Previous participants of the Australia-Indonesia Youth Exchange Program
See what some of our previous AIYEP participants say about the program
I was lucky enough to participate in the 35th year of AIYEP which took place in the province of South Sulawesi. Many things from the unique, one-of-a-kind experience of AIYEP have stayed with me long afterwards.
I can still sing the Acehnese Saman song I put to memory at the time, mostly due to the accompanying dance that was drilled into me at the time for our regular cultural performances, fondly referred to as ‘CP.’ I really enjoyed the opportunity to learn several diverse Indonesian dances from across the archipelago. Some were taught by Indonesian members of our cohort, and others by locals in the South Sulawesi communities we became a part of for this short time. Learning choreographed dances to perform is definitely outside my comfort zone and not my strong point, but it was just one example from AIYEP which encouraged me to seek and say ‘yes’ to experiences which I might in other circumstances shy away from.
Although I previously lived in Indonesia to study and volunteer, and had made friends with many Indonesians, AIYEP offered me the first opportunity I’d ever had to really live with Indonesian families like a local, and start to feel like part of the family. It offered great and invaluable insight into what the lives of the local communities can be like. I felt the incredible hospitality and generosity of my host-families and cherish those memories fondly. I feel extremely grateful to have received the opportunity to be part of AIYEP.
AIYEP 2012-13 was a wonderful experience. I feel that I am much more knowledgeable about Indonesia after participating in AIYEP. I have a greater understanding of Indonesian home and family life after living with two host families, and my language skills improved exponentially. I feel I also have a much better understanding of Islam, its practices and traditions.
Many challenges were presented during this program, and overcoming them was, for me, a significant achievement. Coming to terms with village life at first was difficult, but knowing that everyone else was in the same boat, going through the same thing, really made the experience easy. There are many cultural differences between Indonesia and Australia, and facing these differences was an exciting experience. Furthermore, I feel that I have a better understanding of group dynamics, and the importance of developing an effective, cohesive group.
For me, the greatest benefit from participation was getting to know 35 other like-minded Australians and Indonesians. After living with each other for over two months, what developed was beyond a level of friendship, but a true understanding and respect for each other and our different cultures. I have made friends that I hope to keep for many years to come. I believe that I learnt the most from my counterpart, Lukman, and feel that I formed a very close bond with him. I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to live in Indonesia, develop friendships with some amazing people and experience Indonesian life and culture first-hand. I feel that programs like AIYEP are extremely valuable, as I truly feel a closer connection to Indonesia and its people. It is a very worthwhile thing for Australia-Indonesia relations if all the 36 participants of AIYEP feel a closer bond with Indonesia and Australia (as I am certain has occurred).
Thank you very much for giving me this opportunity. I am proud now to be an AIYEP alumni.
Philip De Zylva (Group co-leader and cultural performance coordinator)
Taking part in AIYEP 2011-12 has been a positive life changing experience. I have developed a greater understanding and appreciation of Indonesian people and their culture. Living with my host family in Muara Nikum, Rokan Hulu, Riau, was an amazing experience of love, nurture and understanding. We built relationships I feel will never be broken. I now consider them my family and look forward to keeping in touch and visiting them in the future. The community development in our villages across Rokan Hulu was also a highlight.
As a member of the sport group, I took great enjoyment in working with the locals in achieving common goals. Spending time with children through sport and games was also a highlight. Aside from developing strong relationships with Indonesians and Australians from all over their countries and therefore granting a lifetime of travel, I found that growing a cultural understanding of both countries was a significant aspect.
Finally, this exchange has taught me a lot about myself. I have learnt of new passions, strengths and weaknesses. I have learnt how to better my group skills, communication and understanding of others. I look forward to becoming alumni, meeting next year’s intake and spending a lot more time in Indonesia in the future.
AIYEP 2011-12 was an unforgettable experience. Living with Indonesian families gave me access to see and participate in Indonesian life, which would have been impossible to replicate otherwise. During the rural phase I was particularly lucky because I lived in a small dusun called Aur Betung with eight other participants. All our houses were within walking distance, all the families knew each other and all the kids played with one another.
I got on well with all the locals in the village and was particularly close to a warung owner called Mass Teguh, and his three kids. I spent many hours at the end of the day ‘nonkronging’ in front of his warung. We drank coffee, played cards and talked about everything from the Spanish soccer league to local politics.
Although the rural stay was memorable, meeting and spending two months with 17 other Australians and 18 Indonesians was the true highlight of the program. I feel I have made lifelong friends from both groups and also, and perhaps more importantly, I now have the offer of free accommodation around both Indonesia and Australia! I definitely recommend AIYEP to any young person looking to broaden their mind.
Alison Youssef (Community development coordinator)
The Australia-Indonesia Youth Exchange Program has for me proven to provide far more than what's included in the program's synopsis on the AII website. Whether it be sharing wonderful experiences with an Indonesian counterpart or learning to adapt to a completely different environment, AIYEP pushes participants beyond their comfort zone. You become so much more aware and confident of your personal capabilities, while at the same time feel supported by the ‘AIYEP family’.
AIYEP also has enabled me to see a side of Indonesia, which is impossible to gain from a holiday or even study. The program allows you to see a completely different side to the country – beyond any generalisations that international media have constructed. After only a short time in the country, you begin to see its challenges as complex and real, and its achievements as vast and great.
Most importantly, AIYEP taught me that understanding Indonesian culture and history is paramount if we are to strengthen our relationship with them, and that gaining this insight merely requires an open mind and respect. I recommend AIYEP to anyone interested in gaining insight into the Indonesian way of life. Completing the program will leave you with some lifelong friends, vast networking opportunities and, most importantly, a feeling of wanting more!