Trainee foreign correspondent reports from Jakarta elections

Sophie Volker is a final-year UQ journalism student and a passionate storyteller. She shares her highlights of hitting the ground running to cover the Jakarta governor election during an unforgettable field trip to Indonesia.

In April, I was fortunate to be one of 16 UQ journalism students selected to take part in a study trip to Jakarta.

This 10-day trip to Indonesia, funded by the Australian Government’s New Colombo Plan, aimed to give us an insight into the life of a foreign correspondent.

It was a whirlwind trip filled with valuable experiences, vibrant colours, interesting characters, and a diverse culture.

In the first few days, we donned our tourist hats and were treated to a bus tour of popular attractions in Jakarta – my favourite of which was Fatahilla Square in Jakarta’s Old Town.

We also explored the fascinating ‘wet markets’ in Depok, which were directly beneath our hotel, and filled with a fusion of fresh meats and fresh produce.

Women purchasing chillies at Depok market. Photo by Justin Lillecrapp.

The locals were so happy to see us and take photos with us. We were humbled by their generosity and cheerfulness.

During our time in Jakarta, the election was being held for the governorship of Indonesia’s capital city. As a journalism student, I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to cover a political story as it unfolded, so I teamed up with fellow student Justin Lillecrapp and went out amongst the voters.

Chief representative for the UQ Indonesia office, Ratu Sovi Arinta, kindly offered to take us to her local polling booth in South Jakarta – an experience for which we will be forever grateful.

It was so exciting to speak with the locals about the election, the voting process and their preferred candidate.

They were all eager to show us their ink-stained fingers – a voter identification method used when they cast their ballot at polling booths.

It was a very busy day of filming interviews and overlay for our stories, and we cannot thank Sovi enough for ensuring it was remarkable experience for us.

UQ in Indonesia was a trip that far exceeded my expectations. The people I met, both from Australia and Indonesia, and the experiences I had were incredible.

Spending 10 days as a foreign correspondent has cemented in my mind that I am on the right career track.

It’s given me a huge sense of pride, a portfolio of unique stories to show future employers, and most of all, lifelong friends.

My sincere thanks go to UQ, the New Colombo Plan Mobility Program, and School of Communication and Arts staff Bruce Woolley, Paul Smith and Sven Fea, for making this experience possible.

Sophie Volker reporting from a Jakarta polling place with locals keen to show off their freshly inked fingerprints.
Sophie Volker reporting from a Jakarta polling place with locals keen to show off their freshly inked fingerprints.

You can view my coverage of the Jakarta election here:


Media: Sophie Volker,, 0431 579 370; Ratu Sovi Arinta,, +62 812 104 3682 (in Indonesia).

Last updated:
31 May 2017