Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Peace Corps in Indonesia?

An interesting sideline to Hillary Clinton's upcoming Indonesia visit: She's open to restarting the Peace Corps. Whether Indonesia is open to that, is another question entirely.

It's a bizarre historical tidbit, dating back to the 1960s when father-of-the-nation Sukarno allowed the program for a couple of years. But since then it's been dormant, and knotted up with what many see as the program's implications, i.e. that Indonesia is in need of outside help because it can't handle its own affairs or development.

The Peace Corps doesn't have to have that negative subtext. They might want to take a page from the program I participated in as a starry-eyed young'un, Canada World Youth: It's been there for decades now, and it's not a one-way offer of assistance, but a two-way exchange. Indonesians come to Canada as well to assist in development projects (my own pairing was situated on a dairy farm in a poor rural area), before we headed back overseas to help a tiny Sumatran village.

That way there's no condescension involved, but a reciprocal relationship where people from both countries have their world view forever enlarged. Case in point, your humble author, who wouldn't be writing about Indonesia were it not for my time with Canada World Youth all those years ago.


Today's Top Stories

Sec. of State arriving Wednesday

Exports hardest hit

Civil servants, er, encouraged to spend locally

International Yoga Festival coming to Bali

12 comments:

alansiska said...

I personally have no problem with Peace Corps in Indonesia, or any other volunteer/study tour/cultural exchange activities between the US-Indonesia. It is actually better than the visit by government officials in terms of bridging the two countries & cultures.

But as you said, as long as they're not trying to impose any ideologies/religions, or act like Indonesia is a needy country & the West will help solve all of our problems, the group will not offend the Indonesians.

I think if they truly come to study our culture & work together (this is the key word) with the locals to improve livelihood of people in Indonesia, we will welcome our guests with open arms.

Keep us updated, Chris! Thanks for the good blog. Siska (wwww.gotoindo.com/www.Indonesia-travelblog.com)

Christopher Taylor said...

Let's hope they can come to an agreement, because such cultural/development exchanges can lead to a lifetime of increased awareness. Good luck with your site! :)

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Kwade79 said...

I have a rather personal stake in this issue...my daughter is one of the startup cadre of Peace Corps volunteers going to Indonesia. She left 15 March, and she will be teaching English during her 27-month stay. As a music and English major in college, that should be a good fit for her.

They are getting a 3 month cram course in the language and culture of Indonesia before starting their duties there. This will be her fourth language (if you count sign language).

Don't worry about her. Her mother and I raised a quality child and I KNOW she will represent the USA very well, and leave a good impression on the people she meets!

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