Cambodia Reflective Journal

3/1/15 – 4/1/15

After over 24hrs of travel due to booking my flights late I finally arrived in Phnom Penh! Upon driving out of the airport my first impression of Cambodia are its crazy roads! Almost the first motorbike I saw had a mother, father and two young children on it. What was most surprising was that the parents were wearing helmets but the children were not. The rest of my first day consisted of visiting the Central market to get a phone charger and adapter. This involved riding my first Tuk Tuk which is so much fun and so affordable! Later that day our team leader, Zoe, arrived as well as one of my other team members Adam. That night we went to a restaurant on the river front called ‘The FCC’ which Zoe said is a bit of an establishment here in Phnom Penh. We also visited the night markets before walking back to the hostel and going to bed exhausted!

Having a proper night’s sleep meant we were all ready to start the day with some more exploring. After a quick breakfast at the hostel, two more team mates arrived. Guided by Zoe, we decided to all visit Phnom Wat, a temple in the city. We were lucky enough to experience traditional music and see the local people make offerings to Budda and pray. After this we walked to the national gallery to view some of the ancient Cambodia sculptures from places such as Angkor Wat. After our busy morning it was time to eat again. We settled on having lunch at the restaurant of a local organisation which trains street youth in cooking and hospitality. Hopefully we can find inspiration from places such as this when devising our own business plan in Kampot.

5/1/15 – 6/1/15

Before we departed Phnom Penh to travel to Kampot, Zoe suggested that it might be a meaningful experience for us to visit the genocide museum in Phnom Penh- the high school that was used as a prison during the civil war. The prison has been left exactly as it was found when it was liberated, creating a ghostly feeling about the place. This was a valuable and moving experience as it helped communicate the magnitude of the death and injustice that happened during that period in Cambodia. We then hopped in another Tuk Tuk and had the privilege of vising the iconic ‘White Building’ (that is now grey) in the centre of the city. It was built in the 1960s as public housing and now is an entire community within itself. We were specifically visiting a social enterprise that is based in the White Building called ‘Sa Sa Art Projects’ who aim to create community engagement and support contemporary Cambodian art. That day we had lunch at yet another social enterprise called ‘Daughters’ which trains and gives jobs to former women sex workers. We finished the day with a 2.5 hour bus trip to Kampot then a welcome dinner and drinks with other Lightbox and Mayibuye volunteers.

The 6th was our first serious day of work. The day started with splitting our project into two parts (marketing and strategic) then brainstorming our objectives for the week. This brought us to lunch at the local social enterprise called ‘Epic Arts’ which employs and trains disabled people in Kampot. We also checked out the space we will be working with at Lightbox for the arts space and bar we are going to make the business model for. The final activity of the day was a team building exercise before making the schedule for the rest of the week.

7/1/15 – 8/1/15

Wednesday the 7th was a day used to gather background information about what is currently in Kampot as well the viability of our idea of a gallery/bar. We started off this research by conducting SWOT analysis’s of businesses and social enterprises in the region. This was useful in starting the critical thinking process. We then decided that gathering primary information would also be useful. We wrote a number of questions to ask business owners and tourists/expats in the Kampot area. I went to other guesthouses in Kampot to speak to guests about whether they would be interested in an art gallery/bar. The response was mostly positive and also gave us some really valuable feedback and inspiration. From that we were able to construct a customer profile which will help shape the development of the business further.

The next day we had the privilege of vising the local state school where Mayibuye (partner organisation to Lightbox) runs arts and culture programs for its students. We provided some craft activities for the kids to do and they performed a few of the dances they had been learning through Mayibuye. It was great to see the impact that Mayibuye is having as well as seeing first why the success of Lightbox is vital for the funding of the Mayibuye program.

9/1/15 – 11/1/15

I spent the last working day of our first week developing our crowd funding campaign. We decided to go with the crowd funding platform Indiegogo due to the fact that their fee structure seems the most desirable. We set a goal of raising $8000 in 30 days, it might be a stretch by I think we can do it! That afternoon we filmed some interviews with Zoe and me to include in the video for our fund raising page. Looking back on the week I can see we have come so far already and are really gelling as a team. I can’t wait for next week. But first a relaxing weekend that involved a trip to the women’s spa and 21st birthday celebrations for one of the girls in our group.

12/1/15 – 18/1/15

This week was all about beginning to make our ideas a reality! We knew on the Friday, Lightbox was having an event which would give the Mayibuye kids a chance to perform as well as giving us a chance to test our initial vision for Lightbox. The week started off researching where we might source the materials such as furniture as well as deciding on a food and drinks menu. However, as the event was on Friday we had to pretty much get straight into it. I had developed a mood board on Pinterest which guided how we decorated the interiors. This included painting the cane furniture white, buying indoor plants and getting a local woman to make us cushions from fabric I bought at the Kampot markets. We also had to do a lot of promotion for the event, mostly in the form of handing out flyers around Kampot. Our biggest challenge was probably the budget as the only money available was the $600 people raised before we came to Cambodia.

