NPCA Welcomes Intention to Return Peace Corps to Indonesia
By Jonathan Pearson on Monday, November 16th, 2009
The National Peace Corps Association welcomes the announcement that the United States intends to send Peace Corps Volunteers to Indonesia, the world’s fourth most populous country and the country with the world’s largest population of Muslims. Peace Corps Volunteers last served in Indonesia from 1963 to 1965.
As in the case of Sierra Leone, many people and organizations–including the National Peace Corps Corps Association and Alexander Shakow, the last Peace Corps Country Director in Indonesia–spent many years working behind the scenes to help pave the way for the resumption
of a Peace Corps program in Indonesia. One example: In March 2006 NPCA hosted a Director’s Circle reception at the Indonesian Ambassador’s residence in Washington, DC. There an introduction was made between Indonesian officials and the then-Peace Corps Director.
Mr. Shakow writes:
“When I closed the Peace Corps Office in Jakarta over 44 years ago, I had no idea that it would take so long before Peace Corps Volunteers would return to
Indonesia. Today’s news is very exciting and most welcome—and long overdue. In spite of the political tensions between our two countries in 1965 that prompted our decision to withdraw, the nearly fifty Volunteers located throughout this vast archipelago were able to establish warm and productive relationships with their Indonesian hosts. During the tumultuous two years or so we were there not a single Volunteer chose to leave early – a tribute to their resilience and good humor as well as to traditional Indonesian hospitality.
I am delighted that Volunteers will once again work together with Indonesian colleagues, and I am sure they too will have a very rewarding stay in this fascinating and beautiful country. I also hope that over time it will be possible to turn this program into a model of service reciprocity, with
Indonesian Volunteers coming to the United States to help in our schools just as our Volunteers work with theirs.
In short, my warmest congratulations to the Indonesian Government, the Peace Corps and all who had a hand in making this announcement possible – and to the future Volunteers who will have a wonderful and stimulating experience ahead of them.”
The National Peace Corps Association joins in his congratulations.