Drawn to ANU by its world class reputation, and the promise of a Masters program that combines theory and practice, Gena successfully overcame the challenges of life in a new country and balancing postgraduate study with family.
Coming to ANU with her family was a time of massive transition for Gena. From the busy streets of Indonesia’s capital Jakarta, to the relative calm of leafy Canberra and the ANU campus. Her family was confronted with a new language, a new culture, and her new role as a student.
“Everything was new to them, even my son could not speak English. I rarely spoke English. Even though I’m a full time student and did not work while studying, being a wife and mother at the same time was hard. I had to manage my time as I have 3 different roles.”
At ANU she found an environment and support that enabled her to succeed. When family commitments arose, she found supportive staff at ANU, who let her bring her son to lectures and extend deadlines. When she felt the stress of study, she found comfort and advice from sources including student contact officers and the ANU Psychology Clinic.
“Here at ANU, mental health and wellbeing is well supported. Not only that, sometimes when I had to bring my son to the campus, kid’s corner in the Brian Kenyon Student Space is my favourite spot. My son can play and have fun there while I’m reading or studying. Occasionally PARSA, the postgraduate students association, also set up a playdate that allows my son and my husband to have fun while I’m studying at the Library.”
Gena came to ANU to study the Master of Applied Anthropology and Participatory Development (MAAPD). She recognised that ANU was Australia’s leading university, and wanted to challenge herself completing a qualification in another language, while building new career pathways.
“I was looking for a master program which combines theory and practice in development. I found that MAAPD is a whole package program. It has a strong theory background such as gender development as well as solid technical skill practice, including participatory method and gender analysis.”
Completing her Masters thesis, Gena considers herself fortunate to have completed it supervised by Dr Patrick Guinness.
“I have learned so much from him, particularly about critical thinking, developing research skill and writing as well as sharing ideas and experiences.”
At ANU she found a welcoming environment, from outdoor spaces to lie on the grass in the sunshine or enjoy a barbeque, to the serenity of the grand Menzies Library for deeper thesis work. Canberra’s clean air, open spaces, and relaxed pace were an attractive escape from the often hectic demands of study and family. Gena was also excited to meet so many diverse people at ANU, who give the university its global character.
“I remembered when I was first arrived at ANU and met many people from around the world. I always remember how exciting it was to meet new people from different culture. I feel like I’m becoming world citizen now.”
Now graduating, Gena wants to return to Indonesia to pursue a new career, and to put the valuable theory and practical insights she has gained at ANU into practice.
“I see myself to contributing to child education and environment issues for at least two years in Indonesia. After that, I would like to apply jobs overseas, expanding my career and networks. I also want to travel around the world as I’m keen to explore new culture and places.”