Remarks by Ambassador Blake at the MOU Signing Ceremony Between University of Florida and University of Indonesia, Depok

“Educational Partnerships and Collaborations for the 21st Century”

MOU Signing Ceremony Between University of Florida and University of Indonesia


Vice Rector Chalid
Dr. Priadi
Dean Silver
Dean Villalon
Faculty, students, ladies and gentlemen,

I appreciate your kind invitation to be here today at UI to witness the MOU signing between the University of Indonesia and the University of Florida, two great institutions of higher learning.

Our two countries are making important progress in implementing the Comprehensive Partnership our Presidents agreed to in 2010.  Sustaining that progress and ensuring the continued prosperity and success of our people depend on many factors.

But perhaps none is more important than ensuring the highest quality education is available to our young people, including through cooperation between our educators and researchers and students.

As President Obama and President Jokowi emphasized last November when they met in Beijing, education will shape our growing relationship.  Education will help train our young people and determine the future competitiveness of our economies.

In my role as the U.S. Ambassador, one of my key goals is to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of Indonesia by means of educational and cultural exchange.  Educators, researchers, and scholars play a vital role assisting in the development of peaceful relations.

Educational exchanges are a powerful form of peace promotion.  We know that when you experience a different culture, you gain a more profound understanding of yourself and those around you—deepening your knowledge about the world in a way that books, school assignments, and a professional career can never reveal.

Cultural and academic exchanges were essential to my own growth.  I lived, studied, and worked abroad a good portion of my entire life, and the experience shaped me in profound ways.  It led me to this life of public service.

Dr. Silver was a Fulbright Professor who previously taught here at UI.  With the U.S. Fulbright exchange program, Dr. Silver came to teach and share his knowledge, skills and experience with Indonesian scholars and students.  Now, he is back to do more of the same—but times 100 or times 200!

To compete in today’s global economy, where individual and collective aspirations are high and access to information is limitless, we need to learn as much as we can in as many diverse contexts as we can.

This demands that we look beyond our immediate surroundings, beyond our own classrooms, beyond our labs and work sites.  The MOU signed today will increase collaborations in important research programs in scientific fields and the humanities and will allow for more exchange scholars and students.

And it will help us aim high and set our sights beyond even what we think is possible today.

We need exchanges more than ever before because there are many global challenges and problems we need to solve.  I’ve met so many teachers and students who express a real concern about their future.

Based on my travels in Indonesia and the United States, I think both our countries need more young people with skills who can contribute to expanding economic prosperity, and can address our 21st century challenges, such as climate change, pandemic disease, energy security, cybersecurity, and food security.

Those who choose to engage in educational exchange experience a kind of multiplier effect when it comes to expanding their opportunities.  When you exchange people between schools and between countries, increased information flows benefit both parties.

So, the more exchanges you have, the more information is shared.  Exchanges like the one we are launching today will help shape and improve both institutions for many years to come.

As the U.S. Ambassador to Indonesia, I wanted to emphasize our continued interest in receiving more Indonesian students to the United States.  Nearly 8,000 Indonesians are studying at U.S. institutions.  But we have room and would love to welcome many more.

To help Indonesian students learn more about educational opportunities in the United States, we are hosting three university fairs across the country, and they’re all free of charge.  In Jakarta this Saturday, February 7 at the Kempinski Hotel in Jakarta, nearly 40 U.S. universities, and 2-4 year colleges will be there to answer your questions about studying at their schools.

They’re here because they want Indonesian students to be a part of their institutions.  They want to talk to all of you, so make sure you come by to see them this Saturday at the Kempinski from 1:00 to 6:00 p.m.  We have flyers on hand.

Finally, the U.S. Embassy is working closely with Indonesians to promote online education as well.  At @america, our American Cultural Center in Jakarta, we are launching a series of Massive Open Online Courses (or MOOCs), where expert guest lecturers will enhance online courses in business, writing, entrepreneurship, sciences, and many other subjects that are taught from world class institutions like the University of Florida, U.C. Berkeley, and Case Western University.

In closing, a hearty congratulations to the University of Indonesia and the University of Florida.  Let’s all of us to help make this partnership a success, and I look forward to seeing the fruits of these exchanges soon.
As prepared.