Earlier in October, Indonesian lecturer Dr Rosslyn von der Borch and a group of 18 undergraduates, Indonesian postgraduates, staff and their partners paid a three-day visit to Nhill in rural Victoria.
The town of some 2000 people marks the halfway point between Adelaide and Melbourne and is perhaps best known for its grain farming.
Less well-known is that Nhill has a quality Indonesian language program that runs from primary school to Year 12.
Among the first group to graduate in Indonesian from Nhill College were Katrina Wallis and Laura Harding, now Second Year Indonesian language students at Flinders.
“The idea for the trip came from a first-year topic that looked at the students’ home towns. We kept hearing about Nhill from Katrina and Laura and so we decided to plan a visit,” Dr von der Borch said.
“Our aim was to visit the Indonesian language students at Nhill College, to give Indonesian overseas students a taste of life in an Australian country town, and to provide a cross-cultural social experience for all involved,” she said.
The group stayed at the Little Desert Nature Lodge and went on bush walks, cooked meals together and sang songs around the campfire in Indonesian and English.
“Five Year 11 and 12 students from Nhill College came to an Indonesian dinner and had a really good time,” Dr von der Borch said.
“It was also a really good chance for them to practice their Indonesian for the upcoming oral exam,” Ms Wallis said.
There were other pleasant surprises, too.
The biggest employer in Nhill is Luv-A-Duck, a major Australian producer and exporter of duck products that are Halal.
“On the last day we were able to go to one of the local restaurants and eat Halal duck together,” Ms Wallis said.
And Laura Harding surprised the Indonesian girls with a visit to her family home.
“We had a trampoline in our backyard. The Indonesian girls had only ever seen one in movies; they were fascinated by it,” Ms Harding said.
“We got them onto the trampoline and they didn’t know what to do. It was hilarious to watch.”
Indonesian postgraduate student Agung Sudiani was impressed with the enthusiasm the students showed in practicing their Indonesian.
“The trip was positive because it enabled all participants to share knowledge about some aspects of both Australian and Indonesian cultures,” Ms Sudiani said.
“I enjoyed the activity very much and looking forward to participating in similar ones in the future.”