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Program welcoming Indonesian scholars enriches Northwestern

The food’s too mild and the weather’s too cold, but the opportunity is just right

2016 Arryman Fellows
2016 Arryman Fellows Bahram Naderil, Ririn Kusuma, Aulia Nastiti, Mirna Nadia and Sari Ratri.

If Sabina Puspita hadn’t stopped at her local mall for lunch in 2014, she wouldn’t have ended up at Northwestern. While working as a translator in Indonesia, Puspita heard a presentation about the Arryman Program at the mall, and she immediately applied.

“When I told my family I was accepted they didn’t believe it,” Puspita says. “They thought it was a scam.”

Puspita arrived on Northwestern’s campus in July 2014 as an Arryman Fellow. For one year, she researched Indonesia’s watchdog institutions. Now, as an Arryman Scholar, she aims to compare the women’s rights movement in Indonesia with that of the U.S. or other Southeast Asian countries. Puspita says Northwestern is the perfect place to do her research.

This program has changed my life. I wouldn’t be who I am right now without Arryman, and without Northwestern

Rahardhika Arista Utama
Arryman Scholar

“You can find any kind of books or resources here,” Puspita says. “You’re free to speak or write anything you want. And I’m surrounded by very tolerant people — I can talk about anything with them, and we can respectfully disagree.”

At Northwestern, the Arryman Program is run by the Equality Development and Globalization Studies (EDGS) office, which is funded by a gift from Indonesia’s Rajawali Foundation and housed within the Buffett Institute for Global Studies. The Arryman Program prepares Indonesian scholars for an academic career in the social sciences, and it is funded by the Indonesian Scholarship and Research Support Foundation (ISRSF) in Jakarta.

Arryman Scholars
2016 Arryman Fellows

The fellows — many of whom already have advanced degrees — each receive a one-year grant for pre-doctoral research at Northwestern in a social science field. If they earn admission into a Northwestern doctoral program, Arryman Fellows become Arryman Scholars and can receive up to six years of academic support from ISRSF. All Arryman graduates make a commitment to return to Indonesia as scholars who will have a major impact on higher education there.

With the exception of the food, which Arryman Fellow Bahram Naderil says is not nearly spicy enough, his first months at Northwestern have exceeded Naderil’s expectations. For someone accustomed to an average February temperature of 80 degrees, that’s saying a lot.

“The Arryman Program is not only about taking courses or completing our research project,” he says. “It’s also about our personal development. Arryman will provide us with resources to learn a new language, or travel to a conference and present a paper. The program encourages us to go out and explore.”

Arryman Scholar Rahardhika Arista Utama has been exploring since he arrived on campus in 2013. As part of his research, Utama spent six weeks living on a rubber plantation in Indonesia, and he recently spent a week in Akron, Ohio — “the world’s rubber capital” — collecting data and photos for his dissertation.

“Universities all over the world should replicate the Arryman Program,” Utama says. “Students in Indonesia, or other developing countries, often lack the social capital to access higher education. This program has changed my life. I wouldn’t be who I am right now without Arryman, and without Northwestern.”

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