In August 2023, we embarked on a fascinating journey participating in the Stovit Summer Course at the University of Airlangga in the vibrant city of Surabaya, Indonesia. Spanning from the 6th to the 16th of August, the course offered a blend of captivating educational and cultural experiences.
Our adventure commenced with a heartwarming Welcome ceremony, where key figures from the dental school, including the Dean and Vice Director as well as representatives from partner universities made introductions.
The event continued with a cultural dance and a delicious spread of authentic Indonesian cuisine. Subsequently, we were taken on a guided campus tour of the University of Airlangga, home to the oldest dental school in Indonesia.
One day was dedicated to Immunohistology, where we engaged in hands-on activities, crafting slides to examine cells at a microscopic level. The day-long process allowed us to develop a true appreciation of the time, patience and determination required to achieve the best result.
A highlight of the trip was witnessing Cleft Lip & Palate surgery, where the contrasts and similarities between surgical theatres in Indonesia and the UK came to light. We were also introduced to a new field of Dental Forensics, in which we learned about the different methods used to identify the age of someone just by their teeth. It was fascinating to see how many methods are available for this.
Beyond academic classes, we were able to immerse ourselves in community work, by preparing, organising and delivering dental education to a local primary school. We had a warm welcome to the school with many cultural, musical and athletic performances by the children in anticipation of the visit. It was extremely rewarding to see the children so engaged, enthusiastic and eager to learn and ask questions about oral health.
We also had the opportunity to tour the city’s historical and iconic landmarks in which we were able to truly appreciate Surabaya’s rich history as the ‘City of Heroes’.
This trip also gave us the opportunity to explore the rich and diverse culture of Indonesia. We discovered the diversity of Indonesian customs is due to a mixture of Hindu, Buddhist, and Islamic traditions. During our trip we had the opportunity to try a range of Indonesian dishes. Indonesian cuisine is renowned for its bold flavours, with popular dishes like rendang, nasi goreng, and sambal.
Moreover, the sense of community and hospitality runs very deep, with rituals and ceremonies playing a significant role in daily life. It was due to this that we were all taken aback by the level of hospitality we received from everyone that we met.
The Stovit summer programme invited students from a variety of countries. Therefore we had the chance to form relationships with students from Japan, Malaysia and South Korea. Forming these new friendships allowed us to understand and learn about everyone’s culture and perspectives.
We felt extremely lucky to be able to experience some of the natural beauty found in Indonesia when climbing a famous volcano called Mount Bromo. Mount Bromo, located in East Java, is one of the most iconic and active volcanoes in the world, renowned for its otherworldly landscapes and dramatic beauty.
As a group we embarked on a thrilling pre-dawn hike to a viewpoint to witness the breathtaking sunrise, which casts a magical glow on Bromo creating an unforgettable sight. Once the sun was fully risen we climbed to the edge of Bromo’s crater and witnessed the steam and sulphur emerging from its depths.
Gratitude fills our hearts as we reflect on this once in a lifetime experience. We whole-heartedly recommend everyone to attend the Stovit Summer Course in the future, we don’t doubt that you will have an incredible time. Our heartfelt thanks extend to Somanda, the University of Manchester Dental School, and the University of Airlangga for their support to make this adventure possible.
It’s a chapter we’ll cherish forever.
Naeema Munshi and Manal Hamad (Y5 BDS students)