The Friday of the event was an intense day as everything had to be put together at the last minute but it was a great night! A decent crowd turned out for the dance performances and most people bought at least one cocktail although the tapas weren’t as popular (despite being delicious!). Holding the event was a really valuable experience as it indicated what worked, what didn’t, and what we could do differently.

As it is about half way through the program, myself and 4 others took a mini break to Kep, a beach village about 30 minutes from Kampot. It is very quiet but it’s great to chill out in preparation for next week!

19/1/15 -23/1/15

This has been the most challenging week of the project so far. The number one aim for this week was to work on and complete the business plan. Whilst we are not yet done, I am so impressed by how hard everyone has worked and what we have been able to achieve. We already had a half completed business plan which the co-founder of Lightbox wrote which has been a useful source of information but otherwise we had to start again! This really highlighted how great it is to be on a trip with people who are from all different University faculties. We were able to utilise the skills of everyone in one way or another. For example, the person who is majoring in accounting did the finances while the girl who is doing design has done all the design work.

Next week is the pitch to investors, so I imagine we are going to be working very hard in preparation for it. But first, we have another three day week which we are using to go up Bokor Mountain and have two nights in beach town Sihonoukville.

24/1/15 – 30/1/15

Just when I thought things couldn’t get any more hectic we have managed to move things up a notch! Everyone is adding the final touches to the business plan which we planned to have finished at the beginning of the week however it is continually being proof read and edited. Thankfully, the line was drawn on Thursday afternoon. It was a great feeling compiling all our hard work together and sending it off to be read by investors! That night and the following morning focus turned to the pitch which was scheduled to take place over an internet meeting on Friday afternoon. Three of the most confident speakers in our group were chosen to lead the pitch with everyone else stepping in during question time. Overall the pitch was a success and went very smoothly. Everyone was knowledgeable during their speeches and in answering questions. It was also obvious how attached and passionate we had become about the whole project.
After the pitch we celebrated by having a night out at our favourite bar, listening to live music. This was a great way to round of an incredible experience with incredible and passionate people. It is something I will never forget and continuously look back upon when informing my own life.

Mitsui & Co. Ltd. NCP Program UTS 2015 February Blog

By Neil Li
I, together with 11 other aspiring UTS students were fortunate enough to be selected as the first group of students to visit Mitsui & Co. Ltd. in Japan on a 2 week immersion internship under the Federal Government’s New Colombo Plan. The aim of the plan is to further Australian students’ understanding of and links with the Indo Pacific region.

Mitsui is one of the largest companies in Japan; the 10th largest Japanese company on the Forbes 2000 list. Known as a sogo shosha (general trading company), its business areas covers Energy, Metals/Minerals, Machinery & Infrastructure, Chemicals, Lifestyle, and Innovation & Corporate Development, with a sizable global reach of offices in 65 countries

As a trading (import/export) company, and with a strong presence and long history (since 1901, Federation) in Australia, Mitsui is keen to deepen relationships and enhance knowledge between Japan and Australia. This is one of the reasons why Mitsui has been so generous, together with the Federal Government and UTS, in supporting this study tour of Japan.

1 – First Day of Program
For the 2 week program, we learned about Mitsui’s history and values, overall business structure, and its main Australian operations in the first week. The roots of the business stretch back to 1673 when Takatoshi Mitsui opened a textile (kimino) store called Echigoya in Edo (present day Tokyo). Through innovative business practices, Echigoya became the largest textile store in the Edo period, and thanks to sound business decisions over many generations, eventually developed into the modern day Mitsui Group. The modern Mitsui company is composed of trading activities in each of its main business areas, which are also complimented by investments in each business area.
Mitsui has four main project areas in Australia – salt, wood chip, LNG and iron ore.

Mitsui’s salt farms in Shark Bay and Onslow WA, is noteworthy for its 100% ownership by Mitsui, which also means that Mitsui is responsible for the management of its operations.
Mitsui’s treefarms and woodchip production facilities in WA and Victoria facilitate the eventual production of paper, satisfying our everyday need for this commodity.

Mitsui is an investor in the North West Shelf project in WA, which is responsible for more than 40% of Australia’s oil & gas production. The oil and gas is mainly exported to major Japanese utility companies.

Mitsui has joint venture partnerships with BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto iron ore mines in the Pilbara region of WA. The iron ore is then exported to Chinese and Japanese steel mills, for processing into steel products.

I had not known about most of Mitsui’s Australian operations until the briefing sessions. It really showed me how much Mitsui’s operations were contributing to the stable supply of raw materials that are eventually used for the production of everyday goods that we all enjoy.

