5 Reasons You Should Apply for AIYEP

Applications for the Australia-Indonesia Youth Exchange Program close on September 20! Asia Options contributor Jesse Dass went through the program and he writes here why you should apply as well.

The Australia Indonesia Youth Exchange Program (AIYEP) is an annual program for young Australians and Indonesians (aged between 21-25) to be immersed in each other’s country while gaining professional experiences. Eighteen delegates from both countries are selected each year, with each group consisting of nine women and nine men.

Between 1982-2019, Australian delegates participated in a 2-month in-country experience. This involved a community-development rural stage and a professional internship urban stage in a selected Indonesian province. For the Indonesian delegates it was a 4-month program, in which they lived a rural town and the capital city of a selected Australian state/territory before joining the Australian delegates in the Indonesian phase. 

Due to COVID-19, AIYEP2020 was offered as a seven-week special virtual edition for both Australian and Indonesian delegates.  

I was selected for AIYEP 2019/20 in East Java and these reasons will be based on my own experiences with the program.  

1. It is not a student exchange program.

Based on the name, it is often assumed that AIYEP is a student exchange program at an Indonesian university. In reality, there are no exams and you do not step foot onto a campus to study. Provided they meet the other aptitude requirements, any young Australian aged 21-25 is eligible, regardless of whether they are studying, have graduated, working, or even attend a university. 

Even though it is not accredited to a university degree, AIYEP delegates still have the opportunity to complete a Global Competence Certificate which they include in their CV or post on LinkedIn. 

2. You are not required to speak fluent Indonesian.

The minimum language requirement for Australian delegates is a strong aptitude to learn the basics of Indonesian (Bahasa Indonesia) before the commencement of the program.

For myself, I had recently completed proficient Indonesian at university before I participated in AIYEP. After the two-month program, my Indonesian proficiency significantly improved. I learnt new vocabulary such as Indonesian slang from the Indonesian delegates and technical words from my internship. Moreover, my listening skills dramatically increased from hearing Indonesian being spoken for almost sixty days straight.

Even if you have never taken an Indonesian class, the program will give you the opportunity to learn a new language. I noticed that delegates with no prior Indonesian experience were able to gain basic skills within just a few weeks of the program. 

3. You gain first-hand experience in international diplomacy and community development.

AIYEP is sponsored by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and the Indonesian Ministry of Youth and Sports (Kemenpora) with the aim of promoting people-to-people bilateral relations. Delegates act almost like miniature representatives of their country during the program. For myself, I was asked many questions about Australia during my internship as a teaching assistant in Surabaya. I remember once being asked “ada nasi di Australi?” (“is there rice in Australia”) and I jokingly responded “nggak ada” (“no, there isn’t”) which made the class of Year 8 students laugh.

Outside of their internship experiences, AIYEP delegates are given a range of opportunities to learn about the Australia-Indonesia bilateral relationship and network with industry professionals. During AIYEP 2019/20, some of these opportunities included participating in a business hackathon in Brisbane, visiting the Australian and Indonesian embassies, and meeting the mayor of Surabaya, Tri Rismaharini (colloquially known as Ibu Risma). 

Moreover, creating a community development project is an essential part of the AIYEP experience and was still maintained in the online edition. This enables delegates to develop professional skills such as teamwork, communication, research, resilience, and cultural competence. Those interested in community development and international studies would be able to put their theoretical knowledge into practice. 

4. It is one of the most affordable ways to experience Indonesia. 

As a scholarship program, all necessary expenses are paid for. While the program was in-country, this included visas, flights, accommodation, uniform, and meals. Even though AIYEP2020 was online, there was no delegate fee or necessary out-of-pocket expenses. This meant that AIYEP2020 had less costs than other online alternatives to overseas experiences in Indonesia. 

For example, ACICIS online practicum programs cost $2700 and $3700 for member university students and non-member university students, respectively. There are $3000 New Colombo Plan mobility grants available for ACICIS program participants, however only undergraduate students from member universities who are receiving credit towards their degree are eligible. 

5. Personal development and life-long friendships across borders.

Delegates are encouraged to step out of their comfort zones, learn to handle culture-shock, and embrace cultural differences. You learn how to appropriately use different communication styles across cultures and reflect critically on your own cultural norms. After completing the program, I started to become more aware of the subtle differences between Indonesian and Australian cultures. For example, direct confrontation to disagreements is common in Australia, but this is usually considered disrespectful in Javanese culture.  

After spending several weeks with the same thirty-two people, you make lifelong friendships. Even over a year since my cohort finished the program, our WhatsApp group still gets regular messages and reminders of each other’s birthdays. By the end of the program, the delegation becomes a ‘keluarga’ (family) with a deeper interest in the bilateral relationship between Australia and Indonesia. 

Jesse in Java (supplied by author)

Ready to apply?

Nick Metherall has written a summary with further details on eligibility and the application process.

Good luck on your application! Semoga sukses!

Resources:

DFAT’s page on AIYEP https://www.dfat.gov.au/people-to-people/foundations-councils-institutes/australia-indonesia-institute/programs/aiyep/Pages/australia-indonesia-youth-exchange-program

Value Learning https://www.valuelearning.com.au/aiyep

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Jesse Dass is a Science and Global Studies undergraduate at Monash University, majoring in Ecology, Spanish, and Indonesian. In 2019, he participated in the 38th Australia Indonesia Youth Exchange Program (AIYEP) in East Java. He currently volunteers for the Australia Indonesia Youth Association (AIYA) and the Australia Latam Emerging Leaders Dialogue (ALELD).

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