Dear Vote Smart Friends,
One of the most interesting discussions so far happened this morning when I had the chance to meet with about 30 college students from across Java during a roundtable discussion of environmental issues here in Indonesia. These students were from various universities and had wide range of experiences, from the State Islamic University to the University of Indonesia to Atmajaya Catholic University. The students were extremely impressive and incredibly knowledgeable and articulate on a wide range of environmental issues. It was truly inspiring to see the level of commitment and depth of concern they had for improving the environmental quality here in Jakarta. The picture here was taken after the discussion when I spent almost 45 minutes talking individually with students about topics as wide ranging as whether I was surviving the bad traffic here in the capital to what I thought of Al Gore's movie, "An Inconvenient Truth".
My afternoon program was co-sponsored by the National Democracy Institute (NDI) and during this session I was able to meet "the enemy"--actual political candidates! Not only were there candidates from Indonesia, but NDI was also hosting a group of politicians from Malaysia who decided to sit in on our discussion. This was a lively group of politicians that was both impressed with the nature and mission of Project Vote Smart as well as horrified that we would hound candidates for good factual information during an election. In the words of one of the discussion participants, "Politicians must really hate you guys!" Still, the group as a whole really could see that Vote Smart was serving a valuable need and were particularly impressed at how much of the work was done by young Americans. Paul Rowland (far right in picture), NDI Resident Representative, was a particularly gracious and interested host for the discussion and is doing some very hard and much needed work with NDI in Indonesia. We had a great meeting and I think NDI could be a real international partner for Vote Smart in the future.
Good evening or as they say in Jakarta, salamat sore.
7 August 2007
Written by Media