in secondary education and music is because I really believe in the importance of music and in the rights of every individual to be exposed to musical education.

What groups or organisations are you involved in?

Other than being a Charles Darwin University Student Ambassador, I am also a StudyNT Student Ambassador. I am also involved in Multicultural Youth NT (MyNT), I am an NT Youth Representative at National Ethnic Multicultural Broadcasting Council (NEMBC), and recently I was elected as the first and only CISA executive from the NT.

Why did you choose to study in Australia?

I always wanted to study in an English-speaking country, and Australia is one of the closest English-speaking countries to my home country. After living for more than six years in Australia, I definitely think that more Indonesian students should study here. Australia is a very unique and beautiful country. It is very multicultural, and everyone seems very supportive towards one another. Studying in Australia will also open doors to many different opportunities.

Where do you plan to work after you’ve graduated?

I really want to pursue my dream of becoming a teacher. Where I will teach, I don’t know yet. I’m currently taking it one step at a time, and will see where the opportunities will take me.

What does winning the CISA Undergraduate Student of the Year Award mean to you?

It is some sort of a promise to myself; that I will do better, I will work harder, and do the best I possibly can, for the community where I live, and for Indonesia. It also means I will be the voice of many international students here in Australia.

Alicia, what are you studying at Monash?

I did a Bachelor of Arts, specialising in Politics and International Studies. I have just finished my course and am due to graduate this October.

President of PPIA NT with CISA members

The president of PPIA NT (fourth from right) with CISA members. Photo: Alicia Azzahra Demitri Deswandy

What is your role at PPIA? Can you please tell us a bit about it?

I was the Head of Communications and Media for the 2015/16 period (we just had our national congress this month in Canberra). My work involves disseminating information concerning PPIA and other information concerning Indonesian students to the wider public, liaising with media partners for publications, and more. PPIA itself was established in Canberra 1981. The organisation adheres to the Bhinneka Tunggal Ika (Unity in Diversity) principle and aims to improve and strengthen bonds among Indonesian students in Australia, and, along with the Indonesian community, seeks to maintain Indonesia’s image in the international arena while also constantly trying to contribute ideas and vision to each nation.

For what event did PPIA win Student Association Event of the Year?

We won the award for our annual KIPI (Konferensi Internasional Pelajar Indonesia) program, which involved teamwork from the national level, branches and sub-branches of PPIA. The conference was held in Adelaide over two days, and was used as a platform for students to voice their ideas and thoughts on how Indonesia can adapt itself in the digital era. The theme was ‘Digital Society towards the New Millennium: Maximising Opportunities’, and covered politics, business, culture and parenting, education, creative economy, and journalism and communication. I personally feel that this program attempted to strengthen the bonds of the different levels of PPIA through teamwork, and that the program itself was beneficial to Indonesia.

Why do you think more Indonesian students should study in Australia?

I believe direct people-to-people relations are so much more effective than governmental relations (no offense, DFAT and Kementerian Luar Negeri!). Politics often disrupts Indonesia’s bilateral relations with Australia, whereas such ‘issues’ seldom disrupt the harmony of friendship between Australians and Indonesians. Living in Australia will help Indonesian students in understanding that there is so much more beyond Indonesia’s bilateral relations with Australia. Other than learning about Australian culture (which is a plus), Indonesians will soon learn that Australians are not all about Bintang singlets and xenophobia; Australians (or the ones that I have met) are a really warm bunch and amicable people!

For more info about CISA click here, and for PPIA click here.