Published: Dec. 3, 2012

Focus on Indonesia

Contact(s): Kristen Parker Media Communications office: (517) 353-8942 cell: (517) 980-0709, Stephanie Motschenbacher Advancement office: (517) 884-1129 cell: (517) 648-9945, Siddharth Chandra Asian Studies Center office: (517) 884-2116

Elizabeth “Lisa” Kastanya believes science and technology play a critical role in Indonesia’s development and future. She also thinks young people will be the key to that future.

“We need to increase student involvement and that’s true for Indonesian students back home as well as those studying outside of the country,” said Kastanya, a senior studying political science and pre-law at Michigan State University.

Conferences like Indonesia Focus have the right formula, she said.

Kastanya’s dedication to her country was evident on Nov. 9 as she stood among a small team of other Indonesian scholars at Indonesia Focus, an annual event in the United States organized by the Asian Society for International Relations and Public Affairs. It was held at MSU for the first time thanks to the Indonesia Students Association of MSU and MSU’s Asian Studies Center.

Kastanya said IF 2012 has two main programs: Indonesia Focus Conference and Indonesia Cultural Night.

“IFC 2012 provides opportunities for Indonesian scholars and international scholars to share their research and thoughts for the betterment of Indonesia,” she said. “It was an honor to host the event this year and we were delighted with the outcome. We had many distinguished speakers and guests and more than 130 participants.”

Participants included Nur Sisworahardjo, president of ASIRPA; Siddharth Chandra, director of the Asian Studies Center; and Andriana Supandy, the Indonesian Consulate General in Chicago.

“I can’t think of a better event on campus that demonstrates the richness and vibrancy of a culture,” said Ralang Argi, a sophomore studying mechanical engineering and president of PERMIAS-MSU. “I am proud to be an MSU student and I am proud to be an Indonesian student.”

The program closed with a lively discussion among the keynote speakers and the IF participants on issues that can impede a country’s progress in developing science and technology. Some of the issues and needs raised by the participants included:

  • Need to improve the public’s awareness of the Indonesian government’s budget and role in developmentNeed for increased government funding of research
  • Need for increased transparency and use of technology to improve public access to data and research reports, particularly those funded by the Indonesian government
  • Need to place priority on renewable energy research and inventions
  • Need for a special type of visa to accommodate the increasing need of exchange students and experts between Indonesia and the United States

PERMIAS-MSU was asked to once again hold the national PERMIAS meeting in 2013, which will be the impetus to re-establish the Indonesian Student Association in the United States at the national level.

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