Peace Corps to Return to Indonesia

John F. Kennedy greets volunteers on August 28...Image via Wikipedia

The US Embassy in Jakarta released a statement on the return of the US Peace Corps to Indonesia:

U.S. President Barack Obama and Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono have announced their intent to re-establish a Peace Corps program in Indonesia following their November 15 bilateral discussions at the APEC conference in Singapore.

Peace Corps Director Aaron S. Williams issued the following statement after the announcement. “We are honored that Indonesia will host the next generation of Peace Corps volunteers inspired by President Kennedy’s legacy of service. Over the last 48 years, the Peace Corps has captured the imagination of nearly 200,000 Americans committed to public service abroad.” Director Williams continued, “I look forward to working in collaboration with the government and communities of Indonesia. This partnership will encourage Americans and Indonesians to work side by side on Indonesia’s education initiatives while advancing a greater understanding of both countries on the part of all involved with the program.”

The statement says that the first group of Peace Corps volunteers is expected to arrive in Indonesia by mid-2010. They will work as English teachers in high schools and teacher training institutions.

The return of the Peace Corps to Indonesia has been previously reported during Secretary Clinton’s visit there this past February. At that time Paul Watson of LAT recalled that the last time Indonesia allowed Peace Corps volunteers to work there, they weren’t sent into villages to teach English or build schools; they were assigned to whip athletes into shape for the 1964 Olympics. The country ended up boycotting the Tokyo Games, and “thugs from the Indonesian Communist Party, which accused the American coaches of being CIA agents, ran them out of the country in 1965, less than three years after they had arrived.”

Perhaps things will be different this time. The report quoted Dewi Fortuna Anwar an expert on U.S.-Indonesian relations and a former presidential spokeswoman:

“Regional neighbors such as Australia and Singapore send aid workers to do community development work in Indonesia. So it shouldn’t be a problem if Americans come too, as long as they stay clear of politics, said Dewi Fortuna Anwar.”

Read Indonesia still touchy about Peace Corps.