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Indonesian Ambassador Speaks Monday at U.Va., Where His Father Was First Indonesian Student

March 10, 2011 — Indonesia's ambassador to the United States comes to the University of Virginia on Monday to discuss how his and other countries can adapt to what he calls "this amazing century."

Dino Djalal, a guest of the Office of the Vice Provost for International Programs, will speak at 5 p.m. in the Nau Hall auditorium in a free appearance, part of the University's Ambassadors' Speakers Forum.

The ambassador has a special connection to U.Va. His father, Hasjim Djalal, was the University's first Indonesian student. Djalal told the newspaper The Australian in September, "When my father arrived in this country in the 1950s as the first Indonesian student ever in the University of Virginia, he found that he was without means to pursue his Ph.D.

"But his American professor, Alfred Fernbach, seeing the potential of this young man, tucked him in, found him shelter, struggled to find him a scholarship and treated him with respect and kindness," Djalal said. "He never asked anything in return, only the joy of helping another human being in unfortunate circumstances."

Fernback, a professor emeritus of government and foreign affairs in the College of Arts & Sciences, died in March 2009. A collection of his papers can be found here.

An embassy spokesperson said the ambassador will share his "optimistic vision of the future" in his talk and explain that "how Indonesia views the world will largely determine how it develops at home and how it interacts internationally in the years to come."

Djalal is viewed by many in his country as an up-and-coming leader who is a humorous and engaging speaker and youth activist. He is also a best-selling author. His fourth book, "Harus Bisa," a collection of political stories and anecdotes taken from his personal diary, was hailed by the Jakarta Globe as "the best book on leadership in Indonesia" and was turned into a popular television show.

Prior to becoming the ambassador to the U.S. in September, Djalal was a member of the Special Staff for International Affairs and the spokesperson for President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

His diplomatic roots run deep. His father was Indonesia's ambassador to the United Nations, Canada and Germany.

On April 4, Turkey's ambassador to the United States, Namik Tan, comes to the University as a guest of the Turkish Students Association.

— By Jane Kelly

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