While discussing my post-graduation plans with my brother, Marc, he sarcastically commented, “Why can’t you stay in this country just one year?”
What’s that? Is Anna leaving America’s golden shores yet again?
Well. . .hopefully.
I’m thinking. . .Indonesia.
Let me explain: Through Agnes Scott College and the fabulous Fulbright program advisor Dr. Christine Cozzens (who’s also my boss and my professor) and incoming advisor Dr. Charlotte Artese (who’s my senior seminar advisor and also fabulous), I am applying for a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship (ETA) grant to Indonesia.
I’ve known I’ve wanted to apply to be a Fulbright ETA since practically my first year of college. Everything about the program just said apply NOW: A year in a foreign country, deeply engaging with a new culture and people, serving as an ambassador for the United States, and teaching English (a language I am passionate about as a writer and tutor) in a (hopefully) culturally sensitive way?
Sign me up.
As for Indonesia?
1.) I want to be in Southeast Asia. That was never a question.
2.) Diversity. Indonesia is incredibly, ridiculously diverse. With six officially recognized religions (Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Catholicism, Protestantism, and Confucianism) and many more unacknowledged, hundreds of languages, and hundreds of ethnic groups, it’ll be a rich mix to attempt to explore and understand. How do they do that? How did all these different peoples on these thousands of islands manage to get roped into being one state? Especially since a few areas wanted/want to secede and one (East Timor) did. . .
3.) Yet, the archipelago is dominated by Islam (about 88 percent of the population is Muslim). I’ve been interested in Islam since my Catholic schooldays and my religious studies class at the Tennessee Governor’s School for the Humanities, when I attended a service in a mosque. American discourse about Islam focuses almost exclusively on the Middle East and North Africa, when the largest Muslim population in the world is in Indonesia. Despite the presence of religious extremism in the country (threats against Lady Gaga caused her team to cancel a concert in Jakarta, the capital), Indonesian Islam is expressed distinctly and often moderately. Also, how does such a religious population contend with an officially secular democracy?
4. Speaking of secular democracy, how is this newish republic contending with a legacy of imperialism (from the Dutch) and strongman rule (President Suharto, from 1966 to 1998)? Especially since the state is rapidly gaining economic and political clout as the only Southeast Asian member of the G-20?
In essence, Indonesia is a state with a complicated history and intense mix of cultures in a really exciting period of change right now. Why wouldn’t I want to be there?
Thus, my blog will be edging into new territory, transitioning (just like I am!), in other words. I will be
documenting my application process here for a few reasons:
1.) It helps my disorganized self to have all of my research, planning, lists, etc., in one place, and no matter what happens, I’ll still have a (hopefully) useful body of accessible and organized information about Fulbright and Indonesia.
2.) I want to share all the interesting tidbits I find with all of my lovely followers. I want you to learn about Indonesia with me!
3.) Frankly, making myself post regularly will
force compel encourage me to continue my research and preparation throughout these lazy summer months and the upcoming crazy fall semester of my senior year.
Applying for a Fulbright grant is a long, intense process with an uncertain outcome. But isn’t that true of all adventures?