Welcome back to Member Spotlight learn more about the lives of those behind AIYA. This week, we introduce you to AIYA Director of Partnerships and Memberships, Sam

What is your occupation/What do you study?

I am the CEO of Marco Polo Project

Fun fact you would like to share with us?

I have never been to a country where I do not understand the national language

What made you so interested in Australia/Indonesia?

I had 2 choices in high-school and Bahasa Indonesia was easier than French. But over time the food and culture was just so different. Later it was all about meeting people who were so welcoming and realising Aus and Indo are quite similar. These constant reminders it is important and interesting has kept me going for 12 years now!

What is your most memorable culture shock experience?

Living in a Javanese village near Yogya for development studies with ACICIS. I remember not understanding anything being said because they did not speak any Bahasa Indonesia! I was so shocked that the local language was being used with 60 roughly people who did not speak it. I quickly worked out that we just had to rely on a few local guides, body language and just some good humour. I learnt so much in those 2 months of gotong-royong across language and culture.

What is your favourite place to visit in Indonesia/Australia?

I really miss Danau Toba (Pulau Somosir); so quiet, cool and not touristy.

Favourite meal in Indonesia/Australia?

Impossible! Too many dishes across Indonesia (can I cheat and say going to resto Padang!) 

How about your favourite word in Indonesian/English? 

In Aussie (I am American) I love mate. The fact it is used so much to mean so much is just kind of cool. In Bahasa Indo. I love the idea of blusukan. I enjoyed a few of these with local leaders while doing development work in Indonesia.

Any hopes for the bilateral relationship?

That we can embrace the benci tapi rindu and understand that is what gives our friendship so much energy and intrigue.

In your opinion, how do Youth like yourself take part in shaping Australia-Indonesia relationship?

Getting involved in something like AIYA. It can be to join your local Chapter and help run amazing events. You could prefer to write- the blog is how young people get heard. It is also how we can have more people clearly shout out that this is important. Or maybe you like taking photos, travelling or sharing a coffee with a mate. Indonesia has so many opportunities and so many Indonesians are here. So you can shape the relationship by doing something with someone new. Get curious and share.

What was getting involved with AIYA like?

Easy and daunting. At first I had know idea what I was getting myself into before realising it was super easy. Since then I have done a lot of different things with AIYA and because of AIYA.

What do you like most about AIYA?

Community; after moving to Melbourne AIYA was honestly my first family.

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

Exciting, Interesting, Rewarding

How can we learn more and connect with you?

email, linkedin, twitter, marco polo project website

Terima Kasih Sam, for sharing with us your passions and insights into your personal experience. Stay tuned for AIYA Blog Updates for the upcoming personas under Member Spotlight!