This year, Friday 13 March is ‘Dietitians Day’ in Australia. Now in its second year, Dietitians Day is an opportunity to celebrate dietetics and promote research and education in nutrition.

So, dietitians…who are they? Dietitians, or more accurately, Accredited Practising Dietitians (APDs) are the experts in food and nutrition. APDs integrate multiple human nutrition and social sciences to provide advice on dietary choices for good health and disease prevention, counsel individuals on management of disease with therapeutic diets (especially diabetes and cardiovascular disease), implement and manage nutrition services and programs, develop nutrition programs and policies, and undertake research. APDs are credentialed by the Dietitians Association of Australia – the peak body for dietetic and nutrition professionals in Australia, which represents more than 5,800 members.

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I have now lived in Yogyakarta, Indonesia for one whole month. I have had three weeks to settle into my room, two weeks of classes so far and a whole lot of fun. As an Indonesian language major with two years of Bahasa Indonesia under my belt, I feel quite comfortable speaking and understanding most of what is happening around me. The real confusion has come with getting used to new rules and social norms, which is embarrassing but also incredibly enlightening. It’s the whole reason I’m here. Cross-cultural experiences require you to understand that all the things you have come to think of as ‘normal’ are not actually the only way to do things. Nor are they the right way to do things. They are just different.

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Laura and I just directed OWeek and this is what happened on our end. Oh boy, what a ride. It was only three days but it felt like longer than a week, and maybe that’s a form of time travel, but what a three days we had!

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It has been a few days now since I got back to Sydney, after joining a group of amazingly passionate people on the 50th anniversary Freedom Ride through regional NSW from 18-22 February 2015, but I can tell you that I am still buzzing from the experience. It is certainly a challenge to detail five days' worth of insights, thoughts, feelings, emotions, expectations, conversations, observations into one neat little blog. What I can say straight up, to kick-off the post-Ride reflections, is that it has been an absolute privilege to meet some of the people connected with the 1965 Freedom Ride, other Sydney Uni students and staff, two amazing Aussie music legends, and the many Kooris and Murris from the Aboriginal communities we visited.

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Smoking ceremony at Walgett, to cleanse people of negative energy.
Copyright Mariko Smith 2015.

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For one of my draft PhD chapters, I referred to a famous phrase coined by Canadian communication theorist, Marshall McLuhan, in his influential work, Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man (1964), which is "the medium is the message". It can be interpreted to mean that in choosing a particular channel to communicate information, that medium effectively influences how the message is perceived by and how it impacts on its audience.

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50th Anniversary cake for the Freedom Ride, courtesy of the lovely mob in Dubbo.
Copyright: Mariko Smith, 2015.

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David Plouffe was the man who spent a lot of time trying to convince people that Barack Obama was going to be president. “And I had a lot of people laugh at me,” he admits.

It’s hard to believe that the architect of President Obama’s two successful political campaigns was so easily dismissed. In both of Obama’s campaign runs, he won the highest percentage of the popular vote of any Democrat since Lyndol Johnson in 1964. And in both campaign runs, David Plouffe was integral to molding Obama’s campaign strategy.

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Last Friday marked the end of a busy week, and the end of the Field School. The Engineering and Business groups split up to do our own faculty-related activities, with us in Engineering spending the week looking for problems or areas where the University may be able to look further into, with the theme being transport or humanitarian related.

To approach this, we visited a variety of companies and organisations that are doing work related to transport and humanitarian aid, including the Asian Development Bank, Ford, the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy, the UN, UNICEF, the Jakartan Ministry of Transportation, and the Jakartan Traffic Control Center. All of these organisations were kind enough to invite us into their offices so that we could inundate them with questions related to our areas of interest, and to talk to us about the work they were doing to try and improve the condition of transport or water and sanitation in Indonesia. We also conducted other activities to try and gauge the potential of our projects, with several of us creating and conducting surveys (with the indispensable aid of our Indonesian counterparts from Universitas Indonesia).

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