Post C: Interview with University Student Haitami

As soon as we entered Lambung Mangkurat University’s campus in Banjarmasin I instantly began to compare the differences between the serenity of the wetlands that dot the campus with start and serious nature of the UTS tower. It’s always exciting to explore another university campus and to discover the varying ways in which a sense of community is forged alongside studying a degree, except this this experience was different, being in Banjarmasin a city with which I was both unfamiliar and embarrassingly bad at communicating with people.

It was here that I met Haitami, a Business Management student at Lambung Mangkurat University and was initially quiet but opened up about his life and ideas about the cigarette industry during our conversation. Haitami is originally from a small village some five hours away from Banjarmasin named Jamil (meaning ‘beautiful’), but rather than try to make the impossible happen and travel every day, he lives about a 20 minute walk from campus during semester. Haitami’s dedication to his studies is obvious, whilst he already attends classes five days a week he is a part of various university clubs whose meetings he attends on weekends. One of these endeavours includes being a part of AIESEC, with whom he was going to Thailand the following week to undertake a short-term volunteering trip.

During our conversation, Haitami was proud to announce that he himself was not a smoker, nor a fan of the smell it created and the negative impact on one’s health, having recently lost a brother-in-law to the effects of smoking. Still, he admitted that there is pressure to smoke in Indonesia, that it is expected of men to smoke (Hodal, 2012). He enjoyed telling me that the majority of the university campus was smoke-free, creating a more comfortable environment and the ability for non-smokers to be able to breather clean air, something which is often difficult to achieve in Banjarmasin.

Nonetheless, as our conversation continued I was surprised to learn more about Haitami’s perception of the importance of tobacco companies in a variety of aspects of life in Indonesia, including their sponsorship of music festivals, sports games and providing university scholarships to students from low socio-economic areas (Tobacco Free Kids, 2013). I began to realise that Haitami, alongside other Indonesians perceive the tobacco industry as playing an integral role across many aspects life in Indonesia, even expecting it due to the wide influence they wield and their deep pockets. I found this realisation to be particularly surprising, especially in trying to understand the paradox of an anti-smoking stance with a support of the tobacco industry.

Throughout the time I spent talking with Haitami, I became more aware of some of the nuances that make up the wicked problem that smoking is in Indonesia.  Whilst much of our time in Banjarmasin we looked at the issue of the cigarette itself, the influence of tobacco companies across other aspects of Indonesian life remains a complex web of issues that will take a long period of time to unravel.

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Myself and Haitami at Lambung Mangkurat University.

References

Daffi, R, 2012, ‘Taru Martani: A Story Of Cigars And Indonesia’. Latitudes, March 14, Viewed 20 January 2018, https://latitudes.nu/taru-martani-a-story-of-cigars-and-indonesia/

Hondal, K, 2012, ‘Indonesia’s smoking epidemic – an old problem getting younger’. The Guardian, 22 March, Viewed 20 January 2018, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2012/mar/22/indonesias-smoking-epidemic

Reynolds, C, 1999, ‘Tobacco advertising in Indonesia: “the defining characteristics for success”’. Tobacco Control, Volume 8, page 85 – 88. http://tobaccocontrol.bmj.com/content/8/1/85.info

The Jakarta Post, 2013, ‘Your letters: Tobacco sponsorship of sporting events’. June 20, Viewed 20 January 2018,  http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2013/06/20/your-letters-tobacco-sponsorship-sporting-events.html

Tobacco Free Kids, 2013, Oh Really? Tobacco-Sponsored Indonesia Jazz Festival Now Claims It’s Opposed to Youth Smoking. Viewed 20 January 2018, https://www.tobaccofreekids.org/blog/2013_02_27_jazz

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Post C: Primary Research | Interview with Kesuma Anugerah Yanti

The impact of cross-cultural experiences carry an array of advantages that may result in a greater global perspective and perceptual understanding or personal development and interpersonal relationships (Wilson 2009). As a country with half its citizens under the age of 30, studies have found that eight in ten Indonesian students are considering to study abroad for a variety of reasons such as cultural exploration, boosting their academic profile or improved career prospects (ICEF 2017). However, the attainability of such opportunities is heavily determined by the ease of access to information and financial support.

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Indication of the Indonesian survey respondents’ motivations for study abroad (AFS 2017)

For Kesuma Anugerah Yanti (Yanti), a mathematics major from Lambung Mangkurat University in Banjarmasin, her month-long study abroad in Thailand has opened up new avenues that have shaped her future goals. As a determined young student who contributes to the city of Banjarmasin through her duties as an International Officer at university and a contributor to the city’s local tourism Instagram page, Instanusantarabanjar, Yanti has her sights set on travelling the world.
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Yanti on her studies abroad in Thailand, teaching students English in Chiang Rai (Yanti 2018)

However, for students in Indonesia, this is a dream that is often only achieveable with the financial aid of scholarships or exchange programs. Yanti placed a heavy emphasis on the difficulty for youth to access the suitable information which would result in a successful application in Banjarmasin. While Lambung Mangkurat University work with sister universities in Thailand and the Philippines to send students abroad, for more job specific programs, students are forced to seek out external programs which are often financially demanding. Without the support of a scholarship, opportunities often go amiss and students in Banjarmasin succumb to their fate that perhaps studying abroad is impossible and thus, solely focus on earning an income instead.

Despite this, there are youth like Yanti who are continuously striving to attain this goal. When asked what she would like to pursue after university, she confidently responded with ‘I would like to find scholarships to continue studying and go abroad or work to keep studying. The most important goal for me is to go abroad again as my experience in Thailand allowed me to focus on myself, grow as a person and meet new people who helped me improve my English’ (Yanti 2018). Her willingness to self-learn Spanish is an attestation of her determination to travel as she has realised the benefits of going abroad. Additionally, Yanti strongly believes that it is incredibly important to emphasise to youth that money is not a limitation to pursuing opportunities abroad.

While it is evident that money is a concern that dictates the futures of many youth in Indonesia, young individuals like Yanti are examples of the growing desire for students to travel abroad despite the hardships they may face during the application process. It is also suggested that such international experience enhances university engagement, builds relationships between countries and resultantly will broaden the cross-cultural experiences for local students (Novera 2004). Overall, this interview has highlighted the need for a greater support for students in developing countries to embark on cross-cultural exchanges for they provide students with intrinsic that can only be obtained through experience.

References

ICEF Monitor 2017, Study finds that young Indonesians are highly motivated to study abroad, viewed 20 January 2018, < http://monitor.icef.com/2017/12/study-finds-young-indonesians-highly-motivated-study-abroad/>

Novera, I.A. 2004, ‘Indonesian Postgraduate Students studying in Australia: An Examination of their Academic, Social and Cultural Experiences’, International Education Journal, vol. 5, no. 4.

Wilson, A.H. 1993, ‘Conversation partners: Helping students gain a global perspective through cross-cultural experiences’, Theory Into Practice, vol. 32, no.1, viewed 20 January 2018, < http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00405849309543568?journalCode=htip20>