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How an HSE Graduate Is Teaching Chinese in Indonesia and Helping a Local University Grow

After graduating from the Socioeconomic and Political Development of Modern Asia master’s programme, Vladimir Kirichenko set off for Indonesia. He is now at the London School of Public Relations in Jakarta, where he studies, teaches, conducts research, and works in an international office. Below he discusses his experience in Indonesia, as well as prospects for the development of Russian and Indonesian ties in the field of education.

On the Journey to Indonesia

I graduated with a degree in philology from a university in Luhansk, Ukraine, and my specialisation was English and Chinese. But what interested me most was Chinese – I travelled to China twice, spending a total of a year and a half at different universities there. Since I went to a pedagogical university, I studied a lot of subjects (for example, teaching methods, pedagogy, psychology, the culture of communication, and business communication) that were in some way connected to human communication. I did not, however, study economics, politics, or international relation, though I felt like I needed this field of knowledge and started looking for a master’s programme that would offer this. So I put together my portfolio, went to an interview, and ended up in the Higher School of Economics’ master’s programme.

At HSE my research focused on higher education in China, as well as its development and internationalisation. I became interested in higher education as a field of research because on the one hand it tangentially touches upon politics and economics, but on the other it is closely connected to culture, which is an area very familiar for me. Thanks to my master’s dissertation, the academic supervisor of which was Alexey Maslov, I received several job offers, including from the London School of Public Relations (LSPR) in Jakarta.

Studying in the International Communication for Business and Development programme at LSPR sort of closed the circle of my research interests; after all, higher education plays an integral role in communication between countries like lever before. I am also expanding my knowledge as concerns methodology and research methods. It’s very interesting.

As far as I remember, I am a pioneer. Before me no one from HSE had gone to Indonesia and enrolled as a fully-fledged student in a degree programme.

© Photo from the personal archive of Vladimir Kirichenko

On Work

The conditions of my work and studies were agreed upon at the beginning when I made it past the first interview. Since the majority of Indonesian universities are private, scholarships here are generally not widespread, but I can study for free because I work at LSPR. In addition, this is an excellent opportunity to study different aspects of life in Indonesia – the mentality, business culture, everyday life, and more.

Not an incredible amount of time goes towards classes in auditoriums; they take place on Saturday from morning to evening. It’s called an executive class. But during the week I work full-time as the deputy dean of international student relations, and I also work with students who take classes in English. In addition, I teach Chinese language and culture, English, and I assist other instructors.

Since the beginning of the year I have also participated in the development of LSPR’s new campus. Among other things, I establish contacts with international companies that are potential partners. The campus was initially thought up as an international platform where other universities like HSE could open up their own programmes for anyone interested, not just LSPR students. In addition, we are planning to work with international companies like Panasonic and Toyota. This kind of partnership will help make the campus high-tech, and also provides qualification courses to company staff, as well as internships to students. This will be not only a building, but also an entire student village with housing, stores, parks, and more.

On Academics and Research

In my thesis, I continue to expand upon the topic of education in China vis-à-vis the country’s New Silk Road policy. Additionally, here I can see everything and analyse the things for which Asian education is criticised, as well as the reasons why people often say it is of a lower quality (of course this does not concern Singapore, Hong Kong, and several other countries).

Since this is the focus of my second master’s (after HSE), I don’t encounter much that is radically new for me. As for the programme as a whole, professors instruct solely in English, and many of these instructors earned their PhDs abroad. Everyone here is free to express their opinion and hold discussions, which is a rarity for Asia. So like our HSE instructors told us, it’s critical to ask questions.

One of my electives was called ‘Challenges to Maritime Sustainable Development,’ which allowed me to study key maritime laws, piracy practices in the Indian Ocean, problems in the sea as a whole, why these problems cannot be resolved, and what the overall cost is. This course is very interesting, though it’s not related to my main area of specialisation. The instructors come from Coventry University (Great Britain), which is why the requirements are more or less similar to those at HSE. In addition, upon completing the course and after you write an academic article, you are promised an additional certificate.

© Photo from the personal archive of Vladimir Kirichenko

On Ties with Russia

On the one hand, Russia’s presence here is rarely felt, but there are free centres for studying Russian language and culture. Local students know little even about China, despite its active presence in the region and the fact that kids study Chinese starting in elementary school practically. On the other hand, Jakarta is the type of city that takes in all offers, and local universities are starting to pay more attention to internationalisation.

In my opinion, it is completely realistic to introduce a Russian Studies effort here. I know that HSE sees Indonesia as a key region for cooperation, so HSE might very well be the engine that starts this process. For my part, I am ready to become a participant in this. And since I work in higher education not only in terms of a job, but also in terms of research, this would be doubly interesting for me. In any case, I now know that I want to move forward and develop in this field, and I’m going to try as hard as possible to achieve results.

See also:

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