In an effort to win over Indonesian youth, the State Department in December 2010 launched a first-of-its-kind hi-tech cultural center, called @america, in Jakarta under the auspices of the U.S.-Indonesia Comprehensive Partnership. More than two years later, @america’s growing popularity has shown the importance of ‘soft’ engagement in strengthening cross-cultural ties between the United States and Indonesia. We examine @america’s impact by the numbers.
The number of visitors @america has welcomed since opening in 2010. This figure does not include online visitors.
The number of clicks on @america’s Ustream webcast feed. Additionally, @america boasts 53,736 Twitter followers, 26,966 Facebook subscribers, and has received 19,450 clicks on its Livestream feed. Indonesia has the world’s largest number of Twitter and third largest number of Facebook users, and @america’s growing online outreach has exponentially increased local awareness and participation.
@america’s annual budget, in addition to its $5 million start-up costs. Located in one of Jakarta’s most popular shopping malls, @america features interactive monitors, Skype, and Google Earth-ready computer screens geared toward answering questions that Indonesians may have about American life and culture. Given its reach and low price tag, the soft power @america generates likely makes it one of the best returns on the dollar among State Department programs. Unfortunately, recent department-wide budget cuts have jeopardized @america’s operating budget.
The percentage of @america’s Indonesian visitors who are between ages 15 and 30. Thousands of high school and college students visit @america from schools both inside and outside the capital. @america has developed informal and formal connections with Indonesian university curricula through regular engagement with these students.
The number of events hosted by @america as of April 2013. Events include discussions, cultural performances, debates, competitions, web-chats, and exhibitions focusing on diversity, creativity, and common ideals. Recent events have included concerts, plays, and talks on U.S. foreign policy in Asia (including one by CSIS Sumitro Chair for Southeast Asia Studies & cogitASIA regular Ernie Bower), environmental protection, and educational programs in the United States.