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Indonesian ambassador to speak Oct. 18 at NIU

October 12, 2010

Dino Patti Djalal, the newly appointed Indonesian ambassador to the United States, will deliver a public talk next week on the NIU campus.

Djalal’s presentation, titled “Indonesia’s Democratic Development:  Lesson for Transforming Societies,” will focus on progress in building and strengthening democracy in Indonesia. The event will be held at 4 p.m. Monday, Oct. 18, in the Capitol Room of Holmes Student Center.

In his native country, Djalal is a well-known government spokesman, diplomat and best-selling author. He served as presidential spokesman for President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, a post he held from October 2004 until recently, making him the longest serving presidential spokesperson in Indonesia’s modern history.

Dino Patti Djalal

Dino Patti Djalal

Djalal holds a doctorate degree from the London School of Economics and Political Science. He has authored five books, including an Indonesian best-seller that contains political stories, anecdotes and leadership lessons from the Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono presidency, taken from Djalal’s personal diary. The book was turned into a television show in 2009 and has been translated into English with the title “The Can Do Leadership.”

“This is a great honor to be singled out to host the ambassador, especially in view of his busy schedule in Chicago,” said James Collins, director of the NIU Center for Southeast Asian Studies.  “It is a tribute to NIU’s long-standing commitment to Southeast Asian studies, in particular Indonesia. But it is also an indication of the renewed and enhanced linkages between the U.S. and Indonesia. 

 “We think there will be a lot of interest on campus in his talk,” Collins added. “Indonesia is the largest Muslim country in the world, an important trade partner for the U.S. and a strong ally in in the war against terrorism. In fact, President Obama is expected to visit Indonesia before the end of this year.”

Collins traveled to Indonesia earlier this year with Christopher McCord, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Science, and Deborah Pierce, NIU associate provost for International Programs, to explore opportunities for expanding educational programs. Collins and McCord also traveled to the country in 2009 as members of a U.S. delegation of higher education leaders.

NIU’s Center for Southeast Asian Studies is one of a few federally funded national resource centers for study of the region. The university has a long history of hosting students from Indonesia and boasts more than 60 Indonesian alumni, including several who work within the highest reaches of academia and central government in the island nation, the world’s fourth most populous country.

“We’ve been working successfully to increase our exchange with Indonesia. Certainly, many of our faculty members would like to see it continue to grow,” Collins said.

Six NIU students have studied in Indonesia over the past two years. About a dozen Indonesian students are currently studying at NIU, which also is hosting 12 visiting scholars from the country.

“Strengthening educational exchange is a strategic priority for both the Republic of Indonesia and the United States,” Pierce added. “The visit of the ambassador to our campus highlights NIU’s significant role in expanding such cooperation.”

Related: McCord, Collins traveling to Indonesia with U.S. higher education delegation