Experience Asia first hand
Bonnie Hermawan, Program Manager, Asia Education Foundation
Igniting student interest in and passion for intercultural understanding and language studies, requires more than what can be learned from traditional curriculum resources alone.
Direct in-country experience is the best way for teachers to offer a meaningful understanding of any culture or country. This was evident in the experience of 40 Australian primary and secondary teachers who participated in the recent three week ‘Discover Indonesia’ study program operated by the Asia Education Foundation (AEF).
Engaging with local government and non-government organisations, academics, artists, activists, and of course educators and students, provided depth to the Australian teachers’ understanding of Indonesia’s rich culture and modern society.
History came alive as we walked through the Sunda Kelapa Harbour in Jakarta, filled with traditional wooden phinisi ships at port. There we saw the style of labour first-hand, how port practice has evolved and the central role the port plays in that local community.
Walking through the Istiqlal Mosque, we meditated with Muslims in the act of prayer and learnt about the significance of religious beliefs in Indonesian society, offering our teachers a new dimension to inter-faith learning.
Our group then had the privilege of meeting with the Director of Madrasah Islamic Education at the Ministry of Religious Affairs who opened up our understanding of Indonesian government including an introduction to local Islamic education.
At Taman Fatahillah, the old town square of Dutch Batavia (as Jakarta was once known), our group explored the grand old colonial buildings that line the streets, watched hawker vendors serve up fast foods and took in the crowds of locals - young and old - enjoying first hand the bustling and festive atmosphere of this public space, something that no film, literature or photography could replicate.
In fact, to truly understand the complexity of Indonesia, you need to get up close and personal. The AEF program of visits, meetings and experiences, offered our group of Australian teachers the opportunity to get beneath the surface of real Indonesian life, develop more informed and deeper perspectives of Indonesia’s culture and enrich professional practice in Australian schools.
For further information, or to sign up for an upcoming AEF study program, visit: www.asiaeducation.edu.au/studyprograms