Welcome back to Member Spotlight where we introduce you to the personalities behind AIYA. This week, we introduce you to AIYA National Director of Communications, Iven Manning.

What is your occupation/What do you study?

I studied Indonesian studies and Linguistics and just trained to become an ESL Teacher. However, I’m hoping to return to Indonesia soon as part of a program working with weaving groups in Eastern Indonesia.

Fun fact you would like to share with us?

The first place I visited in Indonesia was Lhokseumawe in Aceh province, where my friends’ band were playing a raucous punk rock show! I knew very little about Indonesia but the show and the rest of the tour was a memorable way to make its acquaintance for the first time.

What made you so interested in Australia/Indonesia?

I think the seed of my interest in Indonesia was planted during that tour, but it took a long time for that seed to germinate and begin to grow. When I returned to university at the age of 24 I knew I wanted to study a foreign language, as I felt uncomfortable growing up monolingual. I began with German but settled on Indonesian, and the small windows of insight that language learning began to offer me about Indonesia seemed to spark a desire to know more. When I visited Indonesia with a semester’s worth of language learning under my belt, that seed of interest really began to blossom. It was such a rush to use my Indonesian for the first time and in reflection, I think it was then that I began to get an idea of the whole worlds that language can open up to you, filled with new people, ideas and stories. I found these new worlds to be fascinating, amusing, thought-provoking, and continue to do so to this day – there is so much to explore.

What is your most memorable culture shock experience?

Staying in my friend’s kampung in rural Central Java, eating eels and joining in prayer is one that comes to mind. Watching tinju adat in a village in Flores is another. Attending ceremonies such as weddings, funerals and syukuran in places like NTT were memorable for a variety of reasons. Visiting a graveyard in Jogja at 3 in the morning and seeing a ghost, is high on the list too. So many great experiences, I think culture shock has negative connotations but it can be a good thing too, and I think experiencing shocking and different things can play an important role in growth and understanding.

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

I really love NTT province. It’s got a very relaxed, very different feeling to other places in Indonesia and I think it suits my nature. Watching the massive red sun setting out in places like Kupang or Maumere is pretty special. I also love the atmosphere at Lapangan Minggiran in South Jogja in the mornings and afternoons, sipping on a sweet drink, chatting with friends while people exercise, kids play soccer, and lovely colours and clouds fill the sky.

Favourite meal in Indonesia/Australia?

Massive prasmanan-style feed from Siji Rasane near Suryodiningratan, South Jogja. Kol goreng, cah kangkung, tempe bakar pakai kecap manis, nasi uduk, es jeruk and a teh panas to wash it all down. Joss tenan.

How about your favourite word in Indonesian/English? 

Probably ‘joss’ actually.

Do you have a favourite Indonesian/Australian film?

I haven’t seen many Indonesian films, so I’ll say a book: ‘Eyewitness’ by Seno Gumira Ajidarma.

Any hopes for the bilateral relationship?

Many, and high ones at that. I hope we can learn to know and appreciate each other better. With that intimacy, there comes great opportunities to learn from each other and help each other live good lives.

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

I think youth can play a crucial role in shaping the relationship. If we are active in sharing ideas and contributing our energies to realising the changes we want to see in our own countries and the way they relate to each other, everybody benefits – maybe we are still to some extent strangers to each other, but it’s the youth who can change this.

What was getting involved with AIYA like?

It was like trying chocolate and cheese as combination (in Martabak manis) – something I wish I’d done heaps sooner.

What do you like most about AIYA?

I like that AIYA aspires to provide a positive, equal, and active platform to bring Australian and Indonesian youth together, that it empowers and provides them with a voice in the bilateral relationship conversation, and that it sends out those weekly AIYA links with all the good oil, including interesting articles and opportunities.

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

Joss joss joss

How can we learn more and connect with you?

[email protected] hit me up!

Terima Kasih Iven 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!