The end of the year means another chance to recap the most fascinating highlights of the AIYA Blog in 2017.

We started the year with a series of enlightening discussions with recipients of the Darmasiswa Scholarship, which saw our contributors describe the opportunity to live and study language, culture and the arts in Indonesia as ‘a huge privilege’, ‘an amazing, diverse experience’ and ‘a truly global program’.

The AIYA Blog spoke to an exciting plethora of informative and inspirational individuals, from Rob Henry, a man with an important message, to playwright Sandra Thibodeaux, to language lover Ochie Chandra DeMeulenaere. And who could forget the unique perspectives of distinguished journalist and columnist Desi Anwar in a twopart conversation.

Focussing on one element of a country is an easy way to dismiss its complexity. – Desi Anwar

Our Career Champion series saw us interview those who have achieved success in the public domain –accomplished individuals who have pursued their passion across a lifetime – including professional footballer Robbie Gaspar and academic Jeffrey Neilson. We were truly stumped after our chat with cricket enthusiast Bruce Christie!

Exploration of cultures and societies has always been a strong focus of the Blog, and this year was no exception. Diyanti Koroh and Albert Christian Soewongsono explained the traditions of Easter and Christmas respectively in Kupang, East Nusa Tenggara, while Jane Ahlstrand took us through the diversity of Balinese music and dance (visit the JembARTan blog for more!).

Insightful critical analysis come in the form of research from qualified academics on topics such as the dangers of plastic pollution, the science of collaboration and social equality (note that these were originally published on The Conversation).

When a local Dayak leader started negotiations by laying his sword on the table between us, I decided it was time to leave. – Jeffrey Neilson

More recently, the AIYA Blog played host to interviews with award-winning filmmakers Rosie Clynes and Michael Abimanyu Kaeng in support of the ReelOzInd! Australia Indonesia Short Film Competition and Festival, as well from some funny and friendly supporters of AIYA as part of our Member Spotlight series.

With sassy film reviews, exciting event recaps explorations of subversive pop culture and news of the launch of a new AIYA Chapter in Indonesia, the Blog has seen it all in 2017.

As per usual, this year’s content was characterised by some rather enlightening discussions and wise revelations, although I am personally humbled by the rich and genuine character of the individuals, who are either profiled on or submit to the Blog, who endeavour for goodness and empathy on a daily basis. We saw only a small proportion of these individuals on the AIYA Blog in 2017, and the Australia-Indonesia youth relationship is all the better for it.