In addition to learning about Mitsui in their Tokyo offices, we were fortunate to learn about Japan in general during our planned field trips. These included the TEPIA museum visit, the Toyota factory and museum visit, the QVCJ TV shopping factory and TV studio visit, and the Kimitsu steel mill visit. We were also invited to the Australian Embassy in Tokyo for a networking lunch. The highlight of these visits for me was the Toyota car assembly factory tour. I was amazed at the sheer speed and synchronised flow of the robotic arms used on the car body frame; with around 8 arms operating on one car in such a tight and constricting area of space. It was very special to have visited the production facilities of a world class company such Toyota.

2- Kimitsu Steel Mill Visit

But in addition to the briefing sessions and site visits, we were tasked with 2 groupwork projects to process what we had learned into presentations. The 1st presentation of graphically portraying Mitsui’s history and Australian operations was good training for the 2nd larger presentation we had to present on the final day of the internship. That involved identifying a business opportunity that Mitsui could take part in, which would best support Australia into the future. We felt even more relaxed when we were told Mr. Takahashi, CEO of Mitsui Australia, senior Mitsui, Australian Embassy and Japanese government representatives would all be witnessing our presentation. Despite the other team gaining an edge for the 1st task, we came up with an impressive 2nd presentation which recommended Mitsui to invest in a solar powered electricity generation farm in Australia, which would also see Mitsui playing a leadership role in dealing with climate change.

13 – Final Presentation

Fittingly, the finale to the 2 week program, the closing reception dinner, immediately followed the final presentation, where we could all celebrate the two weeks that we spent together and what we had achieved with our groupwork collaboration in this short space of time. I believe it was a successful 2 weeks for the pilot New Colombo Plan undertaken by UTS and Mitsui, and has helped establish many new and meaningful relationships between members from each country.

24 – Getting our Certificates

Apart from the schedule organised by Mitsui, we also had free time ourselves during the public holiday and weekends to explore Tokyo. What I came away mostly was just how courteous and civil the general population was in all aspects of life. From lining up, to walking on the street, to waiting for the pedestrian lights, everything was done in such an orderly and responsible manner, with the impact of one’s action on others always on the mind of each Japanese citizen.

35 – Final Group Photo

Lastly I would just like to thank Mitsui, the Australian Government, UTS and all other stakeholders in supporting this amazing program. I would also like to thank Ippei and Chie, our Mitsui internship staff who was with us all the time in these 2 weeks and who were so helpful and supportive all the way through. I got to learn and experience so much of Japan that I could not have done just by reading and watching articles and media about it. What I had expected Japan to be beforehand were many times, different to what I had witnessed. It was such a wonderful experience that I will remember for a very long time.

Reflection on Mitsui Internship Program

Japan’s Culture


Since I have studied Japanese in high school, I had a general idea of what I expected Japan to be prior to visiting Japan for the first time through this internship program. However, there were many occasions where I have experienced this so-called ‘culture shock’, from high-tech Japanese toilets to efficient train systems, you can’t help but compare what you have and don’t have back at home. Just like how I love the train systems in Japan as it was just so efficient that they were always exactly on time, in which I wished we had in Sydney! This just goes to show that Japan’s culture generally have a way of placing systems that just ‘works’ and are ‘hassle free’. Learning about these ‘culture shocks’ was always an interesting learning experience for me because what I see as ‘normal’ back at home is not what is normally done in Japan. In which I sometimes must remind myself that each country has their way of doing things differently and we need to respect them by learning their ways.


I was fortunate enough to have a very unique experience by learning about the ‘business’ culture of Japan. Mitsui’s internship program gave me this very rare opportunity to experience the business culture that I will probably never experience in the future. It was intriguing to see the disparity in the work culture when comparing it to Australia. For example, Japanese workers are known for working extremely hard and long hours whereas in Australia we aim to achieve work-life balance. This was a shock to me as it made me wonder how the Japanese workers are able to achieve work-life balance, while staying motivated, when they are always working long and hard hours? Another aspect I noticed in the business culture would be the formalities and deep respect portrayed by the employees. The workers tend to demonstrate lots of respect to their colleagues, even more so when speaking to their seniors or bosses. It is also part of formalities to bow when greeting and exchange business cards when greeting each other for the first time. Japanese workers have admirable work ethics from what I have experienced while staying at Mitsui’s office.

Understanding Japan’s diverse and rich culture was one of my most pleasant and memorable learning experiences while in Japan as the more I learn about their culture the more I could understand the people and their ways.

