@america, the U.S. Embassy’s American cultural center located on the 3rd floor of Pacific Place mall in Jakarta, is a place that builds bridges between Indonesia and America.

The cultural center aims to provide a space specifically for young Indonesians to learn more about the culture and values of the United States and promotes an exchange of knowledge on topics and issues both Americans and Indonesians care about.

NOW! Jakarta spoke to Jed Taro Dornburg, @america’s Director and Deputy Cultural Affairs Attaché of the U.S. Embassy Jakarta to take a look behind the scenes of the cultural center.

Could you tell us about the history of @america?
The U.S. Embassy in Jakarta regularly meets with young Indonesians interested in travel and education in the United States and sharing opinions and issues important to them. In 2009, the Embassy heard from these youth that there was an opportunity for an open inviting venue to engage them on shared values and mutual aspirations. This was realized in December 2010, with the opening of @america. Since then, we have welcomed over 1,000,000 visitors and held over 4000 events featuring both American and Indonesian celebrities, bands, scientists, astronauts, sports personalities, and senior government officials.

Unlike other cultural centers in Jakarta, @america is situated within a shopping mall. Why did you choose this location?
@america looks to be part of the Jakarta and Indonesian mall culture which is vibrant and attracts Indonesians for entertainment, good eating, fun and information. We wanted to make a conscious effort to go to our youth audience and not wait for them to come to us. Based on an average 600 visitors a day, they like us.

What are some of your regular activities and programs?
There is no such thing as a regular program in @america. We’re only limited by our imagination. We’ve done every kind of program, from concerts to dance performances, TED talks, coding challenges, business-pitch contests, film premiers, maker and robotics fairs, sporting events and much more. We host bi-monthly English language discussion groups, a weekly Toastmasters chapter, and a variety of U.S. university courses online through our Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). We have two full-time EducationUSA advisors that offer free student advising including choosing a U.S. university, the application process and financial assistance options – no appointment needed, walk-ins welcome! We’re always looking for new partners, so send us your ideas on our webpage at atamerica.or.id under “Collaborate with Us.”

@america stands out because of its state-of-the-art technology and facilities. What made you decide to put such a strong emphasis on this?
The United States is a world leader in technology. @america reflects the many U.S. companies and individuals who contribute to shaping the future technology of our lives. @america partners with many of those innovators like Google, Microsoft, and Lockheed Martin to host events to highlight technological advances, and encourage Indonesian youth to pursue education, careers and opportunities in these new sectors. We have the only Google Liquid Galaxy in Indonesia an impersive platform to discover the world and virtually visit U.S. college campuses. The economy of the future will be dependent on a tech-savvy population and Indonesians want to be a part of it. @america uses our technological edge to connect with Indonesians throughout the archipelago with video conferenced audiences. In addition, our events are all streamed live on our webpage, Facebook and Twitter properties.

We encourage your readers to visit our webpage at atamerica.or.id and sign up to get our weekly newsletter about all the exciting events held every day in @america or just stop in. All events are free and open to the public.

Katrin Figge

Katrin Figge

Katrin Figge is a previous editor of NOW! Jakarta. An experienced writer and avid bookworm.