January 19, 2022

Meet our Owl: Miss Astrid Wiriadidjaja

Long before she stood before eager university students as a lecturer of International Relations, Miss Astrid Wiriadidjaja has had a series of experiences in her life that shaped her into the wonderful, strong and confident woman she is today. The woman who now inspires and motivates hundreds of students and embraces a happy and confident life gradually emerged from her shell after she left Europe and came back to Indonesia.

As the oldest of three siblings, she grew up with her two younger brothers in Munich, Germany. Her father was taking his PhD in Technical University of Munich at that time, which gave his children the opportunity to acquire an international education abroad. Miss Astrid spent her primary school years up to the end of junior-high school years in Munich. Starting at an international school she learned to adapt and adjust and continued at Ernst-Mach Gymnasium, a German School in Munich, because her German language has improved tremendously. “I would say, that that part of my life experience made me into the person I am today. I’m really keen of diverse culture. I see diversity as very interesting. You can feel the whole set of differences in cultures, values and norms; or the government system and it really affects the life of society”, she explains.

Miss Astrid however, finished her High School Diploma back in Indonesia, at Al-Azhar BSD where she took science as her study path. “I almost took Medicine School or Architecture as my major, however life took me to a different path, which is equally amazing. I see myself as a people person. As I have mentioned before, I am fond of world diversity, thus I decided to choose International Relations (INR). I have learned a lot of different perspectives in how countries interact with each other to balance their own interests while achieving common goals.”

Miss Astrid finished her Bachelor’s Degree In International Relations at Parahyangan Catholic University of Parahyangan (UNPAR), Bandung, Indonesia and she was amazed by the many specializations it has to offer. In her bachelor study she focused on Regional studies and foreign policy analysis which led her to write a thesis about the United States’s foreign policy and idiosyncrasy of George W. Bush. The 9/11 tragedy has triggered her curiosity in that field and her interest in this particular specialization remains until today. During her 4 years of study time, Miss Astrid was also actively working as a local radio announcer at 99ers Radio, Bandung. This part time job has taught her how to work hard and earn her own money at a young age. She had to work long night shifts in the beginning, and start classes in the morning, which shows how highly dedicated she is to everything she does.

After graduating from UNPAR, she continued her education by taking a Master Degree in European Studies at University of Indonesia (UI), Jakarta. Her time at UI was highly productive as she had the opportunity to learn more from the European Union Parliament in Brussels, Belgium and also Freie University of Berlin in Germany. Her life path, again, also gave her the chance to study further in Otto-Von-Guericke University of Magdeburg, Germany by taking various courses in European Studies, and Peace and Conflict Studies.

 “I love how dynamic this field is. I am the type of scholar who is interested in contemporary issues, especially in how cooperations and collaborations are built amongst many nations to achieve their national interests and common goals. So, any new and current challenges that the world is facing altogether, will definitely catch my interest,” she comments.

For over 3 years, Miss Astrid has been a noteworthy leader in the International Relations Department. You may know her from her work as the Head of International Relations Department at IULI, but she can also be credited with various contributions – ranging from university event organizing, public speaking, student counselling and mentoring, as well as community development in the education sector.

Miss Astrid has led an impressive career as an educator for more than one decade in her life. Prior to her current role at IULI, she was working at BINUS International School, Serpong where she had the opportunity to work as both Economics & Business Teacher, and as Head of Department of Affective Education. “I was assigned to lead a team of international educators in Grade 11 and 12, where we taught students in both Academic and Non-Academic areas, including to ensure that they were able to pass Cambridge A/AS Level International Examinations with a high distinctions. I enjoyed working in BINUS, I learnt a lot about education management and leadership; but after five years working there, I wanted to grow further in both personal and professional areas and a working opportunity at IULI came in a perfect time, so I took the chance back in October 2015, started as a lecturer in International Relations teaching Regionalism.”

During our interview, it was evident that Miss Astrid embraces the changes in her career from International School to International University. “IULI provides me with such an in-depth learning curve. We were a new, pretty much young University, but the progress of growth we made has been steady. Teaching was already something that I was used to do, but I learnt a lot more about International Relations as an academic field itself. My team mates have different specialities and all of these different perspectives have enriched my own knowledge in one or another way, and this is something that I could not find anywhere else.”