Mitsui and Co.’s Philosophy and their Role


One of the most lasting impressions I left from this program was mainly Mitsui’s role between
Australia and Japan, and its business philosophy, Mitsui’s business philosophy as ‘Mitsui is people’,
‘Challenge and Innovation’, ‘Open-mindedness’ and an invaluable quote “Avoid infatuation with immediate advantage. For enduring long prosperity, harbour grand aspirations” from the founder of

Mitsui, Takashi Masuda, which basically means that we should not be greedy and look for short term profit, as by looking at longer term and thinking ‘bigger’ will ensure profits will just come through achieving great aspirations. These core values have left a lasting mark within me because I found that their values for the business was so much more then gaining profit and dominance over their competitors. It gave me an alternative perspective on how to approach business projects in the future that could someday be deemed highly beneficial and valuable. These values are important to ensure the ‘3 way good’, which is ‘good for the buyer, good for the seller, and good for society’, is achieved in unison.


I have come to understand the importance of Mitsui’s role in providing sustainability for Japan’s economy and globally. They have such extensive operations located in almost all parts of the world that I never knew existed. To name a few, some of the business operations include energy, agriculture, Iron-Ore, wood chipping, salt, food and health. By looking at these diverse operations it has allowed me to gain a basic knowledge on what they are and how they operate. It gave me an insight on their logistics, distribution centres and the value chain methods, which allowed me to understand how the business operations all tie together. I was fortunate to visit many of the sites, such as the Toyota manufactory, Kimitsu steel mines, QVC headquarters and a few museums to grasp a better understanding on their vast operations that also reflects on Mitusi’s history and philosophy. This certainly highlighted how Mitsui’s business model has enabled them to remain successful to this day for many years. They have enriched my knowledge and skills that will be useful in my endeavours in hopes to achieve the same aspirations.

My Personal Growth and Development

Throughout the program, I have been fortunate to gain invaluable life lessons and professionals skills that I can apply in my future endeavours. I have managed to gain more confidence in myself where I feel like I am capable enough to achieve much more if you can put your mind to it. I am now able to go speak to higher profile people, such as executives, and talk with them without feeling intimidated and shy. This has certainly improved my communication skills, especially when set in a teamwork environment, where sharing ideas and communicating is vital. The intern has provided many group work activities for this purpose to ensure we are able to effectively work as a team, carry out our responsibilities and achieve results. Being able to speak with inspiring leaders has led me to hopefully pursue similar aspirations as I return to Sydney filled with motivation, a matured mindset and in search for a fulfilling career. Since I am studying business and Japanese language studies, this intern fits very nicely in supplementing my degree to ensure I can pursue possible career prospects in this area where it involves bilateral relations between Japan and Australia. It was a privilege to be able to be part of this prestigious program that will only happen once in a lifetime, and for that, I am thankful for this experience, as I have learned so much that I know that I will never ever forget.

– Written by Julee Nguyen – Tran
( Bachelor of Business and Bachelor of Arts in International Studies)

‘Midwifery in Bali’ Reflection

I didn’t quite know what to expect when I applied for this experience. Was I going to be delivering babies in rural areas with little resources? Was I going to spend the day with a Balinese midwife? Was I going to see and learn midwifery in a different culture that would change my approach in my practice? Well, this trip was certainly not what I expected however was filled with valuable and memorable moments and below are my thoughts and reflections.

Day one we arrived at Rumah Sehat Madani Clinic, a local birth centre in Denpasar. The midwives were warm and welcoming. We were given a presentation on the centre and some key aspects of midwifery including gentle birth. We then had a tour of the facilities there. I love that this clinic are practicing ‘grass roots’ midwifery and it reminded me of the power of birth and to have as little intervention as possible with women in labour. The facilities were basic, however, they had all the essential resources they needed and it had a very ‘home-like’ environment for women to birth in which I believe we need more of in Australia.

We continued on to visit Yayasan Rama Sesana, a not-for-profit reproductive health clinic based in the heart of the local markets in Denpasar, which has been operating for 11 years. When we arrived we had a presentation of the work that the clinic do and how they serve their local community. We then had a tour of the markets and saw their volunteers in action. I was so impressed by their work. They are educating women in their workplace to change health outcomes. It reminded me again of how important education is and how it empowers women and changes a community.

On day one we visited a private hospital, Kasih Ibu General Hospital and the next morning we saw a provincial public hospital, RSUP Sanglah Hospital. We were given presentations on their facilities and services as well as a tour. The standard of these hospitals was far greater than I had expected. They had all the resources that we have access to in Australian hospitals. We discussed midwifery care that was provided which was not dissimilar to the care we provide in Australian hospitals. They had a huge focus on breastfeeding however the mother did not always room in with her newborn. They had high rates of natural birth and low rates of caesarean and instrumental births. Sadly, they are striving to become ‘more like Australia’ however my fear is that perhaps this means higher intervention rates. They need to embrace the ‘natural birth’ culture that is present in Bali. I loved seeing the neonatal intensive care units in these hospitals. Again, I was impressed with the resources and level of care. It was evident that they deal with many different diseases and abnormalities than we would in Australia, mainly HIV/AIDS.

