Amid tensions and anti-American sentiment over the movie Innocence of Muslims, the US government voiced its hope that more Indonesian students would study in the country.
Speaking at the US Higher Education Fair on Wednesday, Ambassador Scot Marciel said that the US welcomed approximately 7,000 students last year and plans to further increase Indonesian student numbers.
“I think the US still has the best university system in the world, but there’s only one thing lacking in American universities — we don’t have enough Indonesian students,” Marciel said, smiling.
According to the ambassador, Muslim students from Indonesia should not fear discrimination, despite publicized tensions over the last few weeks.
“Actually, we have millions of Muslims in the United States. So there’s no problem at all,” Marciel said. “Having Indonesians studying in America and Americans studying here is a great way for us to better understand each other and build closer relationships”.
Organized by the Institute of International Education, the fair had the participation of 52 public and private universities, including Iowa State University, Syracuse University, Seattle Community College, Hawaii Pacific University and Webster University.
One of the visitors, Maya, 24, an English teacher at a private high school in Jakarta, said that studying in the US is her dream, and pursuing it was worth all the risk. “The US is a developed country that has a high quality of education. It would be great to study for a postgraduate degree there”.
Another visitor, Dwiki, 19, said that he plans to study toward a Master of business administration in the US after finishing his bachelor degree in accounting at Trisakti University, Jakarta.
“I am not only planning to get an MBA degree. I am planning to pursue a career in the US too,” Dwiki said. “However, if I am unable to get a job there, then I think having a career here in Indonesia with a degree from the US is not bad at all,” he said.
Last month, thousands of members of the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), the country’s largest Islamic political party, staged a mass rally in front of the US Embassy in Central Jakarta.
Protesters urged the US government to take the director of the anti-Islam movie to court for creating controversial film Innocence of Muslims. (nad)