In preparation for my final year at RMIT University’s Master of International Development program, I started looking for International Development Research Project (IDRP) opportunities in December 2017. At that time I contacted a number of people whom I met through development workshops and seminars, both on campus and outside. Long story short, I met Dr. Yaso Nadarajah in the same month and she offered me an opportunity to work alongside her in South West Victoria, particularly in a small town called Narrawong. She has been working in the region under RMIT’s Handbury Fellowship program, which supports community development projects in that particular location.
To be honest, I had no idea what Narrawong would look like–besides the fact that there is not much written online about the area, I also never had the opportunity to visit rural Victoria. I think this is what Bolton calls “certain uncertainty” in her book Reflective Practice: Writing and Professional Development–there is no need to know exactly what is happening, because after all the only thing that remains certain is uncertainty itself. Nevertheless, I finally had the chance to visit the town with Prof. Nadarajah in the middle of May. There, I met people behind the Indigenous Resource Garden and Sculpture project, which is the project I will be working on. In particular, I will compile a literature review for a document called Narrawong Town Social Profile. While staying there, I will also assist the Indonesian language classes at Narrawong District Primary School.
Evaluating my own experience of finding and preparing for IDRP, there are a few things that I’d like to share. First, as cliche as it sounds, networking is an important thing to do, both as a student and a development practitioner. I really suggest everyone, especially those who aren’t currently working in development, to attend seminars and get to know people there. Melbourne in particular offers the chance to attend various events every day. Joining online newsletters is also another way to stay alert about placement opportunities. Furthermore, unless you really want to do a specific project, I would highly recommend being open to possibilities, since development is such a dynamic field.
If you asked me what I wanted to do for IDRP last year, I wouldn’t have answered going to regional Victoria. However, now that I’ve started preparing for my placement, I must say this is such a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that is challenging but exciting at the same time. Taking this lesson into my future career as a development practitioner, I now aspire to be more open minded and proactive instead of thinking and worrying too much.