Day two we also visited the Midwifery Academy of Kartini Bali, the university where midwives are educated. This was a huge cultural experience. We walked into an ‘International Seminar’ with traditional Balinese music, dancing and dress. Here, the head of the university as well as the head of Midwifery in Bali spoke. Our own, Dr. Christine Catling was the guest speaker. Again, education is quite similar to Australia however you must be under the age of 25 to be eligible for the course.

My favourite place we visited was on day four where we went to the Bumi Sehat Foundation (Healthy Mother Earth Foundation) in Ubud. Ms Robin Lim, a midwife and founder of the organization, is an amazing and inspiring woman. The clinic offers free medical services to the local community. This was probably the closest experience to ‘my expectations’ of the trip. It was raw, rural and down to earth midwifery in action. No glamour, just the bare essentials and a whole lot of love to offer these women. We sat with Robin for hours, hearing her stories and asking questions about the centre which has been operating for 20 years and relies on the generosity of many people around the world. It is a place where you can have a traditional Balinese birth with all its beliefs and rituals if you wish to do so. Bali is a very spiritual place and birth is seen as a very spiritual event. This place left an impression on my heart to use my skill for the greater good wherever I choose to practice. This place was one of empowerment and embrace.

Day five, we arrived at the YogaBarn Ubud. This was a great, fun experience to do as a group. We had a private yoga class, presentation about yoga during pregnancy and a tour of the facilities. This was interesting and got me thinking how I could include this in my practice and encourage movement during pregnancy. I often think about the alternative approaches that we can offer women who may not want conventional ideas.

Our last official engagement was on day nine at the Senang Hati Foundation, which assists people living with physical disabilities. In Bali, disabled people are seen as outcasts so this is a really important organization that provides an accepting environment where they can improve the quality of life for these people. We had a presentation, tour and got to talk with the residents. This was not related to midwifery but was still a good experience.

Overall, we had many engagements and cultural activities, which were thought provoking and eye opening. I really enjoyed getting to know the other students and sharing this experience with them. I had been to Bali before so the culture was not a shock for me however I was surprised by how similar midwifery in Bali is to Australia. As a result, this trip was not as challenging as I expected it to be and I feel I did not learn as much as I thought I would. It was truly a fantastic experience and I feel that it will make me a better midwife. I have a new appreciation for the resources and standard of care we do have in Australia and that we are leading by example on a global platform.

BMids in Bali

January 2015 saw a team of 26 from the University of Technology, Sydney, head over to Bali to develop their understanding of midwifery from an international perspective. We spent twelve days across a variety of locations including urban Denpasar, rural Ubud, and tourist centres such as Sanur and Kuta.

Over the twelve days we visited Kasih Ibu General Hospital (a private hospital), RSUP Sanglah hospital (a public hospital) and two birth centres – Rumah Sehat Madani and Bumi Sehat. This allowed us to consider the contrasts and inequalities that exist in the Balinese maternity care system – from the private hospital’s pride in their technical equipment, to the crowded postnatal ward at the public hospital, to the blow up paddle pool that substituted for a birth pool at a birth centre run by midwives.

Students were moved by the passion and commitment of midwives in the face of many challenges, and by the way they incorporated tradition and spirituality into birthing practices. They were affected by specific encounters such as that with a 4 month old orphaned baby still at the hospital whose mother died of an HIV related condition, and a mother caring for her premature baby using kangaroo care. Many found Robin Lim at Bumi Sehat inspirational in her holistic approach to birth and commitment to women and babies.

We visited an outstanding example of primary health care – a health clinic in the largest market in Denpasar called Yayasan Rama Sesana. This clinic provided onsite general and sexual health care and education to the women of the market, overcoming issues of accessibility and pressures of time and finances for women who work very long hours for minimal return. They trained peer educators to provide education within the market on general sexual and reproductive health. We saw this in action – and met the women in the market who did this work.

Perhaps the most beneficial visit was to Kartini Academy, a midwifery training school named after a Balinese woman who died unnecessarily from PPH. Unexpectedly, this was touted as an International seminar with talks from the president of the Balinese College of Midwives, a leading midwife from RSUP Sanglah Hospital, and Dr Christine Catling from UTS. The whole event was lavish, with music and dancing for entertainment, and food provided. This visit was so helpful because it gave us an insight as to how midwives are trained in Bali and allowed us to talk at length with Balinese student midwives. It built international relationships with many who will be involved in hosting the ICM conference which is to be in Bali in 2020. On behalf of Caroline Homer and the ACM, Christine was able to offer our support and help for this conference, which was gratefully accepted.

Other visits were made to less specifically midwifery related projects, such as schools and a disability support organization. Although these were not midwifery based, they were a helpful tool for understanding the cultural context in which the Bali maternity system operates. Other cultural events and visits including temples, traditional dances and music, cycling through villages and visiting significant landmarks also helped round out our cultural understanding. We attended a Yoga class and learned more about the benefits of antenatal yoga. This was so popular that many students returned for more classes while we stayed in that area.

