The uncertain future and our contribution (Speech at the Australia Awards: End of Year Celebration 2014)

17 November 2014, National Convention Centre Canberra, by Fitrian Ardiansyah (Recipient of Australian Leadership Award and Allison Sudradjat Award), PhD Candidate at the Australian National University.

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Delivering a speech at the Australia Awards: End of Year Celebration 2014 (photo by Emma Soraya)


The Honourable Dr Peter Hendy MP, distinguished academia (including Prof Richard Baker, glad to see you again), university staff, the Australian government officials and my fellow awardees,

Good afternoon! And congratulations to all my fellow awardees who – I believe – are excited to be able to finish our study, or start their journey to study here in Canberra. I believe we are also curious about our uncertain future when we are coming back homes or starting our study.

Well, let me tell you something, the future will always be uncertain, as the famous Albert Einstein once said “As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain; and as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality.” And by the way, this is also the framework and often stages of my PhD thesis, if you are uncertain with your thesis or study, this means you are in the right direction, because if you are so certain about your thesis or study, there is something wrong with your thesis or yourself. That is why when many of my friends often asked about my thesis, I often answered, well it was there but it was not yet there – with a big grin on my face.

However, I believe we all know that our future will be much exciting than our present or past. For those of you who were brought up by watching Star Trek, 2001 or many sci-fi movies in the 1980s (now you know how old I am), you would not believe yourself that one day you could communicate wirelessly, in real time, for instance. During my childhood, I remember vividly that the easiest way to connect wirelessly with someone else was to throw a scramble piece of paper at his or her head to get his or her attention, or really shouting from the distance like you are crazy or Tarzan like (without having to be naked of course).

I am an optimistic guy and hence I totally agree to what Mr Winston S. Churcill once said “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; [but] an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” I hope we can always overcome challenges in our future pathways and, in fact, change these into opportunities to make us better and to make the world a better place.

Well, one of the reasons why I am quite optimistic is because of my daughter, as you can see that I am taking her with me now (well, another reason to take her now is that I cannot afford anyone to babysit my daughter – the scholarship is running thin now :-). If I cannot change myself, my surroundings, my country and of course the region that I and we live in, the ones that will feel the most impacts, are her and her generations. I have been working and researching on environmental and economic issues and I believe we are connected to one and another and what we do, regardless whether it is small or big, will influence our life, now and in the future.

A good lesson-learnt while I was studying and living in Australia and discussing with scholars and many people alike is that you are the one that control your destiny. You are the one that can change the future of yourself and your country, and whether it is small contribution, it is still big in the realm of our world, especially if we do it together with our colleagues, friends and many like-minded peoples.

“If you think you are too small to be effective, you have never been in bed with a mosquito”. That was a quote from Bette Reese, an American officer and pilot.

With this quote, I will remind myself from now on to be as an effective person as if I am a mosquito, influencing myself and the world, bugging others with good messages, but hopefully not infecting others with malaria or dengue.

And with this as well, I will end by saying huge thanks to the Australian Awards and the Australian Government that provide this rare opportunity to live and study in Canberra, at the ANU, as well as to all ANU academia and staff, friends in Canberra and other states, my peers, that provide enjoyable study and research life that I will cherish for the rest of my life. To my lovely wife and children, I love you so much. Good evening and enjoy your night!

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Delivering a speech at the Australia Awards: End of Year Celebration 2014 (photo by Andro Prasetyo)



Canberra and its intellectual exchange opportunities

Published in Australia Awards, ARG News, May 2013

by Fitrian Ardiansyah,

Original link:

Canberra is like a second home to me. This is a city that I not only hold close to my heart but also value highly since it is a place enriched with opportunities for intellectual exchanges, harbouring some of the best Australian academic, political and historical sites—namely the Australian National University (ANU), the Parliament House and many other known museums.

The first period I spent in this beautiful landscape was back in 1999-2001. I had spent two years of my life undertaking graduate diploma and master courses at the ANU with the support of the Australia Awards.

It was a life changing experience.

This was the time when my academic logical thinking and writing skills were harnessed and sharpened. Since then, I have managed to produce more than 70 published op-eds, book chapters, journal articles and reports—the majority in English. I cannot be grateful enough to my lecturers and academic supervisors at the ANU as well as my peers.

This was also the time I experienced the dynamics of Indonesia, internally and as part of the Asian-Australian geopolitical realm. The year 1999 was a historical one marked with the first Indonesian election after the reform and, of course, the referendum of East Timor.

People in Australia followed the news in Indonesia eagerly. At one point, the administration of the Embassy of Indonesia needed to be relocated to another place since there were frequent demonstrations on issues pertaining East Timor taking place just outside the embassy.

Many Australian friends and other international students asked my opinion about the situation and whether Indonesia could be successful in overcoming this adversity.

As a nation, albeit facing various difficult challenges, we proved that we certainly could overcome our own adversity and change our future for the better.

Canberra provided me with another valuable opportunity to connect with Australian professionals, businesses and civil servants who have great interests in Indonesia. Through the Australia-Indonesia Business Education Network (AIBEN), in which I was actively involved, I had great experience serving as an intern at Environment Australia and presenting my master thesis before a number of key people at this institution.

This excellent connection has been maintained to this day.

When I went back to Indonesia, the overall knowledge, skills and experience obtained in Canberra have definitely made me a much more confident person.

Therefore, after working for quite a while on environmental, climate change and sustainability issues in Indonesia as well as at regional and global levels, the offer to apply for another scholarship to pursue a PhD in Australia was a no-brainer to me.

I did my IELTS test and was interviewed in 2009. That same year, the Australia Awards office and the Australian Embassy in Jakarta informed me that not only was I granted an Australia Awards Leadership Program that would support me in undertaking my PhD study, I was also granted the Allison Sudradjat Award—named after an AusAID leading figure who died in the airplane crash in 2007.

It was like a dream come true.

The choice of the city for me is of course Canberra again.

My second journey in Canberra commenced in June 2010. That year I was also double—if not triple—blessed because my wife received an Australia Awards Leadership Program at the end of 2010 to help her pursue her master study and it was the year our little daughter was born.

Canberra is the right city to balance one’s academic and family lives. It offers abundant green sceneries and fresh air. Since we like running and outdoor activities, the city is perfect as it offers lots of running and cycling tracks.

When it comes to advancing intellectual interaction among academics and professionals, Canberra has no shortage of platforms, activities and initiatives. In fact, I was asked to be a coordinator of one of the initiatives, Indonesia Synergy (IS).

IS is a knowledge network initiated by young Indonesian scholars from various universities in Canberra, Australia. It aims to facilitate the sharing of information and exchange of ideas as well as academic and professional networking with a strong Indonesian focus.

We managed to convene frequent discussions and speeches including those delivered by well-known leaders from Indonesia, Australia and other countries. Through IS, we also brought about a closer connection among students, professionals and key institutions such as AusAID, the Indonesian Embassy in Canberra, as well as universities and research institutions in Indonesia and Australia.

If anyone is looking for a rich intellectual discourse, Canberra is the city to be in.

Also, with this year’s centenary celebration at this capital city of Australia, students are further experiencing cultural, historical, political and academic exchanges and we are definitely part of this joy and celebration.

The writer is PhD Candidate at the Australian National University and the recipient of the Australia Awards Leadership Program and Allison Sudradjat Award.

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