Lecturers from Indonesian Studies, keynote speakers and alumni panelists at Indonesia in Action Day 2023. Photo: KJRI Sydney

Indonesian Studies in action: enriching local and global engagement

23 August 2023
Fostering real-world impact in Australia and beyond
For over 65 years, the study of Indonesia at Sydney has led to partnerships with the local Indonesian community and Indonesia. National, bilateral and international connections continue today – including with the Consulate General of Indonesia and UNESCO.

Since its founding in the 1950s, Indonesian Studies at the University of Sydney draws on extensive links with the Indonesian community across the nation and abroad to offer a highly integrated and contemporary program as well as initiatives to develop engagement with the learning of Indonesia.

“Even before its establishment, we've had deep connections with the local Indonesian community and to Indonesia,” said Professor of Southeast Asian Studies Adrian Vickers. “This goes back to University of Sydney staff and student supporting the Indonesian Independence movement between 1945 and 1949.”

The University of Sydney offers a lot of ways to support travel, exchange and internships in Indonesia. Most importantly, students can experience the rich cultural heritage and dynamism of the third-largest democracy and fourth-most populous country in the world.
Professor Adrian Vickers, Chair of Asian Studies, School of Languages and Cultures

Bridging Australian high schools and Indonesia

With over 120 students from five high schools across the state in attendance, Indonesia in Action Day was held at the University of Sydney in June to bring a slice of Indonesia to Year 8–12 students.

The event was opened by the Consul-General of Indonesia Mr Vedi Kurnia Buana and featured a Balinese dance lesson. A panellist of guest speakers who studied Indonesian shared about their experiences, insights and how Indonesian has boosted their career opportunities in various fields, including international relations, trade, diplomacy and academia related to Indonesia as a large geopolitical neighbour of critical significance to Australia.

The day's activities included interactive language and cultural activities such as workshops in Randai dance (Indonesian folk theatre tradition) and angklung (bamboo-tubed musical instrument from the Sundanese people of Indonesia).

The event brought together teachers and volunteers from Australia Indonesia Youth Association (AIYA), Australia Indonesia Association, Balai Bahasa dan Budaya Indonesia (BBBI) – NSW, Indonesia Diaspora Network NSW as well as students from the Indonesia Endowment Fund for Education (Lembaga Pengelola Dana Pendidikan).

“The collaboration with the Consulate General, AIYA, BBBI and other partners has been ongoing for many years,” said Dr David Wijaya, Associate Lecturer in Indonesian Studies and co-organiser of Indonesia in Action Day. “Through this long-standing partnership, we have benefitted from the support and expertise of these organisations as they offer valuable assistance, expertise and crucial role in organising events, workshops and activities related to Indonesian language and culture – enriching the learning experience of students studying Indonesian.”

“Indonesia is poised to become one of the world's leading economies,” said Dr Wijaya.

Those who embark on learning the Indonesian language today are positioning themselves to capitalise on the multitude of opportunities which Indonesia's economic growth will bring.
Dr David Wijaya, Associate Lecturer, Indonesian Studies

UNESCO appointment to expert committee for world languages platform

Headshot of Associate Professor Novi Djenar

Associate Professor Novi Djenar, Chair of Indonesian Studies

In February, Associate Professor Novi Djenar was appointed by UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) to its Ad-Hoc Expert Committee for the World Atlas of Languages (WAL) to contribute her expertise in languages and linguistics. Part of UNESCO's International Decade of Indigenous Languages 2022–2032 initiative, the WAL global online platform provides accurate, reliable and robust data on the world's languages with a new perspective for a more inclusive, comprehensive and transversal understanding of linguistic diversity.

She was selected from among 64 linguists worldwide, and joins nine other linguists and two data scientists from around the world in the Committee. As UNESCO committee expert, Associate Professor Djenar contributes to the technical implementation of WAL, its review and update of existing scientific methodology, as well as the defining and finalising of the language vitality criteria to meet scientific standards.

Inaugural collaboration with Indonesian ministry to launch cross-country educational travel awards

Earlier this year, Associate Professor Djenar co-convened with the Council for Indonesian Language and Culture NSW (Balai Bahasa dan Budaya Indonesia NSW) and Indonesia’s Ministry of Tourism and Creative Industries to create the Wonderful Indonesia Education Explorer Award. The awards enable university students and teachers of Indonesian in Australia to partake in a short language and culture immersive experience in Indonesia.  

“This is the first time the Ministry has partnered with an education institution – us at the University of Sydney – to create such awards,” said Associate Professor Djenar. “It's an exciting initiative for all.”

The Indonesian Consulate General in Sydney announced the six award recipients from across Australia in August. Winners of the inaugural award will travel to the island of Lombok to practise language skills through participation with locals in villages and other destinations.

Build a bright future with Indonesian Studies

With graduates landing careers such as translating and interpreting for high-level officials and tech including for Facebook, having an in-depth knowledge of Indonesian societies, advanced language proficiency, analytical skills, and intercultural competence can provide crucial tools for understanding and working with Australia's regional neighbour.

Indonesian Studies is offered as a major, minor and elective with Introductory, Intermediate and Advanced streams through the shared pool of majors and minors through a range of undergraduate degrees, and is available through cross-institutional study as well the Diploma of Language Studies for undergraduate students and graduates of any eligible institution.

Hero image: Lecturers from Indonesian Studies, keynote speakers, presenters and event co-organisers of Indonesia in Action Day 2023 held at the University of Sydney. Credit: KJRI Sydney/Consulate General of the Republic of Indonesia

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