US program puts Indonesians in Yankee Stadium

The US Embassy in Jakarta has helped launch a program that uses technology to bring Indonesian children to America and elsewhere in the world – without ever leaving the country.

Eric Thayer/Reuters/File
A general view shows the exterior of the new Yankee Stadium in New York on April 15, 2009.

• 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.

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