We work at the grassroots level throughout the Muslim World to counter violent extremism before it takes hold, to promote tolerance and understanding, and to foster better relations with the United States.
The volunteers outside Gadjah Mada University, taken from Della’s personal blog.
Well this is it, the moment of truth. I can’t believe next week I am headed all the way across the globe to a city I can barely pronounce: Yogyakarta, Indonesia. (Apparently it’s “Jogja” by the way). Whenever I get finished telling friends and family what I am doing this summer they always reply with the same question: “Yogyakarta…where is that anyway?” It’s as if no one can really understand why I’ve made the decision to spend my summer this way. While I am certainly nervous, I have been getting excited for this moment ever since I was accepted into Creative Learning’s America’s Unofficial Ambassador’s Program.
I first decided to apply to the program because I want an experience living in a foreign country. Even though I have traveled extensively, and even lived with a host family in France, I want to experience a country that is truly foreign. Indonesia is an interesting crossroads of old and new. I’m most excited to experience their rich and diverse culture that is so different from my own. I know this will test my limits and it certainly won’t be easy to live in a place I have only learned about from behind my laptop, but I’m looking forward to the challenge.
I’m a firm believer that the world is quickly globalizing, and we all need to adapt. People should not be shocked and appalled by the practices of different cultures, but should instead try to understand their point of view. This is especially true of Americans and Muslims. Both sides need to try to educate themselves on the other culture and be more accepting. If everyone took the time to ask questions and learn about foreign places, I believe the world would be a much less scary place to live. We can only welcome and accept people if we understand where they’re coming from. This is why I felt like I needed to do a program with such hands on experience. It will help me to reinforce what I’ve learned in the classroom and form my own impressions of the Muslim world to share with others.
The other reason I was attracted to the program was for the service internships. I will be a communications intern at a small NGO called Dian Interfidi. I’m mainly assisting them with their English language materials for their website, but I will also be doing photography for them. Dian Interfidi is dedicated to promoting religious tolerance in a country that has substantial religious conflict and violence. They also publish studies on key social issues such as HIV, domestic violence, and human trafficking. I will be helping them to spread their message by expanding their English language presence.
To my friends, family, and all those who will follow me this summer: wish me luck, I think I’m going to need it. This blog should be chock full of embarrassing, awesome, terrible, beautiful, difficult, and life-changing stories. I can’t wait to share my experiences with all of you. I also can’t wait to have a better answer than just “Indonesia” when you ask me “Yogyakarta…where is that anyway?”
A link to Della’s personal blog can be found here.