Interns see reality of development in the field

development-studies-practicum-participants-090511A group of nine Flinders University students taking part in a national internship scheme has returned from Indonesia where they worked with some of the world’s biggest NGOs.

The Development Studies Professional Practicum (DSPP) in Jakarta is run by the Australian Consortium for ‘In-Country’ Indonesian Studies (ACICIS).

It gives students the opportunity to undertake an intensive two-week Indonesian language course and to join an English-language organisation engaged in development programs, such as Oxfam, the International Labour Organization and AusAID.

Head of Flinders Centre for Development Studies and DSPP coordinator, Associate Professor Susanne Schech said the DSPP aligns strongly with the University’s commitment to internationalisation and work-integrated learning.

“The DSPP neatly combines these strategic goals – it provides students with an opportunity to apply the knowledge and skills from their degree to the international development workplace,” Associate Professor Schech said.

“At the same time it gets them out of their comfort zone because they are required to learn a minimum of basic Indonesian and conduct themselves in a culture different from their own,” she said.

“Students gain a clearer idea about their career prospects and the different kinds of jobs available in the development industry. Participants in last year’s DSPP said that it helped them find employment.”

Ms Kushani Marshall, a Master of Health and International Development student, said her placement at CARE International was “a game-changing experience”.

“It changed my understanding of development and what I thought I would be able to do,” Ms Marshall said.

“I was really nervous about being out of my comfort zone but I got to see real people doing these incredible jobs – they had passion and drive and were committed to being there,” she said.

Indonesian student Mr Manginar Sidabutar worked at the SMERU Research Institute, an independent institution for research and public policy studies in Indonesia.

“I would recommend to other students to get involved in this program,” Mr Sidabutar said.

“They will experience how what we learn in the classroom differs from what happens in reality,” he said.

While the DSPP is suited to postgraduate students in International Development, Associate Professor Schech encourages undergraduates to apply for ACICIS’s Development Studies Immersion Program, a semester-long program at one of Indonesia’s leading universities with a strong applied component where students participate in practical development projects.

PHOTO:  From left, DSPP students Annisa Pambayun, Diah Wahyunita, Chisato Takahashi, Kushani Marshall, Rieko Hara and Manginar Sidabutar

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