With its beautiful culture and dynamic politics, the Asia-Pacific region is nothing but extraordinary. Sadly, many people do not know much about the region and often do not make enough effort to change that reality. I would know because I was one of them.
For a student majoring in International Relations student, I was somehow very oblivious towards the Asia-Pacific region’s significance and diversity, opting to do research and papers on more prominent regions like North America or Europe. Even if I do direct my attention towards the Asia-Pacific region, it was when I try to dissect stories from Indonesia (where my school is located), China, or India. The thought of doing papers about Asia-Pacific seldom crossed my mind as I never really was exposed and taught about the region in my academic journey.
It wasn’t until summer 2020 when, due to COVID-19, I could not go outside and enjoy my summer break like in previous years. Instead, I cooped up inside my room and searched for online activities to pass my time. I, then, stumbled upon a post for the Australia National University’s Asia Pacific Week on Youth Opportunities. I felt very drawn to the post, not sure if it was because it is a conference that revolved around a region I know very little about or because of its enticing theme and cross-cutting issues. Either way, I decided to sign up. I felt that it would be a good use of my time should I be selected as a delegate. So, when I obtained my acceptance letter (and the scholarship from Youth Opportunities), I was very excited as I knew that I would learn about something that my school didn’t teach me.
The four days of the conference definitely became the highlight of my year.
I had such a great time with the other Indonesian delegates. We would discuss the notions brought up by the speakers throughout the event, sometimes even encouraging each other to ask questions on the event’s Q & A box (and celebrate if the moderator chose any of our questions). This is particularly important because (as I have mentioned before) I am rarely exposed to the Asia Pacific region. Learning so much from the panelists and having people discuss it with about Asia-Pacific struck me, leaving me fascinated and more curious about the area and its people.
I would also engage in friendly conversations with other delegates from all around the region, talking about things ranging from their bedroom walls to their countries’ political dynamics. The fact that we all still interact with each other online, regardless of how limited our correspondence was, really surprises me.
My favourite activity with the other delegates was trivia night.
I have never felt so lucky to be inside a (meeting) room with so many bright people. They were able to answer the trivia questions effortlessly, whereas I was just sitting there in confusion. The Pacific Dance was also noteworthy. I learned such a philosophical and beautiful dance from the Pacific Islands, which I have never known before.
I regret nothing from joining ANU’s Asia Pacific Week. It enhanced my curiosity in learning about new subjects and regions. It has also helped me to get connected with intelligent people from all around the region, motivating me to become a better version of myself just like them. Finally, the event made me more confident in myself, my opinions, and the subject that I chose to study.
As Asia Pacific Week 2021 is right around the corner, I encourage you to register yourself as a delegate. You definitely will experience one of your most memorable and insightful summers ever.