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The Daily Wildcat

 

Students discuss adding Indonesia to Study Abroad

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Savannah Douglas / The Daily Wil
Savannah Douglas / The Daily Wildcat An informal focus group for students interested in developing a study abroad program in Indonesia was held Wednesday morning in the University Services Building. Larry Fisher, a research professor for the UA natural resources and the environment department, began the meeting by discussing the work he has previously done in Indonesia. This focus group gave students a chance to collaborate on the first steps for bringing a program to Indonesia.

Indonesia could be UA students’ new destination after a meeting on Wednesday was held to generate interest in and discuss a possible new study abroad program.

Hillary Vance, a coordinator for Study Abroad and National Student Exchange, said in an email statement that the purpose of the meeting was “to discuss with student[s] potential opportunities for study abroad, research or internships in Indonesia. We want to see what students will be interested in and what questions they might have.”

The program is still in the developmental stages. The meeting involved four local UA students interested in possible programs in Indonesia and four current degree-seeking students studying at the UA who are from different parts of Indonesia. Students were able to express their interest and raise any questions or concerns they had. Some students questioned if they were to receive any type of credit and what kind of funding would be available.

“It’s still in its early stages,” Vance said. “We’re just trying to figure out if we were to offer a program, what students would want to get out of it. We’re just trying to figure out the logistics that would make students interested in going to Indonesia. As we’re building new programs, it’s useful to gauge that ahead of time and make sure we’re developing things that students actually want.”

Larry Fisher, a research professor in the School of Natural Resources and the Environment, was able to tell the students about the Indonesian culture from his many years of experience there. Fisher traveled to Indonesia for an exchange program which was supposed to last two years, but extended his trip for over 18 years.

“Indonesians are incredibly gracious and generous people,” Fisher said.

Fisher said that although Indonesia is very diverse, the people who live there aren’t used to Westerners yet. He said they are very shocked to see Westerners, but that doesn’t come from a bad place.

Fisher added that Indonesia generally has a very warm culture, and Indonesians are very welcoming. He also said going to Indonesia is a completely different experience compared to going to other countries.

“It’s very different from Europe,” Fisher said. “You go there and you will fit right in. But in Indonesia, you can stand up, you will stand out. There are significant differences, but that’s what makes it exciting and interesting. It’s what makes it inspiring, because you learn how to cross over into their culture and retain your sense of self but also how to absorb all the newness.”

Vance explained how this program will become possible.

”We are working on a formal agreement with the University of Mataram, as Dr. Larry Fisher has been working on joint projects with some faculty there for many years,” Vance said. “We are hoping to gauge UA student interest in possible programs in this part of the world and to develop new initiatives in conjunction with Indonesian students such as research or service learning projects.”

Although the Indonesian program isn’t offered yet, the study abroad department is working to bring new opportunities to students.

According to an announcement encouraging Wildcats to look into all the study abroad opportunities, there are multiple programs being offered for the first time in 2015. Vance said there are almost 20 new programs being offered this year.

“We are hoping that at some point, we will add Indonesia to this list,” Vance said.

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