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Researcher Fachrizal Afandi’s coronavirus year: 'I spoke at over 30 webinars'

In mid-March 2020, the global coronavirus outbreak changed everything in the Netherlands. Staying at home as much as possible and the 1.5 metre rule became the standard. One year on, we reflect on the past year with four Leiden Law School ‘insiders’. What kind of year did they have? And what are their thoughts on the future? This week: researcher Fachrizal Afandi.

Fachrizal works as a guest researcher at the Van Vollenhoven Institute for Law, Governance and Society (VVI). In January 2021, he obtained his PhD from the VVI and the Institute for Criminal Law and Criminology. His PhD research focused on Indonesian post-authoritarian public prosecutors and their role in promoting the rule of law. 'Initially, I had planned to have a public defence in August 2020, but as a result of the lockdown I had to adjust this plan.'

Fachrizal Afandi

From March until May 2020 was the hardest time. 'I could not work at the office and had to stay at home with my family. My children had online schooling while my wife was also struggling to finish her manuscript.' After the Dutch government eased the lockdown, Fachrizal could focus once again on his work. 'The VVI secretariat helped me cope with this issue by arranging more opportunities for me to come and work at the faculty.'

Apart from these drawbacks, the pandemic also created more opportunities for connecting with other people throughout the world. ‘I could join and participate in many academic events. Since March 2020 up to March 2021, I have been invited to give a presentation in more than 30 webinars.’ Working at home eventually got better. 'Before Covid, I felt uncomfortable working from home. I could only focus on my work while I was at the office. The situation during the pandemic has forced me to change my working habits. Although it was not easy, I was eventually able to work from home and complete my thesis.'

In the end, Fachrizal defended his thesis in January 2021 – and with success. He looks back on the hybrid meeting with more than satisfaction. 'Ten people, including me, were at the Academy Building while the rest of the committee were online. This setting helped me feel more comfortable during the defence ceremony.' But the livestream did present an extra challenge since anyone who had the link could watch the defence. 'Since my research topic is a bit sensitive in Indonesia, I needed to be cautious in my answers.'

Since obtaining his PhD, Fachrizal has been working as a guest researcher at the University. The new technical possibilities come in handy here. 'I am now back in Indonesia because of the pandemic situation. But I can still be involved in the VVI's meetings and participate in training or workshops at Leiden University as a guest researcher.'

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