As in any cross cultural experience, there were some challenges. Students found the poverty and lack of access to basic health care and education distressing at times. The pride in the medicialisation of childbirth and a set of stirrups standard on every bed was disappointing. The sad state of many of the street animals was upsetting to some. A number of the team faced a variety of minor health challenges, and those missing children starting school were particularly home sick. Many were embarrassed at the constant show of hospitality and gratitude in the form of food and gifts. Tiredness, busyness, the constant presence of other people and lack of privacy, the language barrier and the ongoing demand for cultural sensitivity were draining. The size of the group was challenging to accommodate at some visits. And of course the nagging question of what we do with what we have learned? Having seen the needs, is it enough just to go home and incorporate a few useful ideas into our own practice?

Aside from a developed understanding of international midwifery, the other big advantage of the trip was the experience of collegiality. The team consisted of a mix of 2014 1st, 2nd and 3rd year BMid students, supervised by lecturer Dr Christine Catling, with ages ranging from 18 to early 50s. This varied range of life and midwifery experience created a dynamic team that benefitted greatly from the mix of unbridled enthusiasm and the grounding voice of experience and wisdom. Students identified this as a highlight of the trip. There was a natural camaraderie built between a group of women who share similar passions, and it was wonderful to be able to “talk shop” without feeling that we were boring others in our lives with yet another birth related story! Within year groups students will now go back to study together with a new passion for midwifery and depth of relationship that the joint experience afforded. Across year groups, friendships were built that will support students through hospital placements over the next few years, and be rekindled at conferences and training days for years to come. We are indebted to Christine for her gracious leadership and guidance, and to UTS for envisioning and organising such an amazing experience for us. Most of all we are grateful to the beautiful midwives and mothers of Bali for their wisdom, and allowing us a small insight into their practice and experience of birth.

Nicola Morley
Student Midwife/Registered Midwife

‘Modern Medicine, Holistic Health Care’

Our recent trip to Bali as part of the Midwifery in Indonesia has left me reflecting on a concept suggested by Robin Lim of the Bumi Sehat Birthing Centre, that birth revolves around three aspects: spiritual, nature and science. And indeed the more that this concept is thought about the more it can be seen in everyday life of Bali and the Hindu culture, as well as our own.

The spiritual aspect of birth seems to revolve around the act and rituals involved in the process itself. For instance, at Bumi Sehat Birthing Centre, the idea of ‘Gentle Birth’ is practiced, respect is shown for the new individual and the change in roles of the soon to be mother by keeping interventions to a minimum, lights dimmed, and noises soft. When the newborn arrives, all those who witnessed the birth sing a spiritual or religious song from the culture that the newborn will be raised in, usually Hindu, Islam or Christianity.

This spiritual aspect seems to resonate highly with the work of midwives, even in Australia, as we act to provide the rituals, routines and practices that women associate with birth. In the broader Balinese society, spirituality plays a large part of everyday life, as almost all actions and objects have a sacred meaning and associated ritual, making life in general a spiritual journey. To reflect on my own practice in line with spirituality, I feel that more emphasis should be put on the woman’s wishes during labour and birth. As midwives, it is our opportunity to create the spiritual space and experience, which many women crave in this life event.

If the spiritual aspect of birth can be viewed as a midwife’s domain, than nature is most definitely that of the woman. This trip has taught me many things on what is often included in a birthing room, compared to the necessities in a birthing room. In comparison to many of the hospitals visited on this trip, the two birthing centres visited concentrated and respected the instincts of the mothers. Their practice seemed to revolve around allowing nature to take it’s course, and monitoring in order to provide interventions only when necessary. This was in stark contrast to both the public and private hospitals visited, whose focus involved care based on technology, distancing themselves from the idea of ‘normal birth’.

The final aspect of birth suggested in this model is science, a domain traditionally held by doctors, but with the rise in technology, has become more available to both midwives and women. This was particularly evident in the presentations by the hospitals visited in that questions were usually half answered by Obstetricians and other doctors, and then answered in full by midwives, often accompanied by evidence in the literature.

It became clear early on that women in Indonesia have numerous choices when it comes to birth, whether that is hospitals or birthing centres, similar to what is found in Australia. And likewise, women are often uninformed of the choices available in both countries. This educational experience has made me re-examine my views on hospital-care and come to the conclusion that as midwives, as long as we allow spirituality, nature and science to shine through in our practice, it does not matter what establishment we provide care in. Furthermore, experiencing many cultural activities as well as those related to midwifery has shown me that these three aspects can be related to everyday life beyond the world of maternity.

