Rebekah Smith AIYEP 2018-2019

Monash University Graduate (Human Geography)


I was part of AIYEP 37 (2018-2019) to Riau, Sumatra. Our rural phase was in a small desa just outside of Siak town, which runs along the Siak river. Siak has a rich history of royal families, Dutch settlements and a mixture of Malay, Batak and Javanese ethnicities. My community development team was focussing on environmental management and education on waste and minimising plastic use/waste which was an issue the community raised. Aside from the amazing hospitality my host family poured out for me and my counterpart, one of my favourite memories was that they had a badminton court in their front yard and most mornings I would get up early to play with my host dad before the wind picked up. One of the biggest challenges in the whole program was probably saying goodbye to our village host families. The group had formed such an attachment with the village, as they had with us, and so leaving was hard.

Our urban phase was in Pekanbaru; the capital of Riau Province. I was placed at Indonesian Creative School, an international school where I was invited to run some classes on sport, Australian history and culture, and English. On my last day I led an aerobics session with all the senior school students and staff! My city host family were very heavily involved in politics (running for office), and so in approaching the 2019 election it was very eye-opening to learn more about what goes on behind the scenes in Indonesia’s political campaigns.

AIYEP was a hugely enriching experience for me in so many ways. It is an honour to have participated and built the friendships and other connections that I did through AIYEP!