Welcome to AIYA Member Spotlight! In a new regular series, we’ll be talking to a different AIYA Member from either Indonesia or Australia to hear their story. We begin this week with Disty Winata, our new AIYA Links editor!

What are you studying?

I am currently a postgraduate student in commerce at the University of Sydney, majoring in marketing and strategy, innovation and entrepreneurship. Other than that, you can find me curating news about Australia and Indonesia for the AIYA Links!

What is your favourite place to visit in Indonesia?

My favourite city in Indonesia would be Yogyakarta. As I was raised in Jakarta where everything is fast-paced and hectic, Yogyakarta is pretty much the slower neighbour with incredible food. It is great to see that Yogyakarta has been in the spotlight for its culture and talent, and with recent development in tech start-ups and creative creators there, I would highly recommend everyone to put Yogyakarta down as the city to visit when in Indonesia.

I have only been in Sydney for seven months now and have discovered new places every week, so it is hard to pinpoint what my favourite place is in Australia for now.

What is your favourite Indonesian dish?

Tempe! I grew up eating tempe my whole life, and ask my mom to make me tempe orek (sautéed tempe with soy sauce) every time before I leave for Australia. I remember making it to my friends to introduce them to Indonesian food, and it was a smash hit!

Also, I think the halal snack pack deserves more attention. It is my cheat food and I happen to live next to one of Sydney’s best kebab houses. HSP combined with sambal is perhaps the best Australian meal combination next to a vegemite, butter and vita weat sandwich.

What is your favourite word in Indonesian?

My favourite Indonesian word or phrase would be gotong royong. It perfectly encapsulates everything about the kind and friendly people I have met in Australia and Indonesia.

What is your favourite music artist?

I am digging The Avalanches. They just came back form a 16-year hiatus and I was lucky to see them perform live at Vivid Sydney this year and was quite surprised to see such a mixed audience group across different generations. They sound as amazing live as they do on their albums.

How did you first become interested in Australia?

I remember in elementary school, I read RPUL (General Knowledge Pocket Book) and was so fascinated to learn about the geography of Australia. I remember learning about Mount Kosciuszko, Tasmania and also the Sydney Opera House, and how fast the country is. However, I did not visit Australia until 2011, where I fell in love in Sydney and would find any way to live there. Fast forward six years later, I am here as a student and having a great time!

How did you first get involved in AIYA?

Before moving to Australia, I lived in Canada for eight years and felt that I had lost touch with Indonesia as I could not find that many Indonesians studying there at that time. When I moved to Australia earlier this year, I immediately looked up different Indonesian communities and signed up for AIYA Links in my first week. I love the semangat spirit the team has as truly believe in the AIYA mission, and feel that I am closer to home.

Any hopes for the bilateral relationship?

I would like to see more exchanges or mentorship programs in the creative community between Indonesia and Australia. I think both countries could benefit from sharing insights in the future of work, cultural resonance and also the spirit of entrepreneurship. I find both countries are uniquely entrepreneurial. Indonesians are known to be resourceful or “ngakalin” despite limitations, while Australia’s thriving creative ecosystem has empowered many small entrepreneurs to innovate.

What do you like most about AIYA?

The team at AIYA is very diverse but works really well together. Everyone has their own expertise and it is amazing to see such powerful team putting together so many amazing initiatives to foster the Australia-Indonesia relationship. It is also very active, where you could pretty much find events to attend or opportunities to partake every week.

Starting a new life away from home can be quite stressful, but AIYA takes the anxieties away as you have so many opportunities to meet a bunch of smart people who are really doing meaningful work in the community.

Sum up your experience as an AIYA member in three words.

Dynamic, friendly, engaging!

Thank you to Disty, and we look forward to sharing the next Spotlight on an AIYA Member soon! If you haven’t already, become an AIYA Member here.