10 photos of the trip

afSexual health education in the market place








adMidwife holding pot in which the placenta is placed before being buried under the family home










aeThird year midwifery students at Kartini School performing a dance based on the international understanding of midwifery, in traditional Balinese style










azSymbol of Bumi Sehat Birthing Centre






















acRobin Lim discussing international midwifery issues with the group























avSmall temple next to Tanah Lot














abTanah Lot temple
















anPreschoolers associated with the Bali Children’s Project










aySchool children associated with the Bali Children’s Project














auDrum circle with Senang Hati Foundation




Bali High Vlog

Firstly I’d like to congratulate and thank those responsible for organising the program for midwifery students in Bali! It was so well organised and provided such a comprehensive look at Public Health in Bali, and I learnt, not only about the amazing work being done in the various organisations to better the lives and health of the population, but also learnt so much about myself and the other students. It has refocused my drive to earn my degree and use it to exact change and growth.

I have simply put together a short film of images. Hope you enjoy!

Indonesia CommTECH 2015 – Oh The Fun

There’s no better bonding than that over a meal. On the first night we were taken to a welcome dinner where we were given a range of traditional Indonesian dishes to share amongst our table. These included oriental noodle dishes, seafood and rice. We were also provided with live entertainment in the form of a musical band and singer, which was made entirely of the volunteers who were to show us around for the next 10 days.


We also had to present skits in groups we had made earlier in front of the entirety of the CommTECH participants and volunteers. This was an exciting and nervous occasion, where 15 minutes of preparation was all we were given before being shafted onto a stage and told to entertain the audience.


My group decided to adopt my idea of playing ‘The Macarena’ (free styling of course) and pulling everyone up onto the dance floor. Coincidentally enough, we were the last group to present and, with some coaxing, everyone got up and I lead the audience in The Macarena. This was an amazing experience to ignite an entire room of people into the same dance with barely any organisation and was considered by all attending a huge success.


Not much is more difficult than learning a language. I myself can speak a small amount of Arabic, my home language, aside from English, and find this difficult enough. As you can tell from our puzzled faces, learning Bahasa was not an easy task.

We were taught, and by ‘taught’ I mean repeated once or twice, the pronunciation of some greetings, numbers, colours and shapes. Some people picked it up faster than others, of course those from Malaysian and other students with Asian backgrounds found learning Bahasa much easier than the majority of the Anglo-Saxon and otherwise Western participants. I personally forgot how to say ‘thank you’, even after many repetitions. It was then that I decided to stick to English and simply nod or smile when greeted in Bahasa. I was however fond of repeating ‘Apa Kabar’ or ‘how are you’, as I enjoyed hearing the response ‘baik baik saja’ [phonetically pronounced: bike – bike –sa- ja] which I found hilarious.


During one of our many days on the university campus, we were shown around the extensive farming facilities the university refers to as its ‘eco-farming’ initiatives. ITS makes the most of its open space by conducing ecologically sustainable farming and distributing the organic produce grown for sale to locals. This was an amazing experience to see the importance placed on the use of sustainable agriculture, even in the heart of the city, within the university itself.


By far one of the most ‘traditional’ things we did on the trip was play the angklung. This is a historical Indonesian instrument made of hollow bamboo shafts which are shaken creating a musical key.

I’m by no means musically talented, but with very minimal practice (and very good conducting) we were able to orchestrate ourselves and form a band intended to perform in front of the mayor of Surabaya. This was an amazing experience as well as team building exercise as learning something new and intimidating with great success brought the group closer as a whole.


We were invited to dinner at the Mayors Residence, where we were asked to dress in clothes traditional to our country – or formal, for those of us who didn’t want to wear boardies and singlets.

As there were participants from Nepal, India, Vietnam, Malaysia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Thailand and China, this was an eye opening experience to witness firsthand the traditional dress of so many nationalities in one place.

Unfortunately due to her duties, the Mayor regrettably could not be present with us for the dinner, but we were able to perform the music we had learnt on the angklung before the vice-mayor and other university officials.

During the dinner we were once again presented with many types of traditional Indonesian food, including a type of noodle/meatball soup, which I assume is the national dish as I had eaten it served out of a cart on the streets just the day before, and it tasted exactly the same.


Batik: a method (originally used in Java) of producing coloured designs on textiles by dyeing them, having first applied wax to the parts to be left undyed.

In Surabaya we got a chance to make our own batik, it was on a piece of cotton cloth approximately 30cm x 30cm. This was a great insight into their culture of arts and patience, as a full sized batik could take months to create.

However at a tourists market we found multiple batik-like patterned shirts (the difference is they were made with machines as opposed to hand made with wax and dye). We then decided it was a good idea to wear them around the streets at the same time and run around like hooligans taking selfies at random locations. This was great fun through, and simply walking the streets of Indonesia was so different to walking around in Australia. You could feel the different air around you and all the different sights and sounds and smells made you truly feel submerged in a different culture.


