Indonesia offers one of the most fascinating,
challenging, and rewarding Fulbright experiences
in the world. Stretching over a 3,000-mile archipelago
composed of more than 13,000 islands, the Republic
of Indonesia is the fourth most populous country
in the world and the world's largest Muslim society.
Despite economic development programs and rich
in natural resources, Indonesia has a relatively
low per capita income, and with less than 10%
of its total land area suitable for farming, simply
feeding the large population is a continuing challenge.
Fulbright grantees are attracted and engaged by
Indonesia's history and diverse cultures, by its
rich and varied artistic expressions in all of
the arts, and by the warm welcome extended by
Because it was populated over thousands of years
in several waves of immigration from other parts
of Asia, Indonesia has an ethnically diverse population
and is home to more than 300 language groups.
At various points in its history a variety of
cultural and religious traditions have been dominant,
and each has left elements that are part of the
contemporary cultural and social mosaic. Since
the founding of Republic in 1949, one of the major
tasks facing the country's leadership has been
to build a nation from the diverse elements. Not
surprisingly its national motto is similar to
that of the United States: From Many One.
Most Indonesians are Muslims, but for many Islam
is blended with elements of Hinduism, Buddhism,
animism, and adat, a code of behavior and
religious and social duty or traditional law.
During the long colonial period, Christian missionaries
were successful in converting only a small portion
of the Indonesian population, but there are concentrations
of Christians in some places such as north Sulawesi
and some of the eastern islands like Ambon.
The nationalist movement's decision in the early
20th century to promote Bahasa Indonesia, the
language of traders throughout the Malay world
for many centuries, as the national language rather
than Javanese, the language of the largest segment
of the population, or the language of one of the
other large ethnic groups, was an important step
in helping to create a sense of national unity.
While local languages are widely used especially
at home and in commerce, Bahasa Indonesia is the
official language and is a critical element in
the country's unity.
Prior to the arrival of the Dutch in the 17th century,
parts of Indonesia, especially Java and Sumatra,
were united and ruled by a succession of kingdoms
including Srivijaya, Mataram, and Majapahit that
were linked to Hindu and Buddhist religious traditions.
After Muslims became firmly established in Gujerat,
Indian traders brought Islam to Sumatra from where
it spread to Java and then to other parts of the
archipelago. The Portuguese also came to the Indonesian
islands as traders and pirates about the same time
and were a presence on the islands for a hundred
years. In the 300 years following their arrival,
the Dutch expanded and consolidated their control
over much of Indonesia.
There was resistance to the Dutch over the centuries,
but an organized nationalist movement did not
emerge until the early 20th century when a number
of mass organizations arose. The future President
Sukarno emerged as one of the pre-eminent nationalist
leaders during the 1920s, and following the withdrawal
of the Japanese in 1945, he led an armed resistance
against the Dutch. Four years later the Republic
of Indonesia was established. Sukarno seized power
in 1957 and initiated a more authoritarian style
of government that he called "Guided Democracy."
The bi-national American-Indonesian Educational
Foundation (AMINEF) manages the Fulbright program
in Indonesia. AMINEF offers eight to ten grants
to American scholars and professionals for lecturing,
research or lecturing/research. Most lecturers are
affiliated with universities in Java, but they are
also placed at institutions in other parts of the
country including Sumatra and Sulawesi. While the
social sciences and humanities are emphasized, AMINEF
also welcomes scientists in fields such as environmental
studies and public health. Scholars specializing
in the study of various facets of the United States
as well as specialists in comparative religious
studies, Islamic studies, civic education and democracy
building are especially welcome. There are also
awards for specialists in Teaching English as a
Lecturers teach two or three courses and often
advise on curriculum and program development.
They may also conduct seminars and workshops for
junior faculty colleagues on recent developments
in their area of expertise or on research methods.
Grants may be five or ten months for teaching
awards with the grant period for research awards
a bit more flexible. Applicants who have not been
to Indonesia before are urged to consider the
longest period of stay if possible in order to
gain a better understanding of the complex and
intertwined political, economic, and social problems
of Indonesia and to begin to take in its rich
history and culture. One recent grantee observed
that "a commitment of 10 months to one year
is important for all scholars because so much
needs to be done before any 'actual' teaching
can be accomplished."
AMINEF welcomes applications from younger scholars
(with at least three years of university teaching
experience) and faculty at community colleges.
Of course, senior scholars and retired faculty
are also welcome. AMINEF makes things easier for
scholars unfamiliar with Indonesia or who do not
have established connections with the local academic
community by arranging the affiliations for the
lecturers. AMINEF staff also assists with the
complicated research clearance and visa process
for research grantees. An especially attractive
feature of the program is the opportunities that
AMINEF provides for grantees to lecture in other
parts of the country.
Applicants for the lecturing awards do not have
to have any expertise on Indonesia or facility in
Bahasa Indonesia. Lack of facility in Bahasa Indonesia
should not deter American scholars from applying
for lecturing awards since they will teach in English.
The host university assists by providing someone
to translate or arranges for joint teaching of courses
that has the added benefit of providing an Indonesian
perspective on the topic under discussion. In addition,
AMINEF provides support for language study to grantees
that want to gain a basic facility in the language.
When grantees are unable to find suitable materials
in English or find that the materials available
are too detailed or complex for participants with
limited English-language facility, they prepare
their own readings, handouts, outlines, and overhead
materials for each class.
and Personal Benefits of the Experience
Alumni provide the best insights and testimony
regarding the value of a Fulbright experience
in Indonesia. The following comments from several
recent grantees sum up what most grantees say
about their time in Indonesia.
