By : Richard Williams
Students of MITRA association took part in the TURM III hosted by Nusa Cendana University Kupang. Some of MITRA Undana students were involved as the organizing committee members and chosen as Nusa Cendana University delegations for the very 1st separated Student Roundtable Meeting.
The Trilateral University Roundatble Meeting (TURM) is an annual gathering and forum held as a form of cooperation among universities in Australia (The Northern Territory Region), Indonesia and Timor Leste. The TURM was firstly initiated by some leaders of the three nations and leaders of some universities of the three countries. Among the co- founders of TURM are the former prime minister of Republica Demokratika Timor Lorosa’e (RDTL) Mr. Xanana Gusmao and the rector of Nusa Cendana University, Prof. Ir. Fred Lukas Benu MSi., Ph.D. Up to now, the members of the TURM are Gadjah Mada University (UGM) Yogyakarta, Satya Wacana Christian University (UKSW) in Salatiga Central Java, Udayana University (UNUD) in Denpasar, Hassanudin University (UNHAS) in Macassar, Mataram University (UNRAM) in West Nusa Tenggara, Nusa Cendana University (UNDANA) in Kupang, Universidade Nacionale Timor Lorosa’e (UNTL) in Dili, Universidade Oriental Timor Lorosa’e (UNTAL) in Dili, and Charles Darwin University (CDU) in the Northern Territory of Australia.
The 3rd Trilateral University Roundtable Meeting was held from May 16th to May 17th with the focus on the Centre of Excellence (CoE) of each member university .Taking place at Sotis Hotel, the series of the event began on Saturday 15th May 2016 where the delegations of the participating universities of the TURM as well as other delegations from other observing universities and other invited participants were welcomed by the rector of Nusa Cendana University in a welcoming dinner at the ballroom of Sotis hotel. This year’s TURM also invited some observing universities such as Pattimura University (UNPATTI) Ambon, Halu Oleo University (UHO) Kendari, Sam Ratulangi University (UNSRAT) Manado, Artha Wacana Christian University (UKAW) Kupang, Widya Mandira Catholic University (UNWIRA) Kupang, State Polytechnic Kupang, Health Polytechnic Kupang, and Agriculture Polytechnic Kupang.
On the following day, the 3rd TURM was officially opened by the governor of East Nusa Tenggara province. The series of the sessions commenced with the roundtable discussion of the each leader of the member university who presented the progress they have made and the ongoing activities they are doing regarding the Centre of Excellence as agreed at TURM II. The session ran smoothly as expected and chaired by Prof. Ir. Fred L. Benu, MSi. Ph.D. and Prof. Sue Carthew B.Sc., Ph.D. from CDU. The next session continued with 2 separated discussions, one for the university leaders and one for the student delegations. In this session, 2 of MITRA students, Lilyen and Richard were assigned to chair the roundtable discussion while Claudya (Dije), Memix, Steven and Desy took roles as student representatives to share about students activities supporting the CoE of Undana which is Dryland Agriculture and Environment. Dije as the presenter delivered a presentation about CoE of Undana and introduced MITRA association to the rest of the attendees at once. Dije explained how MITRA which is now entering its 3rd year of existence as a platform of student empowerment and how another student bodies in Undana have done different activities to support the CoE of Undana directly and indirectly.
Other presentations in this session were Social Justice and Development by Albert Karwur, (Satya Wacana Christian University Salatiga), Education and Language by Jhalia Ximenes and Lizerio Dias (National University of Timor Lorosa’e), Environment by Hanna Ling (Charles Darwin University), and Marine Sciences and Fisheries by Deliama (Hassanudin University). Albert, who is the chairman of UKSW’s student senate university board stressed on the importance of equality in infrastructure development, economic growth, and opportunities for the peripheral area of East Indonesia as the focus of UKSW’s CoE while Hanna Ling explained about Manganese project she is currently doing in West Timor. In their presentation, Jhalia and Lizerio elaborated about the efforts the university and the RDTL government have made as an attempt to enhance language proficiency of the people of Timor Leste. Deliama from UNHAS delineated the programs and activities UNHAS provides for students in supporting the development of its CoE. All of the presentations also covered several points such as the subject are of the activities supporting the CoEs, the challenges and key barrier, and strategies used in tackling down the key barrier encountered by each participating university. The discussion ended with the recommendations given by all of the representatives for the possibility of joint activities for university students such as exchange program, website creation for the student alumnae and alumni of TURM III, and suggestions for the conducting of student roundtable meeting at TURM IV.
After serious series of discussions, the meeting on the last day of TURM III was focused on the issues arising from day one. Led by Prof. Ir. Fred L. Benu, MSi., Ph.D. and Prof. Sue Carthew, B.Sc., Ph.D., the session went with the discussion on the issues on day one and addition of participating universities, also the possibility of establishing a consortium. In this session, Hanna Ling delivered the resume of student discussion on behalf of the TURM student representatives before the board of leaders of TURM. of the participating universities and representatives of observing universities reached some agreement on joint research for each participating university’s CoE and got to hear some responses from all participants and observers. The whole floor also agreed to have the 4th TURM to be hosted by Hassanudin University in Macassar, South Sulawesi.
This was followed by the official closing speech by the rector of Undana who also handed over the participation certification to the delegations which also marked the closing ceremony of the 3rd Trilateral University Roundtable Meeting 2016.
Right after the closing, the daytime activities for all the participants were conducted outside the hotel, where the participants went on a city tour where they departed from Sotis Hotel passing several landmarks of Kupang such as Ina Boi-Sasando Statue, Lippo Plaza, Nostalgia Park, Hypermart Bundaran PU and Liliba Bridge to the main office of Archipelagic Dryland Field Laboratory (Agriculture Centre) located at Undana’s campus in Penfui. Next on the agenda was Kupang Bay cruise. From the campus, the TURM participants went to the seaport of Ditpolair NTT in Bolok and took a cruise around Kupang Bay.
The involvement of MITRA students in this big event is definitely beneficial as the event enabled MITRA students to tighten the relations of its members with the leaders of Undana as well as contributed to the development of CoE of Undana. The TURM has been an invaluable chance for MITRA student to also support the 3 main pillars of MITRA since the official language of TURM is English and one of the topics discussed in the roundtable discussion (the CoE) is environment. As this event is an international event, the students of MITRA also get the international atmosphere where they were able to meet and interact with academicians, scholars, students, and of course university leaders from other countries.