Welcome back to AIYA Member Spotlight! In this regular series, we talk to a different AIYA Member from either Indonesia or Australia to hear their story. This week, let’s learn about Albert Christian Soewongsono, ANU Masters student and past AIYA NTT committee member.

Where is your day job/what are you studying?

I am currently pursuing my Masters degree in Mathematics at the Australian National University, with the [Indonesian government’s] LPDP scholarship.

Credit: Albert Christian Soewongsono

What is your favourite place to visit in Australia?

I would say that Canberra is my favourite place in Australia, since I have found that the city isn’t as busy or crowded  as other cities in Australia, which is great for study. It also reminds me of Kupang, East Nusa Tenggara, where I came from. Also, the nature and wildlife here are well-preserved.

What is your favourite meal in Australia?

Honestly, I have not tasted many Australian dishes, but I think a meat pie is on the list. I distinctly remember eating this with my friends on the train from Melbourne to Canberra to attend a conference at ANU.

What is your favourite word in English?

My favourite phrase in English would be “community engagement,” which describes what both countries need to accomplist.

What is your favourite film/book/music artist?

My favourite Australian music band would be B2M. I think their songs are very catchy and traditional, and definitely contain local values of Indigenous Australians. The first time I heard about them was when they were invited to perform on stage during the International Education Fair 2014 at Nusa Cendana University [in Kupang, NTT].

How did you first become interested in Australia?

I remember the very first time I became interested with Australia was in high school. There was a representative from the Kang Guru Indonesia program who gave a workshop at my school. I still even have a sticker I got from that day stuck on my study desk. But it was not until I was introduced to the UniBRIDGE Project at my previous university where my passion for Australia grew bigger. That was the first time I learned more about Australian cultures and people, and so here I am, pursuing my Masters degree in this country.

How did you first get involved in AIYA?

I heard about AIYA when I was an undergraduate student at Nusa Cendana University – actually, it was CAUSINDY, one of the AIYA’s initiatives. The first time I got involved with AIYA was when Chris Hall, then AIYA NSW’s Community Outreach Officer and also the project officer of UniBRIDGE Project, came to Kupang to give a workshop about AIYA. Starting from that, we initiated the AIYA NTT chapter, which today is known as AIYA Eastern Indonesia. I then took the role of chapter treasurer.

Any hopes for the bilateral relationship?

I am looking for better people-to-people relationships in both countries, especially for youth. Exchange programs like UniBRIDGE Project and AIYEP, in my opinion, have been wonderful opportunities for both Indonesians and Australians to experience both cultures and to learn from each other. I hope that these kinds of programs can last for a long time, and hopefully there will be more opportunities like these.

What do you like most about AIYA?

What I like about AIYA is that the people who are involved are really passionate about Indonesia and Australia, and they are very creative in planning their activities as well. Things like trivia night, social gatherings and the NAILA initiative tempt people to engage with and learn more about AIYA. Also, I think AIYA has managed to reach out to the wider community by having chapters in different parts of both Australia and Indonesia.

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

Creative, engaging, awesome!

Thank you to Albert, and we look forward to sharing the next Spotlight on an AIYA Member soon! If you like what you hear and want to become an AIYA Member, you can do so here.