Sophie Hewitt

Sophie Hewitt is a dedicated bridge builder, but you won’t find her at ANU’s College of Engineering. You’re more likely to see her organising events and welcoming new members as ACT president of the Australia-Indonesia Youth Association (AIYA).

"Our purpose is not only to get Australian and Indonesian youth to talk about issues affecting our countries, but also to have fun by engaging with each other and forming friendships," said Sophie, who is completing her Bachelor of Law/Asia-Pacific Studies (Year in Asia).

Sophie chose Indonesian as her major, even though she had never learned the language prior to university. Although she took an immediate liking to the language, it wasn’t until she spent a semester at Parahyangan Catholic University in Bandung, capital of Indonesia’s West Java province, that she discovered the extent of her passion.

"I started learning Indonesian in my first year and thought, ‘Oh, this is fine’, but then went to Indonesia in my second year and just fell in love with it. It completely captured me," said Sophie, whose exchange was funded in part by the New Colombo Plan.

For anyone interested in studying Indonesia’s language, culture and politics, ANU is the best choice. Superior access to expertise and highly engaged students have given Sophie a nuanced understanding about one of Australia’s most important neighbours.

"I took an Indonesian politics course recently. When I was in high school, I never would have imagined I could love that. But every week I found myself talking about it with my friends," she said.

"Having people around me who are extremely passionate about Indonesia has made me really excited as well.

Outside of her studies, AIYA has given Sophie a platform to further people-to-people exchanges between Australia and Indonesia. Joining as secretary of the ACT chapter in mid-2015, she was appointed president of the organisation a year ago and recently completed her term as leader.

Through AIYA events and outreach activities, Sophie has helped local high school students discover the benefits of closer engagement with Indonesia at a geopolitical and people-to-people level.

"Meeting people builds empathy and compassion. It also helps us understand our region better," she explained.

"I want to a formalised friendship maker between Indonesia and Australia, hopefully liaising between the two countries in the field of law."

In 2018, Sophie will return to Indonesia as part of ANU’s Year in Asia program.

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Updated:  24 April, 2017/Responsible Officer:  Dean, ANU College of Asia & the Pacific/Page Contact:  CAP Web Team