‘Leiden inspired me to do what I’m truly passionate about’

Indonesian Law alumna Mia Malik is not yet ready to close the Leiden chapter of her life. She cherishes the lessons she learned here and now provides information to Indonesian students about studying in the Netherlands. From Q&A sessions to sketches that warn for culture shock.

You are still involved with Dutch higher education. What do you do?

‘I have served as an ambassador for the International Holland Alumni Network and NESO Indonesia, the Netherlands Education Support Offices. Currently I volunteer for the alumni association: I am a resource person for potential students as well as those already admitted into Dutch universities. We take part in Q&A sessions and speak with potential applicants at the Leiden booth at education fairs. It seems that Indonesians are either very familiar with Leiden University— this is especially true among the legal community—or they have never heard of it. Every year we also produce an alumni sketch: a short play, directed, written, and performed by alumni, to prepare Indonesian students for the Netherlands. We cover every aspect: from culture shock and academic culture to sambal in your country.’

King’s Day (2013) with Indonesian Holland alumni from various Dutch universities. Mia Malik is the second on the left.

King’s Day (2013) with Indonesian Holland alumni from various Dutch universities. Mia Malik is the second on the left.

What did you study in Leiden?

‘I studied Public International Law with a specialisation in International Criminal Law. One thing I still appreciate about Leiden is the flexibility it offers its students. For example: a Cyberspace & Cyberlaw course was launched which was not officially part of my own programme, but when I expressed interest in taking the course, I was allowed to join the class and was given support in doing so.'

How was life in Leiden?

‘I loved it. I still tell people it was the best year of my life so far. My experience in the Netherlands has really helped me to prepare for my chosen field of work, thanks to the great diversity among the student population. We had students from every single continent with different political and personal views regarding such issues as human rights. I also learned a lot from the Dutch way of life and from how the Dutch maintain and value a balanced lifestyle. I now also live quite a balanced life and I make sure that I do what fulfils me emotionally in my professional life. My time in Leiden has inspired me to do what I am truly passionate about.’

Mia Malik tells about her Leiden experience at an alumni meeting in Indonesia in 2014. On the right is Leiden rector magnificus Carel Stolker who visited Indonesia.

Mia Malik tells about her Leiden experience at an alumni meeting in Indonesia in 2014. On the right is Leiden rector magnificus Carel Stolker who visited Indonesia.

Hard lesson

‘One of the hardest lessons in my life was something I had to unintentionally learn at Leiden: I wrote my thesis on the topic of Human Shields in the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. While this is certainly an important issue, after completing about 30 percent of my thesis, I discovered that I really wanted to write about the legal aspects of Cyber Warfare. However, instead of approaching my thesis advisor about my change of heart, I just went on writing about Human Shields. In retrospect, I think my thesis advisor would have been equally excited to supervise such a fresh field-of-study and would have been supportive if only I had had the courage to ask! This has changed my general approach to life and I now pursue my interests so I will not have to live with this kind of regret.’

How did your career develop after your studies?

‘My first job was with the Human Rights Watch in 2008: they deal with the welfare of child domestic workers — a cause that I still care a great deal about today. Since then I have had several jobs in the public sector (see her CV in the framework). I currently work as a communication consultant for the Indonesia Infrastructure Initiative.

Leiden Relief (2006) with classmates from the LL.M. (Adv.) PIL programme.

Leiden Relief (2006) with classmates from the LL.M. (Adv.) PIL programme.

Rather fail miserably than never try at all

'In addition to working in the development sector, I am also interested in art and I try to make the most of my life by pursuing acting. I recently performed in a short film entitled Makan Malam where I play a character completely different from what I am in real life. Part of the reason I’ve pursued acting is because I don’t want to live with regrets the way I’ve regretted not having written a Master’s thesis on Cyber Warfare at Leiden. I would rather fail miserably having tried something than never try at all!’

Are you still in touch with other Leiden alumni in Indonesia?

‘Yes! There aren’t that many, but I try to keep in touch with the ones I know. I mostly socialise with Holland alumni from other universities in Indonesia. Some of my friends here have come up with the idea of getting together for charity events, and we are currently trying to get that off the ground. And I am happy to say that I have greatly benefited from the tight-knit Holland Alumni Network here in Indonesia: I was offered an UNDP internship at a networking event hosted by NESO at the Erasmus Huis, and as members we support each other professionally. I have also made friends with other Holland alumni of different generations here in Jakarta. I even keep in touch with international friends I met in Leiden and we help each other out, for example by providing each other with information.’

Do you have any suggestions on how to strengthen ties between alumni and Leiden University?

‘I was quite disappointed that the 2014 Cleveringa lecture was delivered in Dutch. Especially because the lecture assigned for Indonesia in that year appealed to me personally, since it was on diplomatic relations. The Cleveringa lectures are a great annual bonding experience and a way to get to know recent graduates and network. I suspect that alumni events which foster these kinds of ties would be more effective and inclusive if all the lectures were given in English. I also think that there is room to increase international career support and organise more charity events. Just last evening, I met with some Holland alumni to discuss  a charity event  and this year’s alumni sketch. I still love the volunteer work I do every year to assist the alumni association.’


CV Mia Malik-Djojowasito (31)

Study: Public International Law at Leiden University

Current job
: Communications Consultant and Editor for Indonesia Infrastructure Initiative (AusAID)

Previous jobs :

Lead Editor for USAID Indonesia Marine and Climate Support  Project (Chemonics International)

Bilingual Editor for Better Work Indonesia (International Labour Organization)

Media Analyst  (Report International)

Assistant for Living on Earth (Public Radio International)

Editor for Aceh Justice Project and Translator for Human Development Report (UNDP)

Intern for the Legal Empowerment and Assistance for the Disadvantaged Project (UNDP)

Research Assistant, Translator, Interpreter, Workshop Coordinator (Human Rights Watch)



(23 June 2015 - LvP)

Last Modified: 23-06-2015