Rennie zit voor langere tijd in Indonesië. Hij doet daar voor Indisch 3.0 in het Engels verslag van zijn dagelijkse beslommeringen – zodat zijn Indonesische studievrienden het ook kunnen volgen.

If we look at the current situation in the western world, Indonesia is often depicted in a negative way. If we, for example, visit theDutch news website and enter “Indonesië” in the search bar, you will come across bus accidents, earthquakes, crashed planes, terrorists and the Dutch parliament not wanting to sell tanks to Indonesia because they could be used to violate human rights. If you combine these negative news reports with the current fear of Islam, the logical outcome is a negative image for the country with the world’s largest Muslim population.

De BSBI 2012 afgevaardigden voor het Gedung Pancasila gebouw waar voorheen de volksraad zat. (c) Rennie Roos/ Indisch 3.0 2012

De BSBI 2012 afgevaardigden voor het Gedung Pancasila gebouw waar voorheen de volksraad zat. Rennie staat in het midden. (c) Rennie Roos/ Indisch 3.0 2012

So how does a country like Indonesia promote itself and work on its bilateral relationships at the same time? Every year, they invite 50 talented youngsters from all over the world and give them the opportunity to live and study in Indonesia for a period of three months. During those three months, the Indonesian government hopes to create 50 new ambassadors that will help improve the image of Indonesia in their respective home countries.

Kita harus bangga! Mereka datang dari jauh untuk belajar budaya kita! / “We should be proud! They come from far to study our culture!”- Teacher SMA Muhammadiyah 2 (Surabaya)

It must be said that the Indonesian government is doing everything they can to make us feel comfortable in our new surroundings. From the moment I got off the plane at Soekarno-Hatta airport I was treated like a celebrity. Along with the participant from India I was picked up at the gate, escorted through immigration and brought to our hotel in the heart of Jakarta by our private chauffeur. During our first week in Jakarta the organization impressed us by introducing us to several leaders from varies sectors. From the Foreign Minister to the famous novelist Andrea Hirata, we were being introduced to political leaders, CEO’s and cultural leaders. All in order so that we could see Indonesia from different perspectives.

 The government only wants to show us the bright side of Indonesia.

I can say that the tactic of the Indonesian government is working quite well because we were all impressed by what we have seen. However, the fact that our trip to Monas was canceled due to demonstrations against the government plans of cutting gas price subsidies on Medan Merdeka shows us that the government only wants to show us the bright side of Indonesia. This act can of course just be seen as protecting our safety but I can understand as well that the government does not want us to see that not everybody agrees with the current situation and that the Indonesian population massively goes to the street when they disagree with something.

The basic outline of this program is that I am supposed to study Indonesian arts and cultures but the funny thing is, is that I am learning much more than that. Not only am I learning about Indonesia but I am also learning a lot from my fellow participants. My topographical knowledge was seriously tested when I first met the participants from Palau, Kiribati and Tuvalu because I can’t recall hearing those countries in my high school geography class. The mixture of different nationalities makes this program very unique because we are all learning about each other while learning about Indonesian arts and cultures.

 I am learning much more than that.

The Indonesian Arts & Culture Scholarship gives me the opportunity to study in Surabaya, a place my grandmother also used to visit some 80 years ago. If you share my interest on Indonesia, and would like the opportunity to study in Indonesia as well, you should keep an eye out on the Indonesian Foreign Affairs website:  or contact the Indonesian Embassy for more information about the 2013 application process.

My advice to all the young  Indo’s in Holland: apply for the Indonesian Arts & Culture Scholarship! IACS already exceeded all my expectations and I am just getting started here. Through this program you can learn a lot about Indonesia but also about your own roots.