The AFS program in Indonesia started in 1956 when Wartomo Dwijoyuwono, together with Mohammad Diponegoro and Ibrahim Kadir were invited by the American government to participate in the Youth Specialists Program, spending four months and a half in Nebraska, US. During the program, Wartomo met with several students from various European countries, who were participating in the AFS program, and decided to initiate the program in his own country.
In 1956 the first seven Indonesian students sailed to the United States. Taufiq Ismail, a well-known Indonesian poet, was among them. In 1958 he founded the Indonesian Returnee Association and was one of the founders of Bina Antarbudaya, The Indonesian Foundation for Intercultural Learning, which has been managing the AFS programs since. An article about his life and experience with AFS was published in the December 2001 AFS Janus, a publication of the AFS Archives and AFS Intercultural Programs, which can be found here.
Since 1970, when the multinational programs began, AFS Indonesia began sending and hosting students to and from countries other than the United States. In fifty five years more than 3,000 Indonesian students have gone abroad on the exchange programs and approximately 1,500 students were hosted in the country.
Click here to read the letter that Richard Spencer, president of AFS between 1992 and 1999, sent to Bina Antarbudaya in 1996 for the 40th anniversary of AFS student exchange programs in Indonesia. In the letter, Spencer points out that AFS is similar to Indonesia, which is made up of thousands of islands, because the AFS world is theoretically made up of “thousands of islands, each representing diverse, stimulating cultures.” He further points out that with the establishment of the AFS programs, the distance between these “islands” has narrowed, leading to better understanding.