Chenaniah ‘Ken’ Darma was a finalist at the Australia Indonesia Association’s Australia Indonesia Awards in the Culture category. Find his responses as a Career Champion below, where he provides insights on his career up until this point and where he might like to head in the future.

Tell us about your background. Where did you begin your career?

I recently completed my studies at Macquarie University, attaining a Bachelor of Marketing and Media. During my time at university, I joined PPIA Macquarie, Macquarie University’s official Indonesian student society where I began my professional journey as an Internal and External Events Organiser. My dream career goal is to utilise my skills and passion for events, marketing and media in a job that allows me to contribute to Australian and Indonesian youth, strengthening existing relations between the two great nations by empowering the next generation of future leaders.

What brought you to connect with Indonesia?

During my childhood I was often confused about my identity as an Indonesian raised in Australia. It wasn’t until I joined PPIA Macquarie, where I developed a meaningful connection with Indonesians. When attended my first welcome gathering event, I was scared to make new friends because I was afraid that I would be different, and it turned out that I was. It wasn’t easy to assimilate with the Indonesian lifestyle when I grew up with only Australian friends, however I remained persistent in encouraging myself to belong to this community because something within kept drawing me back. After a few months I was promoted as one of the organisation’s key Event Organisers with opportunities to oversee events such as Soundquriang 4.

How do you use your Indonesian experience in your current work?

Aside from pursuing a career in events, marketing and media, I am currently leading a non-profit youth group gathering in various locations such as Macquarie Park, Central Park, and the southwest areas of Sydney. Though I am no longer a student at Macquarie University, I still have a heart for the youth community in the area, sharing the resources I have in my hands to empower young Indonesians and Australian-Indonesians to be the best they can be in their studies and social lives.

Why do you think you were successful in finding your current role?

I found my current day job as a Social Media Assistant through a fellow classmate, and hope to develop my skills in marketing communications so that I can be of good use and leverage everything I’ve learned to effectively communicate with Australians and Indonesians both online and offline. My work as a local Youth Leader was an opportunity my father gave me around five years ago when he started an Indonesian church in Macquarie Park. It give me great pleasure to work alongside my parents doing something I’m so passionate about, as their values and support have played a major role in making me who I am today.

What do you enjoy most about Indonesia?

I love living with my family in Indonesia because it allows me to embrace the culture and most importantly, great tasting food. Based on my previous experience working with Indonesians, they are hard-working and very patriotic. Something we could improve on could possibly be our communication skills and our willingness to work hand-in-hand with other nations.

What are your thoughts on the future of the bilateral cultural relationship?

It is evident that a strong Australian-Indonesian relationship exists among student-run Indonesian entertainment events. Indonesian student societies can be found in almost every mainstream university, particularly in New South Wales and Melbourne. Indonesian high school graduates leave their families and live abroad for the first time in their lives. For students who want more out of their university experience are eager to achieve something great for Australia and Indonesia, or just want to make Indonesian friends, joining your university’s Indonesian student society is one of the best things an Indonesian student can ever do. Entertainment events such as PPIA Macquarie’s Soundquriang has embodied what it means to be an Indonesian living abroad among fellow Australians and embracing dual cultures.

For the past four years, both Indonesian and Australian-Indonesian students have worked hand-in-hand to liaise with Indonesia’s greatest music artists and cultural performers such as Suara Indonesia, host over 1000 delegates, and donate up to $5,000 to Yayasan Tangan Pengharapan, an Indonesian charity that seeks to provide support to rural communities in NTT province. This particular event was supported by our Consulate General, reminding us that we were doing a good thing for Indonesia and Australia. Events like this really make a difference in our world.

What advice would you offer youth?

My advice to young Australians and Indonesians is to acknowledge existing barriers that exist and do everything you can to break them. Also, take every opportunity you can get to serve your local Indonesian-Australian community whether that be inside or outside of university. When you complete your studies you want the personal satisfaction of knowing you did everything you possibly could for Indonesia and Australia as a student – when sometimes all you have is your determination to succeed and friends to support you along the way.

Given the opportunity again, what would you do differently?

I wouldn’t have changed a thing as each experience, whether positive or negative, has played a major role in my personal and professional development and understanding of Australian-Indonesian relations.

Follow Ken’s Youth Group on Instagram, or take a read of other Career Champion interviews with AIA finalists.