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. Sophie Hewitt, AIYA’s new Operations Officer (Indonesia), is this year’s first interviewee!

What are you currently studying?

I’m currently studying a Bachelor of Laws/Bachelor of Asia-Pacific Studies (Year in Asia) at the ANU. In 2018 I’ll be undertaking ANU’s Year in Asia program, and will study in Indonesia for 12 months.

Where is your favourite place to visit in Indonesia?

Bandung: it was the first place I went on exchange in Indonesia (and the birthplace of martabak manis) so it’s very close to my heart.

What is your favourite meal in Indonesia?

Martabak manis – the more sweetened condensed milk the better.

What is your favourite word in Indonesia?

Banget – I appreciate this word because, depending on the tone of your voice, the word can carry an immense amount of sass.

What is your favourite Indonesian film/book/artist?

Author Eka Kurniawan. His book Beauty is a Wound was the first piece of Indonesian historical fiction I read. It was moving, of immense quality, and showed the world that Indonesia has fascinating and diverse stories, and a capacity to tell those stories on the world stage.

When did you first become interested in Indonesia?

I started studying Indonesian in my first year of university as I had the idea that it was easier than Mandarin or Korean. But after receiving a New Colombo Plan Mobility Grant to study on exchange in Bandung during my second year, I was completely captivated!

How did you get involved with AIYA?

After returning from study in Bandung, one of the other exchange students was involved in AIYA ACT and invited me to join. After being its Secretary in 2015-2016, I was then appointed President in 2016-2017.

Any hopes for the bilateral relationship?

While Indonesia and Australia are undeniably different, I do believe that mutual likes such as enjoying the company of friends and family over food, is something that we should be more aware of. I believe that if Australians and Indonesians get to know each other in this familial sense, we will be able to work more productively and beneficially in the future.

What do you like about AIYA?

I love how AIYA is very people driven – each Chapter has its own personality, depending on the interests and passions of its committee and members. I also love how AIYA members are generous with their energy and commitment, and are genuinely passionate about furthering the Australia-Indonesia relationship.

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

Exciting, opportunities, relationships!

Thank you to Sophie, 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.