Sean On Leave

Changing the World…One Vacation At A Time.

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Visit to MM Univeristy

May 6th, 2009 by Sean

Yesterday I had the amazing opportunity to visit the Universitas Muhamadiyah Malang (MMU), the largest university in East Java.  I was invited by Prof. Soeparto, the head of the International Studies department, and a friend of my Uncle An.  After my teaching was finished, MMU sent a car to pick me up and take me to their beautiful campus.

I met with a visiting scholar from Sudan and his son, which was fascinating.  Our news coverage of Sudan is defined by Darfur and the conflict there.  It was enlightening to learn more about Sudan and very nice to be invited to visit his school, which is an International University.  I have to admit, if Indonesia is almost too hot for me, I might just melt away in Sudan. :)

I then had lunch with the MMU IT Staff – primarily their web development team and networking analysts.  They asked me to give a talk on web development strategies and provide an assessment of their new website.  It’s always hard to give this sort of advice, but with the added mixture of not being from Indonesia and the challenge of communicating in Second Languages, this was a difficult task.  However, the MMU staff were very gracious and I think they understood that I was humbly offering one perspective with the hopes that it could help them.

It was a lot of fun to talk shop, even if we did it in half-English and half-Indonesian.  It’s good to know that Geek is a universal language.  Once we started talking about JQuery and XHTML/CSS validation, I knew everything was going to be okay.  I used the University of Guelph website and the still-in-development Agapé Social Foundation website as examples to compare with the MMU website.

I also asked the MMU staff for some assistance with researching the best option for installing internet at the ASF.  They were very kind and immediately offered to help.  Here’s hoping this project moves forward soon.

After my meeting with the IT Staff, I was surprised with a visit with the University President (referred to as a Rector in Indonesia)!  He was very welcoming and shared stories about his time in Canada, including his time at University of Victoria in the early 90s.  I was given some wonderful gifts of a MMU tie and batik shirt.  I handed out pins from City of Guelph, Province of Ontario, Canada and U of G.  However, since the visit with the Rector was a surprise, I was all out of pins!  On the drive home I remembered that I actually did have 1 more pin…the U of G pin I was wearing <smile>.  So I asked the driver to wait (an impressive task considering I still haven’t figured out how to say “wait” in Indonesia :) and I wrote the Rector a short note and sent the letter and pin back as a gift.  Better late than never…<smile>.

All in all it was great to visit MMU and make some new connections.  There is something very special about working at a University, something about working to educate and make the world a better place that is very rewarding.  It is also something that is especially apparent when you meet with people who are pursuing the same mission…even if they are 15000 km away and speak a different language.

Many thanks to Prof. Soeparto and Om An for this incredible opportunity.  It is something I’ll never forget.  Here are some pictures of my visit:

For those of you wondering how I happened to have a shirt and tie packed and ready to wear on just such a visit, I must give credit to the fantastic training I received for Leave For Change.  I was told to alway bring a tie and always be ready to give a speech because international visitors are often invited to speak when abroad.  It was true in Nepal and it was true in Indonesia.  Thanks to Leave for Change for the great advice that is continuing to pay off. <smile>

Tags: 7 Comments

7 responses so far ↓

  • I’m sure you’ll be giving some talks here about your experiences. I wonder if the ITSIG folks would be interested?

  • Beaming with a pride here, Sean :) You had a white shirt and tie at the ready! I’ve read your post about your visit to MMU with interest. Impressive! Glad the President got a pin. :D Nice work!

  • Sean, thanks for the detailed posts about your journey and helping there. It is such an incredible thing you are doing!
    Your posts and pictures make it very intriguing to follow along with you!
    best of luck,

  • You sir, are a continual amazement to me. I’m so blessed to know you.

  • Thanks so much Amanda – it has been just as amazing to have people follow along with me. Once I get things a bit more organized I’ll be doing some talks on campus and maybe even just a photo run-down for those interested in seeing how much I shot, and see just how many terrible photos it takes me to get a good shot .

  • Thanks for the comment Charlie…I’m really looking forward to getting together soon and catching up.

  • I’m always happy to talk…I’ll definitely get in touch with the ITSIG folks and find out if they’re interested.