In the land down under, Syir Amanati from Indonesia learned a few valuable things and told Afia R Fitriati all about it.
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Five weeks seemed to pass as quickly as a train ride from Melbourne Central Station to Bell Street. From October 18th to November 24th 2012, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to participate in the 6th Muslim Leadership Program (MLP) at Melbourne’s La Trobe University. Other than myself and another Indonesian, our group consisted of 16 other participants from Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines and Australia.
The aim of the MLP is to groom young thought leaders from Muslim communities in South East Asia and Australia by exposing us to various political and social issues taking place in the Asia-Pacific region. These issues ranged from immigration issues such as refugees and asylum seekers to Australia’s relationship with Muslim-majority countries in South East Asia.
During our stay, we were also given the opportunity to meet and discuss with high-ranking Australian politicians such as Chris Bowen, the Minister of Immigration and Citizenship of Australia, as well as former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd. At one occasion, we watched a live parliamentary debate. The lively debate was something that I had never seen in my country!
One of the many experiences that left on me an indelible impression was our encounters with other faiths and cultures. For example, we visited a synagogue in Melbourne and learned how Orthodox Jews observe their rituals. It is interesting to find out that Islam and Judaism share many similarities in religious practices! When it was time for us to perform the afternoon prayer, we let our new Jewish friends observe our congregational prayers too.
Participating in the programme has truly enriched my perspective on diversity. I highly recommend the programme to anyone interested to learn about other cultures and the crucial issues facing our world today.
To apply for the 2013 Muslim Leadership Program, visit the website. Applications are accepted until August 31.