Thursday, September 27, 2007

Second Impressions of Indonesia

Day two in Indonesia was much different and much better than day one. First thing in the morning the AACC delegation members gathered in the hotel lobby prior to boarding the bus to go to the EducationUSA offices here in Jakarta. There were a few familiar faces from last year and many new people to get to know. So far it seems like a pretty easy group to travel with, but of course it is only day one of our time together.

We spent about 6 hours earlier today at the EducationUSA offices here in Jakarta. This picture shows some of our student helpers lined up against the wall learning about the AACC and the colleges in attendance for the recruiting fair. These students will be helping us at the recruitment fair on Saturday at the hotel. My interpreter is the tallest one along the wall, second from right. These students spoke English very well and were very interested and engaged in learning about American community colleges.

EducationUSA is sponsoring the AACC trip to both Jakarta and Surabaya, as well as the last stop of our trip in Seoul.

I thought it was a little bit embarrassing for them to serve us a fabulous lunch at the offices since this is during Ramadhan in the heavily Islamic country. That means that they don't eat between sunrise and sundown every day for 30 days. Almost 86% of Indonesians claimed the Muslim faith during the 2000 census. (source: Wikipedia). Everyone at the offices was very pleasant but somehow I couldn't help but think that we could have easily done without lunch in observance (temporarily I'm sure) of their beliefs. I, of course, felt obligated to try a little bit of everything since they went to such lengths to provide us with a wonderful lunch.

The day ended when we accompanied our hosts from EducationUSA to the Sampau Matsuda Sentra Indonesian Traditional Theatre and Seafood Restaurant. What an experience. Great food with about 60-90 minutes of traditional Indonesian dance and music from at least 14 entertainers.

This was an excellent audience participation (which usually makes me gag) performance where they really made you feel welcome and were clearly proud to be showing their Indonesian traditions to the audience. This is a small place so there was one table of about 8 men from Japan and our two tables of about 20 people from America. There was approximately a 1-to-1 ratio of employees to customers. I also shot a great deal of video which will hopefully be edited soon and posted.

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