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Source: Massey University

PhD student Diah Lestari

Diah (front) enjoying family time

While being at home with family was a silver lining for PhD student Diah Lestari after getting stuck in Indonesia for 14 months, she is grateful to now be back in New Zealand and back on campus.

Mrs Lestari is a PhD student based at Massey University’s Manawatū campus. Her research is looking at multi-generational caregiving for older people. After arriving in New Zealand in February 2019, she returned to Indonesia in November 2019 to collect data for her research. When COVID-19 began shutting borders, her stay in Indonesia was extended to 14 months. 

“Thankfully I was able to continue working while there and managed to publish my first article and finish a second article,” says Mrs Lestari. “It was a very anxious and uncertain time, but I was incredibly thankful to have very supportive supervisors who encouraged me to just do the best I could do in the circumstances. I remained in contact with the Graduate Research School the whole time too so that I was able to keep up to speed with what was happening with re-entry to New Zealand.”

Once the Government announced 250 PhD students would be permitted re-entry to New Zealand, Mrs Lestari arranged her flights home and booked her stay in managed isolation in Auckland. She says she enjoyed her quarantine stay, particularly the array of food she was given.

A silver lining for Mrs Lestari was the time that she was able to spend with her husband, two children and mothers-in-law in Bali. Because she lives away from them when she’s doing her studies in New Zealand, Mrs Lestari says it was wonderful to have the time with them.

Mrs Lestari says the opportunity to have Professor Chris Stephens as her supervisor, who she’d long respected and been inspired by, was a strong reason behind her choosing Massey University for her studies.

“I had read a number of Chris’ articles and really had an interest in her research and her areas of expertise. Having the opportunity to work alongside her has been very rewarding,” says Mrs Lestari.

She aims to complete her PhD next year, and then plans to head home to Bali to work as a university lecturer.

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