"It is great, I did not expect to go to America. From several tests conducted in Makassar (South Sulawesi), I was the sole participant from West Papua, while others were from Papua, Makassar, Mataram, and Maluku," Ilonka Amaia, a high school student of SMAN 1 Sorong, West Papua, said here Friday.
She was talking on the sidelines of the welcoming event for the 21 student participants of the YES program held by U.S. Consul General in Surabaya Kristen F Bauer. The event was also attended by the coordinator of NGO Bina Antarbudaya, Nisa Permatasari.
The 21 students consisted of five students from Surabaya (East Java), nine students from Malang and Madiun (East Java), three students from Makassar, a student from Papua, a student from Maluku, and two students from Mataram (West Nusa Tenggara). "I am ready to introduce some Papuan culture to American students and the public. I will demonstrate the traditional dance Yospan and also a small traditional musical instrument, the tifa. I will also take Papua traditional clothing, including chest and woven grass cloths," the second grade students said.
In welcoming the students, the U.S. Consul General in Surabaya, Kristen F. Bauer, expected the students might take the opportunity to explore the experience, as much as possible, during their studies and spend a year in America.
"Coming home from America, you can share the experiences with fellow students and the Indonesian community. If you see something good in there, such as environmental projects, then you can practice them here. " she said.
Similarly, the spokesman of U.S. Consul General in Surabaya, Emily Y Norris, added that the special program of high school students and the schools started in 2003 was intended to allow Americans to learn about Indonesia directly from Indonesians, which is a Muslim-majority country.
"By contrast, Indonesians can teach Americans so that eventually each other can understand and work together. Right now there are five to six 6 American students who are studying here," she said.
Meanwhile, the coordinator volunteer of NGO Bina Antarbudaya, Nisa Permatasari, said the YES program selection process took a year and covered general knowledge, English language skills, personality interviews, and group discussion/problem solving.
"The result in each chapter then competed at the national level. Of the 8,000 students all over Indonesia who were interested in the program, 80 students were selected to participate in the YES program 2012-2013 and 21 students of these were from East Java and eastern Indonesia," she said.
She further explained that participants would go to the U.S on August 6 and they would study and live in different states in the U.S for one year. Each state will see two Indonesian students who are living with foster parents.
"They will learn a lot about British and American history, however, they are also given the opportunity to participate in international week to introduce Indonesia culture to the American public. YES program participants come from 40 countries," she noted.