Category: Featured News, News

Title: President Joko Widodo’s Historic Visit to SFS: Elevating U.S.-Indonesia Ties

Author: Marwa Katir
Date Published: November 21, 2023

On November 13, 2023, President Joko Widodo, commonly known as President Jokowi, visited Georgetown University, where he delivered his only public address in Washington, DC. The event took place prior to his summit with U.S. President Joe Biden, which marked the elevation of the U.S.-Indonesia relationship to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership.

Before assuming the presidency in 2014, President Jokowi built a reputation in public service, starting as the mayor of Solo in 2005 and later becoming the governor of Jakarta in 2012. Widely recognized for his hands-on governance and focus on infrastructure, he made history as Indonesia’s first president without a military or elite political background.

Georgetown Provost Robert Groves opened the event by highlighting the university’s legacy as a crucible for profound global discussions. Commending Jokowi’s notable achievements, Groves pointed to initiatives such as leading infrastructure development, advocating for environmental sustainability and supporting entrepreneurship, and advancing education.

Prioritizing Education and Unity in Diversity

In his address, President Jokowi laid out his vision, placing particular emphasis on the pivotal role of education in shaping Indonesia’s future. “Education is one of Indonesia’s top priorities,” he said. “The quality of human resources will be a determining factor.”

President Jokowi described Indonesia as a nation united by its diversity, guided by the principles of its founding concept, “Pancasila.” He underscored the importance of skillful management of differences to prevent conflicts that could jeopardize regional stability. “For Indonesia,” he said, “differences and diversity [are] a gift.” 

US-Indonesian Relations

Following his remarks, President Jokowi engaged in a conversation with SFS Dean Joel Hellman, first addressing the significance of upgrading the U.S.-Indonesia relationship to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership. The president emphasized the substantial impact the United States holds globally and the vast potential for collaboration. 

With Indonesia being a significant exporter to the U.S., President Jokowi highlighted the need to expand opportunities in trade, economy, investments, critical minerals, and energy transition.  “As a country that is rich with critical minerals and green energy potentials, Indonesia can become an important partner for the U.S.,” he said.  

Nusantara: Crafting a Sustainable Capital

Dean Hellman then turned the conversation towards Indonesia’s ambitious plan to move its capital city to Nusantara. President Jokowi shared insights into the concept of a “smart forest city,” designed to be environmentally friendly, sustainable and modern. He outlined the emphasis on green spaces, public transportation, and the use of electric vehicles, envisioning Nusantara as a city that harmoniously blends with nature.

President Jokowi emphasized the importance of creating a livable and green city, with a focus on sustainability, and highlighted the commitment to completing the new capital city by August 2024. This ambitious project aligns with Indonesia’s dedication to addressing environmental concerns and promoting a high quality of life for its citizens.

Honorary Hoya: A Symbolic Gift

To conclude the event, Dean Hellman presented President Jokowi with a Hoya basketball jersey inscribed with his name, extending an invitation for him to become an honorary Hoya. This gesture, made in goodwill, symbolized the commencement of what is intended to be a lasting and fruitful relationship between Georgetown University and the Republic of Indonesia.

Visit to Georgetown’s Yarrow Mamout Masjid

Following the event, President Jokowi chatted with Georgetown Indonesian students and took a picture with them. He then visited Georgetown’s Yarrow Mamout Masjid, where he was welcomed by Imam Yahya Hendi, the university’s Muslim chaplain. Imam Hendi spoke about the history of the masjid and guided the president through a tour, ending with a prayer.  

Univ.Required Credit: Photo By: Phil Humnicky/Georgetown Univ.

Looking Ahead: Georgetown-Indonesia Relations

President Jokowi’s address at Georgetown was marked by optimism for strengthened ties between the university and Indonesia. Georgetown University is actively engaged in discussions with Indonesian stakeholders to deepen our involvement in an educational and research program. These explorations, under the umbrella of a potential Georgetown School of Foreign Service presence, align with our commitment to fostering global collaboration and understanding.

Georgetown University is proud to be a part of the Indonesian Endowment Fund for Education (LPDP), a scholarship program managed by the Indonesian Ministry of Finance. Learn more about LPDP scholarships and how Indonesian students can explore graduate opportunities at Georgetown University, here