News / USA

    US Boosts Higher Education Exchanges With Indonesia

    Students visit recruiters from US universities seeking answers to questions about studying abroad, at a US education fair sponsored by the US Embassy in Jakarta, April 4, 2011
    Students visit recruiters from US universities seeking answers to questions about studying abroad, at a US education fair sponsored by the US Embassy in Jakarta, April 4, 2011

    Multimedia

    Audio

    Nearly a year after the Obama administration set a priority of boosting higher education exchanges with Indonesia, the U.S. is repeating its commitment to cultural diplomacy. As part of that outreach, it aims to double the number of Indonesian students studying in the U.S., a solution officials say will help the U.S. economy and improve relations with the rapidly developing Muslim-majority nation.

    Thousands of Indonesian students mill about the marble rotunda of the medieval-looking Sampoerna building, where recruiters from more than 50 American universities pass out information on entrance requirements, program offerings and tuition.

    The education fair was part of a bilateral trade and education mission headed by visiting U.S. Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Francisco Sanchez. He said educational exchanges can provided an added boost to the U.S. economy.

    "It’s good to expose our students, to create long-term relationships, and it doesn’t hurt the economy either, when people come and live in our country and study in our universities."

    Last June, the Obama administration earmarked $165 million over five years to support university partnerships and student exchange programs in subjects such as agriculture, business and information technology.

    The science arm of the Fulbright scholarship program will receive $15 million, while micro-scholarships will support intensive language training programs for both Americans and Indonesians.

    The U.S. is reaching out to fast-growing economies like Indonesia and Vietnam as new markets for U.S. goods and services. International students injected nearly $19 billion into the U.S. economy last year, and Indonesia’s large population and rising middle class could open new opportunities for U.S. universities to bring in more tuition dollars.

    The U.S. says it also wants to send more American students to Indonesia in the hope of improving understanding between the two countries. U.S. Ambassador to Indonesia Scot Marciel said student exchanges create a personal basis for better relations.

    But to entice more Indonesians to American schools, Marciel said the U.S. has some homework to do. "We have to do a much better job of A, marketing our universities, which are the best in the world; and B, changing this terrible perception that you can’t get a student visa. So I’m literally almost out on the streets grabbing people as they walk by saying, 'hey, we’ll give you a visa if you go study in America.'"

    A recruiter answers questions from an Indonesian student looking to study in the US, at a US education fair sponsored by the US Embassy in Jakarta, April 4, 2011
    A recruiter answers questions from an Indonesian student looking to study in the US, at a US education fair sponsored by the US Embassy in Jakarta, April 4, 2011

    Marciel said more than 90 percent of Indonesian applicants get visas to study in the United States, but many people from Muslim-majority countries, like Indonesia, still feel unwelcome because of obstacles put in place after the September 11, 2001, terror attacks.

    The number of Indonesians studying in the U.S. has fallen steadily since 1998, when the Asian financial crisis sapped some families’ abilities to send children abroad. Visa issues depressed the numbers, which still have not rebounded. Fewer than 7,000 Indonesians studied in the United States last year, down about eight percent from 2009.

    With improvements in universities elsewhere, as well as cheaper options closer to home, more Indonesians are choosing to study in Australia, Singapore and Malaysia.

    But the U.S. is still home to many of the world’s most prestigious universities and research institutions. Many Indonesians who have studied abroad say the combination of strong academics and unique life experience is invaluable.

    Erfan Lumban-Gaol, a former high school exchange student and recent graduate of University of Arkansas, explains. "The seven years I was out there, I believe I’ve changed a lot in a lot of ways. In a lot of thinking ways, and I take a lot of positives from American culture."

    Lumban-Gaol studied management, a popular major among Indonesians. While English is still a favorite subject, many students also are choosing business and science, hoping their American experience can assist them in setting up their own businesses in a country where entrepreneurs are rare.

    One student at the educational fair said she wants to apply the lessons she would learn in the United States to creating new leadership for her country. That fits well with a goal expressed by U.S. officials, who say American security is linked to Indonesia’s success.

    For Education Minister Mohammad Nur, the exchange is a part of enhanced cultural diplomacy that will help develop Indonesia and strengthen bilateral friendships.

    There is a lot of history behind Indonesia’s relationship with America, he said. That is why it needs to be strengthened. But Indonesia also wants to strengthen ties with Europe and other countries that can give it new insights.

    At the education fair, some students said it does not matter which country they study in, as long as they can afford it. Others said they want to experience life in the United States, as long as there are good scholarship opportunities.

    You May Like

    New EU Asylum Rules Could Boost Rightists

    New regulations will seek to correct EU failures in dealing with migrant crisis, most notably inability to get member states to absorb a total of 160,000 refugees

    More Political Turmoil Likely in Iraq as Iran Waits in the Wings

    Analysts warn that Tehran, even though it may not be engineering the Sadrist protests in Baghdad, is seeking to leverage its influence on its neighbor

    Forced Anal Testing Case to Appear Before Kenya Court

    Men challenge use of anal examinations to ‘prove homosexuality’; practice accomplishes nothing except to humiliate those subjected to them, according to Human Rights Watch

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Rulingi
    X
    May 03, 2016 5:16 PM
    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Elephant Summit Results in $5M in Pledges, Presidential Support

    Attended and supported by three African presidents, a three-day anti-poaching summit has concluded in Kenya, resulting in $5 million in pledges and a united message to the world that elephants are worth more alive than dead. The summit culminated at the Nairobi National Park with the largest ivory burn in history. VOA’s Jill Craig attended the summit and has this report about the outcomes.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With the conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, between the rebel PKK and the Turkish state, many Kurds are trying to escape the turmoil by focusing on the success of their football team Amedspor in Diyarbakir. The club is increasingly becoming a symbol for Kurds, not only in Diyarbakir but beyond. Dorian Jones reports from southeast Turkey.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora