Indonesian students reconsider US study plans (VIDEO)

24-year-old Bachtiar Asral planned to pursue his masters in banking in the US, setting aside US$50,000 (RM221,900) for tuition after he was accepted to Boston University. — Reuters video screengrab
24-year-old Bachtiar Asral planned to pursue his masters in banking in the US, setting aside US$50,000 (RM221,900) for tuition after he was accepted to Boston University. — Reuters video screengrab

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JAKARTA, Feb 7 — Donald Trump’s travel ban is sparking anxiety among young students in Indonesia, including the best and brightest hailing from the world’s largest Muslim population.

Indonesia isn’t on the ban list of seven Muslim-majority countries, but it’s got ambitious young people rethinking their goals, even after years of hard work and English tests.

24-year-old Bachtiar Asral planned to pursue his masters in banking in the US, setting aside US$50,000 (RM221,900) for tuition after he was accepted to Boston University.

Now, he feels unwelcome.

“This has become my prime concern: I’m Indonesian, an Asian and a Muslim. People can tell that I’m from outside America. It will be challenging for me to adapt to the States, even though at first I thought it wouldn’t be a problem because I felt that America was open-minded,” says Bachtiar Romadhoni Asral, a prospective graduate student.

Asral says he may head to Queen Mary University in London instead since he’s secured a UK student visa.

“The incumbent London mayor is of Pakistani descent. Londoners set a precedent to show the world they welcome minorities into their country with open arms,” says Bachtiar.

But some are not easily discouraged.

Hendry Wijaya is aiming for US business school next year.

“We are students and we are contributing to their economy, so it should be no problem for us to go there,” says Hendry.

Trump’s restrictions last month have sparked condemnation and protests even in Indonesia’s capital Jakarta.

The order has been blocked by a Seattle judge for now.

And while Indonesia’s Foreign Ministry says Indonesians haven’t faced problems seeking US visas so far, whatever the US decides to do, the order is straining goodwill on the ground in a country traditionally close to the United States. — Reuters

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