During a cultural tour of the city we were taken on, we had the opportunity to explore a museum which portrayed Surabaya’s struggle for independence against Dutch, French and Belgian forces who tried to rule the city in recent centuries. This tour of the museum and city gave us great insight into the strong sense of patriotism held by its citizens – who were willing to sacrifice everything for their homes, culture and sense of nationalism.

The museum displayed artefacts such as weapons, documents and famous figures during their war for independence.


The last weekend of the trip we had the pleasure of taking a bus-ride approximately 4 hours to a campsite, where we had a campfire, fireworks and midnight shenanigans walking through the woods. We woke up early the next morning to file into our predetermined 4-wheel-drives to take us to the plains surrounding Mount Bromo, a famous active volcano in East Java explored by tourists all year round. This was all a surreal experience as the adrenalin and fear of the night time activities had not shaken off by 3am when we were taken on a rollercoaster ride around steep slopes to the base of the volcano.

From here we were all mounted on horseback and proceeded up the mountain track, guided casually by the horses’ owner. Despite its small appearance in the above photo, Milo, my horse, can only be described as a glorious beast, as it hauled me up the mountainside with all due caution and excitement.


This photo depicts the breathtaking view at the lip of the volcano of Mt. Bromo.

There are few experiences that compare with riding a horse up a volcano. The view was amazing, the cool air was brisk and the sensation of having reached the top was dizzying. This moment was by far the highlight of the trip for me, and although the sense of vertigo I felt looking into the volcano itself stopped me from walking as far around as some other participants, I was equally awe-inspired.

There was an amazing sense of achievement when we reached the top of the mountain, possibly due to the many sleep deprived days and night full of activities, all in anticipation for this moment. This was a point in the trip where many of us were exhausted (not just a little from the shenanigans in the woods the night before) and reaching the top of the stairs only to feel on top of the world brought about a sense of rejuvenation that is difficult to describe.

I’d like to thank you for taking the time to read my reflection on the CommTECH journey, with the above photos, experiences and memories that they’ve left me with.

I’d also like to thank very much the entire UTS BUILD team who provided us the means to enter this amazing program, as well as nonstop assistance leading up until out departure.

ITS University Summer Program Reflection

Before I start my reflection on the BUiLD summer program that I participated in at Indonesia, I would like to thank UTS for providing me this opportunity and allowing me to be part of the BUiLD program.

It is extremely hard to describe the wonderful time that I had during this program. Attending this program was like a life changing experience as it was my first time to visit Indonesia so every day during this program was a new experience for me. I went to Indonesia two days before the program started. Mr Wahyu who is the supervisor of the Commtech program, was with us throughout this program. He organised two people to take us from the airport to the hotel. Mr Wahyu was at the hotel waiting for us where he allocated the room already. He then invited us for dinner, despite it was a bit late the city was so crowded. It was a good opportunity to see what Surabaya is like and I had a great time as well, as I started to know the surrounding places around our hotel. After dinner I went straight back to the hotel because I was so tired.

Next day, I was introduced to new volunteers that will be with us throughout this program, and I was informed that there will be approximately 40 students in this program coming from 15 different countries. For me, this was absolutely a great opportunity to meet new people and learn about their culture, education and lifestyle.

The next day at around 8:30am we went to ITS. There was a welcoming ceremony and we were introduced to the course that we will undertake during this program. My course preference that I chose was Sustainable development in developing countries, therefore attending this course in Indonesia who is a developing country is an advantage its self because I will not only be able to study sustainability about developing countries but I will also have the opportunity to experience the process of sustainability in a developing country physically.

Throughout the week, we attended the classes for sustainable development which was extremely beneficial as we had one of the classes at the city council which was very interesting as they explained to us the new transport system that the government will start it in Surabaya.

During this program we had to read some articles, answer questions, perform a number of presentations and a number of other tasks that we had to do. We did a number of activities throughout this program which I certainly had a good time that I will always remember.

1This is a photo that I took before the session starts at the City Council

This image shows the water recycling system that one of the villages uses to filter the water. The blue area is where the filtering process occur

This flower is made out of plastic bottles

These images shows the system that they use to recycle the waste and generate gas

This photo was taken during one of the classes

Mount Bromo

I also had the opportunity to go rafting, this particular activity was very special for me as this was my first time, it was a really good experience and we had so much fun

The topics that I studied during this program and the knowledge that I gained, will definitely help me in the future. This program allowed me to improve my communication skills because I met so many people and we still communicate until now via Facebook. My knowledge towards sustainable development has significantly increased; I have a deeper understanding about the environmental aspects in developing countries. I had a wonderful time, the Indonesian people were very nice and for me it’s a journey that I will always remember.

I represented UTS in a very well manner, where I ensured that all my actions were appropriate and I followed all the rules and the instructions that were given to us. I also told the people that I met how beautiful UTS is, where I talked about all the great facilities and the opportunities that UTS provide to students. Lastly, I would like to thank UTS for giving me this opportunity and allowing me to represent them overseas.