The following comments from some former grantees
provide a good sense of the range of professional
benefits that come from a Fulbright experience
|An anthropologist who specializes in Indonesia,
noting the scarcity of fellowships for senior
researchers in anthropology, reported that
her grant was valuable to her professionally
because it enabled her to engage in research
full time. The Fulbright allowance was "generous
enough to allow me to hire one full-time research
assistant, and two archival assistants, without
whom I could not have finished this research."
In addition, she reported that her Fulbright
award made it possible for her to make some
important contacts in Indonesia, to engage
in discussions with faculty at universities
other than her host institution, and to become
acquainted with representatives of NGOs.
|| A political scientist noted that his comparative
politics course in the spring of 2002 included
a large segment on Indonesia as a result of
his Fulbright experience. He also said that
his Fulbright experience had enabled him to
tap into a network of opportunities for future
travel and research that will make it possible
for him to expand his knowledge and understanding
of comparative legislative and constitutional
||An attorney, formerly on the staff of a
U.S. Senate committee, reported that his Fulbright
grant enabled him to expand his range of experience
as a lawyer. Before going to Indonesia, he
had specialized in natural resource law as
implemented under national administrative
and legislative laws, with an emphasis on
laws relating to endangered species.
"To some extent this work involved
treaty negotiation with foreign countries.
However, the Fulbright has given me an
opportunity to gain experience in international
development work as it relates to natural
resource conservation. It has created
connections and experiences that will
allow me to move my career into this new
area, not only in Indonesia, but in other
countries as well. It is for this work
that I originally desired to go to law
school in 1989, and the Fulbright has
enabled me to realize those early, original
aspirations of mine. In addition, the
Fulbright has given me a vast new circle
of professional contracts, in areas ranging
from coastal management, forestry management,
and legal reform, both here and in the
U.S. These contacts should prove very
helpful in future endeavors."
||In addition to the insights he gained into
Indonesian culture, history, politics, and
social and economic issues an economist also
gained a better understanding of the issues
facing Indonesia as it strives to develop
a more democratic society. He "learned
a great deal about how Indonesians and Asians
view the world and America's actions and attitudes.
This perspective will be very helpful to me
in teaching my courses." His Fulbright
experience in Indonesia also significantly
affected his perception of his discipline.
"I will never again be able to
talk about the standard subjects of economics
without thinking of the people, equipment,
and resources of this country. It will
be impossible to talk about the advantages
of capital (such as power tools) without
also thinking about workers on construction
sites who have no access to electricity,
much less to power saws. It will be impossible
to talk about the returns to education
without also thinking about the disparity
of educational opportunity and achievement
here. And it will be impossible to talk
about production in agriculture without
thinking of the hill paddies of Central
Java. This is not just professional growth.
It is simply intellectual growth."
||A law professor with little prior international
experience considered her opportunity to teach
and conduct research in Indonesia invaluable
because it opened new professional relationships
and new directions in her research. The perspective
and information she gained will, she reported,
"contribute to efforts to increase international
and comparative law research and course offerings
at my home institution. I carry back with
me information about the Indonesian legal
system and profession, interest in studying
further the way lawyers in Indonesia and in
the U.S. can contribute to effective democratic
governance, a greater appreciation of and
openness to Islam and Muslim practices, as
well as interest in comparing the role of
religion in law and law practice in Indonesia
and the U.S, and a commitment to strengthening
the connections between my communities in
the U.S. and Indonesia."
||The Fulbright experience was "one of
the most outstanding years of my academic
life" for a professor of pediatrics.
It required me "to use many of my clinical,
teaching, and personal skills
. I hope
to use my experience to begin a new educational
program in international child health
This year allowed me to greatly expand my
professional network. By having the opportunity
to lecture at many different places in Indonesia
and Asia I now know many different colleagues
from around the world that are also interested
in medical education."
Fulbrighters gain much from their experience,
but they also contribute to their host countries.
The law professor noted above tried to assist
her Indonesian hosts by encouraging use of active
classroom methods and helping to identify effective
ways to work with large classes and little prep
time, by encouraging the inclusion of ethics in
the law curriculum and by beginning a discussion
of the role lawyers and legal education play in
effective democracy. She also suggested study
of the role of taxation in economic development
and the relationship between effective tax administration
and stable democracy and encouraged more emphasis
on tax policy in tax courses, She also shared
U.S. experience with the pitfalls and opportunities
of using law to address gender injustice.
The comments from several recent grantees show
how Fulbrighters contribute to this objective.
|I have also gained an understanding of
the feelings of the Indonesian people on many
complex issues facing Indonesian society,
while at the same time being able to present
a fuller perspective on life in the United
States and the pluralistic nature of American's
||Through many personal meetings and public
speaking, I have been able to convey a better
understanding of the beliefs and conduct of
the American people. At the same time, I have
built solid relationships with people at all
levels of Indonesian society which provide
me with a vast storehouse of knowledge and
experiences to share with colleagues, students,
friends, and family in the United Sates.
||Having been in Indonesia during a somewhat
tumultuous time, I learned a great deal about
how Indonesians and Asians view the world
and America's actions and attitudes. This
perspective will be very helpful to me in
teaching my courses. In addition, I am very
determined to help dispel the many misconceptions
about Indonesia and Islam that Americans hold
either through my conversations with friends
and colleagues, or in the courses that I teach
and the presentations that I give.
||From the first day of this time in Indonesia
to today, I have been acutely aware of my
representation of the United States. Every
action of mine has been an action of "the
American." Every time I smile at someone,
ask a question, interact in any form or fashion,
I am the personification of the United States.
For background on the Indonesian educational
system visit www.unesco.org/iau/cd-data/id.rtf
or any of the following Web sites.
Visit the Indonesia Initiative page for a key announcement about this country’s program.
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any responsibility or liability for, the functioning
and performance of country page Web sites and
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