Grimshaw Trip to Indonesia
Indonesia – and other ASEAN countries - are a greatly influenced, yet often under explored, region in their role in International Relations. The unique position of these countries calls into question widely accepted ideas on international organisations and foreign aid. Throughout our trip to Jakarta, we were able to gain perspectives, from various organisations, that challenged our pre-existing ideas surrounding these political concepts while experiencing the amazing culture of Indonesia.
Our meeting with the ASEAN gave an alternative perspective of what makes an effective international organisation. What stood out to many of us, in these meetings, was the neutral and unconfrontational position that ASEAN took in cases such as the crisis in Rohingya. The interests and moral position of ASEAN are often compromised as a result of its dependency on the states that fund it. Through each of the meetings with the organisations related to ASEAN, we gained a clearer understanding on what ‘The ASEAN Way’ really was and how the complicated the trade-off between interests and non-interference is.
Meeting with the US and UK embassy demonstrated to us the – equally – complicated issue that surrounds foreign aid. Through speaking with the ambassadors, we were able to take away a great deal of ideas surrounding the rise of China and its impacts on Indonesia. These meetings, in particular, gave us a holistic understanding of foreign aid with specialists in areas from developmental economics to security.
However, this trip would not be complete without our experiences of Indonesia in our spare time. Indonesia is a country with an incredible blend of cultures. Perhaps, nothing demonstrates this better than the Istiqlal Mosque, the largest mosque in South East Asia, which is located directly opposite a cathedral. Cultural unity is present everywhere within Jakarta. The experiences of riding a tuk-tuk through Jakarta’s China Town and visiting a Dutch Colonial Building in the Old Town will be hard to forget. Just as with its role in International Relations, Indonesia is a place that should never be ignored.