Fast forward to August 2018, IULI entrusted her with the position as Head of Department of International Relations Study Program. “Leading a team is nothing new to me, but IULI is definitely a different ballgame. It has been a unique working experience dealing with highly educated professionals from diverse academic backgrounds, study program accredications, as well as making sure that all students perform well academically. And the fact that we have close partnerships with several universities overseas, also add up the challenges – we have to adhere to the international standards we agreed on. For our study program itself, it is an advantage to have our classes to be taught in English. Also, our extra curricular activity in German language classes is a beneficial for any International Relations student, as Deutsch is the most spoken native language in Europe. So, it’s definitely an added value for all of our Graduates. And all of these elements at IULI have been pretty exciting to work with.”

As a passionate educator and Higher Institution academia, Miss Astrid is also committed to her field of research. She has spent the last few years researching more about Technology and Global Affairs, which has been integrated in the Curriculum of International Relations at IULI. “Technology has been playing a significant role in International Relations. It is an important component of the global system that has shaped interstate and interregional affairs. It has been linked to many key events in IR. Technology can transform diplomacy, wars and commerce, even intelliegence. Its development has affected many other areas of humanity – in particular political, economic and social development. Therefore, in my humble opinion, it is about time that we incorporate this focus of study into International Relations field. Here, we can explore a wide range of technological dimensions including cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, the network society – all of new innovations that put the whole world in both progress and risks at the same time. And we want to provide this spectrum of learning opportunity to our students in International Relations at IULI. ”

Another part of her research interest is in the study of human development. According to Miss Astrid, human development is an approach that focuses more on people, wider opportunities and choices – as part of expanding the richness of human life in terms of their standard of living, life expectancy and access to education. It is about improving people’s well being, developing people’s abilities and giving them chances to use them. She added, that the main idea of human development is to provide a stable, equitable and sustainable planet for human.  “Countries tend to focus on economic growth as their leading indicator of National progress, however it was never intended to be used as a measurement of people’s well-being. The approach of human development goes beyond GDP (Gross Domestic Products). In a simple way to understand it, we also need to make sure that people have their basic needs met: health care access, education, employment, equal distribution of resources, and opportunities grow and to participate in the community. And I strongly believe that this approach is essential for sustainability. And researching about Technology advancement and its impact on human development is one part of what I’m working on as my research. “

“This pandemic of Covid19 has taught us how technology became dominant in our lives – it is simply inevitable. Everyone around the world was forced to adjust to this global health crisis. And this extraordinary situation made us all learn new ways of doing things: working, studying, shopping, etc. It might not be our preference to do as social creatures – we will always feel the need to interact and do activities with others beyond virtual meetings, but we have also successfully proven that technology has brought us into a new level of living our lives. This is just a glimpse from our current daily life. If we bring this into a bigger picture of Global Affairs, every country is trying to adapt to technology uses, innovating new technologies, and applying those innovations into a wide range of industries. All of these are beneficials, of course, for nation growth – especially business. However, on the other side we shall never forget that this ‘new thing’ came with risks and impacts. For example, people’s jobs may be replaced with technology advancements. Access to technology is still a priviledge to some people, yet not to the rest. Not all of us have the luxury to use technology. In general, not all countries are ready with the social and economic infrastructures needed to adjust with this technology advancement. Morever, not all people are equipped with the knowledge of using technology. Closing the gap of inequality has been a challenge that most countries are facing. This is where my research plays a significant role: Knowing the various impacts that technology has brought us, how can we collaborate further in regional and/or global level to ensure balances in both technology advancement and human development are achieved? ” , with this elaborative explanation of her interest of research, Miss Astrid is aspired to work on her PhD degree in the immediate future.  

Anyone who gets the chance to talk to Miss Astrid would agree that she has a zest for life. Her passion in empowering others is evident in her professional work. She brings teaching into a different level. “Teaching goes beyond transferring knowledge from the books within the classroom walls. Besides students’academic success, we – educators –  help our learners to prepare to be good citizens for the society. We are bound to transfer values, we are obliged to help them grow as individuals that will be able to make good impacts in whatever they choose to do in their future. We shall believe in our students’ strengths, rather than focusing on their weaknesses. It is their learning process, afterall. Self-improvement is paramount. One of the thing that our students need during their time of learning is for someone to believe in them, and we all can choose to be that person. I decided to be one; and all I can say it that I’m proud of what I got to witness throughout my career journey.”

As much as she likes teaching, Miss Astrid also loves spending quality time with her loved ones during her spare time.  She also loves baking and has made many of us very happy with her delicious treats, especially her famous brownies. Other than that, she also loves to sing – her voice has filled some musical performances back in her old days. As someone who is consistently seeking to grow, she firmly believes that we should all welcome amazing opportunities eventhough we might not feel ready for it. All we need to do is to be willing to leave our comfort zone and persevere. “Say YES, and then learn how to do it later!” – as she said enthusiastically at the end of our conversation.

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