• A local, slice-of-life story from a Monitor correspondent.
Yuliana Lestari is searching for universities. She takes a brief tour of Oxford in England and then zooms off to Harvard with the help of Google’s Liquid Galaxy. The 16-year-old Indonesian is one of a host of youths who have come to take advantage of the high-tech resources inside “@ America,” an initiative supported by the US Embassy in Jakarta that puts an edgy, 21st-century twist on public diplomacy. The facilities include interactive games and videoconferencing. Touch-screen monitors hang on the walls throughout the center. By standing in the midst of seven of these monitors wrapped in a semicircle, visitors can virtually walk inside Disney’s Magic Kingdom or stand in center field at Yankee Stadium.
Yuliana says she wants to learn more about US culture. She attended a discussion focused on surfing, as did another visitor, Silvia Rianti, who hoped to find a like-minded community she could hit the waves with. That’s just what @ America’s founders are aiming for. The center abides by three E’s – explore, experience, express – to build upon shared interests between the US and Indonesia.
Cisco, Microsoft, and Google contributed technology to the $5 million center, which hosts a different theme each week pertaining to education, technology and innovation, climate change, or entrepreneurship.