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New EWC Alumni Chapters in Aceh and Timor-Leste Extend Center’s Outreach
HONOLULU (Aug. 7) — The East-West Center Association (EWCA) recently established two new alumni chapters in Southeast Asia.  The new chapters located in Aceh, Indonesia and Dili, Timor-Leste (East Timor) raises the number of chapters in the EWCA global network to 46.

Former EWCA Vice President A. Seshan, who worked closely with the developing chapters, commented on the significance of this addition, stating: “Both Aceh and Timor-Leste have suffered tremendously in the recent past due to civil strife; and in Aceh thousands perished and infrastructure was destroyed in the December 2004 tsunami. The process of rehabilitation and reconstruction has made progress with support from international agencies. The establishment of these two chapters is evidence of the strength of these efforts towards normalization and the resilience of the citizens.”
 
Aceh Chapter Leader Anton Widyanto pointed out that a major goal for the chapter would be to increase access to quality education for the people of Aceh so as to better prepare them to address the challenges of a global society.  The chapter’s 21 members are making plans to conduct a leadership workshop and seminars on gender equality in the near future.

Widyanto is a lecturer at the State Institute for Islamic Studies (IAIN) Ar-Raniry in Darussalam, Banda Aceh, Indonesia. He was an affiliate scholar at the EWC in 2006 working on his Ph.D. dissertation dealing with human rights and legal penalties applied to illicit sexual activity in Islamic jurisprudence.  He along with other scholars from IAIN, participated in EWC educational opportunities stemming from an agreement between the two institutions following the 2004 tsunami, which devastated the school and took the lives of many staff and faculty. The EWC reached out to enable IAIN’s students to complete their college degrees in Jakarta and then return to the heavily damaged provincial capital to teach. The EWC and IAIN also developed cooperative activities, which brought scholars to Hawaii to collaborate with EWC experts.

Most of the Timor-Leste Chapter members came to the East-West Center through the U.S. State Department funded U.S.-East Timor Scholarship Program (USET).  This program supports higher education of academically talented East Timorese, who are expected to contribute to their country's political, economic, and social development through effective leadership and service. Former USET Fellows and recent EWC alumni Francisca Maia, Nelson De Sousa Carvalho Belo, and Jose Manuel Soares Turquel De Jesus have already made a positive impact on their home countries. Maia created an award-winning documentary that raised awareness of the turbulent situation in Timor-Leste; Belo worked with the Timor-Leste’s Judicial System Monitoring Program to help develop and disseminate information on justice and fair elections to rural communities; and De Jesus serves as the President’s advisor on international relations and diplomacy.

The East-West Center Association (EWCA), the Center's official alumni organization, is an international network of more than 55,000 professionals who have participated in East-West Center programs. It is headquartered at the EWC in Honolulu. There are currently 46 EWCA chapters in 21 countries. These chapters facilitate professional networking through a variety of activities including informal gatherings, seminars, lectures, and workshops. Chapters also support the EWC by helping recruit qualified participants for its programs, raising funds, and carrying out community service projects.

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The East-West Center is an education and research organization established by the U.S. Congress in 1960 to strengthen relations and understanding among the peoples and nations of Asia, the Pacific, and the United States. The Center contributes to a peaceful, prosperous and just Asia Pacific community by serving as a vigorous hub for cooperative research, education and dialogue on critical issues of common concern to the Asia Pacific region and the United States. Funding for the Center comes from the U.S. government, with additional support provided by private agencies, individuals, foundations, corporations, and the governments of the region.

Media Contact:
Derek Ferrar
Media Relations Specialist
East-West Center
808-944-7204
[email protected]