Jakarta. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs organized a focus group discussion in Jakarta on Monday (04/12) to prepare for the first World Indonesianists Congress, and to inspire the younger generation to learn more about the country.
Opening the discussion, Deputy Foreign Minister A.M. Fachir highlighted the role of "Indonesianists" in improving the understanding of Indonesia abroad and in strengthening diplomatic ties.
While the term "Indonesianists" refers to academics whose research is focused on Indonesia, it is also used more generally for those with a keen interest in the country.
"Indonesianists have played an important role in strengthening relations between Indonesia and their home countries," Fachir said.
He added that academics have become a source of knowledge on Indonesia and helped to "shape the opinions of policy makers and of a wider public."
The discussion is expected to contribute to preparations for the World Indonesianists Congress next year, particularly to get an insight into the country's perception by the Generation Z – those born after 1995 – of whose importance in shaping the future of international relations the ministry is well aware.
The event on Monday was attended by 80 foreign students from 42 countries, who are studying in Indonesia.
"The youth of today needs a proper foundation, most of what they know [about Indonesia] comes from their immediate surroundings and is not necessarily profound," Fachir said, adding that deeper knowledge of the country will make young foreigners capable of representing Indonesia's interests abroad.
According to the deputy minister, Indonesianists are "an important asset to Indonesia's diplomacy," as their works have greatly contributed to opening up the country. Scholars such as Benedict Anderson, Fachir said, have even played a role in the transformation of Indonesian politics.
"It is my hope that this discussion will contribute to our efforts in promoting Indonesian studies abroad and creating a new generation of Indonesianists."