Meet our students
Find out why our postgraduate students choose to study, travel and work in the different countries of Southeast Asia, and what a difference it has made in their lives.
I first visited Indonesia in 1997, and the volcanoes, nasi goreng and legend of Nyai Loro Kidul were enough to convince me I wanted to learn more about this country. I returned to Sydney to study a Bachelor of Arts (Asian Studies) in Indonesian and History at UNSW, including a semester in Yogyakarta with the Australian Consortium for ‘In-Country’ Indonesian Studies (ACICIS). I graduated in 2002 with First Class Honours (Weaving the Country Together: Identities and Traditions in East Timor).
I joined the Department of Defence Graduate Program in 2003, and worked on the Indonesia and East Timor policy desks. I completed a Master of Arts (Strategy and Policy) in 2006 at UNSW@ADFA before joining the international team at Australia’s anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing (AML/CTF) agency, AUSTRAC. I am a Fellow of the Asialink Leaders Program (2009), which exposed me to a wide range of professionals, academics and government representatives, all passionate about Asia.
My focus shifted beyond Southeast Asia when I moved to Hong Kong in 2010. I worked in the Gallery team at the new Asia Society Hong Kong Center. I also had the opportunity to work at the Asia Society Museum in New York on their 2013 exhibition, Iran Modern. My work with the Asia Society has continued through my involvement in the inaugural Arts & Museum Summit in 2013. I completed my Masters of Museum Studies in 2013 as part of the University of Sydney’s Museum Studies program in Hong Kong.
I am now approaching the end of my first year of my PhD in Museum and Indonesian Studies, focusing on the illicit trade in cultural heritage in Indonesia. My research combines my interest in Indonesian culture and heritage with my professional experience in AML/CTF. I am also the SSEAC Postgraduate Representative.
Upon completing a Masters of International Public Health at the University of Sydney in 2010, I was successful in obtaining a position as an Australian Youth Ambassador for Development in Lao PDR. During my time in Laos, I worked on maternal and child nutrition programs. Both my Masters and work in the region cultivated my desire to further my studies and continue working in Southeast Asia.
I am now undertaking a PhD at the School of Public Health on the ‘Determinants of Maternal and Child Nutrition in Lao PDR’. Through my research I hope to develop a comprehensive understanding of the contextual factors contributing to the high levels of malnutrition in Laos. Since commencing my PhD in 2014, I have had the opportunity to travel to rural and remote villages of Laos for data collection purposes. These trips have provided me with a wonderful insight into the livelihoods of the communities in my study area.
I have also been fortunate to participate in a number of activities hosted by the Sydney Southeast Asia Centre. In 2014 I participated in the SSEAC Postgraduate Retreat, which was held in Dungog NSW. It was a great opportunity to meet and network with other postgraduate students doing research in the region and to develop and improve my research skills via a peer-learning process. I have also taken part in Lao language classes hosted by SSEAC to improve my communication with colleagues during fieldwork trips to Laos.
If someone asked me to describe what studying a PhD would be like 3 years ago, I would not have imagined anything close to the experiences I have had so far. I have not only developed my research skills, I have travelled to places I never knew existed, experienced new cultures, improved my language skills, worked with experts in my field and developed lifelong friends along the way.
I am originally from Yogyakarta, the so-called ‘Education City of Indonesia’, where I founded Sekolah Tumbuh in 2005, an inclusive school that caters for students with and without special needs; and Tumbuh Centre for Studies on Inclusive Education in 2012.
A strong interest in providing better education for children with disabilities has encouraged me to pursue my PhD in Special and Inclusive Education at the Faculty of Education and Social Work, thanks to Australia Awards. My research focuses on identifying exclusion within inclusive practices. My PhD project, specifically, highlights children's agency - children with and without special needs as co-researchers – and how they voice their views regarding inclusive practices at school via participatory photography and drawings.
Besides studying, I worked as a research assistant on a project titled 'Examining the Impact of Education Reform'; a study that investigated the achievements of the ‘Every Student, Every School’ initiative by the NSW Department of Education and Communities. I am also tutoring undergraduate students on positive approaches to Special Education. These experiences have contributed greatly towards my research and teaching skills.
Engagement with SSEAC, especially, has been very rewarding for both my social and professional life. The SSEAC Postgraduate Committee has provided me with links to students from various backgrounds. Moreover, SSEAC has enabled me to connect with academics in the Faculty of Health Sciences and undertake collaborative projects in Indonesia. The project, ‘Collaborative Action across Health and Education Sectors for Inclusion of Children with Disabilities in Education in Indonesia’ is one of the milestones of my PhD candidature.
My first contact with Burmese people was in Tokyo in 1982 when I was teaching Japanese as a second language, and it marked the beginning of my fascination with Burmese literature. I have had a long-term curiosity about the acceptance of modernity among non-western countries since I was an undergraduate student. These interests eventually came together in my PhD, which explores the culture of Myanmar.
In my research, I ask; following the fall of the Burmese kingdom, how have Burmese understood the modern idea of a ‘nation-state’? In constructing a biography of Shwe U Daung (1889 – 1973), my thesis investigates the enigma of nationalism from the perspective of a non-political elite. Shwe U Daung was a novelist, short story writer and translator, and well known as the creator of ‘San Shar the Detective,’ a Burmese adaptation of the Sherlock Holmes stories.
I obtained my M.A. (Burmese literature) from the Tokyo University of Foreign Studies and M. Phil (Modern Burmese intellectual history) from the University of Sydney. Since 2000, I have been teaching in the Department of Japanese Studies at the University of Sydney and in 2013, I conducted an intensive Burmese language course for SSEAC. In 1993, I also began performing as a Burmese classical singer in Myanmar and since 1996 have often sung for the Sydney Burmese community.